Saturday, November 18, 2006

Beit Ed Dine..."House of Faith," a fitting end to a Peaceful Day

A week ago Sunday, Wael, Zena, and one of Wael's many relatives set out from the heat, noise, and smog of Beirut on a bit of a quest. It is uncanny how many of us on this planet all share the same dreams - clean water to drink and play in, air that feels like life in our lungs (rather than poison), strong communities alive with art, clean industry, culture, and beauty. No matter who you speak with, when it comes down to drinking a beer at the bar and speaking outside of the media's sound-bite idiocy, we're more alike than we'd expect, across America and around the globe. Well, my hosts too have a dream of bringing art to a wider audience in Lebanon, creating studio opportunities for emerging artists, and ideally, creating a quiet country home for themselves in the midst of it. So off we went to look at some land, in teh mountains outside Beirut.

It still amazes me how tiny this country is. If I had a multiple-entry VISA, I'd try to go to Damascus, a mere 2 hours away, or even venture into Israel/Palestine....which is only 2 hours to the south. Still, there is enough here to tease my palate, and this time, it was a visit to the stunning castle Beit Ed Dine. Even though it's not incredibly old (built in the 1800s) it is magnificent, as you can see from the photos, and for all its grandeur a walk on the grounds induces a deep sense of calm. The guard took us through the Presidential suites, the public baths and family baths, and rooms where each square centimeter of wall, ceiling, and floor had etched into it minute beauty...repeating facades that emerged like a mandala. Zena tells me that these elaborately repeated patterns evolved from the prohibition against reproducing man in any form, so art was limited to flowers, ornate designs, and calligraphy. Although limited, here, is a misnomer. Unfortunately, I was not able to photograph the interior artwork, but you can get an idea of the peacefulness of this place, poised high above a stunning valley. In the first photo, Wael catches a nap under a tree in the garden, which extends into the next photo. Third is a picture of a barely detectable Zena under one of the oddly out-of-place nooks, that seems almost like a Swiss afterthought. Finally, a muslim women wanders into the courtyard. I cannot imagine attending a garden at a place like this, but Zena tells me they've had several. Nice......

No comments: