Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Spa for the Soul

The sun was just settling into a bank of clouds over the sea as I tapped this on my keyboard from a balcony of that funky old village house perched on the rocky hillside. That dream we purchased three years ago. Mid-November. At last, renovation had begun.*

The five story tower was not much more than a shell after two weeks of cement saws and sledge hammers. A shell filled with hope. New openings to the outdoors will be enclosed with French doors to welcome the clear Mediterranean light and air. New openings and closings inside mean guest rooms with private baths, a private floor for Curt and me to rest and work, a working kitchen, and a garden studio to create, experiment and play. Each space opens onto a balcony or terrace. Olive trees and scattered tile roofs in the foreground below with islands, sea and sky spreading huge beyond.

Peaceful. Quiet-but-not-really, for birds chatter and the voices of children at play echo up from the village. That day I watched the tiniest of hummingbirds, not more than three centimeters from beak to tail, feed on the bougainvillea.

We work to create a spa for the soul. Prayer by prayer, brick by brick, worker by worker. “Spa”—a place to be pampered, massaged (to work out the kinks), scrubbed (to get rid of the dead stuff and bring on a glow), and anointed with oil (for softness and renewal). Fragrant with life. “For the soul”—a place to be still, to let the competing voices of daily life or work or technology fall silent, to pray, and write or paint or cook, and to dream. A meld of ancient Christian disciplines of communal solitude, listening prayer and spiritual accompaniment with more contemporary ideas of hospitable spaces for fellowship, exploration and play. We hope.

Today we watch from faraway Abu Dhabi as carpenters build 26 windows, 19 doors, shutters for the ground floor, the wood-and-glass studio and a rooftop pergola. Electricians and plumbers lay the hidden things necessary to the magic of water and light, guided by marks we drew on the walls and my pencil drawings covered with Őzer’s notes in Turkish. The tile layer arrives today. Next week I rejoin the workers for a few days—armed with sketches and ideas for the carpenter who will build cabinets, tables, bookshelves and dining chairs. And more for the ironmonger who will make bed and sofa frames. Everything home-designed and hand-crafted.

This place, this “spa”--we prepare an offering. Not a business, or a “ministry.” Just a couple of cracked old pots, retired folks, who want to share their mix of good food, listening, quiet, beautiful private spaces and hospitality with whoever wants to come and partake—from wherever they may come.

*Check out www.curtbidinger.phanfare.com for photos of the breaking, the deconstruction necessary to any real transformation.