Even though the use of evergreens dates back to the Greeks and Romans, the use of the holiday tree is said to have originated in the eighth century Germany. Legend has it that the Christian St. Boniface was trying to convert a group of Druids. Try as he might, though, he couldn’t convince them that the oak tree was neither sacred nor invincible. In desperation, he finally cut one down. When the tree fell, it crushed everything in its path but a single evergreen sapling. Boniface declared it a miracle, then proclaimed that the fir tree belonged to the Christ-child. After that, trees were brought into homes as holiday decorations. It wasn’t until the sixteenth century, however, that the Germans thought to decorate the branches. Some historians say that the first ornaments — fruit, nuts, and cookies — were used as offerings to thank the spirit of the tree.
~ Dorothy Morrison
(Yule: A Celebration of Light & Warmth)
To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration.
~ Wendell Berry
(The Gift of Good Land)
Not a day goes by that I don’t take a walk on the beach. The beach is truly home, its broad expanse of sand as welcoming as a mother’s open arms. What’s more, this landscape which extends as far as the eye can see, always reminds me of possibility. It is here I can listen to my inner voice, shed inhibitions, move to the rhythm of the waves, and ask the universe unanswerable questions. That is why when I found myself at a crossroads in my marriage and my life, I ran away to Cape Cod and spent a year by the sea, I was sure this place, so full of my personal history, would offer clarity.
The beach to me is a sacred zone between the earth and the sea, one of those in-between places where transitions can be experienced – where endings can be mourned and beginnings birthed. A walk along the beach offers the gift of the unexpected. Scan the horizon and glimpse the endless possibilities. Stroll head down and encounter one natural treasure after another. Tease the tides and feel a sense of adventure. Dive into the surf and experience the rush of risk.
To me, Okefenokee Swamp felt like a sacred place in the twilight, with Spanish moss hanging down like stalactites, and cypress knees rising up like stalagmites, like the ones often found in caves. I grew up playing in Cedar Swamp, another mystical place, in the woods behind our house. But this southern swamp is very different from, and much larger than, the swamps we have here in New England!
The swamp’s water is black, due to vegetation decaying in the water and leaching out tannin which stains the water in much the same way as the tannin in tea color the water in a teacup. After the swamp exploration our skiff turned out into a marsh, where we could view the sun setting and see what wildlife might come near.
To love a swamp, however, is to love what is muted and marginal, what exists in the shadows, what shoulders its way out of mud and scurries along the damp edges of what is most commonly praised. And sometimes its invisibility is a blessing. Swamps and bogs are places of transition and wild growth, breeding grounds, experimental labs where organisms and ideas have the luxury of being out of the spotlight, where the imagination can mutate and mate, send tendrils into and out of the water.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination)
One last batch of pictures from Okefenokee Swamp tomorrow!
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!