The spirit of Bali

Last night as I sat listening to the wind rustling through the leaves and the chimes of the nearby temple, words flowed through my mind. I was taken to another place, beyond where we are now, transported from what we see in Bali today – rubbish, environmental issues, lost of heritage. And strangely, I felt that it was going to be alright. The wind seemed almost like it was whispering that although we fear change, and what is happening to our planet, and despite that we strain to care for her more deeply with sometimes a sense that we are caring too late, Bali seemed oddly secure, safe.

Richard Flax whom we interviewed for the upcoming book describes Bali as an epicentre, a place where all the issues of the world are magnified in one place, where change has happened faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. Development and the subsequent issues that flow from more people and financial growth, to environmental issues.

This poem sat with me for awhile so I wrote it down. Some thoughts on Bali, her strength, and the consistency of change.

Spirit of Bali

Should the tubular bells of Bali die

Or the flowers on the paves drift away,

Should the green fields finally fade to gold,

on the edge of a sandy wave.

If the last stone tumbles on fallow ground

And is crushed ‘neath the weight of coins.

Or the final drop of the river is lost and the sacred path no longer joins.

If the last thread is woven,

The final stone’s carved,

And the ebony wood’s on the ground,

Or the chimes of the temple drift high in the night and can no longer make any sound.

Will we hold our hands with the moon and the stars

And despise where we’ve been, where we are?

Ceremonial finals, the last gamelan. The last of the last isn’t far.

As the temple bells call through the night as I sleep

and the wind sends a kite to the clouds,

the spirit of Bali stirs gently and deeply,  her people stand stronger, and proud.

If the land aches with hunger, and groans with the strain

Awareness will rise from the north,

To the south and the west, to the east, it will come

And the soul of Bali bring forth.

If the noise of the gamalan’s muffled by change and the wind cannot rustle the grains,

The spirit of Bali will flow from the mountains, and bring what some will call change.

But the change’s an illusion, it’s a journey not end,

her spirit flies higher and higher.

It’s what always has been and what never can end.

Embers that never need fire.

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Copyright Bali Soul Journals 2013

Author Clare McAlaney   /   Photograph Clare McAlaney – A woman’s afternoon, Ubud, Bali

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