When people think of the ancient monastic city of Glendalough they think of the round tower…the finest preserved example in Ireland. Its purpose is unclear but most scholars believe it served as a bell tower, a look out, a store house for church valuables, and a sanctuary in case of invasion. It is an impressive structure but I didn’t spend much time there.
I wandered through the graveyard, still used by local residents, and found this lovely view of the Wicklow Gap. This stunning location couldn’t be more different from the Burren yet there is still the sense of hushed antiquity. There is also a residual energy to this place, perhaps imprinted by the thousands of pilgrims who have come here over the centuries.
I walked within the walls of the cathedral and found a little niche to put my token. My eye was drawn upward to another niche high above my head. A black bird was coming and going, bringing nest materials to his niche. For a moment our eyes met and we regarded each other. I felt he wanted to let me know that though these are ruins now to we humans, the birds find safe haven within the ancient walls to rear a new generation. Life is going on all around us while we contemplate the distant past.
That, perhaps surprisingly, was the message I took away from my walk in the monastic city that day. We worship what was while ignoring what is and in so doing miss the very essence of life. I will still love to walk through ancient ruins and absorb the history and presence of the place but I will try to remember to see the power of life renewing itself around me every moment for in the end, “now” is all we have. The birds know this far better than we do.