"My mind then wandered. I thought of this: I thought of how every day each of us experiences a few little moments that have just a bit more resonance than other moments—we hear a word that sticks in our mind—or maybe we have a small experience that pulls us out of ourselves, if only briefly—we share a hotel elevator with a bride in her veils, say, or a stranger gives us a piece of bread to feed to the mallard ducks in the lagoon; a small child starts a conversation with us in a Dairy Queen—or we have an episode like the one I had with the M&M cars back at the Husky station.
And if we were to collect these small moments in a notebook and save them over a period of months we would see certain trends emerge from our collection—certain voices would emerge that have been trying to speak through us. We would realize that we have been having another life altogether; one we did not even know was going on inside us. And maybe this other life is more important than the one we think of as being real—this clunky day-to-day world of furniture and noise and metal. So just maybe it is these small silent moments which are the true story-making events of our lives."
"Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colours to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. Such life saving power when you smile."
"There are a hundred things she has tried to chase away the things she won't remember and that she can't even let herself think about because that's when the birds scream and the worms crawl and somewhere in her mind it's always raining a slow and endless drizzle.
You will hear that she has left the country, that there was a gift she wanted you to have, but it is lost before it reaches you. Late one night the telephone will sign, and a voice that might be hers will say something that you cannot interpret before the connection crackles and is broken.
Several years later, from a taxi, you will see someone in a doorway who looks like her, but she will be gone by the time you persuade the driver to stop. You will never see her again.
"Sometimes when I am alone out there, or even here in my house, it seems almost possible that I might lose myself: there in that silence where there is no need of words or discourse. I have heard it said that there are men who have lost their minds to it, reason drained away into the dissolving space of sea and sky. And indeed while there are times when this place is full of life, a raucous cavalcade, even then there is a sense of emptiness, as if some ancient silence lingers in the fabric of this place, something alien, and unknowable. "
"You perceive the world with your five senses. When your mind perceives the world, then the world exists before you. But if we are born without any senses, then how could we perceive the world except as a dream in our minds? But then...dreams often seem as real as the world we see now. Look...If I touch you with this hand, I can remember touching you, but I can't ever prove I did. If reality is nothing more than what is in our mind, then what is the difference between this world and a dream?"
"The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus.
The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.
But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.
He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.
'Why do you weep?' the goddesses asked.
'I weep for Narcissus," the lake replied.
'Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,' they said, 'for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.'
'But... was Narcissus beautiful?' the lake asked.
'Who better than you to know that?' the goddesses asked in wonder. 'After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!'
The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:
'I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.'
The Swiss Guards are a small force responsible for the security of the Vatican city with various task including guarding the entrances to the Vatican as well as ensuring the personal safety of the Pope. Today being a Swiss guard at the Vatican city is largely a ceremonial role; However the history of the Swiss guards corps is a long one involving many real military campaigns.
History of Swiss Guards at Vatican City
The origins of the Swiss guards at the Vatican dates back nearly six hundred years.
Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) formed a pact with the Swiss Confederation and constructed military barracks in Via Pellegrino after predicting that it would be useful to recruit Swiss mercenaries. The pact was renewed by Innocent VIII (1484-1492) in order to use the Swiss guards against the Duke of Milan. It should be remembered that in those days Italy was not a unified country but rather a series of independent city states that often fought with each other. Alexander VI (1492-1503) used the Swiss mercenaries during their alliance with the King of France. During the time of the Borgias, however, the Italian Wars began in which the Swiss mercenaries were a fixture in the front lines among the warring factions, sometimes for France and sometimes for the Holy See or the Holy Roman Empire.
Swiss Guards Regiment Size
The number of Swiss guards at the Vatican has varied over the decades and at one time was even been disbanded. The first real war experienced by the Swiss guards was in 1527 when 147 of the 189 Guards, including their commander, died fighting the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V during the Sack of Rome in order to allow Clement VII to escape through the Passetto di Borgo, escorted by the other 40 guards. The last stand battlefield is located on the left side of St Peter’s Basilica and can still be seen today on a visit to the Vatican City.
The Swiss Guard has served the popes since the sixteenth century. The Swiss Guard used to share duties at guarding the Pope along with the Palatine Guard and Noble Guard, both of which were disbanded in 1970 under Paul VI. Today the Swiss Guard are the only corps who carry out ceremonial roles of the former Vatican units, serving now as the army of the sovereign state of the Vatican. At the end of 2005, there were 134 members of the Swiss Guard. This included a Commandant a chaplain, three officers, one sergeant major 30 NCOs, and 99 privates or halberdiers as they are known.
Swiss Guard Eligibility
Swiss guards at the Vatican must be Catholic, single males with Swiss citizenship who have completed basic training with the Swiss military and can obtain certificates of good conduct. New recruits must have a professional diploma or high school degree and must be between 19 and 30 years of age and at least 174 cm tall.
Qualified candidates must apply to serve. If accepted, new guards are sworn in every May 6 in the San Damaso Courtyard in the Vatican. The chaplain of the guard reads aloud the oath in the language of the guard (German, French and Italian).
“I imagine the feelings of two people meeting again after many years. In the past they spent some time together, and therefore they think they are linked by the same experience, the same recollections. The same recollections? That's where the misunderstanding starts: they don't have the same recollections; each of them retains two or three small scenes from the past, but each has his own; their recollections are not similar; they don't intersect; and even in terms of quantity they are not comparable: one person remembers the other more than he is remembered; first because memory capacity varies among individuals (an explanation that each of them would at least find acceptable), but also (and this is more painful to admit) because they don't hold the same importance for each other. When Irena saw Josef at the airport, she remembered every detail of their long-ago adventure; Josef remembered nothing. From the very first moment their encounter was based on an unjust and revolting inequality.”