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Category Archives: Nature in All Its Glory

Still Point

Max Reif describes the rush of life and the calling of nature somehow overriding that rush. The poem reminded me of biblical passage from Matthew 6:28 describing lilies as just being.

What is my hurry? What roots me in this place and time? I overlook the depth of those questions. I enjoy reading Wendell Berry‘s essays about farming. He reminds me that farming is a love of place and time. The small farm is home for people and nature. There is no separation.

My mother said farmers do not need Daily Savings Time. Depending on the time of the year, they understand their work based on the time and space they are in at that moment. When I think of the world as unpatterned, I sense its majestic wholeness and not compartments, rendering them virtual.

Leaving home
for work
each day

I hear the trees
say “What’s your hurry?”

Rooted, they
don’t understand

how in my world
we have to rush
to keep in step.

I haven’t even time
to stop and tell them
how on weekends, too,
schedules wait
like nets.

It’s only on a sick day
when I have to venture out
to pick up medicine

that I understand the trees,
there in all their fullness
in a world unpatterned

full of moments,
full of spaces,
every space
a choice.

This day
has not
been turned yet
on the lathe

this day
lies open, light
and shadow. Breath
fills the body easily.
I step

into a world
waiting like
a quiet lover.

We need a renaissance of wonder.

“We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic”   E. Merrill Root

Source: We need a renaissance of wonder.

Tonight, I attended a dinner meeting and a recent PhD graduate presented the summary of her thesis. She used the word magic in her findings. She suggested in academia there are those who do not like that word, but it allows us to communicate with each other. When words elude us, there is something intuitive that sparks a sense of wonder and touches a person’s soul as we communicate with each other. John Dewey suggested that when we live in community we communicate and make what we value common.

Magic doesn’t fit well when we seek certainty, but the world is a magical place. When we see the snow-and tree-covered mountains in the linked post, we may not have  words to describe what we see. Moreover, we lack words to describe what we cannot see.

Quite a few years ago, we went fishing at Quesnel Lake which is a remote glacial lake in British Columbia that in some spots is almost 2000 feet deep. At one end of the lake, there are waterfalls, aptly named Niagara Falls, which cascade about 100 feet almost directly into the lake. We talked and tried to decide the source: a glacier, a lake, a spring. etc.

We anchored the boat and climbed to the top, hoping to see where the river came from. When we arrived at the top we saw the stream appeared to flow from a distant mountain, but we did not see the source. What we did experience was a spectacular view. There was something magical and wonderful (full of wonder) in that moment which overflowed with meaning for each of us.

Regardless of the source of the river and the waterfalls, each person present had a different understanding and description of that moment’s experience. Despite different descriptions, we  shared the same experience. When we described the view, we had different descriptions, which were understood by all of us who shared that experience. There was something magical and wonderful in that moment.

Lost

I sometimes feel lost in the world, without bearings. David Wagoner counseled that when we feel lost to stop and listen to the world, as if it were the forest and a powerful stranger able to speak to us.

When I stop and pray, I ask someone for help, but, if I rush on, without listening, the prayer cannot be answered. I pose a question that I cannot answer. Prayer is not just speaking. My heart opens and receives what is returned to me.

Is it in the form of words? Or, is it the gentle breath that is hardly perceptible? When I am mindful and listen to listen, I intuitively sense differences. Mindfulness becomes an attentive and sensitive way of life, as opposed to just happening.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

Wild Geese

Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets. I find her poems call me to spend time, reflect quietly, and read them anew many times. I think what I consistently get out of her poetry is that we are not alone in the world.

We live together, but it is not just a human world. It is a world full of other beings, objects, and roles that shape our lives and we, in turn, shape the world. Most of the time, our relationships with the world, others, and things is unconscious. The world exists out there somewhere in taken-for-granted ways.

When we are mindfull and present, we notice the world. Mary Oliver uses the words harsh and exciting, but we are not accustomed to the novelty that continuously emerges and, when it calls, it seems harsh. As we live more fully, the world calls to us and we hear it. The harsh sounds help us remain attuned to the world.

The world excites us with its refreshing newness. We discover the extraordinary in the ordinary; what we have taken-for-granted.

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.

Patience: Darkness and light, conscious and unconscious

Night after night, darkness enters the face of the lily which, lightly, closes its five walls around itself, and its purse of honey, and its fragrance, and is content to stand there in the garden, …

Source: Patience: Darkness and light, conscious and unconscious

The link includes a lovely picture of lily accompanied by a Mary Oliver poem, The Lily. The poem reminds me of the passage from Luke describing the lilies and wild flower, just being and growing.

Nature is what it is. There is a mindfulness in its creation and how it dresses. The lilies wait in their splendor for us to notice them and realize how they are always present. Nature and lilies teach us. To paraphrase Confucius, they open the door and we enter when we are ready.

Mountains Speak

Source: Mountains Speak

Let the mountains speak and share their story. As leaders, we must let the world and people speak to us and be sensitive and attentive listeners as it shares its stories.

I enjoy traveling through mountains. It is hard work, because heights terrify me. Kathy and I tell others that she drove on the Going to the Sun Road, because the driver has to have their eyes open. There are places that the drop off of a narrow road is thousands of feet.

The beauty of mountains is hard to fully describe in words. It is an experience, soaking in the moment. We lived in a small town, McBride, BC, for 2 years. It is in a mountain valley.

Mountains speak to me. The wind is different. The weather socks in for days and weeks. Animals appear at the door and appear unthreatened by human presence. One Sunday morning in McBride, I waited for Kathy on the front steps and about 20 feet away was a young cow moose, eating, and keeping a close eye on me. She moved when we decided it was time to get in the car. We were not separate from nature, but part of it in those moments.

When we are sensitive and mindful of the environment, so much of it speaks to us. This includes nature, the workplace, our families, and in our communities.

Daffodils, Lake, and Mountain in Glacier

I did not take that picture. Kathy did as she drove through Glacier National Park, MT.

nature is never finished. – robert smithson

out walking with the kinders we happened upon a white swan happy and in between seasons. the same as us.

Source: nature is never finished. – robert smithson

When I saw the title of Beth‘s post and read her poem, I thought what a profound moment. Nature has many stories to tell us and many ways of telling them that leave a mystery in each story. We are always between the moments and seasons that desribe the beauty of nature and who we are becoming.

Several years ago, I took a picture of a mountain face. I did not have any idea why I took. It just spoke to me, like the swan in Beth’s poem. I used the picture in a presentation about eco-ethics, after I read an article about geologists who use the striations of a mountain to allow it to tell them its story, knowing it can never be completely told.

When I look at that picture, the mountain tells an even less complete story. The mystery in the story is what draws me back to the picture and maybe is what drew me, without knowing that, when I took the picture.

Mountain's Layers

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