Beauty in the ruins of a life

things might have a familiar shape, a comforting presence, for the length of a life, or three lives, or even the time it takes for the breath to leave a body behind, and then it might, for all the world and for all the short distance your new eyes can see through the fog, appear to lose its meaning, its purpose, its reason for being allowed here.
even the solid shape of what was once birthed from a prayer, shaped from a strip of faith, has to die some time.
a man once said that there is a season for everything, and then, after that, there is loss.
loss—that sharp-tongued fiend that you hadn’t noticed sidling up to you as you were frantically dusting the shelves whilst the storm clouds roiled just over the hills.

do something for me?

kick off your shoes so that you might feel the promise beneath your bare feet.
slowly, slowly, don’t be afraid, start walking the perimiter of your life.
do this on your hungry, listening feet.
aah, i know.
it won’t leave.
that damp, looming, light-devouring presence.
it follows you, doesn’t it? pressed up so close to you that you want to scream, but for a lack of air, the want of it holding your throat hostage.
there is this difficult thing, perhaps unimaginable, for now, but it is here to stay, it will lodge within the borders of your days forever, but also, there is this—there is this truth about loss; and grief—they change their shape—at some point the light starts to wrap itself around their mouldering fur, and then something changes.
i don’t know how, but it does.
still, i won’t pretend that it happens in the time that it takes the moon to give birth to herself.
there are no easy answers to be found hanging on the fence, but there will be something.
or many small somethings.
and they will spring up right in front of your eyes, and then you might notice your hands are free to catch the rain, and for the first time, loss, will be sitting in the far corner of your life, eyes up to the heavens.
waiting for God to reach out and scratch it behind its ears.
the ordinariness of this.

there will be beauty there.

do this for me?

look for it.

© Liezel Graham 2023

{📷 unexpected beauty in the ruins}

perhaps you might want to use this photograph in your private writing, or journalling, or creative practice?

how would you respond to it?

is there a message there?

the image is one of several that i took of a ruined schoolhouse that has occupied a space where a medieval chapel once stood. the schoolhouse, in its original form, has been there since the 17th century. it has seen change and loss and is now effectively bare bones stripped back; pared down to what might seem like an empty presence, and yet, there is something, or small somethings, a beauty.

i look for this, continuously, as if it were the air that i breathe.