On my way to get a body wrap in jasmine and a massage today, at a very nice place in Copenhagen called Ni’mat, I found myself at exactly 12 o’clock in front of Helligaandskirken, a church in the middle of the pedestrian street. I froze in front of it as the amazing church bells were sounding the hour. Not too far there were two other church towers whose bells were also competing for attention. While enjoying the sounds, I couldn’t help noticing, however, how many people were passing without noticing anything at all. Wrapped in sound, I counted: 1, 2, 3, until I got to 111. That’s how many heard nothing. This made me feel both quaint and queer.

Once arrived at Ni’mat, I was asked to wait in an oriental room. I sat on golden pillows and started smelling the flacons with oil essences on the table. This activity, smelling things, always transports me to all sort of places. I thought of mother who was the only woman I know capable of making sense of the space between the sacred and the profane. This was the woman who, while teaching me how to recognize and appreciate the sublime in all its nuances, also taught me that it was perfectly all right to be most vulgar, blunt, merciless, and uncompromising when needed. “You have to remember to laugh, though,” she said.

As I stepped into the steam bath first, my rising pulse started synchronizing itself with the still resounding church bells in my head. What is it that we’re doing, I asked myself, when we open ourselves for others, and let others open themselves for us? On the bench, as the masseuse pulled my hair and turned my head very quickly on its sides, I saw green colors.

After the jasmine oils, I had coffee at the beautiful old library. The décor was green and calming, but I was fussing. I had to catch my train back to Roskilde. I had a rendez-vous with Bach. This week they celebrate Bach in the provinces. The big cathedral invited everyone for a big night out, to sing the famous cantatas. As I was racing through the rain, my sister was waiting at the entrance. The church bells were tolling. She whispered: “you know, some folks back home would be green with envy knowing how much we enjoy this.” But I wasn’t so sure about that. More often than not, these days I find that most people I know don’t enjoy the things I do.

My sister is a great Bach singer, although she prefers Händel. The conductor said: “all, lights are green for Händel, so we’ll start with See the conqu’ring hero comes.” This instantly reminded me of a favourite quote delivered by one in the business of speed, the Formula One racing driver Mario Andretti: “If everything is under control, you’re going too slow.” Being under pressure is a mighty thing. Controlling the adrenaline without going mad! Powerful stuff, indeed, the G-force, the green lights. I went out of control while singing the next song, Sanctus from the Deutsche Messe by Schubert. There you have to be slow. Real slow. The conductor wanted us to sing that one 5 times over. He didn’t think we were slow enough. I wanted to join him on his podium. I wanted to turn to the large audience and say: “I’ll show you slow, out of control slow.” But I did nothing. And yet people were looking my way. My sister said: “it’s the jasmine,” while intoning Ave Verum by Elgar. “The whole church smells of jasmine,” she further said. I wanted to ask: “really,” but because I already knew it, all I said was this: “fast or slow, I believe that others believe in us.” I don’t know what people do with their lives in the evenings, but with Bach around, we can all give thanks. Mine almost sounded convincing as I blasted my lungs out singing Nun danket alle Gott. The jasmine was green, and a winner.
(Photo: Andra Jakstaite)


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