Friday, April 27, 2012

Ghost Buildings

Photo credit Helsing
There is a kind of afterlife that exists in our physical world.  Our actions and experiences continue to resonate long after the situations they were born in are gone.  Whether our loved one is with us, in another place, or dead, these experiences make up a great deal of our relationship.  New experiences merely add on to the sum.  Those we love always leave their mark on us.

Walker Road Demolition Photo credit Rob Ayre
The phenomenon of ghost dwellings,  accidental results of demolition, speaks to this kind of afterlife in a striking way.  Created when one structure is removed from a shared wall of another, the ghost dwelling reveals physical evidence of the life that was shared there.

Photo credit Dermographix
As a coral reef grows into a habitat for new life, it's structure made up of the bones of it's departed citizens, our world too, is the land of ghosts.

The castle-in-the-air theory Photo Credit Bernat_83
In grieving, we wonder if our loved one will still be with us somehow.  Will he be looking down on me, watching, maybe sending down subtle signs of love or advice?  Will our relationship continue?  Will it grow?  Will it simply become a monologue and wither away?

Photo Credit Evan Helfrich
The grieving may want their loved one back with them to share in their present and future, but it is nonetheless a certainty that our dead continue to live on in us.  The experiences we've shared with them shape even our understanding of the world, not to mention the shapes and patterns of our daily thoughts and ruminations.

Multicolor Photo Credit Carmen Alonso
Let us imagine then, as we look at these buildings; do we see loss?  Do we see evidence of absence?  If so, we must also acknowledge the shared bonds and experiences that will not disappear as long as one of the partners stands.

How do we move on after loss?  Perhaps the ghost buildings can help us to see an answer to this as well.  We will never be able to re-form what had been there.  We cannot place a new flight of stairs where we see the evidence of an old flight.  

Railway Bridge Wall Photo Credit Jane Parker
But we need not fear losing the bonds and life that has been shared.  Though time may pass, and we may start a new relationship with the world; the bonds that have shaped us and knit us to our loved one will last as long as we will.

1 comment:

gloriamundi said...

Only just found this really rather profound and poetic posting, Patrick - thought-provoking and beautiful, thank you. It resonated so strongly with a certain way of thinking that I want to encourage amidst bereavement and funeral ceremonies. What and how do we take forward, how does grief enrich our lives, can bereavement add to us as well as shrinking our lives? I hope you don't mind if I use a reworked version of one of your thoughts here. Especially when bereaved people do not have a religious faith or a belief in the afterlife, I want funerals to help them carry away and forward what they can.

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