From a distance (my story across the sea and in England and Wales for two weeks), life takes on a more simple hue, especially when you are staying in a 17th Century farmhouse surrounded by mountains, green hills, streams, and sheep. Yes, there was electricity and running water, something I know my Welsh ancestors did not have, and I would not have wanted to have a toothache in those days, but one could sit outside in the evening and watch the sheep graze and see the sun sinking behind the hills, and hear the birds in the distance. And if one paid attention very closely it was possible to sense the long flow of time, to feel a connection to the same earth upon which farmers and shepherds once walked, and to hear the often sad but sometimes joyous music of the harp and lute.
One day I found the remains of an old (1888)Methodist chapel at the bottom of the hill. It was overgrown with weeds; trees grew out of the space where people once sat. Someone said it had been purchased and taken apart rock by rock so that it wouldn’t be used for something other than a place for the local people to gather. And when I walked through the church graveyard I stopped for a moment before the grave of another ‘John Morgan’ who died a century ago. Someone had placed flowers on his grave site, as if to say, “here was someone I still care about”
In the long run, I doubt anyone will remember me; we live, die and pass from the memories of all but those who love us most. And perhaps that is how it should be, because it is the common lot of us all if we are fortunate to have a least a few who loved us.
The morning before I left that northern Wales farmhouse, I walked down to that old church and stood before its remaining doors thanking whatever gods there be that I still had life and time to go, but honoring those who went before and for just a moment sending my thoughts (dare I say “prayers”?) their way, hoping that somewhere in the places past time and space, they might know I stopped.
'Keep Calm and Carry On.'
I am a writer and teacher of philosophy who lives in the Greater Philadelphia Area. I love teaching and hanging around students, wrestling with putting words together, enjoying books and animals and my family. And when I can afford it, I love to travel--hence the British advice of "keep calm and carry on." The name Morgan is Welsh and means sea dweller. And when I return to where my ancestors settled centuries ago in a small Welsh village, I feel the connections to them, the earth, to musicand poetry, and the sea. My last book, A Teacher, His Students, and the Great Questions of Life, is available on Amazon in print or Kindle format.
At Work and Play