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Tag Archives: Wendell Berry

Sunday Morning

via Sunday Morning

There has been a theme of Nature and trees in my recent presses. When David shared a portion of I Go Among Trees and Sit Still by Wendell Berry, it was an opportunity to continue the theme.

Wherever we find them, Nature and trees offer shelter. Nature is not merely out there. It is close at hand and surrounds us. Sitting in an urban park, feeding squirrels and pigeons we are in Nature as much as as walking on a secluded path in the back and beyond.

When I walk, I hear more than I see, sometimes it is the silence that is most noticeable. What hides from sight can easily be heard and not found. The same is true of life. We each experience much more than we can process, absorb, and recall, yet there are moments, when I am still, I recall a moment that had slipped away. I recall it imperfectly, but it is there.

Yellowstone Elk

I took this picture several years ago in Yellowstone. I got to within 20 or so feet of this elk. He knew I was there and looked at me. Trees sheltered him and me from each other, reducing the threat. As well, I moved quietly to get into position to take the picture, making little noise and posing minimal threat (I hoped).

Just after this picture, I took a one of a bison about ten feet away. I positioned myself between the van and animal, who was less happy with me than the elk and kept the side door open.

A key for me is to remember where I am and that those animals are wild. Even in an urban setting, a wild animal would be unpredictable. Stillness is important in their presence,

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Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

via Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Yesterday was a day of riches as this wonderful Mary Oliver poem was posted by Dawn and re-blogged by John and Kenne.

There are prayerful and questioning qualities in Mary Oliver’s poetry that challenge me to think about the universe as a place where each sentient and non-sentient being thrives and flourishes. We grow mindful of our needs as they relate to the needs of other living and non-living being. Living is a practical and ethical way of standing in the world. Practical and ethical ways of living are essential to growing spiritually and acting with care towards sentient and non-sentient beings.

Wendell Berry has a poem entitled The Wild Geese asking me to be thankful for the gifts that come to me each day. What do I take-for-granted? What do I overlook and treat as ordinary that I can celebrate as (extra)ordinary? As Mary Oliver asks, “how does my body ‘love what it loves?'” How do I notice the universe and let myself find its way home each day?

Here, is a video of me reading the two poems about geese and the poet’s reminder of being present to what is here.

 

“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.

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.

 

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” — Art of Quotation

via “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” — Art of Quotation

I have been remiss in my blogging lately. It has been busy with moving, building a new house, writing a collaborative scholarly paper, grandchildren on the way, and visiting our one grandson. I plan on being more faithful and maybe doing some writing to go with presses.

Gigi has a wonderful blog filled with quotes, poetry, and images. She shared a Wendell Berry quote to remind me how I am part of nature, not separate.

This post reminded me of something my mother used to tell us growing up: “birds do not spoil their nests.” Ecology and economy share etymology, coming from the Greek oikos. Besides being a Greek yogurt, it means household and how we care for that household. When I think about Nature from this perspective, I want to treat Her well and be in full relationship with Her.

Deer Resting

I took this picture about a year ago, as we walked out of the United Church in Radium Hot Springs, BC. It is wonderful to find one’s self so close to all God’s creatures.

Dance of the reef heron…

via Dance of the reef heron…

Sriram shares beautiful photos from nature along with poetry and quotes to complement.

Wendell Berry reminds me nature is a place of refuge among the wild things we share the universe with. It is in those spaces we dance with the heron and others.

Nadia Janice provokes me to pause and experience what I imagine as flight. Here, I imagine in ways the universe becomes even more than I experience it in my senses.

Several years ago, I wrote a class paper sharing how the Psalmists and Psalms resonated God’s voice and vision of the universe humans live in with all other creatures and natural phenonmenon. Our anscestors understood the universe as a place of wonder and imagined how it spoke to them and revealed itself in divine ways.

Wildness

via Wildness

Michele‘s post reminded me of poems by two of my favourite poets.

Environmentalists refer to Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver‘s poems. An educated guess is that Henry David Thoreau, who Michele quotes, informed their writing.

Wendell Berry wrote in moments of despair he “comes into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought.”

Mary Oliver ends Summer Day with the following question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” Paradoxically, the question is an answer to her eloquent questions about who created nature.

Nature has a way of being and providing us with lessons for life. It is in meditative moments, when we just are, we grow to understand what that can mean. We grow and value what is essential not to us, but to those who come after us.

“We do not inherit the world from our ancestors, but borrow it from our children.”

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