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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.

482. Spring flowers are long since gone. Summer’s bloom hangs limp on every terrace. ~Louise Seymour Jones

482. Spring flowers are long since gone. Summer’s bloom hangs limp on every terrace. ~Louise Seymour Jones.

Summer in Alberta took a beating this week. It snowed and in some places along the Eastern Slopes it snowed a lot.

I love the seasons and their change. The cycle of life is visible during the various times of the year in Alberta. We move from summer to fall to winter and Nature reveals herself in Her changes. It is in the cycle that Nature’s creativity is fully revealed.

This is the time of the year that farmers and gardeners harvest. It is a time of celebration, community, and gathering together in thankfulness for the gifts we receive. In a world where global interests prevail over the local, we sometimes forget our closeness to Nature and a need to be thankful through prayers, poetry, and Psalms.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue Lost

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue Lost.

Dialogue is a flow of language which requires listening. Listening is the often overlooked component of dialogue. Without listening, the flow is broken. It is not that we do not listen; however we listen to answer, to correct, to defend, etc. meaning the flow is broken. When we just listen, the silence speaks volumes and the flow remains in tact.

Listening is not limited to human-to-human listening. It extends outwards to other sentient beings and non-sentient phenomena. When I listen, the wind speaks as it rustles leaves, blows through leafless branches, and across the mountain’s sheer rock face. Even the wind, has nuanced voices telling me something and guiding me in life. The wind asks questions which call me to explore and seek the next question.

Voice of The Inanimate

Voice of The Inanimate.

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.

Our Grandmother

Our Grandmother.

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.

The Loon

I woke up Friday morning at about 2:30 AM and could not get back to sleep. Finally, I turned the light on and read from a book by Jacques Derrida. It was not as exotic as hearing a loon out on the lake Mary Oliver writes about, but I found refuge reading about the Derridean concept différance.

The word is a deliberate misspelling of the word difference in French and the verb differer which means both to defer and differ. It is the space and time we defer to what and who is different as we encounter it and them. A person would not hear the difference (différance) in speech, but would see it in print. Still, if I did not know the word, I could easily not see the difference in writing.

Needless to say, I found my way back to sleep in the magical reading I found in the hour or so that lapsed. Today, I recalled the times camping, hiking, fishing, etc. where the loon called and I stopped wondering whether it spoke to me or someone else in that moment? Was it deferring to some difference I could not sense and imagine.

Not quite four a.m., when the rapture of being alive
strikes me from sleep, and I rise
from the comfortable bed and go
to another room, where my books are lined up
in their neat and colorful rows. How

magical they are! I choose one
and open it. Soon
I have wandered in over the waves of the words
to the temple of thought.

And then I hear
outside, over the actual waves, the small,
perfect voice of the loon. He is also awake,
and with his heavy head uplifted he calls out
to the fading moon, to the pink flush
swelling in the east that, soon,
will become the long, reasonable day.

Inside the house
it is still dark, except for the pool of lamplight
in which I am sitting.

I do not close the book.

Neither, for a long while, do I read on.

Monarch

The universe we live in is magical. As Tere Sievers pointed out, nature arranges itself with slight of hand. A caterpillar slowly becomes a monarch butterfly. The caterpillar transforms from something we usually pay little attention to. In fact, we often see it as something that strips the last green leaf, but somehow nature keeps in balance in the caterpillar`s metamorphosis.

The striped suit fat worm takes a two-week nap and emerges bedecked in the ballroom gown of the monarch butterfly ready to begin its dance. When we take time and are mindful of the relationships that exist in nature, even those we do not sense immediately, there is something sacred in that process. Humans join in those relationships even when we do not see them. There is a co-dependency shared, yet not fully sensed. We live in community and communicate with all nature’s phenomena.

Black antennas twitch

as the caterpillar

strips the last green leaf

from the naked milkweed.

Striped flesh shed,

the green skin below

becomes a jade pendant

rimmed with gold,

hung by a black thread.

Nature, that green magician,

arranges a slight of hand.

The fat worm in a striped suit

slides into its chrysalis

naps for a fortnight

wakes,

draped in orange,

ready to dance.

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