Before the descent the ascent! It was a rainy and blustery day as a small team of us, including the married couple in the painting, climbed Djouce mountain in County Wicklow. I used to climb the mountain with my family as a child, and my dad often squeezed our friends into the car and boot! Years after his passing, we trekked the same terrain and lifted our knees as the cosmos tried to make up its mind on the weather. We pushed on – some leading, some accompanying – until we reached the jagged rock at the summit. We made it!
After a brief stop, we began to descend the mountain. I mumbled a few words to my friends with a raisin scone in my mouth. I noticed my friend’s wife leading the way for the first time in the hike. Her husband followed close behind with a spring in his step. I gently gazed at the mass of brown heather. I glanced at the rolling hills, touch of sea, and wispy clouds. We turned a corner, and were among the conifers with a glimpse of Powerscourt Waterfall. We sauntered and laughed until reaching the car park, high on oxytocin – the kindness hormone!
All this reminds me of what Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) used to say about gratitude. He encouraged us to tune into the many gifts that are showered upon us each day. I find the image a strong one because it suggests that we will receive a tonne of gifts when it showers, especially in Ireland! Personally, I like the image of gifts of gold falling from the sky in parachutes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful that come 29 June, we would be able to leave our region and rediscover our gratitude for the outdoors? That would make another oil painting!
‘Descending Djouce’ by Siobhan Murphy