Saturday, February 11, 2017

Beyond ghosts and a wishing past

"We have a surprise for you."

My friends know me so well and they were brimming with excitement. They lead me through a forest path, uneven. I held onto a gentleman's arm for stability as slick leaves slipped out from under my feet until we leveled out into a clearing. And there, pilled up bricks and stones took the form of an abandoned church. My jaw dropped.

"But the best part is that we can go in."

The front doors were only held shut with a wire which the gentleman soon unwound.

We stepped in and the grey of the afternoon was blotted out with a burst of warm pastels. Layers and layers of paint and patina, layers of so many histories. What had been and what was, with a fairly breathy bubble in between. I quickly set my light and raised my camera but my heart was beating so as to shake my hands, awkwardly. But joyfully.

For did it make me a bit sad that so much graffiti covered the walls, the floors? It did but they are stories too of people that who had felt so filled with life in this particular lieu that they had to mark it down. "I was here." "...slept was very cold." The unmistakable initials of another Romeo and Juliet, so in love, just at that precise moment. I could feel their presence, still, as well as those who had been married in this space or had baptized their children. Such a panoply.  

Since a while now, I have been especially aware that time is really not as linear or neat as we would like, to shrink it to what is palatable, but rather round and expanding. Nearly breathing, if you are willing to follow me without eye-rolling for such an oddly-named scenario. I was breathing with it, in many directions at once.

We stayed our welcome.

It seemed to take us a bit of time, blinking, to readjust to the forest once we had closed up the church. So much brilliant green, things growing. From across a ravine, I could hear the clank of bells and soon the goats strolled into view, herded by a man who seemed remarkably out of time himself. We watched with something nearing disbelief as he coaxed his crew over a small bridge until the little horned creatures were just there, one nibbling on my camera strap. He was friendly and we exchanged what we could amidst Italian and his local dialect. 

Something about that moment was so perfect and direct that it made me forget all of the ghosts just behind the walls. His smile perhaps. That this is his life, that he is good in it, in his skin. With a final call of "Ciao" and a wave he was up over the hill. The bells and bleats echoed on for a minute or two and then silence, present tense.

How is everyone? 
Thank you for being here. 
Sending much Love and Strength, as always,


  1. OH WOW!! What a beautiful place! And the shepherd....just sturdy loveliness. Thanks, as always, for sharing it all with us.

  2. Wow! History writ large in patina and scrawled messages. And then, here come the goats!

  3. Thank you for the beauty and the story, dear Heather. Your gorgeous photography and the goatherd make his work look quite tempting!

  4. I love the green door .. one can imagine story after story on that patina .. Mahalo, Rocket, for another wonderful sharing!

  5. Oh my, you stepped into a place of quiet beauty and the gentleman with his herd of goats just added to the whole experience.

    Thank you for sharing ~ FlowerLady

  6. Totally magical. I love moments of the unexpected like this. Life is layers upon layer....
    Ali x

  7. Still here and enjoying your blog. Good to hear what you are up to.
    Diana xx

  8. High on a hill stood a lonely goatherd (laidee-oo..) - LOVE the goats up the hill pic - a new favorite!! What a treat, this church - one more reason to love your friends! Yes, so many ghosts, stories, colors - we are so lucky to view it all through your eyes/lens! And the goats - frosting on the cake!

  9. Great adventure and beautiful pics, Heather! It seems as if the goat herder knew the way and I love the capture of him!
    Amazing day for you! T xx

  10. What sweet friends you have! I love all the old churches and hate to see them in a state of ruin. I know that the country is filled with them and the cost of restoring them must be prohibitive. But still....

  11. How lovely and affirming, to breathe in and gaze on those sweet lives that were there only "yesterday". Thanks for reminding us yet again of this huge world that is really quite small, and of these folks (and goats) that we could sit down and happily dine and exchange stories with.

  12. What a privelege, to spend some beautiful, contemplative moments suspended in time. How many goatherds has that church seen, and vice versa?

  13. The Church, too beautiful for words.

  14. The colours just blew me away - especially the green of that door.

  15. time is not linear
    nor is life
    beauty is everywhere
    in every dimension
    lucky are we who can see

    love always Bernadette

  16. What a treasure! And, icing on the cake, were the goats and goat herder! Lovely day! Thank you for sharing!

  17. Did you feel any spiritual awakening while walking in the abandoned graffiti-filled old church?
    The shepherd and his herd is a wonderful surprise.


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