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Tag Archives: photography

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.

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Autumn Promises

In preparing a short presentation on mindfulness in daily life and autumn, I ended up writing a poem about autumn. More than writing, I reflected on how I understand seasonal cycles, including the equinox we experienced on the weekend.

I considered how I define phenomena. For example, autumn or fall was defined by my teaching with phrases such as “see you in the fall, school begins in the fall, and have a good summer, see you in the fall for school.” Nature does not define autumn quite so neatly.

Yes, there is a moment where the time from the longest and shortest days of sunlight is exactly balanced, but Nature and her other living beings are responding according to instinct and invisiable cues, not on artificial times. Trees are slow to change colour and shed their leaves this year, the rabbits in the yard are still brown/grey, and the geese are still gathering to feast on the grain left in farmers’ fields.

For me, autumn is a beautiful mix of the other seasons. On my walks, I experience the cool wind hinting of winter, the warmth of the sun suggesting summer is not gone, and the smell of decay to prepare the way for spring renewal and rejuvenation.

As well, there many metaphors and carry in our daily lives. Understood as a time of harvest, gathering, and bounty, autumn reminds me to be mindful of those moments when we gather, the memories and stories we gather to share with one another, and the readying for dormant times in life vital to our rejuvenation. This happens at all times of the year.

Another aspect of reflecting, preparing, and presenting was I felt rejuvenated. I am not teaching this fall and have been a bit down. Yesterday, I felt presenting and the writing that went with it put some “spring” in my step to be a little punny. I recording the presentation as a series of videos to upload and to put some of my poems into a book to publish.

Autumn arrives unannounced,

Alluding to other seasons

Touching body and soul as I walk.

Cool breeze;

Winter’s promise of dormant moments,

Readying for rebirth.

Afternoon sun chasing chill,

Warming body and soul,

Hinting summer remains.

Vibrant aesthetics;

 Artist colouring leave from Her palette,

Hanging above; fallen mates carpet ground.

Secluded, shaded, dampness,

Rich aroma of decay,

Spring depends on fall’s work.

Is there a typical autumn day?

Is there a typical autumn moment?

Nature whispers, “Maybe; Maybe not.”

This was a picture I took several years ago in the river valley. I remember the aroma of decay as it had been a cool and wet fall followed by some warmth.

CHANGE OF A WORLDVIEW

via CHANGE OF A WORLDVIEW

Worldview is interesting. I find words, like worldview and mindset, take on meanings based on my most immediate needs as opposed to different, more complex view.

Bruce offered me something to ponder based on the concept of Universal Christ, sometimes referred to as Cosmic Christ. In this, I consider God not as a finite, fixed entity easily imagined and as a complex entity existing beyond my thinking and imagining.

Richard Rohr calls me to understand God and universe as more complex than I am able to imagine. It is OK to try imagine who and what they might be, but they are so complex my mind cannot grasp them. There is always a considerable amount beyond my reach, calling me to resist temptation of neo-Platonic and neo-Thomistic views locking me into finite, fixed ways reflecting my own limits rather than those of God and universe. There is always something “uncanny” and hidden from my view.

Reading Father Rohr, I find echoes of Thomas Merton. Both authors remind me there is far more I do not know than I do and can know. Through nature, God is always revealing and telling me something new, humbling me in the face of my ignorance.

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Kathy took this picture several years ago driving through Glacier National Park. Although the picture is fixed, the landscape itself never can be. It is always changing with snow melting and falling; trees growing, the stream eroding the landscape, etc.

It reminds me of the Herclitus quote: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

“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

THERE IS FOREVER IN A FOREST

via THERE IS FOREVER IN A FOREST

Eric offers the reader a beautiful poem and image. The poem reminds me of how Wendell Berry might write about a forest. Nature, in each of its forms, is infinite, existing forever.

It is interesting how serdentipitous life can be. I read Wendell Berry this morning and emailed about him with a colleague yesterday, specifically his poem The Peace of Wild Things. It is a short poem I turn to when I struggle with things and the world. It reminds me there is beauty in the world that can be our salvation. Instead of being outside Nature, we grow to understand ourselves as embedded and part of Nature.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

Thistle And Bee

via Thistle And Bee

Kenne is a wonderful photography and poet. In this post, he provides beautiful art along with a quote from Alan Watts.

Watts was an early interpreter of Eastern philosophies. In his book, The Wisdom of Insecurity, he distinguishes between faith and beliefs. To have faith, one accepts what comes. According to Watts, we reduce our anxiety. To believe, one fits the world to fit those beliefs.  In this case, we create doctrine and dogma, religious and otherwise, to suit what our beliefs are. We become anxious in our defense of our beliefs.

When we have faith, we accept what comes and we are part of the larger whole. When we have a belief system, we defend it and treat people and things as if they are resources and disposable. Nature is something exploitable and not something to enjoy and protect.

When I look at the picture Kenne shared, I am reminded how each person, being, and thing is somehow intertwined with everything else. The bee depends on the flower and we depend on each of them in particular ways. We treat the thistle as a weed, rather than as a source of food for the bee and the bee’s honey a source of food for us. Without either of them the universe is diminished. As Watts suggested, we have to see and listen with the eyes and ears of the universe to appreciate the universe’s magnifence.

Yellowstone Elk

I took this picture several years ago in Yellowstone National Park. I was about 20 feet away from this elk with my camera and a few trees between him and me. He knew I was there. A moment before he looked at me, seemed to sense I was not a threat and went back to eating. I did not move suddenly and kept my eye on him each moment I was down there.

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