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Be the Peace in Your World — Life as a Garden

With so much aggression and turmoil in this world, try and practice peace everyday in your world.  If you can’t smooth that frown away and replace it with a smile, at least try and keep your anger down the best you can. Hard to do when you are not having a good day and feeling […]

Be the Peace in Your World — Life as a Garden

I came across this post about a week ago, accidnently closed it, and could not remember where it was located. Michelle shares a post that points to what we need most in this world: love and peace. The third paragraph resonates with me. Nature depends on diversity and cooperation to succeed. Without those, it falls into disarray.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes beautifully about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. We cannot have the extraordinary without the ordinary. We have to look deeper and understand there will always be mystery in what we are exploring.

I used phenomenology, specifically hermeneneutic phenomenology, in writing my disseration and it premised on mystery, making meaning, and a sense of wonder and awe as we explore particular phenomena. In many ways, each person is a phenomenologist as humans, by their nature, are meaning-making beings.

As a teacher, I used an activity called A Culture of Peace. In keeping with the Pema Chodron quote Michelle shared, I asked students for words and phrases to describe a culture of war and recorded answers on the board. It did not take long to exhaust the descriptions, usually no more than 10 minutes. I then asked them to desribe a culture of peace. The first time I used the activity, and it became a staple, I was left withy a sense of wonder how these junior high school students kept me moving for almost an hour filling up all the whiteboards. Even students who rarely shared, were excited. As we were borrowing someone’s classroom, we had to arbitrarily end the conversation and, as we walked back to our space, two young men commented they could have done that all day. The sense of wonder, joy, and fulfilment was palbable and extraordinary.

Several years ago, I used the same activity with an undergrad class of future teachers. It was surprised how unengaged and disinterested they were as a group. Perhaps, we become jaded in ways that are difficult to overcome, focused on end results and schedules rather than the joy of learning and sharing.

Below, is a picture of Mount Robson. We stop there on our trips to British Columbia and walk a bit. I am always left with a sense of wonder and, as we walk alongside the Robson River, I feel a sense of peace and gratitude for just being there.

I leave you with a quote from Gustavo Gutiérrez, a liberation theologist I am currently reading: “A gratuitous encounter is mysterious and draws us into itself.” Father Gutiérrez uses the word gratuitous to describe something we encounter, which is free and exists for it own sake for us to enjoy e.g., lilies of the field, a mountain, a loved one, etc. When I encounter the person, phenomena, event, etc. I am grateful for its existence.

Today’s Quote

Theresa shared a wonderful Rachel Carson quote in today’s post along with a mountain scene. There is a Zen quality to the quote and picture.

Beauty is always with us and we only have to awaken to experience it. As we each experience the beauty around us and contemplate it in meaningful ways, we experience a wholeness in our lives.

I share pictures of Mount Robson, which I travel past on a regular basis, frequently. According to Thich Nhat Hanh, we experience (extra)ordinary moments in ordinary, taken-for-granted moments. It is in a cup of tea we fully appreciate, the washing of dishes, the eating of a daily meal, etc. we can each discover and re-discover the wholeness of the ordinary. Even with clouds, Mount Robson is magnificently whole.

Warrior’s Quest

Sometimes, I make sense of the life and the worl in paradox. With questions I can deepen conversations. I serve questions. Father Richard Rohr says  maturity leads us to stop chasing certainty. In this way, I seek eloquent questions without ready answers: and invite others into dialogue.

After I read Chögyam Trungpa‘s Shambhala:The Path of the Sacred Warrior, I realized a warrior combats his/her own self-ignorance, moving towards being a human with a brave mind and ethical impulse. I cannot attain these qualities, but they are always worth questing towards and they do not come without struggle. Shunryu Suzuki and Thomas Merton used the analogy of a meadow to explore how we each can meditate, contemplate, and pray.

Warrior’s quest;

Resting in paradox–

Seemingly incompatible;

Space inviting space,

Forming spacious meadow.

Deepening dialogue;

Lacking pre-formed answers–

Questioning with eloquences;

Remaining open,

Experiencing wonder.

Lightening load;

Being grateful for gifts–

Even suffering,

Serving the journey;

The questing.

Emerging path;

Readying to step–

Understanding it is meant,

Fulfilling its rightness;

Knowing only it is unknown.

The warrior’s quest is much like standing at the base of a mountain. It is exhilirating and creates a sense of wonder: What is there on that mountain? On the other sides? I took this picture of Mount Robson on one of our many trips to visit family and friends.

On the Road

As a result of where family and friends live, Kathy and I drive through the mountains on a regular basis. We see spectacular scenery and inhabitants. We met and lived in Prince George, British Columbia and then lived in other communities in the general area. Despite this, it is always exciting to see the wildlife in these trips.

These pictures and the poem emerged on one of our annunal trips. 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/she posed before disappearing.

A few kilometres up the road, I took this picture of mountains shrouded in clouds. In the foreground, there is evidence of colours turning as summer merged into autumn.

peaks peeking

snow trying to hide

clouds blurring my view.

colours changing

nature’s rich canvas

gentle brush.

Mount Robson appeared with a cloud-like frame. I enjoy taking pictures of Mount Robson when the clouds show something different.

 

Kathy and I hiked a few hundred metres along the Berg Lake trail. I settled for this shot of Mount Robson which disappears from sight as you move along the path. Peaking out between the trees, is the Robson River which has its headwaters on Mount Robson and flows into the Fraser River a few kilometres down the highway.

I borrowed this picture from Wikipedia . A bucket list goal is to hike to Berg Lake, camp, and bring back pictures. I am getting old, so who knows if it will happen.

 

On some mornings and evenings, I observe the sun rising/setting with the moon in the sky. Several years ago, early in the school year this occured. I began haiku class with poems describing phenomena we often take for granted. I emphasized poetry  often emerges from what is overlooked.

Great poets have a way of lifting extraordinary phenomena into fuller view for us. I modeled this with shared from Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, etc. I try to write poetry in a similar way.

Greeting and adieu

Sharing the sky together,

Guiding one’s journey.

I took this picture as I approached Waterton Lakes National Park enroute to Spokane. It was a beautiful evening with just a wisp of cloud below the rising moon. It was as if Nature decided a needed two guides on my trip.

On many trips, I pass mountains, which, even when I stopped, I did not grasp their majesty. It is as if they have their own language and ways of being.

Clouds surrounding,

Momentarily crowning,

In regal splendour.

I take many pictures of Mount Robson as I drive from Edmonton to parts of British Columbia. Even with clouds, it has a majesty about it.

 

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Mountains, Clouds, and Love

Kathy and I were in British Columbia, visiting family, for a week. We stop at Mount Robson on our way to Prince George, which is where we first met and lived after we were married.

Mount Robson is highest point in the Canadian Rockies and we have driven by it many times on our way to and from Prince George. We take pictures of it at every opportunity and stop to bask in its majesty and richness.

Toni Morrison provided this wonderful quote about mountains and leaders:

“Did you ever see the way the clouds love a mountain? They circle all around it; sometimes you can’t even see the mountain for the clouds. But you know what? You go up top and what do you see? His head. The clouds never cover the head. His head pokes through, because the clouds let him; they don’t wrap him up. They let him keep his head up high, free, with nothing to hide him or bind him.”

Here are two pictures I took of Mount Robson with a little cloud cover circling and loving the mountain at the top, letting its head poke through.

 

Where are you going?

via Where are you going?

Karen uses Alice’s conversation with the Cat from Alice in Wonderland to jump start this internal conversation with one’s self.

It reminded me of how Parker Palmer and Alan Watts describe faith. We are going somewhere, but there is always uncertainty in where we are going. Clinging to certainty adds anxiety as we move forward in life.

As I read this morning, I realized, and I cannot explain why it took so many years to arrive at this point, I often try to imagine the future in precise terms. What I should do is be less precise and imagine the quality of the world I want to inhabit e.g., compassionate, loving, caring, etc. I cannot guarantee it will be so, but I can add my actions in ways that enhance those qualities and the world.

I am re-reading Parker Palmer’s To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey. He reminds me to live in the world is to understand each person, creature, object, etc. contributes to the world in deep, meaningful ways.

Robson

Several years ago, I took an eco-ethics course and an author described how, as a geologist, he looked at a mountain’s striations and read the story they told. I cannot do that, but I I look at this picture of Mt. Robson and know the mountain is telling me its story.

 

The Mountain Reveals Herself

One of the wonders of driving from Edmonton to Prince George is passing Mount Robson. For many years, we drove past it several times a year, hoping to catch a glimpse of the peak. On many days, clouds cover its peak entirely or in part.

Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and the Fraser River headwaters the are in the provincial park bearing its name. We have walked along Robson River a ways, but the path goes for about 19 kilometres to a lake fed directly by a glacier.

An azure ceiling shines above,

Shimmering white lace spreads to meet it,

Rippling up from a white jacket;

A snowy zipper on a granite skirt;

Standing on guard below,

Silently an entourage of green warriors.

Gazing upwards,

Discovering her nobility and splendour,

She majestically reveals her grandeur–

To us mere mortals.

Longing for the Mountains of Solitude

Kathy and I enjoy driving to and through the mountains. Where Kathy grew up, the Rockies are visible in the distance. We try to make a trip once a year, but have not this past year, with my finishing the dissertation. I say “a trip” as we have access to several routes.

Today, I came across this poem by Za Paltrül Rinpoche. I could not find a link to the poet, but the words spoke to me. Although I am terrified of heights, mountains invite me to find ways to safely explore them, finding peace and solitude in safe ways.

Kathy took this picture on the Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park in Montana.

This is Mount Robson, BC. It is the highest point in the Canadian Rockies at almost 4, 000 metres (almost 13, 000). Due to its height, the top is not always visible. I took this picture on one of our many trips past Mount Robson. It is one of those views that never disappoints. One year we walked along Robson River for several kilometres.

Fooled in samsara town—

the endless cycle of countless chores,

preoccupations of a delusory world—

this boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

Hassled by monastery life—

the hustle of duties and communal dues,

pursuits of pointless distraction—

This boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

Whomever I look at, I see at death’s threshold;

whatever I think on, I sense denial of dying,

grasping at the deathless; in this courtyard of death,

this boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

Whomever I meet with manifests clinging and repulsion;

whomever I talk to brings deception and lies;

faced by companions without virtuous conduct,

this boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

Behold, beings in the three realms are fooled by afflictions;

the beings of the six realms are led astray;

delusion engenders the birth of suffering for all;

this boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

By the blessings of the undeceiving guru and the [Three] Jewels,

may I attain and persevere in solitude;

by the force of a place of seclusion,

may I attain a mystic’s isolation

of body, speech, and mind.

May I be blessed by the mountains of solitude.

Thanksgiving

We are in the midst of Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and honouring Sabbath holds more meaning although maybe it should not. What if I were grateful and thankful each day-each moment?

Gratitude and thankfulness

Celebrate each moment

Turn to beloved others

Hold tight

Recognize worth

Share sacred

Moment by moment

Recognize extraordinary

Revealed in ordinary

What I take for granted

It is there

In each moment.

The rich bounty

Feel blessed.

That is Kathy standing on a rock right above Rearguard Falls on the Fraser River in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Two things I am grateful for.

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