I’d heard there was a lost settlement round the headland, a couple of miles south of the coastal village where I live. Nearby stands a now, rather isolated, Norman church commanding a magnificent view of the estuary.
Curious, I ventured past the World War II look out, picking my way over the smooth washed pebbles. And there it was. Large stones protruding from the base of the sand dunes, uncovered during a small-scale archaeological investigation of this long deserted medieval hamlet.
Hard now to imagine that here, between the steep rise of the railway embankment and the tidal waters of the Three Rivers Bay, a community once bustled about its business.
It got me thinking how little we really know of what has gone before and how little that actually matters.
As we strive, like worker ants to get our jobs done or make a mark on the world, or simply pay our bills and live to fight another day, out of our narrow line of sight, sea levels rise, tectonic plates shift imperceptibly, civilisations decline and fall and all these are like the sighs of a vast sea dragon of ancient times.
And yet we fall, again and again for the illusion that something about our little lives is terribly important, that some crucial piece that will give it all meaning is eluding us. So we strive and fret and struggle for only fleeting moments of peace and joy. All the while, wondering, wondering, is this it?
So simple we miss it. So ordinary we think there must be something more.
What is it?
There is no-thing to get nor leave behind for all that we are, all that we do, all that we make in the world of form will eventually turn to dust. Why be so serious? It’s okay to tread more lightly, take more pleasure in what you do and who you’re with, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Before and behind, past and future are just the in breath and the out breath of a vast awareness that cares little what we eat for breakfast, whether we enjoy or endure, wake up or remain asleep, for this vast awareness rises and falls with the grace of a magician’s dove emerging from the nothingness of a black hat only to disappear and re-emerge as the mischievous white rabbit.
The remaining stones buried in the sand dunes seem to tell a story of a lost community, the march of time but actually the story is much older. A story of dust turned into rocks and hands and buildings and families and work and love and sorrow and returning slowly to rocks and sand and one day dust again as the waters rise.
A story of beginnings and endings and the beautiful dance of Life taking form and dissolving only to take form again.
And to get even a glimpse of the majestic movements of this vast rising and falling, and our tiny yet infinite part of it, brings grace and ease and a deep sense of awe at the beauty and mystery of Life here, now.
Photo © Juliet Fay
St Ishmael, Carmarthenshire Wales, UK
23 February 2018
I’d love to hear your reflections on this piece.