When one heart becomes vacant we all lose

April 29, 2013

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?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy May 10, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Thank you for shareing your thoughts, it is hard to let out inner thoughts.

sonia caton May 5, 2013 at 9:20 am

The violation is painful and challenging on many levels. So glad some stones were retrieved. Fill the remaining spaces with a little soil and grow moss, or something appropriately weather hardy?

aaron April 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Man, that’s terrible.

It makes me angry that people can have such a lack of respect.

douglas April 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Something so deeply touching will surely yield more than regretful sorrow in the course of time, my friend.
From these tears may spring another level of wisdom, perhaps.
Or a deeper forgiveness within your tender heart.
May it be so.

Glenn April 30, 2013 at 11:40 am

Pete … glad to hear you are willing to let whatever feelings come to the surface be expressed. A much needed skill we all need to evolve. The empty holes in the ‘drop stone bench’ seem a very real expression of our collective emotional holes that reach as far away as Roaring Beach. If the chance should come again to sit on this bench I will have a little more to ponder:-) Be well.

Joanne Toft April 30, 2013 at 11:08 am

Peter, I so understand. I am working in a school where it is hard for students to realize what is before them. They are so ready to tear apart what they do not understand. We all work daily to give and leave art, craft and a part of our selves for others to learn from. It is important to keep putting it before them. Another chance is what is always needed. Change takes longer than we think. Hang in there and now there are those who do understand and do appreciate your work. Love from around the world.

Annie L April 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Oh Peter, I’m so sorry, my heart goes out to you — it’s so hard when things created in love are violated in this way.

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