~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Friday, August 15, 2014

Red Desert

As I continue seeking a deeper understanding of not only the Sonoran Desert, but of myself in relation to the element of fire and of desert in its larger meaning and presentation, the book Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert by Terry Tempest Williams, though grounded in her multi-generational heritage among the rocky canyons of southwest Utah, provides perspective and inspires me to greater courage.

Different parts of our vast United States evoke varied considerations, and Williams' book brings forth an honoring of and reflection upon Mother Earth's diversity. One that stimulates us not to see our planet just for what we can get from it physically -- food and water -- but how our soul is nourished in unexpected ways through its fierce wildness as well.

"As the world becomes more crowded and corroded by consumption and capitalism, this landscape of minimalism will take on greater significance, reminding us through its blood red grandeur just how essential wild country is to our psychology, how precious the desert is to the soul of America."

I remember driving through Zion National Park on vacation with my parents forty years ago, and I can still recall the awe with which we viewed the red rocks. I will visit this place again.

"There is a resonance of humility that has evolved with the earth. It is best retrieved in solitude amidst the stillness of days in the desert."

I am looking forward to winter so that I can gather my courage and walk alone into the desert of West Saguaro National Park. I want to be within the desert, in solitude and silence, and hear a different voice, feel a rhythm unfamiliar.

"I believe we need wilderness in order to be more complete human beings, to not be fearful of the animals that we are … "
Tucson

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Forests and Silence


I won’t make this post too long, or I’ll try not to (please know that I could have gone on much longer than I did! LOL). Though I’d love to have the time to do so. However, my focus is simply to share rather than to convince. What’s it all about? Books, of course!

Specifically, two books that I’ve had to forcibly pull myself away from at night in order to get decent sleep and away from during the day so that I could be somewhat productive. Oh sure, I could have read them start to finish without interruption, but these are the types of books I like to ponder, muse over, re-read sections or paragraphs, and thoroughly relish the insights and nuances. Plus, I really do have obligations -- family, creativity, spirituality -- that are also a priority. But, even if I could have read the books in one sitting, I doubt I would have; I happen to enjoy anticipation and savoring a special treat.

Now, to understand my compulsion to read these particular books, one must also know that I have nearly two hundred unread books on my shelves, books waiting patiently for their turn, books that I told myself I simply “had to have right now” but became distracted too easily by the next one to strike my fancy. Anyone else experience this? 

The author is Sara Maitland and the books are From the Forest (2012) and A Book of Silence (2008). The first one I read -- From the Forest -- was recommended to me by a friend who lives in London. I was no more than twenty or so pages into it before I ordered A Book of Silence. Interestingly, although Maitland has been publishing novels and short-stories since 1978, and is apparently well-known for them in the UK, my introduction to her has been through her recent non-fiction. 

Enough backstory! Yes? Yes. (select the 'read more' link below)

The Vitality of Listening

It's strange to me that I've never read the works of Terry Tempest Williams, and yet, here I am; apparently now is when her words speak to me … and I listen. 
I recently listened to her interview in 2011 by Krista Tippett at OnBeing and wanted to share this quote (from the unedited version):
"If we can ask ourselves the question, then we are going to move toward the answer. And that's where, for me, it really is about listening, and being curious, and speaking [listening] from our umbilicus, not our mind, and sometimes not even our heart because that's where it gets so emotional that we *can't* hear one another. But if I'm listening to you with my hand on my belly, you know, of where I was first connected to breath which was my mother, you know, then I really can sit in the seat of presence and hear what you are saying, not what I want to say to you, but to really listen and to find that point of humanity, that connective truth."
Her reference to speaking and listening from our umbilicus really touched me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Wandering Pine

I miss my White Pine sentinels; they surrounded our Maine home on three sides, and I always felt protected.
Sara Maitland said “pine woods have a strange habit of wandering” (From the Forest). In less dramatic fashion than the Ents of Tolkien lore, granted, yet they do wander. I love this perspective of how pine forests move even if the individual trees don’t necessarily pick up roots and move over to the next ridge. It’s a bit of fascinating observation and can give rise to all sort sod fantastical stories of how boundaries and landscape change face across time, where once the line was here but now it is there; one at first blames the memory, perhaps I don’t recall my childhood experience as well as I thought because visiting to woods sixty years later, the slope appears different — but it is! 
One can almost imagine in the cover of night, a pine wriggling its toes free of the soil and a long root, then another, reaching over, slowly, ever so subtle, creeping like a vine, sinuous as a snake, and then tugging as it digs in once more shifting its tall trunk in that direction, nearly imperceptible because it doesn’t want to topple. Shifting itself away from the group. 
The fantasy is actually easier for me to imagine than the practical science of how “they re-grow as new individual trees from seed and tend not to do this under their own canopy, but to the sides of existing stands.” 
Maybe this is another subtle reason I am aligned with pines (though, fyi, in this instance the author is speaking of Scots pines) — I didn’t grow under the “canopy” of my family of origin but rather to the side. I really love this new conceptualization of my beloved pines, evergreen and raining positivity upon me continually. The author calls this wandering “spooky” but I find the entire notion utterly delightful and encouraging to the growth of diversity away from the familiar. For instance, my younger brother is definitely deciduous, growing from our mother-base; my older brother doing his own thing from a trimmed height where he branched out but still firmly connected to the original trunk … but me … I’m a seed cast to grow beyond the canopy. 

I’ve been waiting my entire life to be in the forest and free; 
cycles are age, yet less age than individuality. 

One never knows where and when shift may happen.

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