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Category Archives: Mindful Life

1996 X (Some Sunday Afternoon, It May Be)

Thich Nhat Hanh suggested our ancestors are always with us. They join us in places and moments that hold special meaning to us. Place is particular. Wendell Berry who wrote this poem suggested we have lost our sense of place.

When we sit quietly and sense the world, just soak it in, it is an opportunity to re-discover place and its essence. We become grounded in the world and not sitting outside and observing. The ordinary reveals itself as extraordinary.

Some Sunday afternoon, it may be,

you are sitting under your porch roof,

looking down through the trees

to the river, down to the river. The circles

made by raindrops’ striking

expand, intersect, dissolve,

and suddenly (for you are getting on

now and much of your life is memory)

the hands of the dead, who have been here

with you, rest upon you tenderly

as the rain rests shining

upon the leaves. And you think then

(for thought will come) of the strangeness

of the thought of heaven, for now

you have imagined yourself there,

remembering with longing this

happiness, this rain. Sometimes here

we are there, and there is no death.

There is only one Earth…

There is only one Earth….

I am re-reading Rethinking Nature an anthology of philosophical writings about seeing humans living inside nature and nature residing inside us. There is a co-inhabiting involved. Despite familiarity and intimacy, we cannot fully encounter and understand nature anymore than we fully encounter and understand our self. It is in mystery, that beauty lies.

The linked poem speaks to the objectifying nature has undergone at the hands of human belief that we are dominant in nature. In objectifying nature, we objectify ourselves. We cannot live in nature and see it as outside our living.

Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, and many other poets write about nature as a place. Place does not equate to ownership. It is about something special that holds our spirit in place and grounds our living. There is an essence and spirit in place that cannot be quantified. It is seen in the early morning dew, the thundering storms, and a moose calmly eating a few feet away.

Ask a Tree

Ask a Tree.

Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about a large tree on the grounds at Plum Village a Zen monastery in France.  When people are feeling lonely, sad, angry, etc. he suggests they hug the tree for a few moments. It provides people with an opportunity to connect as they pause.

The druids lived in nature often living in trees. Nature was a cathedral and should still be today. As I drove home yesterday, I saw the changing colour in leaves and branches hanging over our street. Nature and trees have stories to tell. We only need to ask, pause of a moment, and listen attentively.

Slow Down, You’re Going Too Fast

Slow Down, You’re Going Too Fast.

Paul Simon is supposed to have written the song 59th Street Bridge Song which includes the line “slow down you move to fast” while sitting in a traffic jam on the 59th St. Bridge in New York City. It is not so much that we have to or, for that matter, can make the morning last longer. It is more likely when we pause and take time to enjoy the world as we move through it and it moves through us we feel that morning lasts longer.

Chronos time is a human-made construct. Here, we master and manage time. Kairos time is a fluid, natural flow of time without measure. One is calculating and the other meditating. When we live in the world in a hermeneutic way, we take time and read the contours of the world as it appears, as we encounter and experience it fully with all our senses. There is no rush in those moments.

Silver

Silver.

If we can live in the world and it still amazes us and brings us wonder, the silver in our hair will shine. What do we hurry by and step over during our waking hours which, if we were fully awake, would shine forth their extraordinary qualities? Being present and mindful in the world and in our lives, brings the world into a fuller contrast with brightening of the colours, fragrances, tastes, feelings, and sounds.

Art’s nature versus “real” nature

Art’s nature versus “real” nature.

The beauty and perfection of Nature is in its imperfection. It is asymmetrical. Alfred North Whitehead and Albert Einstein suggested whatever we needed to find was in Nature.

Nature has ways of speaking to us and revealing itself when we are present and attentive. Being awake means encountering Nature as part of it rather than outside of it as virtual observers. When we open up all our senses Nature reveals herself readily.

It is in the ordinary we find the extraordinary. Art is a way of expressing Nature through the sensuousness we feel. When I look at art, it is the less than perfect representation that attracts. There is something in the asymmetry that pulls me deeper into my relationship with the world.

Today

Sabbath is here. Hafiz, the Sufi poet, wrote  this wonderful poem which helps me understand Sabbath more fully. The third stanza speaks to the need to be present in the world. It is each Now that we can testify to the truth. Yet, this truth is always transient, because I recall it later incompletely.

I do not want to step so quickly
over the beautiful line on God’s palm
As I move through earth’s
Marketplace
Today

I do not want to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is
My Beloved

Something has happened
to my understanding of existence
That now always makes my heart full of wonder
and Kindness.

I do not
Want
To step so quickly
Over the sacred place on God’s body
That is right beneath
your own foot

As I dance with
Precious life
Today.

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