I travelled to Ireland to see my son. He’s in Belfast, N. Ireland and having a great time there. My wife and I did some day travelling around the place and I discovered that everything new is old in Ireland.
New construction was done in, what I would call here in N. America, an old style. Brand new places were conciously made to fit in with what’s been there before. It’s not quite like the Amish’s distrust of zippers and other modern radical ideas. It’s as if, unconciously, yet collectively, they exercise their will and say, we’ll come here, but no further. And I’m not implying that here is bad or that further is good or even better.
Here I think we make a choice for fast and easy or fast and cheap. There I saw twice the work going in to half the place but work that maintained a culture – or should I say just ‘culture’?
I stepped on a step outside a cathedral in England. It was a stone step, the kind of stone that doesn’t give way easily to erosion. I realized that the stone had a dip in the middle, a dip created by hundreds and thousands of worshippers coming in and out of the cathedral over decades and centuries. In N. America, we would’ve filled that dip in or replaced the entire step just to avoid any potential lawsuits from people who slipped on the dip. But there I was, my foot precisely where the feet of men and women, great and small, had stepped on their way to pray for the last 500 years. And I felt connected, part of something much bigger than me with deep, strong roots, something that was there before me and would be there long after me.
Inside the cathedral the floors and walls were the gravestones of men and women of faith who had died over the last 500 plus years. In my mind I imagined the community of faith coming together there for worship, small children running at top speed down the long corridor over the graves of their great, great, great, great grandparents. How fun is that? We miss something, in N. America, I think, being so cut off from such history and a line that runs back, unbroken for so long.