Why Lion Rock’s demise matters
Why I care, as a concerned Bermudian, about the disappearance of Lion Rock.
I am so sorry about Lion Rock. What we deem permanent about our island — the horizon, the sky, the reefs, the sea and the jagged rock — helps keep us grounded and sure even in the most tempestuous of times. Our stories grow from and exist within these elements. “Touch stones”, like Lion Rock, help us recall childhood memories that guide us, reassure us, remind us, that while change is inevitable, certain truths remain right and fixed. They are our North Star. They spark retelling of memories and the essential sharing of our history, generation through generation, and speak to our purpose, our potential and our place.
We know well enough that the wind, salt and waves naturally erode our precious shorelines. This is a part of the natural order of change and evolution. But an abrupt and heartless gouging by individuals acting alone, without regard for history and possible preservation is earth-shattering and disturbing.
Perhaps the Benevides family did not know of its significance. I do not know the details, but if they followed rules we deliberately and thoughtfully put in place to ensure an agreeable development building code to protect, in this case, our natural shorelines, they would have become aware and perhaps convinced to take a different direction. Perhaps not.
Or maybe they would have made concession to their personal plans and made another choice in deference to those who valued this landmark. Perhaps morality could have taken precedence over what is legally legislated.
I grew up with David and recall him to be a gentle and empathetic and intelligent person. That was a long time ago. Do people change that much?
We lost touch a while ago. I would like to have the opportunity to understand what he was thinking. (I wonder if he would take a call from me. I would welcome it.)
No matter what we discuss, however, the deed is done. Would he and his wife consider apologising to those they have injured, no matter how carelessly or inadvertently? Maybe he would consider reparations simply because he sees pain that can be addressed.
He and his wife are talented, creative people and we are a community of many artistic people that could help explore ideas. Maybe we could imagine a rebirth of a Lion somewhere along Harrington Sound shore. I would be willing to volunteer my time and talents and be a part of such an endeavour.
It was a rock, an inanimate piece of shoreline. It was cherished by some, unknown to others and ignored by many. Lion Rock. A rock that yes, could be “owned” as part of personal property but it was also a symbol that was emotionally owned by many members of our community. It looked enough like a universal emblem of strength and courage that it captured the imaginations of our local people and inspired pride. It evoked enough interest for us to want to share it with our visitors. It graced postcards that were subsequently mailed around the world encouraging others to “come and see who we are, out here in the Atlantic”. It garnered stops on tours in those golden days at the heights of tourism. It lay there in times of prosperity and contentment, and it lay there equally in times of deep pain and strife. Compass points do not discriminate or judge. They merely mark essential points. We decide the course.
For me, Lion Rock was part of passed-down history of the Harrington Sound area where my father, Jim Amos, spent many of his childhood years. I come from a family that tells the stories so frequently that we all know them by heart. These stories are ingrained in me and they are my history now too. These kind of tales give me a sense of belonging to this island of ours. This belonging fosters a fondness, appreciation and respect as a child, and grows into a sense that as an adult I should employ a special stewardship over all aspects of it for future generations.
Perhaps over the years, vigorous natural growth of foliage camouflaged Lion Rock enough for it to disappear from popular view. Even the way we speed around that corner in our visored helmets, and behind the windows of our sealed up, air-conditioned cars compared to the open, clip-clop pace of our carriage years would have made it an unrecognisable blur. Perhaps now, having been beheaded and mutilated, the courage and community this Lion once encouraged has been revealed again. This kind of spotlight awareness must not dissipate or become overgrown or sped-by, and those who valued Lion Rock and were inspired by it in the first place must now emphasise the importance of slowing down, and paying attention to the details.
Some have said they never knew of the existence of this rock and scoff at the pain others feel. I bet those people have their own “rocks” and their own stories that I know nothing about, but I would not scoff should they lose such a mark because I would care simply because they did. That is what empathy and emotional intelligence is. I would say instead: “Tell me about it”.
Lion Rock is gone. I do not know what happened to the pieces that were carted away on that barge. Can they be found and could we be a creative enough community and sympathetic enough one to come together and piece, by limestone piece, build another Lion Rock together? Or could we recreate with other materials?
We must take up Lion Rock’s quiet and perpetual watch during times of still waters just as much as we must roar in times of turbulence.
Thank you for your roar, Wendell Hollis. I, for one, hear you. I feel for your loss. Now, how do we move forward productively and in a positive light? How do we communicate to every person on our island what it is to have sympathy, empathy, a sense of history, an appreciation of slowing down and noticing our environment, and valuing it enough to preserve it, together. How do we not just lay down but rise and say: “Come and see who we are, out here in the Atlantic!”
We don’t live on “just a rock”. We are individuals and we are a vibrant, evolving community on this little, grand, brave and beautiful rock. We share in it all.
CHERIE AMOS SIKKING