Awards! Awards! An Gáirdín, Portumna Receives ECI Award!

On Sunday 2nd October An Gáirdín were privileged to be presented with the Eco-Congregation Ireland Award. They marked the event by unveiling a Mural of the Universe Story. The mural painted by artist Izabela Campbell illustrates the story from the Great Flaring Forth approximately 13½ billion years ago to the emergence of the human approximately 2½ billion years ago.  Izabela worked dedicatedly on the mural during the summer months, grabbing every possible dry spell.  The mural covers the unsightly shed walls, once the cow-byres of St. Mary’s Rural Domestic Economy School for over 150 years from the late 19th century to the 1980’s.  The finished work is beautiful and embodies the energy of the great story.  They hope it will be an awareness-raising and educational resource into the future. And of course the paints used are natural and do not contain chemicals.

It was afternoon and the weather obliged all on the day.  They gathered in the special circle space for introductions and then walked in silence to the mural.  Róisín and Breeda, the faithful volunteers narrated the story as Francis gracefully unveiled each section, sometimes accompanied by nonintrusive movement, music or drumming.  The narration concluded with Jonathan singing John Seed’s ‘Evolving Universe’. 

Then came the presentation of the Eco-Congregation Ireland Award  by Fr. Brian Grogan SJ, author of ‘Finding God in a Leaf’ and ‘Creation Walk’.  He congratulated An Gáirdín for their 30 years of journeying towards rediscovering our place in the whole community of life and for our commitment to inviting others into this vision.  He quoted inspirational sections from Laudato Si.  He spoke about Eco-Congregation Ireland and their work of encouragement and affirmation with parishes and groups.  Sr. Anne accepted the award plaque on behalf of An Gáirdín and on behalf of all the volunteers, individuals, families, and organisations who are being inspired to reconnect with planet Earth.

The origin and background to the plaque was explained. The plaque was made at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh.  This project takes an innovative approach to creating community and providing sanctuary and support to the participants, many of whom are the most vulnerable of their citizens.  They learn skills which enable them to develop to their full potential and move away from cycles of failure.  The wood is sourced from recycled church seats and kneelers from throughout Scotland. Thereby it carries the prayer of worshippers for possibly hundreds of years and will continue to carry the meditation and reflections of An Gáirdín for years to come. 

There was singing and music from local musicians as all moved indoors, and mingled as all partook of the delicious variety of home-baking.  All were thanked for helping to make the day special by their attendance and for helping out in the preparation of the event.