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Category Archives: Nature in All Its Glory

Song for Nobody

Thomas Merton was a Trappist Monk and prolific spiritual writer of the mid-20th Century with many works published posthumously. He passed away in an accident at a relative young age so it is hard to say how much more writing he had in him. He is best known for his essays, journals, and letters, but wrote poetry and was an artist as well.

He included as one of his key themes the key concept of activism as a form of violence on one’s self. He drew on Eastern philosophies and mindfulness in describing contemplation as a human necessity in the 20th Century with its busyness and distractions. One can only imagine what he would think today.

I thought of the biblical passages about how lilies grow and just do what comes naturally. The flowers sing their songs without words by themselves without spin and toil. We find their  music in their simplicity.

A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.

A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
By itself.

Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)
A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.

Prayer for a Field Mouse

Pat Riviere-Seel’s poem has a Mary Oliver feel where she honours a small animal that we might even notice in our daily walks. It is a blessing and prayer to have all that Nature offers us.

We soak in the world and find extraordinary in the ordinary.

Bless the gray mouse

that found her way
into the recycle bin.
Bless her tiny body,
no bigger than my thumb,
huddled and numb
against the hard side.
Bless her bright eye,
a frightened gleaming
that opened to me
and the nest she made
from shredded paper,
all I could offer.
Bless her last hours
alone under the lamp
with food and water near.
Bless this brief life
I might have ended
had she stayed hidden
inside the insulation.
Bless her body returned
to earth, no more
or less than any creature.

Wild Geese

Mary Oliver wrote this beautiful poem about sensing and perceiving Nature through direct experiences. Maurice Merleau Ponty wrote about the phenomenology of perception which is the about the way body and its senses act as gateways in perceiving the world. Our body is not an only a thing, it is an object that researches the world.

When we “the soft animal of your body” experience and sense Nature, we are in Nature. We have images for our imagination that fill our hearts and souls so fully. We belong in ways that we cannot as an observer standing outside. We are part of a community that includes all of Nature.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Straight Talk From the Fox

Mary Oliver, one of my many favourite poets, speaks often of our relationship both to and in nature. We are not separate from nature, but a part of it and relate to all its elements, sentient and non-sentient. We relate to nature and all its elements as a participant and not an external, passive observer.

Our observations are not something we can full grasp and write down. The closest we come is expressing what we feel in writing poetry and sharing photography.

Quite often, we are dumb to what happens around us. Other moments, we awake and soak it in through all our senses, embodying what the fox tells us and feeling so close to what we experience in those moments.

Listen says fox it is music to run

over the hills to lick

dew from the leaves to nose along

the edges of the ponds to smell the fat

ducks in their bright feathers but

far out, safe in their rafts of

sleep. It is like

music to visit the orchard, to find

the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the

rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself

is a music. Nobody has ever come close to

writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot

be told. It is flesh and bones

changing shape and with good cause, mercy

is a little child beside such an invention. It is

music to wander the black back roads

outside of town no one awake or wondering

if anything miraculous is ever going to

happen, totally dumb to the fact of every

moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t

peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons

making love, arguing, talking about God

as if he were an idea instead of the grass,

instead of the stars, the rabbit caught

in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought

home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is

responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not

give my life for a thousand of yours.

“Nature Has No Need Of Fortune”

“Nature Has No Need Of Fortune”.

The article linked has a wonderful and lengthy quote from Michel de Montaigne about character. Character is an aesthetic masterpiece words and deeds are expressing. It is reflected in and through living. We are painting a picture, writing a story, and becoming someone without knowing the next brush stroke, the next letter, and the next step fully.

When I looked at the accompanying image, I was struck by the space in the foreground and how the background was more cluttered. We move in the spaces provided in the immediacy of the moment without knowing for sure what is revealed. When we look further afield, we realize how the past is cluttered and the future uncertain.

It takes confidence to step into the unknown. Although the next step appears spacious, what will appear is not certain despite our best plans, our material resources, and our victories.

The Light of Old October

The Light of Old October.

I have not written a poem for some time, but as I wrote this appeared. The catalyst was the wonderful imagery from the pictures and quotes at the link. Nature has a way of showing us the way. It takes a Sabbath in our climate called winter.

October fades,

The artist’s palette splashes colours about.

Autumn gives way to the winter.

It slips into rest;

Life’s weariness lifted,

Spirits uplifted.

A white blanket appears;

Covering all that sleeps in its wake.

Nature comes full circle,

It rests in its Sabbath.

Wordless Wednesday: Who Could Be So Lucky?

Wordless Wednesday: Who Could Be So Lucky?.

The link includes a wonderful (wonder filled) quote from Rumi. We find so much hidden in the things we look at and when we view the world with new eyes what is hidden is revealed. We see the moon reflecting in the lake. It is in those mindful moments that we feel lucky. There is more given to us than we can ever fully experience and understand.

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