An old man sits in a window that isn’t there. A ruin. Glass hasn’t been in this window in decades, if not more than a
hundred years or so. So the man hoists his butt a few inches higher than normal and sits in the box made by the window.
He gazes out across tree tops. Being at the top of a hill, the tops of trees blend imperceptibly into the sky beyond. Looking in
another direction, he might see a spire or two. Here, though, nothing but tree tops and sky.
The sun falls behind trees. The sky begins to shift from blue to purple to blends that would look silly in a painting – something
you’d see in a cheap hotel room over a bed – but look stark and grand to the naked eye at dusk.
The ruin is a miracle in itself. The man think no one would allow this to happen anymore. There would be a group of important people
sitting in nice chairs around a nicely polished table. “It’s too dangerous,” someone would say. “It’s an eye-sore,” someone else
would say. “It’d be a good place for a picnic gazebo.” The nice people would nod their wise heads and come to a decision. Raze the ruin to the
ground. Take away the refuse. Turn the space into a park with a nice picnic space, and people can enjoy the views.
Blessedly that wasn’t done. The man doesn’t know how, but the miraculous happened instead. A group of people looked at
this ruin of an ante-bellum girls’ school, and they thought, “Let’s preserve what we can.” There’s a grand entrance with a grand staircase that
leads to a front porch with giant columns that dwarf human scale to nothing. The pillars reach toward . . . nothing. There’s no more roof, but the pillars remain,
strong and straight.
The remains of the porch were reinforced with steel, so it’s safe and not noticeable to anyone not looking for it.
The grand entrance opens into rooms and chambers that have some hints of interior walls, but mostly not. There are stairs that take the
observer to various levels of the ruin. All is open to the sky. Steel lends structural safety, but the beauty of the original stone masons remains to be seen
everywhere, from the chapel walls to the kitchen’s main fireplace.
Tonight a play is being performed in the shadow of the ruin. A designer has nestled some platforms in a corner of the exterior walls, and
a crowd sits on the grass, looking up at the actors, the walls, and the sky.
The audience hears jokes that have been told by characters across hundreds of stages over the past several centuries, and they laugh
again. These jokes are good. The audience watches a magician who loves his only daughter and would do anything for her welfare. The audience witnesses the
scheming of a coup, the quiet assassination of a ruler while searching for a lost son. Once again, this audience, like so many others in the past, thrill at the ultimate
foiling of the plot. All ends well. The boats are safe, we’re told. Everyone will be able to go back home. The daughter will be taken care of and be
able to rule two great countries as a queen. The magician gets his dukedom returned to him. A fairy spirit gets freedom. And evil is forgiven.
The man in the window breathes deeply the humid summer air. Sadly, he’s lost his sense of smell, but he imagines the sweetness of
rich blooms that are planted throughout the grounds.
Some children have come with their parents to see this play, but lost a little interest in the ancient words, having lost out to the
season’s first appearance of fireflies. As the spreading dark throws her cloak over the grounds, the lightning bugs flicker about as they engage in their annual search
An old man on the stage once again reminds us that all things shall go away – “… the great globe itself, yea, all which it
inherit, shall dissolve. . .” – and the while children chase the fireflies, looking to catch a little light in their little palms.
This view of life is indescribably beautiful. Maybe all will eventually dissolve and leave not a wrack behind. In the meantime,
children grab at the light. It’s summer.
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”