For ten years the Drop stone bench has withstood countless storms, searing sun and hundreds of people sitting upon its robustness.
It is a sculpture lovingly crafted and meant to compliment and enhance one’s experience of being in wild nature.
Arriving late in the evening around 11PM after flying into Tasmania and then renting a car to drive down to Windgrove, my former student Ingrid from Brazil and her fiancée Magnus from Sweden were a bit travel weary yet excited to finally come to a place they had only heard about for the past three years.
Just on midnight after a refreshing tea and because the moon was full, I decided to take them for a walk down to the Drop Stone bench to delight in the magic of moonlight bouncing off waves whilst sitting on one of my “family members”.
After years of living on the land, being open to the vicissitudes of wind, earth, fire and water and, thereby, gaining experience and sufficient wisdom to teach how the power of art can change people’s perception of the world for the better — especially, when art is placed in nature — nothing could have prepared me for what Ingrid and Magnus encountered on their first experience of being at Windgrove; a place I like to refer to as “a refuge for learning”.
All eight stones were thrown/rolled from bench. Six went over the 50 foot cliff to the rocks and waves below. Two were stopped by the dense coastal wattle at the cliff edge.
My heart for five days has been grieving. When the refuge gets violated — a place where people bring their vulnerable selves because of a sense of trust and safety — I begin to doubt the effectiveness of what I’ve been trying to create here for the past twenty two years.
We are definitely entering into a period of time Joanna Macy calls “The Great Unravelling”. I understand this and have been diligent in doing what I can to plant seeds of active hope in all that come here. Yet, when desecration is so close to the bone the violation causes me to weep.
I do believe in the interconnectedness of all beings. I also believe that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If, in our society, our weakest links walk the land with vacant hearts, unable to see the love that has been freely given, our work is made all the more difficult. Yet, oddly, all that more important.
The young and agile Magnus managed to get to the bottom of the cliff, and, with crashing waves soaking him, did manage to find four of the stones. Along with the two other stones found in the bush, for this I am grateful as it is not a total loss.
But will it happen again? And how will we learn to live with the increasing losses most certainly coming with climate change?