If you enjoy history you must have had the desire to go back to a particular time or place in the past. After watching “Dr. Who” or “Back to the Future”, there is that desire to see history as it was happening; naturally with out the plague, guillotine or other deadly problem!
Two places that always rekindle that desire are the Cistercian abbeys of Rievaulx and Fountains. Both are in sublime locations in North Yorkshire, UK. and enough remains (despite the efforts of King Henry VIIIth) to give us big clues as to their daily life and activities. But in the end we can only make well considered deductions from the ruins, archaeology and historical documents.
How great it would be if you could go back to these places when they were at their peak!
We tend to look at history through the lens of our culture and its values. We weigh things up with our 21st century mindset. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could ask the monks what their hopes, fears, dreams, motivations and aspirations were. What was it really like living in these remote and secluded places? How did they see God and His impact on their lives? What did they hope to achieve and … what was it like to pray for hours on end in a frozen Yorkshire winter?
Nobody will ever wonder about our generation. We have written, blogged and videoed all our angsts and desires – ad nauseum. But these people can only be seen through the fogs and shadows of time. We can know them – but only just.
In the meantime, for me, these old abbeys exude a mystery and allure that keeps me fascinated.