Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thursday Poem - Sometimes, I Am Startled Out of Myself,

like this morning, when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry.  And then the geese come calling,
the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place.
Hope is borne on wings.  Look at the trees.  They turn to gold
for a brief while, then lose it all each November
Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst
weather has to offer.  And still, they put out shy green leaves
come April, come May.  The geese glide over the cornfields,
land on the pond with its sedges and reeds.
You do not have to be wise.  Even a goose knows how to find
shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks.
All we do is pass through here, the best way we can.
They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again.

Barbara Crooker, from Radiance

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Earth and Sky and Pond Together

The beaver pond is still, reeds and cedars along the far shore cloaked in drifting fog that billows and swirls as though stirred by a vast, benign and blessing hand. Earth and water are warmer than the air, and the meeting of the three elements spins a pearly veil over everything in sight. Sunlight or autumn rain - either will disperse the fog, but there is rain in the cards for today, and it will most likely be rain that lifts the veil.

In a few deep breaths, the countryside has morphed into its early winter configuration, trees bare on their slopes, fallen leaves ankle deep in the woods and windblown fields arrayed in grey and taupe. Down by the pond, the hawthorn has lost its leaves entirely and wears only a few frost touched berries.

Just out of sight is the scribe in wellies and oilskins, carrying camera, lenses, pen and field notebook. Caught up in the fey ambiance, she thinks it would be even more magical with a single beam of sunlight coming through the trees beyond the pond and shining through the fog to generate voluminous shadows in three dimensions. She was feeling rather lost when she got here, and in truth, she is still feeling a little lost, but paradoxically, she is also feeling at home.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

. . . I don't know what gladness is or where it comes from, this splitting open of the self. It takes me by surprise. Not an awareness of beauty and mystery, but beauty and mystery themselves, flooding into a mind suddenly without boundaries. Can this be gladness, to be lifted by that flood?

This is something that needs explaining, how light emerges from darkness, how comfort wells up from sorrow. The Earth holds every possibility inside it, and the mystery of transformation, one thing into another. This is the wildest comfort.

Kathleen Dean Moore, Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Here comes winter, perhaps...

Frost and rain are in the forecast for today and they are certainly not unusual guests in late October, but there are also rumors of the first snowfall.

This would be a good day for staying warm and indoors: a fire in the fireplace downstairs, a good book, Bach or Mozart on the CD player and several pots of tea, a comfortable chair and Spencer napping on the rug nearby. 

We can do this, and we should, but there is something grand and luminous about a Lanark field clad in the first snow of the season, and we long to see it. Boots and parka are waiting by the door, and my camera is anxious to be off. Big life stuff, or no big life stuff, it wlll be difficult to stay in.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Ramble - Stillness

Ah, sweet stillness... it's an old word dating from before 900CE, and it comes to us through the Middle English stilnesse and the Old English stilnes, both describing a state in which one is quiet, peaceful, balanced and motionless.  There is also the Old Saxon and Old High German stilli, the Dutch stollen meaning "to curdle", and Sanskrit sthānús meaning "immobile".

It's difficult not to think about stillness at a time of year when wild cousins are heading south or finding nice warm caves and planning to sleep until springtime rolls around again. Birds such as geese, loons and the great herons fly south for the winter.  Bears, frogs, hedgerows and old trees hibernate and dream their way through the long white season.

Implicit in this week's word are notions of tranquility, rest and connection, an inclusive flowing that takes in our befuddled human selves and the cosmos all around us. The late John Daido Loori wrote that every creature on the face of the earth seemed to know how to be quiet and still, but that humans seemed to have lost the ability to "be quiet, to simply be present in the stillness that is the basis of our existence."  The mundane world is one (by and large) of noise, haste and stress, and we need stillness if we are to complete our journey, creatively, fruitfully, and without going completely bonkers.

If this place is about anything at all, it is about stillness. Woodland wanderings, sheaves of mediocre photos, written meanderings in the wee hours of the morning, all are merely shaky efforts to be still and be present, located in every breath I take and rooted in the world where I was planted this time around. Geri Larkin calls the process "stumbling toward enlightenment" and that is what it is—a slow lurch toward a place of joyous being that evades description and feels just like home. She also wrote that it is our job in life to dance, to dance with our whole breath, our whole body, the whole world, the whole universe. Though this part of the journey be rough going, there is joy around here, and there is a fair bit of dancing (sometimes just lurching about) too.

Once in a while, something luminous shows itself in a few bars of music, through a cluster of trees or as a dancing presence between one raindrop and the next. Call it kensho or momentary enlightenment—there's elemental magic at work at such times. It's being in tune with clouds and water and hillsides strewn with rainbow-colored leaves. It's Vivaldi's The Four Seasons or Bach's Cello Suite No.1 on the CD player as the day begins and amber cups of Darjeeling at sundown. It's the blue pottery bowl of Macintosh apples on the sideboard, rosy and fragrant and a perfect expression of autumn in all her glory. I can almost hear the little dears singing, and I am certain they dance when I am not looking.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thursday Poem - The Healing Time

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say  holy

Pesha Joyce Gertler