Stones. Who are they? What do they want me to know? I went to Ireland in search of my ancestral stories and found them in the stones. I went to Ireland to connect with the ancestors who lived, roamed, and walked on those lands. They followed me home as I find my ancestors every day in the folds of a leaf opening on the guardian tree outside my window. I find my ancestors in the grumbling of my gut. I find my ancestors in the rain-drenched stones on the top of a mountain in Dingle and in the pebbles outside my door.
What a relief to know that there is nothing special needed in life for it to be extraordinary. That the ongoing conversation between tree, stone, soil, and human breath is the most important task. Let me scatter each knotted tangle of thought as a seed on the fertile earth and watch them sprout into flowers of being. Let my life be wild and untamed by the entrainment of civilization. Let my life be a wild dance of thanksgiving. Let fear be a counsel instead of a captor. Let the knowledge of this abundant earth dance through all the cells of my body, as the heart enters into dialogue with every other breathing being.
I find my ancestors in the old trees. I rest my hands on their bark and listen. They are grandmothers, who have been watching me, protecting me, wishing I would notice. When I turn to them, they take me back. I rest on the bark of oak and hear another story. A story that does not start with the humans. A story much older. My roots grow down into the earth around the base of the tree and for a moment, there is space in the machinations of thought. The grandmothers share with me their gifts, each as a blessing. They show me who I am. They show me that these hands that rest on their bark have gifts to share and that this heart can hold the stories of the world. They are dressed in moss, the deep emerald green, and their hair is the spreading branches of the canopy. The songs they sing draw forth the sap and water through their veins and send ripples of messages through the mycelial network underground.
The Buddha had a simple teaching. Study the body as the body. Who is this body except for the mysterious human of billions of cellular ecosystems working in harmony? Who is this body except for the wild ecstasy of the earth? Who is this body except for a home to death, the burial ground of ancestral bones, who rattle within me? Who is this body but the very ground of the earth? I touch the soil and the soil touches me. To study the body is to enter into living conversation with the whole earth as earth, the whole earth as an ancestor.
I walked along the ocean cliffs, past an abandoned school the stones scattered around on the green hills. The water is deep blue with cresting white caps. The waves slam against the ground with unfettered force. The cliffside boulders received them. I walk over the stone fence and the sheep are startled and scatter around me. My feet sink into the mud. Before me, more hills rise up as the peninsula narrows fading out to the sea. I turn and walk upward, looping back, and climb up the hillside, over the black stones. The higher path is covered in stones, and the dry branches of shrubs brush against my legs. It is then that the rain starts and pours over me.
There are two stones, who rest against each other as hollow triangles, no more than four feet high. I duck under them for shelter and I tuck my feet in, out of the rain. For a moment I am as feral as a fox, looking outward from my den. The sensuality of the earth is inescapable here. The dampness of the ground, the drip of the rain falling from the rock, the need for shelter that tucks me into this momentary haven.
These stones are not a burden, but a shelter. They form the shape of the school, which housed countless children, who played on that hill with the safety of their stone shelter, behind them. The stones are a foundation to house the dreams of the earth. All the hardened stones in my heart– I hold each one in my hand and lay it down as a foundation for a sanctuary of my heart’s deepest longing. I plant them in the earth who receives them as a gift for the soil. The mycelial starts its work eating my hard edges, weaving through them, and taking them back as soil.
By Paul DeLong
On April 30, 2022
This is a great piece, full of shimmering reflections of the Sacred. Thank you!