Life is lush in this Mediterranean village. Located in the south of France mere miles from Spain, Catalan culture pervades Collioure. Tapas, espadrilles, sunshiny wine… People glide between French, Spanish, and Catalan. Vivacious and expressive, they draw me in.
I initially came to Collioure to spend a few days on the water. I discovered the light that moved Matisse, making way for Fauvism. I ate fresh, briny anchovies. I watched the sun rise over the medieval lighthouse-church sitting at the edge of the water. This bright village of 3,000 gave me both solitude and company. I made friends at every turn—at the hotel reception, walking along the jagged inlets, sipping Banyuls wine at a waterside café.
I also experienced the grace of stillness. In “Song of the Reed,” mystic poet Rumi counsels,
Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note
I practiced inhabiting that hollowness. Allowing my mind to settle beneath the buzz of the village, I connected to the minute elements of its landscape. From that still, internal space, my attention moved to the generous succulents that dot the village, to the smooth, flat stones that make up the beach, and to the laundry artfully hung outside the windows of pink, yellow, and blue homes. Inside my hollow note, the surrounding hills and massive château lost their grandeur. The vividness of Collioure made its way to me through the secrets hidden within the notes of overlapping voices and juxtaposed colors.
Rumi’s “Song of the Reed”