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Rivertalk

Wendell Berry wrote that “there is a great restfulness in the sounds small rivers make.” When we mindfully stand and listen and perhaps close our eyes, we hear the restful sounds more clearly. We discover being rooted to a particular place, at least for the moment.

Those small rivers invite us to jump in and paddle as a child might. What the child adds to those sounds and waves are sounds of pleasure. There is no enjoyment while standing on shore, unless we close our eyes and listen closely. Besides the child, we might hear nature speak to us as it hums gently and touches us unexpectedly.

Jeanne Lohmann counsels us to be less serious and not to look for problems to fix as we move through life. The river serves as a wonderful metaphor and life calls to us to be present in each moment and to be fully present.

is whatever comes along,
practice always here while we

keep on shore, all the time
saying we want to get wet.

But the river has ways
of sound and light, ripples

and waves that tell us:
don’t be so serious, rumble in

where nothing is finished or broken
and nothing asks to be fixed.

 

This Is What Was Bequeathed Us

As I read this poem, I recalled: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Embedded in the quote is: How do we care for shared places and its inhabitants so that others who follow us can enjoy Creation?

Stewardship, in all its forms, calls on us to act in ethical and considerate ways. This does not mean we cease harvesting, but we do in ways that do so in responsible ways. We return as much as we take and show our gratitude for the harvest.

Gregory Orr reminds us the Earth is a gift the beloved left. Someone left it to us and our response would be to give it to those who follow us as a sacred gift. Here, we find meaning, we live together, and we discover ways to sustain our living together. We do so when we are mindful and attentive towards others who are with us and follow. We do so when we are mindful and attentive to the Earth. A beloved bequeathed this to us and it is now our turn.

This is what was bequeathed us:

This earth the beloved left

And, leaving,

Left to us.

No other world

But this one:

Willows and the river

And the factory

With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank

On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.

No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:

Turn me into song; sing me awake.

Shedding our Skin

Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again –  Jack Kornfield

Source: Shedding our Skin

We live with traditions, personal and societal, that often confound us and act as screens over our eyes. Finding ways to reveal our prejudices and knowing they exist, is a hard job. It is not essential to give them up. Gadamer argued that our prejudices allow us to navigate the world we live in from moment-to-moment; however, when they obstruct us and keep us from ethical behaviour, it becomes important to shed them.

When we acknowledge our prejudices and ourselves as historical beings, this takes the form of a question that can guide mindful and aesthetic reflections.

quotation: Don’t put money before everything else -Pope Francis

quotation: Don’t put money before everything else -Pope Francis.

In the West, this is a hard concept to understand and grasp. We need money to live and perhaps even survive. What about when money becomes our raison d’etre? What happens when money takes over our lives and, for that matter, we obsess over one thing at the expense of living?

This is an open question we should live with, embrace, and explore daily. How does our living make the living of others better? There are no easy answers. In fact, there may not be an answer. Each time we explore this question, it may pose new questions.

It is an issue of private shame

It is an issue of private shame.

The link is not to a poem, but rather to a series of quotes about hunger and the personal shame that comes with it. Politicians use hunger and other social justice issues as talking points and not seeing it as a matter of private and public shame in countries such as Canada and the US with their wealth.

On the left, we have politicians who would subscribe to giving people something. On the right, politicians would blame those who go hungry including the children. Giving people a hand up is important and walking with them is a part of the longer journey. Solving issues such as hunger is community work. It takes neighbours helping each other in those moments of need. Regardless of what we have, we share. Wouldn’t that be a powerful learning in our schools.

Art’s nature versus “real” nature

Art’s nature versus “real” nature.

The beauty and perfection of Nature is in its imperfection. It is asymmetrical. Alfred North Whitehead and Albert Einstein suggested whatever we needed to find was in Nature.

Nature has ways of speaking to us and revealing itself when we are present and attentive. Being awake means encountering Nature as part of it rather than outside of it as virtual observers. When we open up all our senses Nature reveals herself readily.

It is in the ordinary we find the extraordinary. Art is a way of expressing Nature through the sensuousness we feel. When I look at art, it is the less than perfect representation that attracts. There is something in the asymmetry that pulls me deeper into my relationship with the world.

482. Spring flowers are long since gone. Summer’s bloom hangs limp on every terrace. ~Louise Seymour Jones

482. Spring flowers are long since gone. Summer’s bloom hangs limp on every terrace. ~Louise Seymour Jones.

Summer in Alberta took a beating this week. It snowed and in some places along the Eastern Slopes it snowed a lot.

I love the seasons and their change. The cycle of life is visible during the various times of the year in Alberta. We move from summer to fall to winter and Nature reveals herself in Her changes. It is in the cycle that Nature’s creativity is fully revealed.

This is the time of the year that farmers and gardeners harvest. It is a time of celebration, community, and gathering together in thankfulness for the gifts we receive. In a world where global interests prevail over the local, we sometimes forget our closeness to Nature and a need to be thankful through prayers, poetry, and Psalms.

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