“In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur, and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls…
East Coker, T.S. Eliot
In Fort Lauderdale, the age of buildings is measured in decades, at most in a span of a single century. While we lived there, we saw many tear-down and build-ups happen, especially in the east part of town, where the quaint old Florida homes no longer served and it seemed like everyone wanted a McMansion.
It is different here. I ride back and forth between our house and Prattville, where I do my regular shopping, on a gently curving country road. I have often noticed structures that were once inhabited or used that are slowly, but surely, returning to the land. I went into town today and happened to have my camera with me. My trip had started with a visit to St. Paul’s to take a picture I need for one of the services I will be helping with so my mind was on Holy Week. I decided to take some pictures I had been wanting to take for a while but had never gotten around to.
This turned out to be lovely, unexpected Holy Week meditation. The death and destruction in the structures I stopped to take pictures of was undeniable—and has been all along. Now, with Spring pushing out in every way imaginable, there was also that visual—and very viscerally experienced—juxtaposition. Life and death so inextricably bound together. I am glad to find myself living where that bleaker truth about our existence is not so easily plastered, tiled and painted over. It makes the absoluteness of life sweeter somehow.