…first day of spring…

Sulamith Wülfing (1901–1989) German Artist & Illustrator
illustration by Sulamith Wülfing

To see the fire that warms you or, better yet, to cut the wood that feeds the fire that warms you; to see the spring where the water bubbles up that slakes your thirst and to dip your pail into it; to see the beams that are the stay of your four walls and the timbers that uphold the roof that shelters you; to be in direct and personal contact with the sources of your material life; to find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to find a quest of wild berries more satisfying than a gift of tropical fruit; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wild flower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
~ John Burroughs
(John Burroughs’ America: Selections from the Writings of the Naturalist)

Welcome Spring!

forces of life consciousness

windsofthewillow
image source: Winds of the Willow

Not too long ago thousands spent their lives as recluses to find spiritual vision in the solitude of nature. Modern man need not become a hermit to achieve this goal, for it is neither ecstasy nor world-estranged mysticism his era demands, but a balance between quantitative and qualitative reality. Modern man, with his reduced capacity for intuitive perception, is unlikely to benefit from the contemplative life of a hermit in the wilderness. But what he can do is to give undivided attention, at times, to a natural phenomenon, observing it in detail, and recalling all the scientific facts about it he may remember. Gradually, however, he must silence his thoughts and, for moments at least, forget all his personal cares and desires, until nothing remains in his soul but awe for the miracle before him. Such efforts are like journeys beyond the boundaries of narrow self-love and, although the process of intuitive awakening is laborious and slow, its rewards are noticeable from the very first. If pursued through the course of years, something will begin to stir in the human soul, a sense of kinship with the forces of life consciousness which rule the world of plants and animals, and with the powers which determine the laws of matter. While analytical intellect may well be called the most precious fruit of the Modern Age, it must not be allowed to rule supreme in matters of cognition. If science is to bring happiness and real progress to the world, it needs the warmth of man’s heart just as much as the cold inquisitiveness of his brain.
~ Franz Winkler
(Man: The Bridge Between Two Worlds)

privileged moments

“Angelus” by Theodore Robinson
“Angelus” by Theodore Robinson

The inapprehensible motion of life escapes our daily awareness, as does the tune of the cosmic dust that orders us all in one great dance of life. We do not hear it playing until we come to a point where our ordinary and subtle senses are aligned together. Then we come into harmony and awareness of both worlds at once, the apparent and the unseen worlds in conscious communion within us. These privileged moments cannot be sought; they come unbidden, surprising us into mystical vision. It may be that when we interrupt a walk on a high place at evening to admire the view, we apprehend the revolution of the earth as a physical motion beneath our feet; it may be that we become aware of a rhythm that weaves about the steady beating of our own heart as if it were a partner in a dance.

The resonances to which we respond and the relationship between ourselves and the music of life give us the only clues available about the nature of the invisible partner – clues reassuring enough that we can trust the source of our music.

~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)

wisdom is of the soul

“The Nut Gatherers” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
“The Nut Gatherers” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Here is the test of wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things,
and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.
~ Walt Whitman
(Meditations of Walt Whitman: Earth, My Likeness)

bits of stellar matter

“Road with Cypress and Star” by Vincent van Gogh

We are bits of stellar matter that got cold by accident, bits of a star gone wrong.
~ Arthur Eddington
(Our Place in the Universe)

We’ve all got stardust in our bones.
~ Ben Harper
♫ (Get It Like You Like It) ♫

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion-year-old carbon
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
~ Joni Mitchell
♫ (Woodstock) ♫

Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are built of star stuff.
~ Carl Sagan
(Cosmos)

beneath the trees

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

…Cool, verdant spaces
Beneath the trees
Secret empty places
Nobody knows…
~ Mary Chapin Carpenter
♫ (I Have a Need for Solitude) ♫

Last week we had a spell of absolutely perfect weather. No humidity and comfortable mid-70 temperatures. One morning Janet and I went out for a lengthy walk deep into the woods. We were beckoned off the paths a few times and got a little lost, well, not terribly lost, just a little confused… As far as I can tell, we only went around in a circle once, and only had to retrace our steps one time.

I have only recently learned that stone walls, which I see everywhere I go, are almost completely absent outside of New England. The first European settlers to arrive here started clearing the woods for their farms, and the exposed topsoil began to erode. Rain would soak deeper into the subsoil, which was full of rocks. When the moisture froze and expanded, it pushed these rocks to the surface, and they began to call them New England potatoes. What better thing to do with the “crop” than to clear them off the fields and build them into stone walls?

In the 1800s people began abandoning their farms to live in cities or to move out west as pioneers in the westward expansion, and the woods came back to much of New England. And so it is that one cannot take a walk in the woods without encountering at least one of these ubiquitous grey stone walls.

7.2.10 ~ wondering who built this stone wall

On this day the sky was bluer than blue and the sun was so bright, its light penetrating through the tree canopy wherever the leaves let it through. The contrast between the splotches of bright light and dark cool shade was striking.

7.2.10 ~ to see the summer sky

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie –
True Poems flee –
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1491)

Sun-stone’s kiss, midsummer pleasure,
Welcome all and some.
~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)

7.2.10 ~ sun-stone’s kiss

The stars speak through the stones. Light shines in the densest matter. Earth and heaven are one. Our physical beings and our heavenly souls are united in the mystery of being.
~ Philip Carr-Gomm
(Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century)