Springtime in Paris!
May, 2013. I’m on a retreat and one morning we are told to go off on our own and find a spot to be quiet and write. I know where I am going–Rodin’s Museum and back into the garden there. I had read about this garden as I prepared for the trip and the description stayed with me. I wave down a taxi and head over.
Eventually I walk farther back into the garden and sit down on a stone bench. There, my journal and I while away a good hour or so. I feel inspired and write, occasionally looking up at someone passing by or just taking in the beautiful setting. I keep writing and more time passes.
I start feeling a pull to pay attention to the statue next to me. I stand and walk over to it. I look her over. She’s called “The meditation.” Hmmmm. I need to know more.
More time passes and I continue to write on my bench near this statue that pulls at me. I go back inside the museum and into the gift shop. I look at the postcards, trying to find my friend, “The Meditation.” No luck. I show my iPhone photo of her to the sales woman and she walks me back to the postcards and points to one. I am not convinced it is the same. “C’est la meme chose?” I ask in my rusty French. “Oui,” she insists. Unconvinced but not wanting to argue, I take the postcard, actually five copies of it, extras to share with my fellow retreat particpants, and pay for them. Later in my hotel room I read the back of the postcard more closely, “Eve,” the card reads.
I look up “Rodin’s Eve” on my iPad. I am fascinated and amused by what I read.
Rodin (on Eve):
“Without knowing why, I saw my model changing. I modified my contours, naively following the successive transformations of ever-amplifying forms. One day, I learned that she was pregnant; then I understood. The contours of the belly had hardly changed, but you can see the sincerity with which I copied nature in looking at the muscles of the loins and sides. It certainly hadn’t occurred to me to take a pregnant woman as a model for Eve; an accident – happy for me – gave her to me and it aided the character of the figure singularly. But soon, becoming more sensitive, my model found the studio too cold; she came less frequently, then not at all. That is why my Eve is unfinished.”
I love this story! I am proud of this model who looked out for herself. She was pregnant and cold, and after a while stopped showing up. Good for her! Eve,a great example of a woman taking care of herself.
And yet “Eve” is not who I sat next to in Rodin’s garden.
So, who is this “Meditation” statue? I look her up on my iPad and I love what I find. No wonder I was drawn to sit near her for almost two hours! She was originally called “The Meditation” and later Rodin reworked her and called her “The Inner Voice.” “She represented one of the muses who inspired the poet”
She “whispers inspiration into the writer’s ear.” Wow. I felt completely inspired: by the Rodin Museum, the incredible grounds, and by finding myself so drawn to that spot in the garden, next to that particular sculpture, and to feel so prolific during my time there.
A week after returning from my Paris retreat, I am back in full swing and overwhelmed. I write this email to some friends:
My mind races with so many to-do’s but my soul is clinging to being in Rodin’s garden. It hears the whispers from the lovely “meditation” sculpture, the one who is completely focused on listening to herself.
She whispers into my ear: Don’t hurry, she says, don’t rush into it all too soon.
Sit with me here a while. Take in my beauty.
Relax on your bench in this beautiful garden. Let me inspire you.
Remember our time together on that quiet morning.
I am here for you. Just drop down to greet me any time you are ready. Let’s be together in the world’s calm beauty. In this very spot.
Drink in the peace, the calm, the beauty.
No need to rush!
Look me over. See my poise. My solid stance. Let me inspire you today as you transition back. Don’t go too far from me, or too fast.
Let me whisper to you. Often. I will calm you.