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Tag Archives: nature

Wednesday – native prayer

via Wednesday – native prayer

Dymoon shared a beautiful indigenous prayer attributed to Chief Dan George (born Geswanouth Slahoot) who was an actor, author, and activist. He did not become an actor until he was 60 and worked as a longshoreman, logger, and musician, as well as being chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in British Columbia.

The prayer reminds me that nature is a place to be. We are not separate from it, but live in nature’s midst. Nature’s gifts, including silence, are a rich bounty we cannot live without.Gulls at Neurotsis Inlet

I took this picture several years ago walking along the North Saskatchewan River, which runs through Edmonton. Nature is always with me.

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Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

via Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

David shared a wonderful poem by Mark Nepo. It reminds us life is not something to plan. Life is something we live. We exist in a state of flux and float in the breeze like a bird trusting the currents of the stream.

We took these pictures in Glacier National Park. It reminds me how nature just exists. There are no plan as such and no purpose than to be in a paricular moment. The waterfall does not care that we build roads and drive on them. It just flows.

Doors

The other night, we watched a re-run of the Montana episode of Parts Unknown hosted by the late Anthony Bourdain. I enjoy watching the series and this episdoe about Montana drew to it as we have visited Montana several times.

Bourdain ate with a poet I had not heard of before: Jim Harrison. He spoke about being part of nature and how he feels small under the big sky of Montana. I looked him up and felt I should have heard of him before. He was a celebrated and well-published poet.

I chose this poem as it speaks to how we create binary choices in a complex world and universe filled with a myriad of choices that we follow depending on the spirit. For example, we often think we have to separate the economy and the environment.

The etymology of economy is from the Greek, oikos, meaning household and suggests keeping a good house. We only have to think about animals and how they do not soil their living quarters to understand how economy and ecology are related.

Harrison created wonderful imagery about the sky being a door never closed, but the sun and moon are not doorknobs. He lived in Montana for years where the sky is big and stretches on, as does the land.

I had to look up Dersu Uzala. It was a movie made about a man who lived his life integrated with nature and the universe, who dies when he moves inside.

I’m trying to create an option for all
these doors in life. You’re inside
or out, outside or in. Of late, doors
have failed us more than the two-party system
or marriages comprising only one person.
We’ve been fooled into thousands of dualisms
which the Buddha says is a bad idea.
Nature has portals rather than doors.
There are two vast cottonwoods near a creek
and when I walk between them I shiver.
Winding through my field of seventy-seven
large white pine stumps from about 1903
I take various paths depending on spirit.
The sky is a door never closed to us.
The sun and moon aren’t doorknobs.
Dersu Uzala slept outside for forty-five years.
When he finally moved inside he died.

I took this picture several years ago as I looked from Alberta towards Montana across the field, with fresh bales of hay in the forefront and the mountains and sky forming the backdrop.

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.

The Summer Day

I could have entitled this post calling, vocation, voice, etc. Mary Oliver shares what it means to be called and how we respond to this call through our particular life. Voice and vocation share etymology and come from the Latin verb to call: vocare.

Mary Oliver captures the essence of a calling with a metaphor of a grasshopper, which has its role to play and expresses herself in how she fulfills this role. This poem reminds me of Matthew‘s verse about the lily of the field and how God provides for each plant and animal. We each have a role and place in a complex way of being and we each respond according to how we interpret what that might mean.

The first three lines and the last two, as questions, speak to me. I am never certain of what life holds for me. Life emerges as eloquent questions that are open and not foreclosed by easy answers, yet emerge from the first three questions. I ask eloquent questions without predetermined answers. They inform my dialogue with the world and with others.

Since completing my dissertation, the last question has become part of my thinking about the themes. It was not in the dissertation, but is essential to experiencing and understanding teaching as a calling, which holds deep spiritual meaning.

I posted my dissertation on Academia and an executive summary on Medium.

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

 

I took this picture in Yellowstone several years ago. I was about 25-30 feet (8-10 metres) away from this wonderful animal. He knew I was there, but seemed unconcerned. We were both living our lives.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Today, is our anniversary. We recited the Prayer of St. Francis at our wedding and have it displayed on a small and simple plaque. It reminds me of what it means to be human, in relationship with another person, and in relationship with God.

When I was in Spokane, I printed a copy and put it on the wall of the small room I stayed in. I refer to the room as my monastic cell and the Prayer of St. Francis seems a fitting complement to any monastic cell.

During challenging moments, I recite parts of the prayer to bring me peace and be present in the world.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

The picture is one I took several years ago of Kathy standing above a set of waterfalls close to the headwaters of the Fraser River.

The Spring Paradox

I am in Spokane now,  reading, writing, and preparing for two presentations at the end of the month. It is unseasonable here, but it is at home, too. Rain and snow go with the low temperatures.

I wrote this about the paradox we experience in spring. It is a time of rejuvenation and resurrection, literally and figuratively, yet it is not always easy to see, unless I watch closely. Each day, as I walk, I see signs that contradict each other: sullen skies, a glacial wind, flowers showing, and robins gathered to feed.

Leaden, sullen rain-heavy skies,

The wind glacial;

Absent a lover’s warm touch,

With precision, it cuts through cloth,

Touches skin with icy fingers.

Have faith the calendar counsels

Nature speaks in other ways;

Daffodils reach through the earth,

Robins find food washed up on the sidewalk,

I hear spring is here.

I took this picture of the first robin I saw last spring. There was still snow. The robin posed for me, more interested in finding food than fearing me.

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