Sacred landscapes all around us
By Diana Shaw
Did you know that part of Madison County was considered sacred to the Indians before the white man ever set foot on this area. The boundaries were set by two creeks: Deer Creek and Darby Creek. This sacred land is where the Indians could hunt and pass each other in peace. I guess today it would be called a no-fighting zone. It seems like even the “so-called primitives” had a code that was more universal than our present ethical or law system.
I live on the land between the creeks just north of Deer Creek and I always felt it was a very special place. Then when I read an article in the Columbus Dispatch about the sacred grounds, I followed up on what little research was done. I don’t know why this strip of land was designated for such a purpose, but even though I don’t know why, it does not change the fact that it was and is that to me even to this day.
Over the last 30 years I have been painting this sacred landscape and have taken my canoe down Deer Creek from Robison Road all the way to the lake. It has always been a spiritual trip for me. I would feel great peace within myself as I drifted and paddled down this stream. I have painted many paintings above and below the dam. I have also painted a series of paintings along the Darby Creek. Some of the most picturesque parts are preserved by the Battelle Darby Creek Park which I have painted scenes in all seasons.
I love living here and knowing that it was and is a sacred place makes it even more special to me. I have painted in the fields and along the roadsides and I feel the land is a living thing with special character that I have yet to uncover but with each painting it reveals a part of itself to me. As I grow older and actually more aware, I feel the specialness of the whole world we live in. While I love to visit great church buildings with their many carvings and stained glass windows, I do feel their sacredness, but I feel it so much more when I am surrounded by wildflowers, trees, sky and water. I see the sacredness in the wildflowers next to the road. I see them as a free gift of nature in its simplest form. I find peace in the wind as it flows across grassy fields or rustling the leaves of the trees. In the canoe, I love to hear water trickle over stones and the hum of the insects nearby. Often the music of the moment is shattered by a group of ducks I have disturbed. I shift my paddle and a sunfish leaps into the air and falls into my canoe. I pick him up and set him back into the quiet water.
If this all sounds like I’m a romantic, it’s only because I am. I love being able to enjoy the land without owning it. If anything, it owns me and soon I will join with it. My ashes should go back into the spirit of this earth. I hope that others will see my paintings and get the feeling I had when I painted it. The painting is a structured record of what I saw and how I felt at the time I saw it and tried to preserve that feeling so that maybe others seeing it will want to go out into nature and experience it for themselves. My paintings are but a road sign back to the source. The time I spend on a painting is a segment of my life here on Earth. If to no one else, it is special and sacred to me. If what I have done or taught helps another person to experience what I have experienced, I will have made a spiritual mark and an addition to that person’s life also.
Isn’t that what all this is about anyway?
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