Today’s collection of Edinburgh photos are from around Paisley Close, on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, or High Street. Despite the fact that this area had some of Scotland’s worse slums back in the 19th century, nowadays it’s all very pretty and rather upmarket.
Paisley Close was the site of a disaster, in 1861, which saw two, 250 year old houses collapse completely. The falling masonry crushed to death 35 people who lived here. This high number was due to the chronic overcrowding which was prevalent in the slums at the time. When the firemen approached the rubble to begin clearing it away they heard a young lads voice shouting to them. “Heave away lads I’m no deid yet.”
The tragedy and survival are remembered in the stone carving above the archway into the close. I always think about our human capacity to survive despite the world tumbling around us whenever I pass by. The McIver boys frail human voice echoed through the piles of destruction and pulled the firemen onwards towards an eventual successful rescue. Neither gave up, and as a result something precious was saved from the heart of terrible loss.
This precious gold which we can uncover from the heart of our own deep losses, sometimes adds beautiful highlights to an emotional landscape which may have been painted grey by grief. I find this is good to remember whenever I feel despair sweeping darkly through my life. Choosing to be mindful of life even in the midst of death or loss can help to bring us back to a balance between the two.