Leonard Cohen once sang, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” These words remind me of all the painful, broken and unresolved things in life. No one wants the cracks. They alter what once was, they ruin all that perfection we’re working so hard for, they’re ugly. But those “cracks”, however unwelcome, are what let the light – the grace and wisdom and belly laughter – in.
I’ve thought a lot about those words this week as I’ve walked around this town, exploring the nooks and crannies among ruins that were once walls and ceilings of spectacular churches, convents and hospitals. Antigua was established by the Spanish conquistadors as the capitol city in 1543. In an earthquake-prone region, it survived a series of volcanic eruptions, floods and large tremors until 1773, when a 7.5 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of the town and killed nearly 1,200 people. The capitol city was then moved to where it is now, Guatemala City, but Antigua has preserved much of the ruins of the old town. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site for this reason. While new things are built and buildings are renovated, everything is still aligned with Antigua’s original design inspired by Italian Renaissance and Spanish Baroque periods. Some ruins have been turned into parks, some into office buildings and some into hotels and restaurants.
Next week a photographer is coming out for Ara Collective and so, in preparation, I spent most of this week scouting out locations that can capture the inspiration behind Collection One. It made me feel like a kid again – peering around corners, climbing up huge chunks of old walls and gazing up through massive holes that were once cathedral ceilings. So many wondrous spots in those hidden corners, now covered in vines, volcanic ash and a little graffiti. All that brokenness is such a tragedy, a loss of something that once was so stunning, that represented someone’s society, that brought communities together. But there’s also such a beauty about it now, in it’s broken and useless state. Something about it makes me want to whisper.