RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Jasper National Park

The Other Kingdoms

In my recent reading, I came across this poem by Mary Oliver. I had not read it before, but found it spoke to me in deep ways.

The other day, on Facebook, I came across a Welsh saying: “Dwi wedi dod yn ôl at fy nghoed.” It means returning to my senses/regaining mental equilibrium or more literally I returnto my trees. I understand this as coming back to my roots and being mindful and present for each sentient and non-sentient being I encounter. The word Druid means oak-knower and the Druids lived in harmony and oneness in nature.

Where do I feel most comfortable? The word comfort comes from com meaning surround and fort meaning strength. In other words, living mindfully in the world has ethical implications. In Greek, ethos means character and also how music influences morals, emotions, and behavior.

As I listen to each of the other kingdoms, what music do I hear? How does the music influence and inform who I am, what I say, and what I do? How am I aware of the music and sounds I hear in these kingdoms?

Consider the other kingdoms.  The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals.  Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze.  Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.  Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

I took this picture several years in Jasper National Park. Kathy and I had gone for an early drive and hike. We parked and took pictures. As I turned, I thought I saw something move and walked towards the movement. The cow elk sat and chewed her cud. She was aware of us and, as I approached, I heard the soft sounds she made in completing the digestive process.

We pointed her out to others and cautioned them to be careful and quiet as they approached her.  After all, we are strangers in those other kingdoms.

 

Thanksgiving

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. We celebrated yesterday with two sons and a partner due to work schedules. We will celebrate again for American Thanksgiving. This is in part due to my time in the US completing my PhD and we have extended family who are from the US.

The idea of two Thanksgivings led me to reflect. What am I grateful for each day? I am thankful for family, friends, good neighbours, good health, a house that will feel like home as it is built on our original property, and many other people and things.

What if we thought of each day as a day to give thanks, a thanksgiving?

I wrote this poem called Thanksgiving several years ago.

Gratitude and thankfulness

Share each sacred moment–

Turn to beloved others,

Hold tight,

Acknowledge worth,

(Extra)ordinary emerges from ordinary

Moment by moment–

The taken-for-granted

Reveals itself.

Sharing bounty,

Feeling blessed,

Expressing gratitude,

Saying daily prayers of thankfulness.

I took this in Jasper National Park with the Athabasca Falls behind Kathy.

The video above is by Mary Chapin Carpenter. I have several of her CD’s. Enjoy and be thankful.

Nature’s Melody

I have not written a poem for a while. I try to journal each day.  I started this poem about 10 days ago, left it for a few days, and came back to it today. I feel rusty in the writing, but it is a beginning.

When I walk, I listen, subscribing to the idea sound completes itself in in-between spaces. Without spaces, sound lacks rhythm and melody. When I am mindful, I recognize a particular sound. Also, I can recognize unfamiliar sounds in those spaces.

Nature’s voice is always in melody,

She raises and lowers it effortlessly.

Spring breezes filled with rustling and whispering,

Shrill winter storms shrieking and whistling.

Soft showers murmuring in gentle ways,

Thunderous storms that shake and amaze.

It is in pauses melody is completed,

It is in silence sound is fulfilled.

Several years, we were in Jasper National Park and saw this cow elk. She was quiet and did not move. We were there for a few minutes before we noticed her. There were others who arrived before us and had not seen her. It was in the silence and calm we noticed her.

Mountains and Water

I was on the road today, driving through part of Alberta I do not spend much time. I drove to Fairmont Hot Springs, which is in British Columbia. To get there, we came via Banff National Park. The normal route west usually takes me through south of Banff and Jasper National Park.

It was a beautiful day and two mountains stood out against the sky with clouds in behind them. I am not sure of their names, because of a lack of knowledge of the area. It was in the Mount Norquay area, but I thought Norquay was further to the north.

This might be Mount Norquay. It seemed to be the mountain that stood out and was the focus of the pullouts, but I don’t know the area well enough to be certain.

These palisades are just off to the side of the mountain above.

This is just above Numa Falls in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia. The mountain parks on the British Columbia side are not as well-developed as the ones on the Alberta side. I use the word developed in a relative way, as none of the parks have significant commercial development. We were not able to get any closer to the falls as the bridge is out and the gorge has no direct access.

Below, is a video of the falls from YouTube. I don’t see a bridge in the video, but the gorge is inaccessible.

 

Walk Your Path

We each walk our own path. Others can walk beside us, hold our hand, and be there. What they cannot do is live our lives.

I thought about traveling today, as I prepare for my trip tomorrow. It brought several quotes to mind about the paths we travel and what that means.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Walk beside me and be my friend.” Camus

“It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.” Rumi 

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” Thoreau

The reflecting led me to look through some notes and this poem emerged.

Walk it so may be glorious.

Your courage is your truth

Let it shine a light on the path.

Discover beauty in what you give

Let it be the path you seek.

Walk at your pace

Be present in the world.

Walk with your story

Follow the questions of your quest.

Find a space to catch a glimpse of yourself

It is a space to dance, sing, and live.

Be vulnerable in that space

It is makes you who you are.

This is a path at Sunwapta Falls in Jasper National Park. We walked down to the see the falls and Kathy took the picture as I walked back up. The roots and people walking wove a pattern and story into the path.

For the Children

Gary Snyder wrote this beautiful poem about children being adult’s saving grace in the world. What is new fascinates and they wonder about the newness. For a small child, most of what they encounter is new and calls out to the child to explore and wonder over it.

There is zen and mystical quality to the poem with a reference to meeting in peace somewhere in the future. The essential part of peace is staying together, learning the flowers, and going lightly.

It is not learning about flowers, but learning flowers and going lightly, which I think will take a different way of teaching. This is not a new way of teaching. Instead, it is more likely we have forgotten it, being together and living gently in a world that only has so much to offer us.

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us,
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light.

“Natural objects should be sought and seen as they are, not to suit observers, but respectfully as if they were divine beings.” — Goethe

I took this picture several years ago as I drove through Jasper National Park. It was late August before the rutting began, but the bulls were trying to assert dominance. Despite this, people ran into the ditch and talking loudly. I kept my distance and got some great shots from about 100 feet away. As Gary Snyder counseled, I went light.

There was a time I would reject those

Ibn ‘Arabi wrote “My religion is love. Whichever the route love’s caravan shall take, That shall be the path of my faith.” He speaks of a journey and shared path.

I recalled the statement attributed to the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

When we reject others because of ethnicity, religion, skin colour, politics, gender, etc, we lose sight of what makes us human, our common humanity. This humanity is deeper than any of the markers we have that identify and group us.

Shunryu Suzuki compared mindfulness to a compassionate space that expands and contracts depending on the needs of the moment and the people we share that space. When we reach out to others, we acknowledge we are pilgrims on a shared journey where we speak for and on behalf of each other.

There was a time I would reject those
who were not my faith.
But now, my heart has grown capable
of taking on all forms.
It is a pasture for gazelles,
An abbey for monks.
A table for the Torah.
Kaaba for the pilgrim.
My religion is love.
Whichever the route love’s caravan shall take,
That shall be the path of my faith.

I took this picture in Jasper National Park. Kathy and I walked for several hours on this path just enjoying being there.

%d bloggers like this: