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Tag Archives: environment

Fresh Quotes: Mary Oliver

via Fresh Quotes: Mary Oliver

Nancy posted this over two years ago and reblogged it on her site Strawberry Indigo after Mary Oliver passed away.

I noted the other day what draws me to Mary Oliver’s poetry are the questions, direct and indirect she poses. Several years ago, I concluded a presentation on Mindful Servant-Leadership with the following question from her poem Summer Day with this quote: “Tell me what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

Another quote Nancy shared which fits is “Instructions for a living a life/Pay attention/Be astonished/Tell about it.” This raises questions about how I pay attention, how we reveal being astonished, and how I give an account of myself and respond through stories. Rather than answers, as Rilke says, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms.” Without preconceived answers, there is eloquence and beauty in one’s questions, living themselves out in ever broadening circles.

Mary Oliver reminds me to “some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” At my age, I understand myself as a river meandering through the landscape rather than cutting through rocks. Perhaps, this appears predictable, but I ask “what is invisible and moves with currents below the surface? What has life taught me? How do I share with others, who often are disinclined to slow down, stop, and listen?”

What I recall is I did the same, filled with busyness and urgency of life, not in the moment, but in some future I chased. Instead of meandering, I was a rushing river carving out a path without concern for what might appear. The second river flows through a narrow channel, with high banks I cannot see over. The first river flows in ways I can look back and ahead, understanding there is mystery flowing below the surface. What is obvious is often superficial, rather than mystical.

Above Numa Falls

 

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Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

via Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Yesterday was a day of riches as this wonderful Mary Oliver poem was posted by Dawn and re-blogged by John and Kenne.

There are prayerful and questioning qualities in Mary Oliver’s poetry that challenge me to think about the universe as a place where each sentient and non-sentient being thrives and flourishes. We grow mindful of our needs as they relate to the needs of other living and non-living being. Living is a practical and ethical way of standing in the world. Practical and ethical ways of living are essential to growing spiritually and acting with care towards sentient and non-sentient beings.

Wendell Berry has a poem entitled The Wild Geese asking me to be thankful for the gifts that come to me each day. What do I take-for-granted? What do I overlook and treat as ordinary that I can celebrate as (extra)ordinary? As Mary Oliver asks, “how does my body ‘love what it loves?'” How do I notice the universe and let myself find its way home each day?

Here, is a video of me reading the two poems about geese and the poet’s reminder of being present to what is here.

 

Your diet is not only what you eat.

via Your diet is not only what you eat.

Jonathan provided a beautiful image and a poem from Rumi.

What I enjoy most about Rumi’s poetry, is how over time the metaphors he used resonate, perhaps more than ever.

In today’s world, we need to feed our bodies in mindful ways, paying attention to what we watch, listen to, and the people we associate with. They feed the emotional, spiritual, and physical essence of our lives, which are inseparable.

In the modern, hectic days we live in sometimes we forget to nourish the soul and what inspirits us. For me, some of it is time with those close to me, my writing, and nature.

Rearguard Falls August 2019

In August, Kathy and I stopped at Rearguard Falls, located in the upper reaches of the Fraser River. As a result, I enjoyed three phenomena that inspirit me: time with Kathy, nature, and writing, although the last one was delayed.

“He who allows oppression shares the crime.” — Art of Quotation

via “He who allows oppression shares the crime.” — Art of Quotation

Gigi shared a wonderful quote from Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (known as Erasmus) who was a Catholic priest during the Reformation. He is a humanist and spent little time as a priest and is considered to be a reformer who remained in the church , questioning its abuses. In some ways, he was Thomas Merton (the link is to an article by James Martin, SJ) some 300 years in advance.

I had not read Erasmus before last fall. His works were part of my syllabus for an educational foundations class I taught. I have since purchased a book with his essays and find him refreshing in many ways in today’s context.

When we ignore things that are improper and inhumane, we become complicit. This includes my place in Nature. It is hard to speak in today’s world without fear of being attacked. How I undersgtand the world and my presence in it, is less in terms of polarities and in continous emergence. Even the past holds uncertainties. When I sit and reflect/meditate, I often find phenomena emerge I did not experience in previous moments of reflection/meditation.

It is the same in my reading. I am re-reading Wendell Berry and find so much about how he speaks about Nature can be applied to teaching. We are stewards in this world and this includes stewards for our children and grandchildren. We are not seperate from Nature, even in urban settings. How do we preserve and conserve Nature for our children and grandchildren? Economy comes from the Greek word oikos, meaning household. How do we keep our household in order?

Gulls at Neurotsis Inlet

I took this picture in the river valley here in Edmonton. It is a beautiful place to walk and a historic, cultural, and natural gathering place for people and animals as demonstrated by the terns. Not in the picture are the people who gather to walk and sit along the river.

Trees are Poems

via Trees are Poems

Eddie Two Hawks provides an inspiring Kahlil Gibran quote and a lovely picture completmenting it.

I go one one step further and think Nature as a poem, a song, and a masterpiece. I need Nature in all its beauty and radiance to complete who I am, otherwise I am empty as Gibran suggests.

Nature is not something out there. It is in each of us to discover. I took this picture about 2 years ago. As we came out of the church, the deer was laying in the shade of a neighbour’s house. In what is a small urban setting, this picture to reminds me Nature is with me all the time. I need to recognize and revere its presence.

Deer Resting

Returning

via Returning

Bela takes wonderful photos in this post and writes a heart-felt poem about returning to special places where we belong.

In poems about belonging and returning there are strains of deep feeling. Home is as much about those feelings as it is about geographic location.

After over 40 years in the same house, Kathy and I felt it was time to do something different. We mulled our options: sell and move, major renovations, and finally settled on tearing the house down and rebuilding where we have lived and raised a family. It will be different, but many of the feelings will still be there.

We have driven and cruised parts of the west coast and Bela’s pictures capture the magificent coastline, lush forests, rivers with mountains towering above, and the ocean.

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Another place that is home for us is the farm where Kathy grew up. This was a picture she took of a deer just as curious about her as she was of it.

Home is about relationships with people and things that evoke memories of belonging in a particular place and how, each time we return, those memories are vivid in our very being there..

Twin Falls At Rock Island State Park

via Twin Falls At Rock Island State Park

Phil offers various images for followers, including photography and graphic designs.

This images and video caught my eye, as I love waterfalls. I am in Spokane for a few days and only a few minutes walk from Spokane Falls. Below, I include videos (apologies for the grainy nature) I took of the falls on my walk the other day. I am struck by how nature surrounds and engulfs me.

Humans are part of nature. I experience this inness, if there is such a word, as rabbits, deer, coyotes, etc. inhabit the neighbourhood we live in. 20 years ago, I may have argued we were on the outskirts of Edmonton, but today that is not the case.

Despite the urban sprawl we experience, nature does not recognize boundaries the way we do. Boundaries exist in nature, but they are formed around natural structures e.g., mountain ranges, valleys, rivers, etc.

The second video is just above the first set of falls and shows part of the skyline and the site for Expo 74.

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