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Category Archives: Nature in All Its Glory

Tewksbury Road

There is something about walking in nature that stimulates all the senses. I come alive in those walks and feel energized. We walked the North Saskatchewan River Valley two years ago during Autumn. The leaves turned colour. Over time, I smelled rich decay as Nature continued in her life-cycle.

Nature celebrates her Sabbath. It is a time of renewal emerging from what was alive. She never wastes.

John Masefield described a pastoral scene I imagined in a multi-sensory way. There is a universality in these scenes that touches the spirit.

It is good to be out on the road, and going one knows not where,

Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither or why;

Through the grey light drift of the dust, in the keen cool rush of the air,

Under the flying white clouds, and the broad blue lift of the sky.

And to halt at the chattering brook, in a tall green fern at the brink

Where the harebell grows, and the gorse, and the foxgloves purple and white;

Where the shifty-eyed delicate deer troop down to the brook to drink

When the stars are mellow and large at the coming on of the night.

O, to feel the beat of the rain, and the homely smell of the earth,

Is a tune for the blood to jig to, and joy past power of words;

And the blessed green comely meadows are all a-ripple with mirth

At the noise of the lambs at play and the dear wild cry of the birds.

Nature’s Secret

Grace Holmes wrote this poem. I was unable to find a link to the poet, but wanted to share the poem. If someone has a link, I will edit and add it.

The poem reminded me of Alfred North Whitehead‘s thinking. He suggested we only need to look at nature and find general patterns for life. Nature reveals patterns when we take time and observe living in nature.

There’s a secret with these rugged hills, whose slender tops are gray;
There’s a secret with the wild flowers that bloom along the way;

There’s a secret with the roaming clouds that change the changeful sky
A secret have the busy winds, that chant and moan and sigh:

A secret has the moonlight, that touches land and sea,
A secret is between the stars that blink and you and me.

Ah the secrets! can you count them? so numerous are they!
Ah the secrets! can you find them out? can you find them out, I say?

I knew that some sweet secret ‘twixt my garden flowers grew.
But I said, I know, I feel, it is not for me, or you.

I felt there was a secret with the wondrous charming sea,
But again I shook my head and said, that secret’s not for me.

Yea, every where I turn my eyes on nature living show,
I feel there is a secret that ’tis not for me know.

i thank You God for this most amazing

e. e. cummings was a poet who loved playing with language and its rules. We see this where he makes up words and excludes capitalization except for two words.

Poetry allows me to explore the world in new ways such as watching for the leaping greenly of trees and all those things which are yes. It is in the cracks that appear in poetry that light shines through.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Coyote

As I read this weekend, I found Peter Blue Cloud poem. Blue Cloud subtly describes an interconnectedness quite, often overlooked in daily life, that exists in the universe. When we step away from life’s busyness and impersonality and move slowly, gracefully and intimately we explore and connect in the world instead of being outside it.

Indigenous cultures, through tricksters, understand the world as a space humans live in. Coyote is a trickster in many North American aboriginal stories. Through coyote, Peter Blue Cloud reminded me I live in the world and not outside it or beside it. I made whole in this relationship.

Ecologically and ideally, classrooms, students, and teachers are nodes on vast interconnected webs across time and space. Seen this way, education is a reverent, holy space binding us together as it holds stories across cultures and generations. We hear the voices of all, particularly those who live on the margins.

by starlight hush of wind the owl’s voice,

the campfire embers glowing inner universe

by firelight smoke curls weaving faint the voices,

coyote voices faint the pain and smell the pitch,

fire, I sing you stars,

fire, I breath obsidian

& again the owl’s shadow voice leans back

into times past

slinging firs fire,

brittle spine bent bowed toward the fire,

voices low to murmur a child whimper,

deer fat sucked upon to gentle dreaming,

the mother her song the night cradles,

child, the owl, too, has young,

tiny hears and warmth of down,

& old man coughing guttural spit to fire,

young people giggle beneath hide fondlings,

soon to sleep,

again coyote voices drown the mind in a loneliness

of deep respect in love of those who camp

just up the hill,

& tiny crystals of tears spatter the dust,

my people,

legs cannot every carry me back to you,

soul that holds you

forever.

This is what you shall do

This is not a poem, but Walt Whitman used poetic language and deep meditative thought it qualifies. He used  language in ways that are politically incorrect today, but provided considerable insight into what it might mean to be a servant-leader and live in the world that way.

I become part of the world and it is embodied in me in such remarkable ways as I learn from the world. I think that is the counsel that this passage provides for me and asks of me.

“This is what you shall do: love the earth and the sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning god, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons with the young and the mother of families, read these leaves in the open air every season in every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…”

Men Say They Know Many Things

Henry David Thoreau wrote this poem at a time he could not have foreseen where we are with the thousands of appliances. He thought it was only a thousand appliances. There are times I get lost in them and forget they are separate from me and only tools that enable a particular job. At the same, I realize used wisely they advance life and the tasks involved.

The arts and sciences blend together, but I would take it a step further and suggest that the spiritual and the sciences are not separate from each other. When I take time and see life through a lens that allows me to understand what is at hand, I can make wiser decisions and feel that wind blow.

Men say they know many things;
But lo! they have taken wings, —
The arts and sciences,
And a thousand appliances;
The wind that blows
Is all that any body knows.

The Peace of Wild Things

Wendell Berry is one of my favourite poets. I have many favourites. It is much easier to find a poem when you have many.

We spend time each summer wandering through nature. I think for Kathy and I it is a return to our roots. We grew up in rural settings and were outdoors a lot as a result. I think as we mature, getting older is so passe, we look for the roots that connect us to the universe. Nature is one those things.

Alfred North Whitehead suggested we only need to look at nature to find the patterns we need in life.

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Praying

Mary Oliver writes in uncomplicated ways. It is not simple, but there are elements of simplicity linked to complexity. Her poem Praying is an example of this simplexity. Praying is an entreaty or asks for something and suggests creating space for responses. There is a simplicity in the way prayer unfolds. It happens anywhere, anytime, and with few words. The complex part is being quiet and discerning the answers. This requires quiet spaces that we have to craft out of the busyness of modern lives and days.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Bellhouse Bay

Yesterday, Stephen posted this wonderful poem on his blog Grow Mercy. Normally, I re-blog, but Stephen uses another platform and I have not figured out how to re-blog across platforms or, for that matter, if there is a way. The poem and post were profound and I wanted to share.

Dorothy Livesay wrote this as a reminder we inherit Earth from our children and grandchildren to paraphrase Chief Seattle. There is a great interconnection that extends beyond what is present to the generations to come. We are surrounded by sentient and inanimate parts of the world that connect us to each other and to the world we live in. We should soak it in and leave more than the pictures behind. We should leave what is real and tangible so our children and grandchildren might touch its beauty and be touched by its beauty, as well. We share this Creation today with what is revealed to us and what will be revealed to others yet to come.

Last night a full silver
moon
shone in the waters of the bay
so serene
one could believe in
an ongoing universe

And today it’s summer
noon heat soaking into
arbutus trees blackberry bushes
Today in the cities
rallies and peace demonstrations exhort

SAVE OUR WORLD SAVE OUR CHILDREN

But save also I say
the towhees under the blackberry bushes
eagles playing a mad caper
in the sky above Bellhouse Bay

This is not paradise
dear adam dear eve
but it is a rung on the ladder
upwards
towards a possible
breathtaking landscape.

Song of the Builders

As Mary Oliver aptly suggests it we each have a role in building our small corner of the universe.  Certainly, in each of our minds, it is not so small. It is rather grand in its own small way.

It is that small way that speaks to the humbleness we each undertake in being builders of something worthwhile and worth whiling over. It is in the natural world, the world we do not construct we find the great builders like the cricket. We can learn so much from their efforts and their places as we think and are thankful for what we receive each day.

On a summer morning

I sat down

on a hillside

to think about God -

 a worthy pastime.

Near me, I saw

a single cricket;

it was moving the grains of the hillside

 this way and that way.

How great was its energy,

how humble its effort.

Let us hope

  it will always be like this,

each of us going on

in our inexplicable ways

building the universe.

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