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dig in.

“find your place on the planet. dig in, and take responsibility from there.” ― gary snyder

Source: dig in.

I enjoy Gary Snyder‘s poetry and essays, which has a Zen-like view of humans and their relationship with the world. It does not exist out there as if some mysterious wilderness we travel to. Instead, the objective and subjective worlds speak to each other through our senses.

In arguing we do not live outside of the objective world, John Dewey contended humans “live in community in virtue of the things they have in common.” My view is the community includes all sentient and non-sentient beings.

When we think of ourselves as living in community with all beings, animate and inanimate, we find our place in the world, dig in, and assume responsiblity for that piece of the world and our actions.

When we think, speak, and act responsibly, we become leaders who act as stewards, serving future generations in concrete and ethical ways. We grow mindful and attentive to a world we inhabit intimately and communicate with it on a moment-to-moment basis. It is real, existing inside and outside of us simultaneously.

This Is What Was Bequeathed Us

As I read this poem, I recalled: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Embedded in the quote is: How do we care for shared places and its inhabitants so that others who follow us can enjoy Creation?

Stewardship, in all its forms, calls on us to act in ethical and considerate ways. This does not mean we cease harvesting, but we do in ways that do so in responsible ways. We return as much as we take and show our gratitude for the harvest.

Gregory Orr reminds us the Earth is a gift the beloved left. Someone left it to us and our response would be to give it to those who follow us as a sacred gift. Here, we find meaning, we live together, and we discover ways to sustain our living together. We do so when we are mindful and attentive towards others who are with us and follow. We do so when we are mindful and attentive to the Earth. A beloved bequeathed this to us and it is now our turn.

This is what was bequeathed us:

This earth the beloved left

And, leaving,

Left to us.

No other world

But this one:

Willows and the river

And the factory

With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank

On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.

No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:

Turn me into song; sing me awake.

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.

Photography Quote of the Day

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu To Download free inspiration and life quotes on nature photos please visit: Pi Photography and Fine Art

Source: Photography Quote of the Day

When I think about times that I have felt strong, it has been when I felt deeply loved by someone. At our wedding, I stood up as the procession song began and I shook. When I turned and saw Kathy, I was calm. Perhaps, her love found its way up the aisle of the church that day.

When I think about times that I had courage, it is because I loved someone deeply. As parents and grandparents, we feel that unconditional love and it gives us courage act in ways that seem out of character. On Friday night, while babysitting our grandson, him and I ran around the basement laughing and chasing each other. I had the courage to do things I had not done for years in a safe and private setting.

Thomas Merton wrote that we call it falling in love, because we open ourselves to the risk of being hurt. What if the love is not returned? Love that gives strength and courage is not something that is fleeting and superficial. It runs deep, coursing through our veins and between people. Love helps us remain mindful, attentive, and sensitive to others who are in our lives. More importantly love is felt by others who are not immediately present.

April 15, 1947 – The Day Jackie Robinson Came to Bat

Sixty nine years ago today the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the color line at Ebbets Field when Jackie Robinson took the field, playing first base.  The door was opened and it was the beginning of the en…

Source: April 15, 1947 – The Day Jackie Robinson Came to Bat

When I taught, I used a social justice activity. Most of the junior high students knew about Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa, but few had heard about Jackie Robinson. He was important for some students who did not connect until they understood athletes were part of social change.

Jackie Robinson had a Canadian connection. He played his AAA baseball for the Montreal Royals. This point led to talking about Willie O’Ree who broke the colour barrier in hockey. He may not have seemed as impactful Jackie Robinson, but many black NHL players refer to Willie O’Ree as a role model and he remains an ambassador for the game.

Furthermore, it is not enough that those who want to break through a barrier do so alone. For Jackie Robinson and Willie O’Ree, white players gradually (perhaps it was glacial) realized how good these guys were. In Montreal, fans cheered Jackie Robinson because he was a great ball player. Colour seemed overlooked in that environment. I admire Jackie Robinson, Willie O’Ree, Rosa Parks, etc. for their contributions, but community becomes important in sustaining real change and seeing beyond colour, gender, religious, etc.  If we could do that, what a difference it would make in the world.

Thought for Today

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” —John Muir

Source: Thought for Today

This is a wonderful quote. It speaks to slowing down and being mindful of the world as we move through it. When I was teaching, I took a week or so to slow down.

When I was in Spokane, I found the walking I did benefited me, whether it was on campus or along the river which runs right next to the campus.

Nature helps me the space to be quiet. It took me back to other times, when I was a boy growing up in rural Alberta and after we married we lived in small towns in rural British Columbia.

I think, as we grow older, we find anchors that help us pay closer attention to the world, both the inner and outer ones as they continuously converse.

The Sea Question

We don’t think of those inanimate objects, such as the sea, asking us questions. They do in indirect ways and when we sit a listen. It takes quiet patience to hear the questions and answers, if they are forthcoming

Elizabeth Smither wrote about how the sea asks those indirect questions. It does so by changing colour, watching the tide and wave actions, and how the pebbles move. When I am mindful and sensitive to the world outside my self and beyond my self, I understand it in relationship to me. It does not exist without me and I do not exist without it.

Through mindfulness, the world teaches me and I learn from it. What changes in the continuous flow of time that I miss, regardless of how attentive I am?

The sea asks “How is your life now?”
It does so obliquely, changing colour.
It is never the same on any two visits.

It is never the same in any particular
Only in generalities: tide and such matters
Wave height and suction, pebbles that rattle.

It doesn’t presume to wear a white coat
But it questions you like a psychologist
As you walk beside it on its long couch.

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