there is simply this moment, as it is

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

Spirituality is life itself. Being life. Being this moment. Not as a practice or an attainment or something an imaginary person does in order to get somewhere else, but just because it’s What Is. It’s the natural state, the ever-present, ever-changing thusness of Here / Now. The part that falls away (if we’re lucky) is the search, the endless search to “get it,” to become “okay” at last… the belief in (and identity as) the psychological self and its problems and the endless attempts to cure them.

As I see it, there is no end to awakening, no end to spiritual exploration and discovery, no end to devotion and celebration and wonder… but what can end (and only now) is the search to fix “me,” to unstick “me,” to enlighten “me,” to finally get control (by understanding how the universe works, by getting The Answer, by finally vanquishing all “my” neurotic quirks and tendencies and solving “my” problems). When all of that ends, there is simply this moment, as it is. Boundless and free.

~ Joan Tollifson
(Facebook, July 18, 2017)

Viking Ship Museum

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on the road to Oslo ~ a farmhouse, barn and food storehouse
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at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

In 834 two important Viking women were buried in the 72′ (22m) long Oseberg ship (below), which had been built of oak around 820. The deck and mast were made of pine, and the ship could be sailed or rowed by 30 people. It was decorated with elaborate wood carvings of animals.

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oars ready for use
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rudder and tiller on left
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holes for the oars
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rudder and tiller
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carvings on the stern

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After examining the ship from below we climbed some stairs up to a viewing balcony so we could see the inside of the Oseberg.

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Then we went around the corner to another viewing balcony and saw the Gokstad ship, which was built around 850. After about 50 years of exploring and raiding a rich and powerful Viking was buried with it.

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the “Gokstad”
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this part of the mast reminds me of Thor’s hammer
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a wagon found on one of the ships
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not much is left of the “Tune”

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Also at the museum were displays of artifacts found buried with the ships, but they were behind glass so it wasn’t possible to get clear pictures. It was pretty awe-inspiring imagining what life was like back in the 800s in the Viking Age. Much more information can be found on the museum website: Viking Ship Museum

Next stop: Bergen Railway from Oslo to Myrdal.

strange places

“June” by Theodor Kittelsen
“June” by Theodor Kittelsen

When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory. Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. It is not the previously known. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.
~ Alan Alda
(Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself)

lady slippers

5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
Liz (Janet’s mom) ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

On Friday, Janet, Liz and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon at a Lady Slippers Walk & Picnic at the Peace Sanctuary in Mystic, Connecticut. Our guide was Maggie Jones, executive director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. Before we began our walk in the woods, Maggie gave us a little history of the 45-acre sanctuary property.

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The Universal Peace Union had been founded in Providence in 1866 by a group of reformers whose belief in nonviolence after years of bloody warfare led them to a broad critique of American imperialism, U.S. immigration and Native American policies. The local branch had formed among Rogerene Quakers around Ledyard, and the first national meetings took place in private homes there. As the number of members grew, including large numbers of women, the annual meeting moved to a larger venue in Mystic. By the 1880s and 1890s, the gathering attracted as many as ten thousand attendees. In 1890, the organization purchased land from Silas Burrows and the Fish family on a hill overlooking the river on the northwestern side of town. Meetings then took place at this open and undeveloped spot, attracting such speakers as reformer Lucretia Mott and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” Julia Ward Howe.
~ Leigh Fought
(A History of Mystic, Connecticut: From Pequot Village to Tourist Town)

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happily growing in a decaying tree trunk ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

When peace became less popular around the start of World War II, the land was purchased by explorer, naturalist, cartographer and writer, Mary Jobe Akeley (1886-1966), who turned it into a summer nature camp for girls. Camp Mystic was very popular and attended by girls from across the nation. Renowned explorers often visited the camp and shared stories of their experiences with the girls. Sadly, during the Great Depression the camp was closed.

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almost ready to bloom ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

After her death in 1966, the Mary L. Jobe Akeley Trust & Peace Sanctuary was established and the property is now looked after by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. In the month of May nearly 400 native pink lady slippers, also called pink moccasin flowers, can be found blooming in the woods on the property.

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Lady slippers are part of the orchid family and are native to Connecticut. They love the acid soil found in the woods, and need a certain fungus found there in order to survive. They grow 6 to 15 inches tall and the flowers are about 3 inches long. They can often be found growing in decaying logs. I used to see them occasionally when I played in the woods near the swamp where I grew up, so it was a treat to see so many of them in one day!

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The pink lady slipper has been the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island since 1947, and the state wildflower of New Hampshire since 1991.

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different stages of blossoming ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Our walk was mostly uphill and when we reached the top we were treated to an outdoor picnic buffet in a lovely woodland garden. I had stinging nettle soup for the first time, and another soup made with wild leeks.

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narcissus ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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garden shed ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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daphne ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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a frog bidding us good-bye as we made our way back down the hill ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Leif Erikson

"Leif Erikson Discovers America" by Christian Krohg
“Leif Erikson Discovers America” by Christian Krohg

At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Walden)

traces of history

Metal detecting is an absorbing hobby for the history buff, coin collector, or wayfaring explorer. Our friend Paul, the Connecticut Dirt Fisher, is all of these. Besides coins from every period of American history, he has found many other assorted relics from the past, including an old pencil sharpener, belt buckles, shotgun casings, toys made of lead, and a wax seal.

And now he has found something of much personal interest to me, a souvenir spoon, dating from about 1891. The spoon portrays an interpretation of my 10th-great-grandmother, Mayflower passenger Priscilla (Mullins) Alden, knocking on a door inscribed with the words, “Lord have mercy on us.”

Americans began collecting these engraved souvenir spoons depicting historical events in the 1890s and the “craze” lasted for about thirty years. I seem to have one in my possession, which came out of a box of family keepsakes, but I have no idea of its history or who it belonged to. It has an engraving of the Mayflower on the handle. Another mystery for me to investigate…

Please enjoy the following video as Paul brings us along on one of his digs!

open pathway

1.2.10 ~ Groton, Connecticut
1.2.10 ~ Avery Point

When one soul meets another kindred soul, a great surge of energy rushes through the weaving of the universe as an important connection is made. In the unexplored regions of human consciousness, another light has come on, revealing shared territory. This is the work of dedicated souls on the spiritual path: their individual light illumines the universe for everyone, brings hope, and keeps open the pathway to understanding. This sacred trust is maintained by all who have consecrated their existence to spiritual wisdom; it is a kinship that runs like a golden chain from one age to another. That golden chain comes now into our hands, a sacred trust not only to our ancestors but to our descendants and every inhabitant of the universe. It is our turn to make the next link, trusting that others in turn will complete the circle until the whole cosmos is connected in one bond.
~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)

Two years ago on this day, Tim and I drove down to Avery Point to see the beauty of a recent snowfall by the water. I was trying to photograph the lighthouse, framed by a tree’s branches and the blanket of snow. After snapping the shot I looked on the view screen and gasped in surprise! While I had seen orbs in the photos of others before, and was curious about the phenomena, this was the first time orbs had appeared in one of my own photos! And there were so many of them!

As a person who has in the past often gotten myself into trouble by insisting on absolute answers to all questions, this marked one of the first times I was content to accept a gift of mystery and magic from the universe without demanding an explanation, satisfied to embrace not knowing. My intuition has some ideas but I’m not clinging to any particular theory, scientific or mystical.

If you have any orb pictures you’d like to share, please let me know. Perhaps I will post them here on my blog, or link to them on your blog. I have since had a few more pictures with orbs in them, though none as spectacular as this first one!