I was in the hospital many moons ago, having one of my umpteenth surgeries, and a nurse shared with me of her belief that God was in a rock. At the time I was completely puzzled but she was attempting to explain to me that she believed he was in everything, even that moment to help alleviate my anxious heart. All I could do though was lock on to her words: God was in a rock. When I stepped on the shores of Ireland, and got past my jet lag, two things became crystal clear to me:
1. Rocks would be part of this journey for me as much as green.
2. And a tiny voice spoke from a deep place that said I would understand what she meant by that.
Now, I know some of my genealogy but not a lot. I know that I have ancestors which originated from this part of the world and I chose to embrace the idea that if they had, they could have walked these rocks before. It was an interesting concept to carry with me during my week here. From the train ride from Dublin, green was undeniable but it was the rocks of slate and quartz lining the walkways and those fence lines, the cobblestones my feet touched, and the glorious Payne’s grey blue of the rocks touching the skyline that kept my eye.
EOM Studios is in a small town called Mulranny in Mayo County. It overlooks the shores of Clew Bay which are lined with rocks, amazingly colorful, varied rocks. I woke the first morning early and walked down to the shores in the wet of the morning in solitude. As I walked out on to the beach I was enveloped with the beauty of rocks that looked a bit like candy. Red ones, blue ones, speckled ones, striped ones. Rocks glistening with metallic luster and black rocks as dense as night. If I could have asked to be in rock heaven I was, and I knew immediately my husband would have been out of his mind in love with them.
My sweet William loves rocks more than I do, he builds with them, honors them, gathers and collects them. When we travel we gather rocks and when home, label them and use them to build the walls of our home with the written record of where they came from. It is one of the things I love the most about him and our life together, the fact that we share story and a love of rocks. Ireland did not disappoint in how it offered the connection of rocks and story to us both.
As the week with my group of artists evolved, we encountered different places and experiences with rocks that struck deep chords for me. The stone of ancient castles still stood, echoing a past I had little understanding of. The remnants of abbeys and graveyards were quiet and haunting, yet had a beauty to them I could not put in to words. It was the solitary stones though that caught me off guard.
Our guide Lora, an amazing encaustic painter, shared with us the significance of those solitary stones in that they marked the graves of those who were not fortunate enough for a marker. There were so many and I realized that those stones dotted a landscape different than any I had experienced.
A labryinth next to the shore near Achill Island was encased in walls of giant stone which buffeted the sound in an eerie lyrical wind. It was also a powerfully moving experience for those who walked it. The rocks along that shore vibrated with a different energy and made home to bones from animal and history.There were man made monuments and markers, and giant boulders larger than life. When you consider how rocks are steadfast, even in light of the shoreline, it is humbling in regard to the short time we share on this spinning rock.
Back in the studio we had much discussion about the power of rocks, their colors and different varieties, and shared a little about what they meant to us. There was great humor in the conversation of how I would get my heavy pirate treasure back to the states, but the last thing I did in Dublin was secure travel for my bounty. Yesterday, I arrived home and there sat my box on our own stone stoop. It was beat to death as boxes who cross the pond would be, but it was intact and held my most precious connections to Ireland besides my memories.
As a painter I gather visual information from my life experiences to help me paint relevant messages without words. As a human, who has a vivid curiosity about the energy in all things, I collect markers of time through my rocks and stones. They will last long past any painting on canvas and give me great solace in knowing that these particular ones were part of my own journey to the Emerald Isle.
Rocks are steadfast, they stand witness, especially to the stories of peoples that shaped Ireland and to
my own country and life. I look forward to connecting the impact of the history from my visit, added to my love of the rocks and green, but for now am so content to hold a bit of Ireland in my hand a while and forever in my heart. I can say with deep conviction that for me, God is in the rocks.