I Can Only Imagine

Ireland has the most fantastic history.  It’s full of castles, abbeys, churches, houses and other incredible buildings that have been here for hundreds of years.  Or some horrible historical thing happened and there are ruins left where magnificent buildings use to be.  There are graveyards of great people, common people who did great things, loyal people who fought for their country, what ever their beliefs.  There are round towers that I just love.   There are cairns and dolmens and passage graves that have existed since before the pyramids of Egypt .

The labor that went in to these places is mind blowing.  The history that was lived in and around these buildings has shaped all of our lives.  If you live in Ireland or America, Ireland’s history has affected you.

And with all of the influx of travelers to this wonderful country it worried me that there would be too many to be able to scout out the ruins and the old places and walk the grounds, touch the rocks that started out as engraved memorials but over the many centuries have  been smoothed to ineligible carvings.   There wouldn’t be any way to just stand for a moment and picture the monks chanting or praying or eating their meals.  I wouldn’t get a chance to stand in the remnants of a three hundred year old house and imagine the lives that created it, and lived out their own history.  What was it like for them?  I love imagining it.

I needn’t have worried.

We couldn’t walk twenty feet in town without stepping off of the sidewalks in town to get past someone or stepping  into a doorway while others went by.   We had to wait for cars to go by so we could cross the street.  It was busy, very busy, in town.

But we drove the roads to see what we could find.  We passed a sign that said “Wedge Tombs”.  We went back, took a guess at how to find it.  David saw what use to be a sign post and he guessed maybe that is where it was.  It was no longer marked.  The trail to it was over grown and unkempt.  But there it was.  Three of them actually.  Hundreds, thousands, of years old.  Thousands.

Thousands.

We didn’t have to joggle through people.  We were the only ones there.   We checked out the site and not only were there 3 wedge tombs there, there appeared to be the remnants of a “stone circle”.  It was very obvious. This was very exciting.   And very abandoned and ignored.

It made me sad.

But, I got my wish and we  had it to ourselves.  A contradiction.  I know.

While on a great bike ride that took us from one country to another within the same country we went to a fairly well posted (by Ireland’s standards) stone circle (think Stonehenge).  It was well cared for, and ‘labeled’.  But no history was posted like in other areas we went to.  Again, no one.  Just us.  I was glad it was just us.  I hope the crowds came after us.  And I hope they all appreciated that a culture created this and it meant something to them.

Right on the edge of a busy town was a graveyard.  I appreciated the sign that said “this is consecrated ground please treat it with the reverance it deserves”.  Amen to that.

After we got there one young woman walked up, took some pictures, and walked away.  Maybe she would have stayed longer if we had not been there.  That’s what I’d like to think.  We stood there trying to picture the entirety of the church and it’s buildings.  It was beautiful.  Even in it’s “ruined” state.  The history was posted.  It was a church, taken over and used as a fortress.  Attacked.   Holy men lived there.  Soldiers fought there.  Very strong faiths, holy or territorial, were lived out here.

I try to feel it.  I want to feel  it.   I want to be able to stand there and glimpse the historical people who lived out their lives.  Not knowing that someone 500 years, 800, years, in some cases 4000 years later would be standing where they stood thinking about them and what they did.  What they looked like.  How and what they ate.  These places are like snapshots of a world that is no longer.  These places are about people.  That intrigues me.

I can touch a stone wall that maybe 600 years ago that villager leaned against as he helped build this church.  Or step in to the remnants of a fallen house built 300 years ago.  Stand there knowing that people slept, worked, sang, prayed, mended their clothes, birthed their children,  all within this small stone enclosure.  It fascinates me.

I wish I could share it with you.

I wish it mattered more to others.

But selfishly I appreciate being there when today’s world is not there.  And maybe a little of another world is silently watching me imagine them.

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