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Tag Archives: Jasper National Park

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.

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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.

The Opening of Eyes

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” — Einstein

Several years ago, Kathy and I were in Jasper National Park. We had gone for a drive and stopped at an overview of a valley. The rest area was quite large and we walked around it trying to get different views of the valley.

We noticed something at the far end of the area just on the other side of the low stone wall. We moved quietly towards it and realized it was a young elk, probably a cow. She sat almost perfectly still, posing for the camera.

David Whyte wrote this lovely poem about the opening of eyes. That evening, if our eyes had not been open, we would not have seen the elk quietly laying there with only her head showing above the wall. It begs the question: How much do I miss even with my eyes open? What solid ground do I miss as a I move through life with closed eyes?

The elk would have known we were there, but we took precautions to be still and quiet so to not stress her. The attention to quiet in a quiet place by a wild animal reminded me of opening my eyes to experience the world more fully.

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

 

Frog

Frog.

Basho‘s haiku were gentle and had spaces in them to find silence.

Silence is broken by the sounds of the world and then silence returns. The silence speaks to us when we listen with care and sensitivity. It is in the silence that the noise makes sense. It speaks to us in its echos and traces.

Silence asks us for attention, our presence and mindfulness.

Jasper Elk

I traveled the last couple of days and, as I went through Jasper National Park, I came across these two elk. They were just off the side of the highway and have a full rack of antlers.

This one was by himself eating.

Elk 5

This one was not as cooperative in showing his face.

Elk 7

The shy one decided the grass was greener over in the other one’s pasture and began to move over.

Elk 1

The interloper begins to push the original out of his pasture. You could hear the clash of the antlers and the intruder seemed able to push the first one back.

Elk 6

I was closer to an elk when we were in Yellowstone several years ago. There is a story to the picture I took as I climbed down the embankment into the ditch and a moment later one of the other tourists we were with tumbled down the embankment. I told her it was OK because I thought could run faster than her.

I was probably 50 or more feet away from the ones in Jasper. I was only about 15 feet from the one in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Elk

Athabasca Falls August 2012

I posted before about Athabasca Falls, but Kathy and I were there this summer and I thought I would share new pictures.

This is a view looking up river. The river is fairly wide and narrows rapidly at the gorge.

This is a view of the falls plunging into the gorge. According to the signs, the falls create, and recreate their path through the gorge constantly.

Kathy took this from the foot bridge which spans the gorge. I walked across which is a first for me. There are hiking trails on that side of the river that work their way further up-stream.

Kathy took this picture from the bridge to show the rings the water grooved into the wall of the canyon. It is like an old washing machine down there.

We got much closer to the falls on this side of the bridge. I got a much stronger sense of the power of the falls through the sound and the way it shakes the ground on that side.

I walked down these steps which are an old channel for the river and the falls. The water carved a new path and abandoned this one.

On the Road

It was a dreary day when we started home from Prince George, British Columbia but, when traveling in the mountains, that is a dynamic that adds to the view.

Barely on the road, we spotted a bear browsing on the shoulder above the highway about 10-15 metres from the car. We rolled the window down and he posed before disappearing from sight.

mountain peaks peek out

snow almost hidden from view

clouds blur the picture.

valley flowers bloom

richness on nature’s canvas

a soft brush at work.

Mount Robson revealed herself within a cloud-like frame pointing her majesty into the blue sky above. I enjoy taking pictures of Mount Robson when the clouds show something different.

I took this picture of Mount Robson a few days earlier. The white on the mountain is glacier or snow.

Kathy and I hiked a few hundred metres along the Berg Lake trail. We had not done this before, but it is a hike we will attempt next summer. I settled for this shot of Mount Robson which disappears from sight as you move along the path. In the foreground, is the Robson River which has its headwaters on Mount Robson and flows into the Fraser River a few kilometres further down the highway.

File:Berg Lake Canadian Rockies.jpg

I borrowed this picture from Wikipedia, but a goal for next summer is to hike into Berg Lake, camp, and bring back pictures.

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