old world

An Essay By Aisling // 8/9/2007

“All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” –Helen Keller

Strange how you can know when someone has known an age you never knew, a world that has died—or at least is dying. You can feel it in them, see it in their eyes.
Or you can see it so long as they still see it.
They will see it if they grew up in it, truly grew up in it, and it in them. They will see it, still, know it still, because they loved it. And all that we love deeply becomes a part of us—an irrevocable part.
It is a frightening thing, the passing of a world. And here you are reading it in their eyes: they loved a world you will never know.
But then…maybe you will. Somehow. You will know it from their eyes. And from their hearts. Their hearts will be teaching your heart to love it—as they did, and yet in your own way—that dying world. And it will live on in you when they are gone—the promise of what has been, becoming the promise of what is to come. And what is to come is beauty.
One day, when you are old and grey, and looking into the eager upturned eyes of your grandchildren, you will understand. And you will smile. You will smile to see that they are learning, from your eyes, from your heart, to love a world that is fading and passing away. You will smile to know that—passed from eye to eye, and heart to heart—the world, in the end, is not dying at all.
It will live on, within the lives of those who live within it.
But what is it, to live? and to live on… And what is this world? always dying and always being born again…
I am growing up on the shoulders and in the hands of my father—who grew up, himself, on the shoulders and in the hands of his own father. And I am growing in the arms and the heart of my mother—who grew up thus in her own mother. And, in some distant and half-unbelievable way, my mother and father have not stopped growing, even now; have not grown any farther away from that nearness that is a part of who they are—an irrevocable part.
We none of us are by ourselves, alone, unattached, and unaccompanied. We carry with us the legacy, the lives, of the people from whom we came.
Sometimes it is beautiful—like the way the sunrise is there to wake up to every morning, without fail…or like the way the air in springtime can oh so subtly make it delicious just to be breathing.
But sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it is a heavy, unforgiving wooden beam across our stripped backs…or a stone cutting a red mark into every step we take.
But, even as we are bound, we are free. Even as the whole history of humanity is knit together, so that no one life’s story can be taken and told alone—without mention of another—we have each our own story, which no other life can live. It is ours alone; ours and His, Who is the Way, and the Truth, and Life itself.
And the world keeps on turning. And the sun keeps on, forever, with its dance through the sky. And beneath its light we keep on living out our lives. Some are ending…and some beginning. And so the world is, at once, ancient, and ever new.
And, for each one of us, the story is a little different. Each generation has its own world; it comes into and becomes a part of them, and they go out into it and, in ways, make it what it is.
But it does not last forever. And with new life, old things die. But not all things. I know that, now. I wish it were that what was bad passed away, and what was good could remain, to stay forever. But the world is not that way. And nothing gold can stay…
Some things that have passed away I would not wish back again. But others—other things, that I have found in the heart of the dying world—I wonder how we can live without them….how we are living without them.
But now that I think about it…maybe we aren’t. Maybe, somewhere deeper down than even we can see, we are, in spite of ourselves, still growing up on the shoulders of our great-grandfather…maybe, in spite of ourselves, his morals, and his dreams, and his love of life is still in our veins. Maybe. Because they weren’t just his. And What created them in him is no less present within and around us; nothing we do can shake that presence. And What created them in him it is no less capable of creating, now.
And the drama unfolding around and within our lives is no more the end, now, than it was then.
If one thing has changed, I would say it is, then, that we have forgotten. Maybe our evil is the same as his, but we have forgotten its name, and its face. Maybe our good is every bit as great and every bit as beautiful, but we have forgotten where and how and why to look and to see it.
Do we even know, anymore, what we have? and what we have lost…? Do we even know what it is to live? To live, to really live, is to live forever.
We hang on to the hope we have and only half understand. And we go on. We always go on. And in our going on, the world endures.
And what is this world? always dying and always being born again? A place of stories. A place of lives. A place of beauty and bloodshed, of blessing and brokenness, a place of hope, of fear, and of questions without answers; a place of longing unfulfilled, and of love unknown or simply undiscovered; a place of triumph, and of tragedy. A place to live in. But not a place to stay.
And here you are, and you see all this in their eyes. An old word. A place to live in—to really live in.
In their stories, and in their smile, and in the curves of their heart…you meet their world. In glimpses, like pieces of a puzzle. An old world. But not a place to stay.
They are going somewhere.
We all of us are going somewhere.
They knew it. But do we know it, anymore?
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us... What will be made of, when the end comes?


Wow Aisling!

Aisling, What a beautiful essay! I am always just blown away by the beauty of your writing. The words you use, the way you write, the depth of what you are saying, It was just wonderful! The world and our lives are mysteries. I often wonder about it to. Thank you for writing that Aisling!


Elizabeth | Sat, 08/11/2007


The Holy Spirit is the quiet guest of our soul." -St. Augustine

Aw. Thanks for that.

Aw. Thanks for that. :)


Aisling | Sun, 08/12/2007

My goodness.

How beautiful. That was really lovely. I've always been so awed by this...this passing of worlds...what you're talking about. Bee. Ay. Ootiful. =]

Anonymous | Thu, 08/16/2007


"All of us are going somewhere..."
That is the beauty of life and death - we're all connected no matter how distant...
It is all too easy to forget the beauty of our human frailty - in fact, it seems there are people who never think about it at all. I wonder... What is this world is coming to? Where are we going?

Jenny | Fri, 08/24/2007