A window into the life of a professional geek, wife and mother (and nonni), stitcher/designer, bibliophile, old-school gamer, and whatever other roles she finds herself in.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Alternate realities

I reject your reality, and substitute my own! - Adam Savage of Mythbusters

Welcome to Reject Reality Monday, as declared by my wondering and landed friends. Several of us will be rejecting reality in various forms in our blogs today.

Let us, then, step away from this reality, from torrential rains, tornadoes, and overflowing patios. Away from the frenetic tempo of the workaday world...

...and come into the courtyard of a small castle of dark stone, set in the mountains of Wales. Not in ruins as it stands in this reality, but built into its full glory, overlooking a river that winds through a forested valley. A soft breeze blows past, bearing with it the scents of spring.

Away, then, through a door at the base of a square tower and up to a room with comfortable chairs and a pot of tea at the ready. Arched windows look down upon the outer ward, upon roses standing guard along the wall.

Such is my refuge, if only in my mind. Far away from the land of hurricanes and heat, to a land that sings in my heart, and where worries hold no sway.

And where, if only in my mind, the formidable castles and majestic cathedrals remain untouched by destruction. I've walked the ruins of many castles, and tried to imagine them as once they stood. I've seen the shattered bones of cathedrals, and wondered at the glory they may once have held...

So many things have passed away, stolen away by time or by the hands of man.

Earlier this month, we visited the city of Speyer, on the banks of the Rhine, and we visited the imperial cathedral there (which, btw, is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites). The cathedral is nearly 10 centuries old, and architecturally it's very beautiful. But it's also rather...bare...for such an august structure. At a nearby museum, there are several richly decorated chalices, vestments, and other liturgical items that give a tantalizing hint of how richly decorated it must once have been. But in 1689, the French raided and set fire to it. Restoration was finished in 1784....and in 1794, it fell victim to the French Revolution. Anything monetarily valuable and portable was carted off. Everything else was burned.

But at least the cathedral still stands, and is still in use as a cathedral after all it's been through. So many of the places I've been are not even that. A cathedral and a castle in St. Andrews, Scotland. Fotheringhay Castle in England - a few stones are all that remains, and I can only speculate on what may have been. So many other places....

If I get to Heaven, I should like to think I could go back and see things as they stood at their prime. To see Speyer, Orvieto, and other cathedrals in their full splendour. To walk the walls and towers of Fotheringhay and other noble castles. Perhaps even to see places that exist now only in history, like the Library of Alexandria...

It would be the reality of which our own is but a shadow.

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