Welcome to a Special Place
Last week I was in my Happy Place, Sedona, AZ. My class was Friday through Sunday. I arrived in Sedona on Monday afternoon, giddy about having a few extra days to hike and enjoy this unbelievably beautiful place that I have come to love over the last eight years of teaching for the Sedona Arts Center.
This week there was rain in the forecast so me and My Someone Special planned to take a Pink Jeep Tour sooner than later. The Broken Arrow Tour is my favorite, it’s two hours of stellar views and driving over rocks and inclines that you can’t imagine a vehicle can handle. We went at 2pm so the light was lovely in the sky and illuminating the Red Rocks in the most beautiful way.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is always my first stop in Sedona, I light candles for friends not present, I sit quietly and remember 30 years ago when I was a 20 year old study abroad student thought Syracuse University, ready to conquer the world from London, UK. The last thing we ever expected we would encounter in our immortal youth was a terrorist bombing at the hands of Lybian terrorists which killed 279 people that fateful night of December 21, 1988. The death toll included 35 Syracuse University study abroad students, my flatmates, classmates, and friends. Not to mention 270 Pan Am 103 Passengers and the poor victims on the ground in the tiny village of Lockerbie, Scotland.
The end of innocence.
One of my first stops is the Chapel because it is where I sit and remember the day that the curtain closed on my childhood. It didn’t happen here, It happened in the very small village of Lockerbie, Scotland. But it was supposed to happen out over the ocean, and I was supposed to be on that plane, but I decided to visit a boyfriend in Germany and a sister in Belgium instead of coming home. So many variables, so many twists, so many turns… 30 years later it is here in this tiny chapel that I choose to sit and honor their memory. My classmates and flatmates were from all over the country, I had to find my one special place in my heart to honor them all; Sedona became that place.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” – Author unknown
I created this portrait of my roommate and best friend from London, Suzanne. After this portrait was posted online, I was contacted by others who wanted a memory of their loved ones that would be come a treasure. You can see all the written material from Syracuse University that was mailed to me with regard to memorial services in the white of her blouse, back in 1988 there was no email.
A few years after I created the portrait of Suzanne, I received a call one day about creating a portrait of a lost son name Jared. Nancy Hall was surprised that I answered my own phone… I was sitting a cabin by Keuka Lake (teaching for the Yates County Art Center), watching the sunset on the water when she began to tell me that she KNEW I could help her with her project of a portrait of her son. “I saw what you did of your roommate Suzanne, I know you can help me.” She said between tears.
It had ben three years since Jared died, but a mother’s pain never gets any easier, this I knew first hand from living with Suzanne’s mother after I graduated SU; we mourned together for a long time.
As I did my research into Jared, Nancy’s son whom I did not have the pleasure of knowing in life, I learned that he loved the Red Rocks. He had moved from MS to CO to be closer to the rocks he held dear in his heart.
We had somethings in common, Jared, Nancy, and I.
Some years after painting Jared’s portrait and after Nancy and I stayed in touch, she asked me to spread a bit of his ashes amongst the Red Rocks of Sedona, “He’d love that, I know he would, especially since your special connection there.”
when I came round the other side of the rock formation, there was Robert, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. Robert asked if I wanted to join him at the top, there was fear, but there was also adventure in me… Robert helped me climb up to the top of the male vortex rock formation, one foothold at a time. We sat up there together while he played his flute and spread unconditional love from Mother Earth, something that resonated with my soul.
Nancy said that she KNEW something unique and unusual would happen when I spread Jared’s ashes there at the red rocks, she just wasn’t sure what. … The appearance of Robert didn’t surprise her in the least.
So, there it was.
Last week, there was Robert again (I’ve seen him here three times now since speaking Jared’s ashes), handing me a red rock heart filled with the unconditional love of Mother Earth. Despite it being freezing cold, I was beyond thrilled to sit up a the top of the vortex with Robert, honoring Jared, Shannon, Suzanne, Sandy, and all my other classmates and SU friends and those on the plane who’s shortened lives closed the curtain on my childhood that day, and set the tone for the rest of my adult life.
Moss grows not on a rolling stone.
Robert helped me get my feet and hands in just the right places in order to make it to the very tipped top of the rock formation at Boynton Canyon Vortex. I saw up there with him while he played four songs on his flute and explained to me about the power of unconditional love.
This month, I ate the cricket tacos in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, I walked out on the sliver of rock that forms the Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, I taught a workshop in Bainbridge Island, WA that included the second most popular on-air personality in the history of radio! and I watched my daughter present her own choreography on stage in Manhattan…
When you are given the gift of being alive, you should treasure every moment of it. Eat a bug once in a while, take a detour to support someone you love, take a risk, open your heart to a stranger, and experience unconditional love.
Start writing or type / to choose a block
And as always,
Thank you for being a part of my Art Journey,