Years ago I visited Bective Abbey.
With my friend Seamus, we walked around the old ruins of what once was one of the largest monasteries in Ireland.
After the walk we sat down to rest looking at the landscape, then Seamus asked me: can you hear the monks singing? At that time I only heard the wind passing by and, in the distance, the bubbling of the waters of the Boyne River. Nothing else.
-Several years later I read a poem by the Irish poet Derek Mahon “Disused shed in County Waterford”.
-The poem helped me to understand why I did not hear the monks singing that afternoon at Bective Abbey and allowed me to learn how to listen to them, even now.
-The Abbey is in ruins, that is, they represent a past that existed, a past in which people similar to us lived. People who searched for God, who cooked, sang, just like us. If the ruins remain, it is because they want to tell us: we are here, we were like you. Above all, the ruins want to tell us a very important thing: do not forget us because we have something important to tell you!
-What they want to tell us is transmitted in the song they sing.
-That song is nothing else but the call to prayer. A prayer that still exists today, a prayer that has been passed down from generation to generation to praise God.
-The connection between those who are no longer here and us is called tradition. The act of remembering is called memory. Remembering those who are not with us, because they have died, because they have left, etc. it is a way of communicating with them, of having them close to the heart, it is a way of being with them, of bringing them from the past to our present.
Today I can hear the Bective Abbey Monks chant and I am honoured to belong to a tradition that has its roots in such deep and fertile soil.
Now, Bective Abbey it’s not only a place it is a way of seeing.