AN ANCIENT SONG (8×8/oil on canvas)
This morning, while wandering around the little town of Portree, I found a lovely (wee) path, which led into a stone, fenced churchyard. The yard itself was overgrown and run down. There was one enormous tree in the center of that quiet space which sang a melancholy, ancient song to all the graves that randomly populated the grounds. I had the thought it was remembering a time when children and lovers climbed it to find a moment alone. Remembering when there was laughter and picnics beneath its branches. After hundreds of years, it was now quietly guarding those graves and their chiseled, weatherworn stones. One grave told the story of a 59 year-old woman who had 3 children and a young husband, all lost to war or disease, years before her. Her husband, an infant, a 4 year-old son and an 11year-old daughter all preceded her in death. I wondered about her life, about what strength she found to keep living. I shared briefly her sorrow, and wanted, irrationally, to find a way to comfort the dear, living tree standing guard. Instead I found myself crying, anointing that ground with tears, those sorrows, which are now written in stone. More than that, I wanted to comfort myself about the sure knowledge of our shared mystery. We know only with eyes of hope, and of faith, what lies beyond these depths. In weeping, I felt myself comforted and knew a taste of her comfort, of her resolve to carry on, and of how strength flowed back into her in little bits. We keep going. We find joy in our journey. Our sorrows walk with us to remind us how important our joys are. This is yesterday’s story for me, standing in a quiet grave on a hill in a tiny village on the Isle of Skye. From this place, I see more clearly. This moment is now a part of my own story, and a moment I will not forget.