I knew there were ruins of an old sugar mill off the main road to the beach just an hour's drive from where I lived, but I’d never visited them. I'm not sure why I've missed this little piece of history in my own backyard since I'm quite intrigued by ...

 

Grace with Silk: Rising from the Ruins





I knew there were ruins of an old sugar mill off the main road to the beach just an hour's drive from where I lived, but I’d never visited them.

I'm not sure why I've missed this little piece of history in my own backyard since I'm quite intrigued by broken bricks, dilapidated pillars and crumbling stones.

My sister, mother and I once took a girls' road trip through Mississippi and Louisiana, visiting historic homes and gardens.

As much as I liked touring the beautiful restored old houses, walking through overgrown fields with disintegrating stumps of chimneys and crumbling columns that hold up nothing but air was much more fascinating to me.


Maybe it's taken me so long to visit the old sugar mill near the beach because it's not easy find.

A barely noticeable sign partially obscured by trees points to a gravel road off a busy highway, but we miss it and have to turn around.

No one else is here.

It's not your typical Florida beach day since it's cloudy with spurts of sprinkling rain, but I wonder if the grounds are always this deserted.


I read the historical markers and learn the sugar mill operated for only a few years before it was wrecked and burned in 1835 during the Seminole Indian War, when Florida was still a territory and not yet a part of the United States.

The crumbling and fire-blackened walls that remain are made from coquina {a mixture of shells and sand} and the big iron cauldrons to process the sugar are still here too.

As I look at the warnings for visitors not to climb on the walls so they'll be preserved for future generations to see, I realize I’m not always eager to preserve what’s ruined in my life.

In fact, I’d much rather do the opposite.



I tend to want to purge all traces of whatever's been damaged or broken during my life's journey, along with any accompanying mementoes that might remind me of the wreckage. {I suppose I hope that by removing the remnants, it might seem as if they never happened.}

But I wonder if what's damaged or wrecked in our lives is more noteworthy than we think?

Could that be the foundation for something new or altogether different if we let the ruins remain?

Could the crumbling walls and bits of broken shells that survive be the strongest fragments to sustain what is being rebuilt?


Maybe it's those experiences that have the significance to allow something new to rise from the ruins.

Maybe the shattered plans, disintegrated opportunities, scarred friendships, broken relationships, even our fractured hope that God is a redeeming God who can bring joy and new things to life, are far more meaningful than we know.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; 
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. 
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; 
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. - Is. 35:1-2



Not far from the sugar mill ruins is another charred sugar mill plantation. {And another piece of nearby history I've missed visiting.}

But this one was converted into an amusement park in the 1940s and now has new life as a small botanical garden.

{Abandoned amusement parks have always seemed a little eerie and creepy to me, and the leftover concrete dinosaurs don't do much to change my mind about that.}

But walking through both of these almost-destroyed places makes me think about time and perspective and perseverance.




It takes all of those things {and more} to rebuild hope and faith and trust, doesn't it?

I think I'm convinced that our ruined expectations, burned experiences and scorched circumstances can be the foundation stones for God to begin building something new in us.

And maybe the act of making peace with our own personal ruins allows new, brilliant and abundant life to eventually rise from what remains.

Like the spectacularly brilliant full moon we watched rise over the Atlantic that night.



I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart




 
   
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