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.
Category Archives: Nature in All Its Glory
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.
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.
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.
Last night, I pressed Our Grandmother from Eddie Two Hawks. In my comments, I mentioned Wendell Berry and the way I understand place in his writing. Wendell Berry’s work is used by the deep ecology movement which in many ways is not a movement. It is a way of life. For years, I critiqued the environmental movement as a corporate movement with many of the same characteristics of the business they criticized. Wendell Berry, similar to all good farmers, values the land. He speaks about as if it were living. It is not separate from us, but a part of us. When I think about this, it makes local and community environmental work incredibly important. It decries the corporate pillaging that goes on both sides of the equation.
Wendell Berry speaks of the land as a living and animate thing. This makes sense. The plants we grow happen in the healthy, which comes from the same root as whole, ecosystem. When we see ourselves embedded in this ecosystem and not overloads, it changes our relationship with nature. Alex commented the word nature comes from a word meaning birth. When certain parts of the ecosystem are damaged made, unwhole and unhealthy, the birth itself cannot be healthy.
Each contribution we make adds something to the world we live in. It is when we see ourselves as part of the world and nature that we make the greatest contributions to community. We are stewards, serving the world in loving ways. This is another analogy for the thinking of the world as grandmother. We treat our grandmothers with love.
This is a wonderful quote. When we think of our grandmothers, we think of someone we want to treat with respect, dignity, and integrity for their wisdom. Mother Earth is the same. She possesses so much wisdom that when we are open and see ourselves as being one with the world we receive that wisdom.
Today, Kathy and I talked about place the Wendell Berry speaks about it. When we feel we live in a place, it means something profound to us. We think of those places not as out there, but very much in us and us in that place. We find community in those places because we have much in common with the others who live, animate and inanimate.
We picked dandelions and put them on the kitchen table in a mason jar. My mom would take them and put them there not saying they were weeds. Members of Kathy’s family ate dandelion greens as a salad. As our boys grew up, they picked dandelions and we put them in vases for a few days as the dandelions gave up their prime moments and shared the way sunshine smells.
Tamara Madison wrote this poem about daffodils not dandelions. It reminds me of the wonder we live in. Nature is transient. It moves at its pace and sometimes we pay attention to it. In a world filled with busyness, it is hard to realize we have little control over what happens outside our self. We control our personal responses to the world and its phenomena, human and non-human. When I reflect on what is was like to be a child and the many things I did not take for granted, it points out the transience I live with and a way to approach it. Daffodils and dandelions are the way sunshine smells and honoring me with their presence, as I honor them.
Ten daffodils stand in a pasta sauce jar
giving up their moment of prime
to brighten this cluttered kitchen table.
Yellow lovelies, I am honored
to have you here. Outside you’d be
just another bit of the great flowering world,
but in my kitchen, among the papers,
the bottles, the bananas growing tired
in the bowl, you are amazement itself.
Outside amid the orange blossoms,
the roses, the sweet alyssum,
your light scent would be lost.
Here, you turn this morning kitchen
Into a festival of fragrance – you
are the way sunshine smells.