Eyes a slip of grey from blue in a city
not known as home, on a mountainside
to shelter a temple, she is as welcome
as the wind is warm. She was there before
us and we were caught before we knew it.
She carves a life, carefully, like those Buddhas
carved into stone, the chisel is the compliment
to the rock and not the ruin, an outer expression
of inner contentment, this monastic monk
on a meditative mountain and I fall beneath
her gaze, slip between the stillness that rests
behind each word. Did her mouth smile
or just her eyes that shade of grey a brush away
from blue as she called us to her quiet castle
of wood and wonder and fed us this feast
on a hot day in her temporary temple
along the trail, a rest on the journey, a moment
to bare witness; not to be greater than the Buddha,
not to raise up, not to worship but to reflect on
what we can become. We climb over rock
and broken earth, we diverge through dead ends
that still deliver more light than loss, we thirst
and tire and then take in another treat; another temple,
another tree, a smile from the locals as I offer
my four Korean words and they giggle and talk back
as if I can understand but I don’t and we all laugh.
We travel on and place our tired feet into holds
others once held to as we witness wonders
so many others may never see. We have sat
and shared joy like food, laughter like it was love
and drank coffee like it was an elixir to let us in
on the light that lingers over life and those eyes,
of this gentle light from Lithuania, a slip of grey
from a sea of blue seeing the simple synchronicity

In all that is true.


This is Chilbulam Temple where a young monk and four wonderful lay women bequeathed us lunch during our hike up Namsan Mountain, in Gyeongju, South Korea.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




8 thoughts on “A SLIP AWAY FROM BLUE

  1. There’s something hauntingly beautiful about this. A sense of peace, contentment and wonder, the beauty of simplicity. It’ll mean different things to different people. I can feel a real tug on my heart. Lately I’ve wondered how much better my life would be if only I could discipline myself to knuckle down, sort through a lot of “stuff”, and truly realise the benefits of “Less is More”. Its the middle of winter here and cold outside of the few rooms that we use all the time. Can I make a start tomorrow and tough it out despite the cold? Thanks for your writing! Feel free to delete my musings Dami, its been a big help simply to write them down. Perhaps concrete thoughts will lead to concrete action!

    • Your musing is so poetic, I think it needs to stay here. The main reason I write is to clear out the inner cupboard, write it down and it all seems more achievable, more reachable, more releasable. The other night, even with a strained back that should have been lying on the sofa I was reaching up to shelves to clear the space between what I want and what I need. Clutter is confusion and sometimes an itch means more than just a mosquito bite. Good luck tomorrow or the next tomorrow or the next. And keep warm you two

      • I treasure your response and I marvelled at the idea of clearing out the inner cupboard – what a wonderful thought! We’ll do our best to stay cosy and I hope your back is much better. I know what a bad back can be like as I wrecked mine for a while a couple of years ago – fortunately it came right again – it was a lesson to me. Take care!

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