I went for a walk yesterday. This was the first long walk that I have taken for a few weeks. It takes me about twice as long to get to a place, but it is always great to do so. I walked through the ruins that are located behind the our Jesiut house. The ruins are of a mill built by the Mickle family in 1832, and then rebuilt as a barn in the early 1900s. This is old for this part of the world. I find this to be a sacred place. The Irish writer, John O’Donohue, states that a ruin is not empty but is full of presence. It holds the memory of the ones who inhabited it. The ruin “still echoes the presence of the vanished ones.” I found this to be true as I visited various ruins of old monasteries in Ireland this summer. You could feel the generations of prayer and activity that were once present in these magnificent structures. It is also true for our very own ruins here. I seldom go to the ruins without thinking of the Mickles. This time though, as I saw the trees growing in the midst of the ruins, I had a sense that this is where Jesus would choose to be born, in the midst of the experience of poverty and decay. The trees symbolize the birth of something new, bringing forth life. Not a bad symbol of the child Jesus, as we try to allow this area of our property to revert to an “old-growth forest.” Trees are always such a reminder of hope for me.
This past year my family saw the birth of three new grand nieces. Talia had twins, and Ryan had his second daughter. When I was home in August, I had the joy of baptizing them and their cousin, Maria’s daughter, now over a year old. All are great reasons for hope.
Blessings for 2013!