Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Meditations: "Enchanted April"

I've been listening to the audiobook of The Enchanted April.  I've loved the movie for years, but the book is, of course, adding so much texture to the story.  I love it.
The book spells out clearly why Lottie experiences such a transformation at San's the Beauty.  Fragrant flowers, sunshine (especially so having come from drizzly London), the "castle" itself as well as its staff, the abundance of flowers, and, of course, the Mediterranean Sea. 

Lottie's first morning at San Salvatore is worth remembering.  As she awakes, she notices how "lovely" the room is.  "How wonderful to have such a lovely room all to myself," she thinks.  "If I chose to, I could lock the door and no one at all could disturb me."  She feels the sheets, turns and squirms, moving all around the bed to luxuriate in the smooth softness of those sheets.  Not one iota of guilt.  She knows she deserves the goodness of this holiday.

San Salvatore
Eventually, the shuttered window in her room calls her, and she rises.  As she opens the shutters, aaaaaahh.   I need to listen to that part again---the author used words to describe Lottie's response, but I can't remember them.  To me, it must have been an experience beyond words.  It must've been as if she had never seen sunshine before in her life, never seen the shining sparkles of the sun on a Sea, never smelled the intense fragrance of flowers (the small mountain on which San Salvatore stands is blanketed, literally, in the flowers of spring, all newly blooming) of those literally-take-her-breath-away moments. 
Beauty fills her, fills her entire being.  When that happens, I know, the accompanying sister to Beauty is always Love.  Lottie allows this filling--perhaps her temperament and background mean this "allowing" occurs naturally for her (she does seem to have a mystical side, even as we come to know her in London), or perhaps in some way she's been 'working' on her inner life.  In any case, she opens herself completely to Beauty's eager outpouring.
Rose exchanges glances with Lottie,
across their respective balconies,
 as they get their first view of
San Salvatore
Opening oneself completely to Beauty, for Lottie, means that she is in heaven.  "In heaven one doesn't need to arrange or repair anything at all," she tells Rose, as Rose seems to want to fight Ms. Fisher's take-over of the prettiest sunroom.  "In heaven, one has to share the love," she says, confident that there's plenty to go around.  She tells Rose that she's written to Mellersh, her husband, and invited him to come and stay.  "I've been a beast," she says, "only loving Mellersh if he first loved me.  And since he didn't, there was no love at all.  Oh, Rose, it doesn't matter who loves, as long as someone does!"  The Love that Beauty has evoked in her spills out everywhere. 

In London, Lottie was nervous.  When she and Rose first meet Lady Caroline to interview her about staying with them in the castle, Lottie couldn't speak, and when she tried her face turned red.  When she first met Ms. Fisher, she made a fool of herself, so nervous that she couldn't think straight and ended up implying that she thought Keats was still alive. (!) Such a funny scene.  Lottie frequently appeared confused.  Rose thought that her friends' words "gushed" out, unfiltered and often nonsensical.  

But this was something else Rose noticed about Lottie that first day in San Salvatore:  her language was developing along with her spirit and her personality.  She was using stronger, more striking words--words like "beast."  And there was no stuttering, no appearance of confusion at all.  She remained enthusiastic in her speech, but "enthusiasm" is quite different when the context is wisdom rather than "covering up out of nervousness," Rose thought.
Lottie: "I've written to Milosh and
invited him here."

Rose was taken aback, to say the least, at the thought of Mellersh joining them.  "But Lottie, we came here to get away from .... well, from our husbands," she said, trying to understand, to keep up with Lottie's transformation.  "And just this morning you said you couldn't envision Mellersh.  In your mind's eye he was without form or content, and now, this afternoon, he's suddenly taken shape?"  Rose felt that Lottie's "development" was shockingly fast, but she did recognize it as 'development,' at one point thinking she could almost see the halo just above Lottie's head. 

There's so much else to say, but the main thing is my sense of understanding Lottie.  I too have experienced Beauty evoking an outpouring of Love--Love so strong I could not contain it, so giving it to everyone I met seemed perfectly natural.   With such an experience, something quite substantial shifts within.  I have never gone back to the way I was before the experience.  Hmmm, Lottie is so right:  It is indeed an experience of heaven.