When cracks appear, walls fall down and a roof collapses, a ruin begins to appear. Buildings once complete, relationships once whole may crumble and fall into a state of disrepair. Lack of maintenance, deliberate acts of destruction, natural disasters, erosion, weather all add to the disappearance of what was built in love, with patience and usually quite a bit of planning.
So how is that a life in ruins might actually be a wonderful testament to endurance and survival?
I witness ruins and I wonder what secrets and dreams do the ruins host? The ruins reveal the essence of the foundations, and what parts were the strongest, boldest and most steadfast. A life in ruins may be a fiat of life well lived and a legacy to inspire others.
When visiting Hilda of Whitby‘s ancient cathedral I was charmed by what had endured and how the remains were fiercely holding out to the wild winds. I felt the freezing cold late afternoon wind on my face that poured into my bones. I could hear the ancient chorus breathing into the spaces the buildings had made; a giant flute echoing to earliest Gregorian chants of an ancient and devout community betrothed to one another, Hilda and Whitby.
Several years later I found myself at your re-built Abbey Hildegard in Rudesheim non-architectural ruins were visible to me. Fragments of ritual and language being held together in a familiar landscape of prayer and song. I did not visit the ruins where many of your compositions and your letters, Hildegard were probably made. Perhaps one day I will!
This year I had the honour of being on David Whyte‘s tour in Western Ireland. We were held in the comfort of Ballyvaughan, County Clare and travelled one day to the ruins of Coromroe Abbey. My body and soul in ruins. At this sacred place, myself and fellow pilgrims blessed newly married sojourners and were honoured to be blessed in turn by their love and masterful generosity. You can read their story in their own words. What I learnt that day that will remain with me forever is that a life in ruins is indeed a blessed life in blessed ruins. The echo of the kyrie sung by Eoin and Moley O Suilleabhain keeps arriving and nourishing me from my audio memory.
Inspired by a life in ruins, Coromroe Abbey and the blessings of this holy occasion and the honeymoon I found myself witness to, these words came to me.
We blessed them in the ruins.
Not the ruins of their past lives,
But the ruins of their life ahead.
The fragments worn and lost,
Have gone to where they needed to go;
Into the earth,
Or onto the wind.
The ruins that remain are the resilient bits.
The bits that can take the elements,
That can stand the tests of time,
That stubbornly refuse to collapse under the pressures of trials and treasons.
Ruins, strong and embedded into the landscape;
Worn well throughout the ages;
Holding and grounded in a deep wisdom.
Ruins that know weathering is a sign of endurance.
No decay or debris to be found here.
No death or destruction.
All ruins: fully present and accounted for;
Inspired by the love of days;
that will count for years.
The blessing made
The marriage confirmed.
Never before had I been a guest at a honeymoon!
So when I feel like my life might be in ruins, I return to Whitby, to Rudesheim and especially to Coromroe Abbey. I go to a deeper place where I receive my life in ruins with gratitude. I grow in my desire for the elements to support my disappearance and gracefully shape the remains. I look forward to the birds of the air, the pollen and air borne spores finding a home and bond with me in a timeless, ever changing way.