Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Small Shrines

Farmers walked along this land.


European countries with such centuries of history have, by sheer time, amassed incredible buildings, structures, monuments, and fountains that shout to the visitor:  “I have been here longer than you can imagine!" 


Shrines to the past stand tall, but most visitors do not know what they memorialize. Tourists are there to see, but not to learn. They suffer from camera overload:  so many photo opportunities stand that it is overwhelming to pick and choose. They may try, but there are too many places and things.

We have traveled to Switzerland every summer since 2013. When our daughter gave us a grandson, we hungered to hold him and see him grow. Each time, he taller and soon he was taking us on big adventures of his own making. Now we have his little brother to enjoy.

On the way back to our rented apartment, on the right, each day we passed by a cemetery where tombstones were also made.  On the left, we traveled by clearly ignored shrines of their own, clustered together.

Unlike the grand shrines of historical figures, these shrines require abstract thinking.

I labeled this post "Small Shrines".  

These are stone watering troughs from old farmlands, gathered together  to share the history of the farmers.


An old English telephone booth without its glass, has no phones where a plant had grown. It was there on purpose, I hope.

Each day we walked along the river.

A tree leans along the Aure River, hanging on with its roots until the next snow-melt flood

Sometimes the Small Shrines speak the loudest.
Sometimes one has walk along a river.
Sometimes one has to search for them and sometimes one has
to look to the left.

51 comments:

  1. A lovely post, and how happy you must be with two grandsons to enjoy. Yes, the word shrine can be used in so many different ways, Susan. Your words made me think of the bunch of flowers left on the roadside near the scene of an accident. And the small wooden chalet style boxes by the wayside decorated with flowers and in memory of a local saint. So many in Europe, but few in England. But we have our dressing of the
    wells, the same sort of remembrance I should think 🌹

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    1. When we lived in Ireland, we saw the grottoes with flowers there. We also have crosses and flowers at the sites of accidents. I pray for those lost as we see them.

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    2. They are blessed to receive your prayers 🌹

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  2. Replies
    1. The beauty that fills Switzerland is amazing.

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  3. How delightful to watch your grandsons grow and because they are not next door to see daily, the differences each year must be startling.

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  4. Hi Susan - how lovely to read your memories ... and yes - our history stretches out behind us ... with those funny memorials, as well as the true stone for the ancients. Delightful ... European and English landscapes ... so much to see and remember ... so pleased you can get over to see your grandsons - cheers Hilary

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  5. In England, we drove a few miles and then there was a church with the headstones. Some were built in the 14th century. Amazing.

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  6. There are always small shines to see here as you know. It's nice to stop and see them, read the inscriptions if there are any and think about how life was like back in the days.
    Nice post Susan!

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    1. Seeing these little dedication and remembrances of a time past reminds me that there were people placing them in that spot with a reason.

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  7. Oh! Those tree roots … tenacity defined. You inspire me to pay closer attention.

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    1. Aren't they, though! How old was the tree, what happened to it...all those questions pop up.

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  8. The shrines ignite the fires of my imagination. Each one has a story to tell. Intriguing.

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    1. Yes! I have thought the same thing. May be a post someday for me to write.

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  9. History is constructed (though usually not taught) on the shoulders/backs of small shrines. I love to see them, to marvel and to learn.

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    1. The movie "Dunkirk" really pointed that out for me. On French beaches, 250,000 infantry waited to be rescued. On the English side, Churchill struggled to arrange fleets.

      The small shoulders waited. History came from them.

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  10. It's the small things my wife says.
    The person with the old phone booth might be a Doctor Who fan.

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    1. I have heard that changing the blue telephone box is being considered. Sacrilege.

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  11. Indeed Susan. These shrines from the past are still there if we look for them. Years ago we had a stone water trough for horses to drink from in a town near us. It has been removed. There are still milestones on the route to the next town.

    God bless.

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    1. I wonder what happened to the trough? Progress requires change, even though I don't like it.

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  12. Those roots sure are hanging in there. Seeing them grow yearly sure must be quite easy to see indeed.

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  13. To look beyond the obvious can be rewarding in many ways.

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  14. Small shrines would be for smaller groups, so more keenly felt, I'd imagine.

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    1. Good thought. We feel those little parts of life, which is me.

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  15. Old things are fascinating. I often wonder about the people who used old farm implements, telephone booths, buildings, etc. I wonder what brought them to use these things, what their lives were like, what were their concerns and similar things.

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    1. Exactly how I feel. there is a FB site from my Illinois friends "Abandoned Houses in Illinois". I see those and wonder about who lived there, what they did, why did they leave.

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  16. Switzerland always impressed me so much, i wish i could go back. Maybe someday.

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  17. Stone barn and house foundations. Stacked stone fences. And the watering troughs and headstones. So many shrines to our past all about us.

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    1. You see the same things the way I do--by looking at them and realizing that they had a history made by people.

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  18. I think it is interesting to visit peoples homes and spot the small shrines they have set up (probably unknown even to themselves) to the things and people they love and admire....bookcases full of books...a shirine to literature, pictures of long dead family members..a shring to the ancestors, collections of potted plants...a shrine to nature etc etc. WE all have these little shrines in our homes. Look around you.

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    1. It would appear my typing fingers are having trouble tonight....shrine....there, I did it right.

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    2. You are so correct. I didn't think that way. We do have those shrines of our own. Well done.

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  19. Great pictures. I really like the plant in the phone booth.

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    1. I couldn't figure out what it was. It wasn't in bloom at the time.

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  20. I love the old watering troughs. They make me think about what daily life was like in the past. I do the same thing when we drive around and I see old barns and farmhouses. There's a phone booth like that on the Sooner campus at OU, where my son goes to college. Of course he had his picture taken with it when he visited prior to enrollment.

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    1. Wonderful! Like you, we drive along and note the places where people once built a house and barn, lived there, and the buildings were still there long after people left.

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  21. i loved your mention about your precious grandson dear Susan !

    i loved the shots either ,serene and narrative

    i agree that tourist (honestly i am not exception most of time) mostly keep themselves busy in nonstop photography and often forget to enjoy and explore

    this tree and it's roots suddenly remind me humanity on earth ,don't know why

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    1. Life is transient, just like this tree. It has been a rooted tree until the soil is washed away year after year. Also kinda like man. The roots and the soil are the source of security.

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  22. I vaguely remember a long time ago some old public phone boxes being for sale, perhaps someone bought that one for their yard. I hope the old tree manages to hold on for a good while longer. I don't recall ever seeing any small shrines, not permanent ones anyway, mostly crosses and flowers left at crash sites where people died.

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    1. I think here in USA there is not the idea of recognizing something that happened or that is represented at any certain spot. In Illinois and Missouri, there are famous people like Mark Twain and Zebulon Pike (who was the source of my Pike county) There are all sorts of recognition stones.

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  23. It is so true what you say, Susan, most tourists are there to see, not to learn. I never cease to wonder at people who visit a world renowned monument like the Blue Mosque, or the Taj Mahal, for example, and do not take the time to do a little research before leaving home, with the result that they arrive there with no idea of the history and purpose of the site they are visiting, it would be like me going to a part of the world that I had never visited, and knowing nothing about the birds I would encounter, other than that they are pretty!

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  24. I love the small shrines you shared, especially the stone watering trough.
    Have a pleasant, productive day, Susan.

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  25. #1- those pictures were so cool!

    #2- the phone booth reminded me of a similar sight. Only it was on a fairly remote grassy hill. And it was an outhouse. But it was a tree coming up out of hole #2.

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  26. I love the photo of the tree in the old phone booth! There is something both beautiful and eerie about it.

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  27. I love this post Susan -- and I agree about the tree in the phone booth. It's really lovely. I wish it was in my yard. You're right about shrines -- they mean something to someone, and don't we wish we knew who or what?

    Switzerland? How lovely! That's a spot I'd love to visit -- the way back relatives (and I'm talking 1600s) heralded from there. And speaking of visits, thanks so much for coming by my spot! I love your comments!

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!