Monday, 10 December 2007

Inspiration

Inspiration is the call that asks you to dance along the path of creativity.


Sunday, 11 November 2007

Sunrise on Croft Ambrey

Notes written for Saturday 20 October, 2007

1 am: set off from Luton - the forcast was for a cold clear night and a sunny following day. Arrived at Croft Castle at 4 am. Wrapped up warm and set off to walk up the path to Croft Ambrey. A clear sky, no moon, but enough ambient light to enable me to see my way without the aid of a torch. Fortunately I know the path well. Climbed over the stile into the field with the spanish chestnuts - startled some nearby animals, cows or sheep? No idea what as I couldn't see them! Through the woods the path was barely visible in the darkness. Very quiet - just the odd rustle here and there in the undergrowth - deer? Also an occasional owl, otherwise I was surprised just how quiet the woods were.

On reaching the top, I was surprised to the the quarry on the opposite hillside working. A mist was covering the valley below me and the orange lights of the workings created an eerie ghost-like presence as they reflected off the wisps of mist - like something out of a thriller or a spy film (remember Disney's 'One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing'?). I thought about the old trees I had passed - just able to see their silhouettes. I wonder how much our fear of the dark comes from scary films and stories? Above me the sky was clear and full of stars. I never see a sky like this in Luton, too much light pollution. Saw quite a few shooting stars, also one very bright star that seemed to out-shine all others in the East/South East - looked very distinctive - a planet? Definately not the moon. I just awaited the lightening sky, the anticipated and expectation was almost overwhelming. Like awakening to something new and unseen, a new experience, What would the dawn look like? What colours, smells, sounds would I sense? I sat, lay and walked on the cold damp grass. Waiting. Letting the dawn 'be'.

Gradual rays of light seemed to fill the sky fom the horizon, almost imperceptible, then the light got stronger. Blackbirds began to chatter and other birds could also be heard around me. Deer sounds too? The misty valley took more definition - the hills seeming like islands. The red sun broke the horizon. Frost lay in the low lying pats of the hillfort. Four Sheep and a crow. The landscape around silent apart from the sublte sound of the quarry (which if I moved away from the summit and down the slope disappeard behind me), an occasional vehicle in the valley and a possible tractor working in a far off field. Several owls, Tawny and Little, heard. The sun appeared at around 7.45am.

***

This is my pilgrimage to Croft Ambrey. It is a place to 'be' and I value it hugely. Standing alone on the dark hill beneath the star filled sky. I am at peace. I am very cold! The grass is wet and cold, I lie on it. I ma in this place, this place is in me.

The shooting stars are so fast - perhaps the fastes things I have ever seen - a fraction of a second they take to cover their path in the sky. Such a fine flash of light.

I dance in the light of the rising sun.

This dawn is my dawn. It has become part of me, part of my memory. An experience of transformation.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Two Dancing

Journal writing, remembering a recent day with my daughter
And then in the freedom of the dance that delights in the cool touch of bare feet upon the wooden floor of a very special place. We welcome the exploration of the air that we encircle with our arms, and float as if expressing freedom from the space that confines our existence. We welcome the space and we listen to our singing voices that echo throughout the building. This is a time that makes us so happy as we dance into the sunbeams that pour through the tall windows from the parkland. We spin and whirl and dance in total freedom. This has brought us a treasured moment that brings happiness and light to our day. This special place. We are here. We are now.

Healing

I was disappointed to miss John O'Donohue at Greenbelt this year. Here is a passage from 'Divine Beauty':

When the mind is festering with trouble or the heart torn, we can find healing among the silence of mountains or fields, or listen to the simple, steadying rhythm of waves. The slowness and stillness gradually takes us over. Our breathing deepens and our hearts calm and our hungers relent. When serenity is restored, new perspectives open to us and difficulty can seem like the invitation to new growth. This is also the exprerience of prayer. ... Rather than taking us out of ourselves, nature coaxes us deeper inwards, teaches us to rest in the serenity of our elemental nature. When we go among nature, clay is returning to clay. We are returning to participate in the stillness of the earth which first dreamed us.


Autumn Morning

Journal writing from this morning
The autumnal mornings close in with an enveloping mist and coolness that brings the knowledge of coming darkness, cold and woolly jumpers hiding in the wardrobe. I see the orange sun rising in the east above the darkening trees whose leaves are about to change to rainbows and tumble in the wind. This becomes a time of year of dewdrops and enlightened cobwebs. I welcome this time of sleep when the landscape seems to melt into the earth. Where does everything go? The plants, insects and birds seems to just dissolve into nothing around me. Lignified decay becomes the browning landscape.

And yet how can I celebrate this passing of warmth, colour and plenty and almost waken to the song of the increasing winds and drammatic cloudscapes? The earth cools the soles of the feet and breath clouds the air. Will this winter really be a winter I wonder, or will it just be another long autumn?

In the business of life it is so easy to loose presence.

I am awaiting the touch of something - and yet rarely do I sense the touch of anything like the 'other'. Human perception and emotion clouds the knowing ... I am only able to stand in the awe and wonder of Nature - to touch her earth beneath my feet. Sure, I have been in the presence of times when others have experienced things, and I won't deny that perhaps subtle things have influenced my life and guided my path. But I am unsure how its all fits together.

I am not sure I can TRY and have an experience that is other-worldly, or to have dreams and visions that reach into the Other - and would I want to? Some would say "look to Jesus" other would look elsewhere. Each claims their ground, even church on Sunday was unwavering in its focus.

Is Nature like that? Creation is so diverse in its manifestations. The truth is in the experience of the clouds, the eweather, the earth, the stones, the landscape. And the manifestation or experience of nature is in the diversity of the wildlife and ecology and habitatas. Each is right in its own place, but does anything seek global domination? Man does. In the same way man seeks to control Nature, so man creates religions that seek to control his fellow humans.

Man dominates Nature
Religions dominate Man


PRAYER
Prayer is touching a leaf and holding it in your hand.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Mists of Creativity

There are two areas of personal creativity which I would like to explore. Both seem to be rolling around in the mists of uncertainty and I feel I am feeling my way though a deep mist, not knowing quite if they will emerge into something or not.

Tribal/earthy eco illustration
I am slowly developing a sort of tribal nature based illustration of charcters/landscape. I find much pagan artwork a little depressing, scary and uncomfortable - if you know what I mean. When the Green Man, or the anthropomophisms of trees is created I often feel they lack something joyfull, positive and light. My sketchbook is filling up with a whole range of ideas for images that I am trying to work up into something lighter, more 'fun' and more in-keeping with my sort of Christian-pagan ideas. I want my art to reflect a deep human-Nature based relationship which will help me spiritually, emotionally and creatively. Art that can reflect basic principles of walking barefeet in grass, touching trees, holding stones, belonging in the landscape etc, but without associated links to the ideas of fairies, nature spirits etc. I don't work on that level and I don't want to paint images that reflect what I do not perceive.

Liturgy
I would really like to collect or write liturgy based on green/nature principles. I have come across samples on the web, and need to search more. One problem is that I have slightly stepped out of an environment (church) in which I could develop something like that usefully. I could create my own book prayer/ritual/worship. Like with the artwork mentioned above, I would like something holistic, that can be used in many situations, that was almost neutral and didn't make assumptions as to whether you were talking to Jesus, Mother Earth, a Goddess or anything else. Just simple prayers to help people think, relax, meditate or perform simple rituals for whatever. I really need a situation in which to use and explore such ideas with people. I'll just begin to collect some ideas and see what happens. I have the confidence to do something with people if I had the right format and words.



Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The Difficulty of Balance

For someone who has researched long and hard about finding a healthy work-life balance, I am amazed at how darn ****** difficult it can be! Now what I find hard is this: not actually doing things, because all that I have to do is actually easy and straight forward (well sort of), but it is the anxiety and adrenaline that wells up within me that creates the probems. On the one hand I am anxious because I am frustrated at not being able to do all I want to do as I am so inspired by the world around me. On the other I feel that I can't let all the adrenaline loose that builds up daily because I feel anxious. I find it amusing that even trying to be relaxed can be stressful! Somehow I think that computers create within me a sort of build up of energy that has nowhere to go. I love them and have to sit at one all day for my job, but I do try and get away form the screen when I can.

I have now decided to keep my bike at work and go out for a quick spin in my meagre half hour lunch break to try and dissipate this energy and loose a bit of weight!

Leading a SLOW lifestyle is not easy as a wage earner, commuter, husband, dad and creative thinker. In theory it should be so easy - I could write a whole book on how to. In reality I feel a hypocrite at not being able to be the green, slow, eco-spiritual being I feel is true to me.

Life gets in the way, and I have to deal with the demands of work, dripping taps, shopping, tax returns, watering the garden, darwing, sleep, and everything else. I love it all, but I just wish I could do it SLOWLY without getting anxious about it all.

Hmm, must dig out the books on creative visualisation, do my daily journal, pray, relax, ... etc etc etc...

Looking forwad to the day in London next week celebrating the work of Thomas Berry Earth is Community

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Praise

Reflections on Psalm 118:6, 28-29 for a prayer meeting in 2006.


‘The Lord is for me, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever!’


Praise acknowledges the other (who or whatever you are praising) for its beauty, presence, trustworthiness, love, self-sacrifice and faithfulness.

Praise has to come from the soul. Without your soul behind it, it is empty of meaning. You don’t usually give praise without something deep within you being touched and wanting to express something that has an emotional attachment.

Praise is an acknowledgement, thanksgiving and positive affirmation of someone’s actions or qualities.

You need to have a motivation to praise - to give praise demands sacrifice of self and raises the value of the other.

You impart some of your energy to build up the other, so you must be willing to do it. It takes you to another place, you have to be willing to move and lay open your ‘self’ and be vulnerable.

We can praise other, we can accept praise, though we may find that hard to do. We sometimes want it, but when it does come our way we don’t always know how to accept it.

Praising the Divine can take many forms. For some it may take the form of exuberant worship as this passage suggests, singing worship songs with others at church or some other positive uplifting personal sacrament. For others it may be more subtle - a quiet personal prayer with a candle, playing music, planting a seed or touching a tree.

Give praise where due and your act of self-sacrifice will be honoured.

Wisdom and Understanding

Notes for a prayer meeting in 2006

Wisdom: experience and knowledge, insight and practical judgement.

Understanding: perceive the meaning of, nature of, cause of; know how to deal with, agreed upon.

In this passage there is a sense of creation, not in the physical sense, but I a more psychological one - a sense that seeks meaning behind the action of creation. It is not suggesting answers to the great questions of creation, but asks us to accept what we see and try and sense the spirit in which it happened.

The more knowledge and wisdom you have does not always imply you can solve problems. More may remain unanswered because you have to accept that ‘the more you know, the less you know’. It may take you to a place where you are more happy because you have to accept the many unanswered mysteries - the world will remain a place with the unknown.
Wisdom and understanding implies that a time has to be spent living through a period whereby these qualities are fed by experience and learning. You have to go through the past in order to be in the present. You just expect ‘to get it’ in a microsecond - we all have to live and learn. The greatest period where Divine Wisdom and Understanding was birthed is beyond our small comprehension of time and space.

Receiving wisdom and understanding:
We have all been inspired by someone, taught by a teacher, mentored by a friend, followed the example of Jesus etc. And so we become a reflection of that person in some small or greater way as we aspire to their path and vision. If the earth has received Divine Wisdom and Understanding then it, too, must reflect that back. In all that we see around us we must see or sense a reflection of the Creator. It should tell us something about the creation process - about the pain and struggle, the beauty and wonder.

It should draw us nearer the Creator.

But can you hug trees or carry a stone in your pocket?

I walk out into the coolness of the garden after a warm spring day and kneel down on the soft grass to take in the fragrance of the wallflowers that fills the darkening sky. How can something so simple create such a beautiful presence?
I look around. Wisdom and understanding is all around me - an ancient spirit that entwines all things, long before our greedy souls clung to this fragile earth and devoured it to feed our selfish lives.

The possibility of the 'Maybe"

Can't remember where this note came from I wrote several years ago, but ever since I have been struck by the power of 'Maybe....'

In the ancient Celtic law and faith everything happened in threes. Thus when the Christian religion came, with the trinity concept, it was an easy adaptation. Now we can appreciate that it allows for more freedom than the dualism of the East, the yin-yang of black and white. The Celts allow for gray also, for yes no AND maybe.

Your vision is your home

Notes written for a prayer meeting a year or more ago

One of the great tasks in life is to find a way of thinking which is honest, original and right for your style of individuality.

The shape of each soul is different.

Be aware of thinking/ideas/people etc that limit you - that deny you your life.

Prisons: we allow ourselves to build prisons around ourselves and then choose to live in them. They may be physical, psychological - guilt, shame, belief, self-critisism... Perhaps prisons and dark dungeons are closer to home than we think.

Boundaries and Freedom

Some writing from June 2005
This is a passage about boundaries and freedom. God created the world and this gives impression of a set of constraints put upon it. A sense of a great eternal movement set in motion by God and which cannot be changed by anything we do.

And yet within that there is a sense of freedom that we are able to search for a sense of belonging. Who are we? What are we doing here? Is there a God? How do I make sense of the world around me? We try to find something that is greater than us - something that all cultures throughout the world have done and which seems to be an inherent part of our make up throughout history. We are all feeling our way towards him. But God is not far off, he is close, in fact we are within God, in all we do. All too often Christians seems to feel they can hop in and out of God’s presence. That seems an odd concept. It is our awareness of the Divine that we need to tune in to. That awareness must surely be without boundaries.

So do we have boundaries and freedom. What boundaries do we create and what freedoms do we have? How do they relate to your life? Are we free to search for God or are we limited by boundaries that we put up?

Monday, 13 August 2007

The Feminine Spirit


Anyone studying Judaism and the Hebrew religions, the Holy Scriptures such as the Kabbalah, Torah, and Talmud know the term ruach ha-kodesh as the Hebrew term for the Holy Spirit. "Ruach" means "breath" or "spirit," and "ha Kodesh" is a word akin to "holy". In Hebrew, ruach ha-kodesh is a feminine term, so that in the original language of the Bible, the Ruach ha-Kodesh is a "She." In the Old Testament, when the phrase "Spirit of God" is used, it is always the feminine Hebrew term. (www.christianwicca.org)


Things to do: find out more about whether the Holy Spirit is actually more female than I have always been lead to believe. Somehow, a more female Spirit makes more sense to me. Have I been given a distorted paternalistic view of the Trinity that actually now has a place for a female member? It certainly creates a more meaningful eco-theological/mother earth view of things.

Perhaps this is where Bible study could actually get interesting for once...

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Fear of Difference

Is difference Biblical?

Is difference being able to worship the many aspects of God through the freedom to find our own spiritual rhythm?

Is Holism the answer to being able to express the Christian faith through Nature?

I see difference in Nature all around me - randomness, shapes, movement, instability and diversity. But man introduces sameness - same cars, houses, roads, wheat fields, golf courses etc. All are an attempt to control the many of humanity. With people wanting individualilty we all buy into the desire for the same needs of a car, house, DVD player etc. We become homogenous, yet we yearn from freedom and individuality. The world has too many people all chasing the capiltalist dream, a utopia that consumerism will solve. Where is our "self", our individuality, our relationship with the Divine - with the Other? How can you break out? Not easily if you are trapped in the world of the mortgage and work. Yet even freedom is scorned. Difference creates culture wars and insecurity - we must be brought together. People fight over differences - they want security, or they feel threatened. Where is our freedom to be different?

Age, shopping, culture, TV, work, home: they all compartmentalise us - because that is how we have to shape life. Does Nature do that? Perhaps so, even small ecosystems have control, micro-habitats, niche specific flora and fauna. Everything needs some sort of boundary to survive. Even the air we breath is confined to our atmosphere. But then it goes back to how do you perceive things outside your boundary, habitat, culture, religion. Threat, insecurity or a welcome diversity of knowledge, belief, wisdom and understanding?

Can we pick and choose? A bit of this and a bit of that? Can Holism really be embraced? We have to think of our own survival and security - that overrides everything we do. Survive. So we cannot entirely embrace other things, only what is within acceptable boundaries. The outside becomes our fear. We become fearful of other beliefs.

Rhythm and Belief

Does you body resonate with various 'belief' systems? Do you search for that with which you are in tune? What cultural traditions, practices or ideas imprint ideas on you from an early age? Do some people just "get it" whilst others don't?

Is there a natural rhythm that resonates with us and so leads us along various paths of belief? Is there something that we are all in tune with? How can you find your rhythm? If you have a spiritual belief, is it all about tuning into something and is what you tune into up to you? Can other people expect you to resonate with something (that isn't along your natural frequency)?

I am in the process of reading a book about NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and the thought occured to me that the Bible is not written in a language I understand. Er what...? Well, perhaps it is like tuning into art, music or literature. Isn't it all the same? Well yes, but no. We all tune into different rhythms of language, music or art. Some people may love Harry Potter, others just don't get it! The same with Hip-hop music, vegetarianism or Shakespeare. If you want to tune into the Christian belief, but don't feel an affinity for its language or rhythm then what do you do? What hope is there for me I wonder? Will I be confined to the depths of hell just because I don't feel my body is in tune with modern evangelical styles of doing things?

Even Jesus struggled to get people to listen to his message and tune into his rhythm and language.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Upon this Cross

So to the cross to bare my soul
And on that cross I touch the wood
That holds me high above the crowd.
I am held by nails - foreign objects
That pierce my flesh and the wood
We are bound together, inseperably.
I welcome death, as has the wood
We become one, lifeless but strong.
The cross and I, formed from the earth
We each bare scars of humanity
We each grew, but were then felled
by the saw or the spoken word.

Now we stand together,
The cross holding me up: new branches.
Together we were formed for a purpose
Having no control over our destiny
From separation to bonding
From existence to crucifixion
We become, together, a symbol
Of inhumanity and sinfulness.

Before coming to this stony place
We had already died
Our future predestined by an other
Worked by the hand of our makers.
We both end our physical lives
And our bodies fade from existence
But in new forms we continue to live
One as the Earth, one as the Spirit.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Flooding...

On commenting at work to a colleague about the current extensive flooding, and describing it as Mother Nature throwing a tantrum, the reply I received seemed quite apt: "And when us girls get into a strop there's no stopping us!"

Although it is, of course, distressing for all those who are suffering - I particularly feel for small businesses and farmers, from an eco/earth centred point of view we have only ourselves to blame.

I also wonder just how much 'stuff' is going to have to end up in land-fill sites. Suddenly our meagre, yet hard fought efforts of recycling and reusing waste seems inconsequential besides the mountains of furniture, household goods, and other consumables that will have to be destroyed. Why are our lives so built around such things? But it can all be replaced by the insurance, so why bother worrying about it?

Somehow, many things are wrong with the way we live our modern lives.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Nature's Martyr

If a Muslim is willing to die for Jihad
If a Christian is willing to die for Jesus
If a soldier is willing to die for their country
If a Knight is willing to die for the hand of a Princess
If a man is willing to die in saving another...

Surely there can be no just cause
That is ultimately the one to die for
All become a tear in the eye of the God of love
The fallen Earth never learning.

The actions of martyrs and heroes is held high
Each sacrificing self to a just cause
Their passion and commitment overrides life
The final ultimate action anyone can take.

Would my passion for my beliefs
Take me to a point like this
Where desperation, frustration or necessity live
Where my belief is greater than the value of life?

Perhaps my Jihad would be
Against any who reject Nature
Rise up my army let's fight
Those who tear this Earth apart.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

In This Chamomile Place

In this chamomile place
I'm in your fragrance.
In this chamomile place
I'm in your breeze.
In this chamomile place
I'm in your light.
In this chamomile place
I'm in your earth.
I am, in this chamomile place.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Making Music

For a long time I have been wanting to do a bit of drumming, but have never searched out a way to realise this desire. I've often looked at small drum thingys in fairtrade/alternative shops or at festivals but have never played any. The lack of a private, soundproofed room has put me off. Anyway the following happened yesterday whilst on a walk to Hitchin...

The hedgerows are full of the scent of elderflowers honeysuckle, bracken and wild roses. After all the rain recently, the present warmth is a welcome relief. I am walkling along a bridleway and snap a couple of overhanging dead twigs from a branch. This to me was just an almost intuitive action to seeing a sharp branch that could hurt a passing horse rider or cyclist if they fail to spot it. I am now holding two sticks, the longest only being about 12 inches. The desire to see what sound they make when I hit them together is too great an opportunity to pass by. Tap, tap. Just the sound of one sick hitting another. Plain and simple. But somehow on this spring day, the sound seems to belong in the landscape. It is a purely natural sound, like the tapping sound a woodpecker on an old tree would make. I tap out some rhythms as I walk along and I listen to the sound of wood on wood. I could make different sounds by hitting or holding the sticks differently. Simple sounds, yet beautiful sounds in the time and place where I walked. They belonged with me on this sunny warm day, amongst the trees, the hedges, the elderflowers and the honeysuckle. Perhaps this was how our ancestors created their first drum beats. I could have been the leader of a procession. I could have been a pilgrim, on a journey of meditation through the landscape. Later, I try different larger sticks and I am drawn into the music held within their being. It was indeed a act of meditation. To play, to create, to listen, to feel a part of something - it was my own small time of discovery, of enjoying the presence of simple music in Nature.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Edge of the Wood

Footpath near Ley Green, 26 May 2007

Where the lightness of the open sky meets the darkness deep within the trees,
Where the skylarks song meets the gentle clattering of the aspen leaves,
Where the bracken fronds unfurl their carpet beneath the slender pines,
Where the cool wind of the early morning meets the stillness of night,
Where the path divides the tall trees from the short cammomile, grass and beans,
Where the elderflowers light up the woodland edge with lights of white,
Where the muntjac leave shelter and venture into the expanse of the open,
This is the edge of the wood.

Blackbird Song

Ford Farm, Newent, May

I am standing at dusk beneath a silver birch just listening. Listening to the songs of a couple of blackbirds penetrating the enclosing darkness. Song so powerful, melody so different. Is it music? I don't hear such singing so obviously around home - it takes a holiday to be able to go out more freely into the countryside in the evenings and enjoy that time of day.

Hello Fox

Ford Farm, Newent, 14 May

I am standing on a small narrow bridge where a footpath crosses a stream. I am surrounded by trees and wild garlic as I sketch the stream below. A rustling in the undergrowth, and a fox cub tentatively approaches me. There is a worn path through the ransomes over the bridge, presumably thye fox's own footpath. After a few minutes and a few wary advances the fox passes me only about a foot way and scampers off to the other side of the stream.

Rain, My Companion

A walk up onto Croft Ambrey, Sunday 13 May.

Pouring Rain, all day long. I walk up through Fishpool Valley, then cut up throught the woods onto the lower banks of Croft Ambrey.

I look at the colours on the woodland floor. Even in the rain the green colours seem so vivid and bright - even yellows that contrast with the greyness of the sky: spurge, dog's mercury, ferns... Such vibrancy, so many shades of green, they almost have a light of their own.

Then I pass into the conifer stands. The mist is almost purple between the near distant trees. Greens give way to the browns, oranges and the smell of pine.

I pass a sheet of corrugated iron, possibly an old pheasant shelter/feeder, propped up by a wooden frame and brambles. The face of a startled fox peers out from its dry shelter only about four feet away from me. Then off it runs through the dampness.

I exit the pines onto the lower edge of croft Ambrey - common land with new bracken unfolding. The air is still here on the sheltered side. Low cloud envelopes the hill. Quiet and still. The heavy scent of the surrounding hawthorn blossom fills the air - strong, damp, peaceful in the surrounding mist. I look at the hawthorn flowers close up. So beautiful - white, with pink anthers and silver drops of water.

I am alone on top of the hill.

Walking back down the track. I observe the rain falling on the oaks and other other broadleaves edgeing the stoney path. Water drips all around me, so close. And then I side-step into the pines - the sound is so much more diffuse, high above me the rain touches the top of the canopy - a more ethereal and distant sound that fills the larger space.

I have touched the cool rain. It has touched me. I am refreshed. The rain has become my companion on the lonely hill where few have tread on this very wet day.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Rain, Moths and Rabbits

At last, a few days of rain and, actually, a reasonable amount. The fields around here seemed, slightly worringly, rather dry. I am sure that the corn and beans will welcome it. The beans are still in flower and their scent is amazing; whilst the oilseed rape is going over now. Although we have had days of wonderful warmth, the nights have been cold. Some things in the garden are growing well, others are static. Putting tomato plants out a couple of weeks ago was, perhaps, a little on the optimistic side and many of my runner beans seeds have rotted in their pots. Must remember to allocate funds towards a small greenhouse or something!

***

I think we had a couple of cinnabar moths in the garden a few weeks ago. As I have only now remembered to look them up I have to rely on my memory for identification. Such beautiful red markings on the hind wings. On balance it was them rather than burnet moths.

***

Haven't had time to be inspired by much recently apart from creativity for work. Developing a new concept for a cute rabbit for greetings cards isn't a bad day job!

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

The Yellow-framed Sky

A nearby cuckoo calls in the river valley,
I'm lying, looking up at the clear blue sky;
As if a picture, framed by the vivid yellow oilseed.
I'm in the cool shade if a wheel track,
Yet the blooms above me are in early warm sunshine.
An occasional stronger breeze waves across the yellow,
And a light flurry of golden petals falls onto me.
Above, a high vapour trail cuts through nature
Reflecting that which the tractor has made.
Several distant aeroplanes sparkle,
Then a singing swallow circles above:
Its song breaking through the shimmering of the poplar leaves.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Is it now Summer?

So, it is 28 April 2007:
The blue bells are in full flower
Fields of oilseed rape are in full bloom
Field beans are in flower
May blossom is out
I've only mown the lawn once so far this year
It hasn't rained properly fer several weeks
The temperature is nearing the mid twenties
Where are the beautiful April showers, hail storms and cumulus clouds we used to get at this time of the year?


Bridging Christianity and Animism (Part 2)

One of the most inspiring articles I have read in the past few years was by Mark I. Wallace (Associate Professor in the Department of Religion and member of the Interpretation Theory Committee and the Environmental Studies Committee at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania). It was called The Green Face of God: Christianity in an age of Ecocide and can be found at Cross Currents Magazine. This brief extract from some text on his website highlights his thinking of the way in which environmental issues and Christianity can be viewed through a different perspective of the Holy Spirit.
If Christianity is both disease and cure in regard to the ecocrisis, then what role can the ancient earth wisdom within Christianity play in making our respective bioregions vital places in which to live and work? Theologically speaking, I believe that hope for a renewed earth is best founded on belief in God as Earth Spirit, the benevolent, all-encompassing divine force within the biosphere who continually indwells and works to maintain the integrity of all forms of life. The Spirit is the enfleshment of God within every thing that burrows, creeps, runs, swims, and flies across the earth. The Spirit is the promise of God's material, palpable presence within the good earth God has made for the sustenance and health of all beings. God continually pours out Godself into the cosmos through Earth Spirit, the driving force within the universe who brings each thing into its natural fruition. In this sense, God is carnal: through the Spirit, God incarnates Godself within the natural order in order to nurture and protect every form of life. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is an enfleshed being, an earthly life-form who interanimates life on earth as an outflowing of God's compassion for all things. The Nicene Creed in 381 C.E. named the Spirit as "the Lord, the Giver of Life." In this book, I will try to make sense of this ancient appellation by reenvisioning the Holy Spirit as God's invigorating corporal presence within the society of all living beings.

I will outline some of his thinking in a following post. I am surprised that in all my years of church life I had never come across any thinking that made a connection between the Holy Spirit and the life energy that flows through all living things in such a context as this. As Mark points out:
In the main, historic Christianity understands the divine life as a Sky God. In nursery rhymes, sermons, hymnody, iconography, and theological teachings, God is pictured as a bodiless, immaterial being who inhabits a timeless, heavenly realm far beyond the vicissitudes of life on earth. Of course, in the person of Jesus, God did become an enfleshed life-form in ancient history. But the incarnation is generally understood as a long-ago, punctiliar event limited to a particular human being, namely, Jesus of Nazareth. Sadly, for many Christians, the incarnation of God in Jesus does not carry the promise that God, in any palpable sense, is continually enfleshed within the natural world as we know it. Rather, for the better part of church history, the divine life and the natural world have been viewed as two separate and distinct orders of being. Occasionally, God may intervene in the natural realm in order to achieve some other-worldly objective -- as in the case of sending Jesus to earth in order to redeem humankind from its sins. But occasional divine visitations do not entail the continual coinhabitation of God in the earth. Indeed, the majority theological judgment is that any suggestion that God is somehow embedded in the earth smacks of heathenism, paganism, and idolatry. Whatever else God is, God is not a nature deity captive to the limitations and vagaries of mortal life-forms. God is not bound to the impermanent flux of an ever-changing earth. God cannot be regarded as existing on a continuum with creaturely life-forms. It is for these reasons, according to majority opinion, that biblical religion forbids the fashioning of graven images as representations of the divine life: God is not a bull or a snake or a lion. On the contrary, so the majority argument goes, God abides in an eternally unchanging heavenly realm where suffering and disappointment are no more and every tear is wiped dry.

To me, God is in the earth, in the plants and trees, in nature around me, in the earth and in me. It is through them that I touch the Divine.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Bridging Christianity and Animism (Part 1)

Stephan Harding in Animate Earth>, Green Books 2006, writes:
We need to sense that every step is taken not on, but in the Earth; that we walk, talk and live our lives inside a great planetary being that is continuously nourishing us physically with her miraculous mantle of green and her luscious swirling atmosphere, a being that soothes our psyches with her subtle language of wind and rain, with the swoop of wild birds and with the majesty of her mountains.

...we can cultivate our sense of belonging to Gaia: we can do this be developing a deep love of place. The soul of a place, when entered into with deep interest and concern that love entails, contains the quality of Gaia as a whole being.

I have just finshed reading this book and I am now finding myself at work listening to a CD version of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Although I find some of Tolles ideas a little beyond my reach and acceptability I was surprised at how much he referred to Christ and added a tiny bit more substance to the gap I am trying to bridge between animism and Christianity.

Can you have a Christian animism? My question to the church is also why in all the years that I have been in attendance have I not heard once any kind of message that attempts to explain my deep sense of connection to the Earth? Can the Bible message be taken from its so literal and word for word interpretation into something that allows so much more freedom of expression the realm of the mystical and unknown? To somewhere that allows me to begin to understand it in a way that is free its often seemingly depressive narrow-mindedness and intolerance of alternative ideas. I cannot now just sit back and accept what the church tells me for I need to find MY journey, which I believe has not been allowed to develop.

A few things from Tolles CD stood out which I noted down (hopefully correctly!). They need further thought, but I liked the ideas:
Felt one-ness of being: connectedness with something greater: essentially you, but yet much greater than you.

Everything has 'being'. Even stones have rudimentary conciousness otherwise it would not 'be' and its atoms would disperse. Its conciousness is God's essense expressing itself in form.

Christ is essense - indwelling Divinity.

I will continue my exploration of this in Part 2 and explore how an alternative view of the Holy Spirit gave me a fresh insight into exploring Divinity and the environment.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Touching Dewdrops

Early morning seas of gold
The oilseed wakes to my touch.
Flowers, yellow, reflect the sun's brightness
Holding drops of sparkling dew
Fresh coolness runs through my fingers
Leaving the delicate hope of pollen.

Places of Oldness

Whilst cycling past an isolated patch of hedgerow, between a road and some houses near Harpenden today, the phrase 'Places of Oldness' appeared in my thoughts.

There must be many places of countryside that get isolated by mans construction of roads, houses or other develoments. Patches of land that may seem tiny and insignificant, with a few trees, brambles, ivy, a depository for litter and rubbish and perhaps relics of the past like fences or the odd evidence of human activity (an old shed, discarded farm machinery etc.). Places that become untouched by man - ignored, often seemingly inaccessible, left to nature to develop into a small wilderness. They may have been part of an ancient wood, or hedgerow. Or perhaps they have even developed by themselves. Places that are seemingly worthless, difficult to clear, mow or just a waste of time to manage. They may form a convenient boundary for some, or may just be a shelter for the odd rabbit and pigeon.

Surely these places must somehow have so much value to our rural heritage, let alone as a home to wildlife. Any patch of wild nature will surely contribute just a tiny bit of oxygen to our air and greenness to our concrete, tar and brick. We may overlook these places as worthless but surely they hold memories of the past and are connected to our heritage and to the people who once worked the land. Such Places of Oldness are everywhere. They could be almost every roadside hedgerow or overgrown part of the garden. They are places that we have given over to the passing of time. They don't fit into our modern lifestyles and yet they are all around us.

Take a walk and you will inevitably find such a place. Think about how the landscape has changed around the place, how has it been affected, how has nature taken over and how does it now manage that place? Give thanks to your Place of Oldness. You may have been the first person to touch a tree in it, or to even acknowledge its presence. If you look closely, a place like this can hold as much beauty as a glorious picture postcard view. You just have to change your perspective. Reduce your field of view and focus in on what is litterally in front of your eyes.

Magic Bluebell Carpet

A cold winter's wood
Leaves, brown and damp on the earth
The memory of green, lingers in dormant branches
Rain and frost lie, undisturbed
Beneath the cold winter's trees.

From under the song of the blackbird and robin
From under the call of the owl and pheasant
From under the blue sky and stippled green leaves
From under the murmer of a breeze on warm spring day
From under the buzzing of flies and rustle of mouse
A magic carpet of green bursts onto the earth
And a wave of blue rides over the woodland floor
And the air is filled with the scent of Spring.

Monday, 16 April 2007

A muddy 'what if' moment...

So, as I was merrily walking past some bluebell woods near Offley yesterday, I remembered the thought I had a few weeks ago which left me wondering whether a mud wrap or similiar would do my hands any good (I have had odd problems with carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI this year - which I am successfully treating through self-help - more in a blog later perhaps).

It was hot and sunny. I spied a large puddle at the edge of a field. Tractors and walkers had passed through it so it had been churned up a little. Hmmm, I thought. Mud. Hands. I wonder what if.....

The water was warm and my hands stirred up the soft cool depths. It wasn't as smooth as I expected due to many leaves in the mud, but it felt OK. I covered my hands and wrists in the soft warm oozy brown mix. It felt good. I walked on, swinging my arms in the warm breeze. They felt cool as the water evaporated and the mud dried. I felt the mud harden around my hands and I felt this was an interesting experience. I was slightly concerned about what I would do if I met anyone along the footpaths as they are well used and I did feel a little like a monster from the deep or someone with a very bad skin condition. Fortunately, I was alone, though as I approached home I did wash off the remaining mud with the remains of my drinking water.

I had worked my hands very hard this past weekend building a fence for the garden and had expected to suffer today, but I didn't have many problems. Perhaps the mud helped. Perhaps it didn't. But I feel a sense of satisfaction at doing what I did. I'd do it again, perhaps barefoot next time too...!

Barefoot Spring

Having discovered the joys of walking barefoot last year through some local woodland, I had eagerly been awaiting the chance to go out this spring. I would have liked to have done so on Dartmoor last week, but the risks of tick bites and lyme disease are all to real and so I had to keep my boots firmly on. The other day I was pushing a sleeping Emily in the buggy up by Putteridge College and, as the weather was warm and sunny, so an opportunity presented itself. It was wonderful to walk along the large expanse of short grass beside the college drive and up into the woods having cast aside my walking boots and socks. The grass was beautifully warm and the earth dry. While in the woods there were many changes in textures from the crisp oak leaves of last autumn to the soft crumbly leaf mould at the base of a recently naturally-fallen silver birch - I just sank ankle deep into a wonderful warm and moist 'compost' that had buillt up over the years which had now been uplifted by the birch roots. It was sad to see the birch on the ground, already half sawn up by a chainsaw. The tree was probably around 170 years old judging by an approximate ring count.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

The Dance of Butterflies

Blanchdown Woods, Tavistock, Easter Day.

I walk down a forest track with tall conifers surrounding me. The sun is warm on a bright spring afternoon. Peacock butterflies are all around - only one or two in sight at a time, but the woods seems full of them as I walk through the trees. I come across one on the gravel, another flies near it and they both rise spiralling upwards to the sky together and disappear out of sight. I find a place to sit and watch one sunning itself on the gravel road - sitting facing way from the sun with wings outstretched towards the warmth giving sun. It sits for many minutes before flying off into the trees. Others fly by me, I can hear them fluttering as they pass by.

On My Dartmoor Stone

Last weekend, Easter Saturday, I had the chance to visit 'my stone' on the edge of Dartmoor near Burrator reservoir. It is a fairly inconspicuous and unassuming stone - most of it is probably buried in the granite and peat moor. It is just a wide, circular dome-shaped stone, only rising about a foot from the surrounding grass, and it is just a good shape upon which to stand, sit or lie. It is immediately surrounded by sheep-grazed grass and single standing pines, with denser conifers behind it and a view up to a nearby tor in front. Nothing amazing, but it is a place which I have visited over several years.

My pilgrimage to the stone was about an hours walk from where I had left the car.

It was a cool morning with the promise of a warm sunny spring day. There was a moderate haze that obscured the distant views. The larches around the stone were tinged with the green of new growth and gorses were in full flower. I sat and listened with my eyes closed: skylark, chaffinch, crow, woodpecker and other small birds in the pines. There was only the faint gentle mumer of the wind in the trees - almost imperceptible - like a slow wave of sound moving across the forest. Sometimes it would be good to be in the wind in a place like this and hear the wind totally naturally - without hearing the sound of the wind around your ears and head which can make up much of what you hear. No human sounds, or perhaps just a faint few voices from distant walkers, but none passed my sight in my time here. A couple of aeroplanes up high; and the buzzing of flies.

I welcome my soul to this place
I welcome my soul to the sun
I welcome my soul to the breeze
I welcome my soul to the trees
I welcome my soul to the grass
I welcome my soul to this stone
I welcome my soul to this place.

I lay down on my stone and put my ear to it. What would I hear? So close to the ground, I could sense its depth, its blackness, its coldness, its infinite connection to the earth beneath.

Looking closely at the surface of the granite stone was fascinating. A world of moss and lichens on the weathering granite - with tiny patches of black (mica) glistening like small gemstones in the speckled white stone (quartz). I notice the small and black spherical lichens around a few millimeters or less in size. Some lichens elements were even smaller (I must revise my botany too!). All forming a microcosm of life on the rocks surface.

My stone and I enjoy an hour together, just experiencing peace and presence in the landscape.

***

There is so much I could draw in the landscape but, when I am only here one or two days a year, having a decent walk and just enjoying exploring always seems to take priority.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Landscape Meditation

These are notes about a meditation I performed in May 2006 whilst up on my favourite hill, Croft Ambrey, in Herefordshire. I think I had driven up from Bedfordshire in the middle of the night and walked up onto the hill in the early light of the morning. I found myself in sunshine on the top of the hill, on a grassy bank, beside a hawthorn tree. I made brief notes afterwards about what I had thought and did at the time and I have rewritten them here as an outline. They could be used as a guide to performing an outdoor meditation anywhere.

WELCOME
Find a place in which you want to perform the meditation. Approach it with a welcoming heart and make yourself comfortable. Take a few minutes to take in the landscape: view, trees, sounds, smells etc. What is the weather like? Warm, cool? Clouds? Listen to sounds: birds, animals, breeze, distant human activity. You have come to a place. This is now your place of being. Go and look for something that inspires you in the place: twig, flowers, stone etc (but don't necessarily touch it). Breath in the air - the earth has given you this as a gift.

ASK
We all have questions. Be open, think about what you seek inspiration or guidance for - not direct petitionary prayers. Ask to be shown something. Use landscape features as a guide e.g. path (for direction, distractions, clarity, journeying, following...)

RECEIVE
Take a closer look around you at an element in the landscape and focus on it more deeply:

Tree
Notice its leaves, bark, branches... How is its shape formed? How do the branches exist in three dimensions (why don't they keep touching?). Look for patterns. Feel leaves: textures, how they interact with the light - patterns, shadows, colours; they give life, soft, delicate (even if tree thorny) Any insects? Think about stability, firm foundations, roots, soil, age, belonging in the landscape, strong, immovable (yet can be cut down by man in afew minutes). Fragility of life - we can take it away. Photosynthesis. Without plants humans would die. Size, shape, alone or with others. Shadows. It is rooted to one spot yet we are free - free to run, jump, lie down in grass. Do that! Feel the dew, wet. Look for other plants or evidence of animals, insects (sheep, rabbits, swuirrels, mice, butterflies). RUN AND PLAY: allow and feel the freedom (if safe to do so). Just BE. No phones, TV or computer, or perceptions of what people may think of you.

GO FORTH
How will you leave the place? Emotions: happier, sad, indifferent. Your choice. Would you take anything - or just everything as you found it. You have freedom to go in whatever direction you want - but you will most likely retreat to the security of what you know or are responsible for (home, work, family). What is freedom, or the ultimate freedom? Go out again to find something that inspires you. Is it easier? Has you view changed about what you see around you?


Monday, 2 April 2007

I live in the Song of the Wind

Last Saturday morning I was up early and walked out from home before breakfast for some exercise. I stopped in a place where the footpath passed through the edge of piece of woodland. It was a sort of misty/hazy morning, Grey, with the hope of later sunshine. There was a decent wind and the air was cold, but spring-like. Often I can go out and not feel or sense anything, but today I sat in the shelter of a hedge and listened to the wind in the trees above me. It almost felt to me like a 'thin' place, as the Celts would have called it - place where the real world seems to give way and you sense another. I could hear a skylark singing high in a nearby field, a blackbird or robin singing too in the wood. But above all I was surrounded, high above and all around, by the waves of the wind. The leafless branches swayed in the tall oak trees anad I sat, listening, sheltering, being... and the thought that came to mind was that I live in the Song of the Wind.

* * *

The hedgerows are alive with Dogs Mercury, Violets and Primroses. Cowslips and Greater Stitchwort are coming into flower. I was amused, after my thoughts previously on litter, to come across a sight for which I wish I had had my camera on me. Whilst walking along a roadside near Cockernhoe, with the steeply banked verge towering above me, to see high up and against the sky, three snails eagerly devouring the cardboard off an Asda orange juice carton lying on top of some grass.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Sainsbury's Orange Carrier Bags

Perhaps I haven't been into Sainsbury's for a while, but the one thing that struck me today about my visit to the store in Harpenden was their bright orange carrier bags. Where were my large reuseable shopping bags when I needed them? I had to take two and suddenly felt, as I exited the shop, as though I had become a bright flourescent sign shouting to be seen and being an immediate advert for the store. As I walked down the street I became part of a distinctly visible line of people, all carrying bright orange bags, which disappeared into the distance. Walking across Harpenden common, a place of green and nature, the two orange bags seemd to be the most incongruous thing I could ever carry. Their presence seemed unwelcome in the landscape and their very being and requirement seemed to further separate the food within them from the earth.

Must remember to try and find out what I can do with old carrier bags - and to put my normal shopping bags in the car!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Struggling with Evangelical Christianity

This post continues on from the previous one, Raindrops on Croft Ambrey with some notes I made in July 2005. It expresses much of a personal struggle that I was having with the Christian environment I was in.

this was a time of conscious awareness of the natural world : I was open to its being : this was the ultimate in divine awareness : beyond anything I get at ‘Christian events’ : emotive superficial candy floss : triumphal salvation pains me : it threatens my soul because it cannot relate to it : guilt and hell are imposed or implied : how can this be of God the soul asks? : this is just human egotistical plundering of the Word : domination of the masses : individuality is hidden : individuality becomes the occult : hidden : unseen : the mystery that cannot be explained by conventional thought : how do you reconcile these things? : you are being judged on the way that you perceive the world : how can ‘difference’ be forcefully unified by the cross? : why do people want you to believe and behave in a certain way? : if you break the mould you are fallen and in need of direction back onto the path : The 'MAYBE' is the key to my walk : break from fundamentalism : and embrace the unknown : the Cosmic God : embrace a healing of the world : man is destroying it : if Jesus is the only way to save it then that is a supernatural /cosmic event : if we destroy the planet we are saying we don’t care about it : we don’t respect it : we show no respect for human life : if we show no respect to the earth then that says everything is Godless : defining the earth in terms of a spiritual/Divine being is defining it as a Divine creation : if created by the Divine it has a Divine Spirit : it may not actually be God : if I make a picture, the picture isn’t me : but there must be a way of expressing the divine through it : the gaia theory goes someway to express the way that I believe all is connected : we are in some way part of a big organism : man isn’t separate from it : without the earth he would die : he has to maintain an integral part of it : through food, water, light, air etc : the earth has an in-built ability to support us : it can also kill us : there must be a balance : perhaps not a physical balance : but a balance exists that is favourable to our existence : the continuation of that balance is for us to maintain : there may well need to be catastrophes and diseases that help maintain this balance : they occur simply because the earth is made that way ; the great direction in which we move : is it beneficial to the earth or to man? : what is our motivation? : ego : self-satisfaction : can Christianity really save the human race? : not yet

the Christian problem : redemption of a fallen world : taken for granted : but is it fallen? : how de we define fallen? : the earth was created good and it maintains its goodness : humans have corrupted : they are fallen : salvation may not just be deciding to follow Christ : perhaps the greatest salvation is a personal awakening to the spirit of the earth : an awakening to the nature around us : to the people around us : to our ecology : that to me has been the greatest realisation : it has affected the soul : it has affected who I am

what do you say when you find you can’t relate to the Christian world around you : is it that you have drifted away? : or have you actually seen the light? : perhaps the greatest message of all is dying to self and rebirthing your soul : the main biblical thrust is people orientated : love : personal relationship to God : I would say I have these more strongly than ever before : but it is not through worship of Jesus : he is a gate : arms open wide : like a gate to a field : come and touch nature : or is this all heretical and off the mark? : what was the purpose of those ancient cultures in creating the biblical stories? : the stories are odd in that they are so people centered : what would the cultures gain by having a personal figure like Jesus? : as many people today are skilled in people skills and blind to nature : perhaps these stories are one-sided : perhaps they have a skewed perspective of the earth : to control people you have to have social ideologies : perhaps the stories were built around a society of people people, not nature people :

how do you go forward when you are faced with such a dilema - evangelical mainstream belief and the fear of not wanting to do anything that doesn’t fit the ‘Bible says so’ metality, and a deep soul awakening to the belonging in nature : problem : perhaps you can theorise all day long and never find the answer – only one's personal journey of reality will guide you : do you give up and meekly accept Christ and the Bible : or do you journey and seek challenges and an anticipated more enlightened way of living : making a commitment does not seem enlightening to me : perhaps it once was : now it seems inappropriate : a ‘welcome to your journey’ would be better : I want to learn more about God : I want to see more of God : but I know that my experiences and perceptions are different to those around me : either I am missing out on something obvious or else I too interpret things around me, but in a different way : perhaps my experience of God is stronger than other peoples but I view it differently : now there is a thought : I see people expressing their Christianity in terms of the biblical language before them but are they just drawing on the Bible for their foundation and belief and language :

How would Jesus be any different from popular Charismatic Christians of today? : in what sense should we be like Him? : are we supposed to get so close that we believe we live out our lives as an exact replica of His – according to the exaltations of our leaders? : we are channelled into the Bible as the only revelation of God’s word : the only direct one : so can no-one else have any way of being open to God and expressing their connection to God through their words? : woe betide anyone who falters by the wayside or walks a different path : where is the God of love in that? : perhaps the father concept : as a father disciplines his child : as I discipline Emily : discipline yes, blinker, no :

And dealing with people is my greatest burden : I seek balance : yet it can be hard to find : particularly in my work environment : I feel restricted : no freedom to be who I am : creativity is stifled : I am a slave to the computer and my work : I am in a cage and want to be free : but at the moment the necessities of family and home life mean work is essential : my soul doesn’t have the courage to break free on its own : I must ask for freedom : I must ask for guidance : I must ask for God to hold my hand :

In my struggles I must see the positive : I must see the Divine : I must see the hope : I must see the love : I must see the bigger picture : I must not criticise : I must be open : I must control the ego : I must look beyond the outer and seek the soul : I must be in touch : I must embrace the world


Raindrops on Croft Ambrey

The following was written after a walk on Croft Ambrey (a hill in Herefordshire) around 24 July 2005. The memory of the experience is still strong and this is a place to now publish what I wrote back then.

: rain and mist : an evenings walk, cool : up though the woods : standing beneath the tall Scots Pines on the promontary : mist swirls around their tops and I am at cloud level : beneath me the valley hides and then appears as waves of mist roll : the colour subdued by the clouds : I stand in the lee of the wind against solid wood : age old weathered wood : weathered by the elements on this exposed place : tall and strong : solid and secure : I hold out my arms and embrace the peace : warm : wet : the demands of time can wait : I am alone : I am at home : here I want to be : forever : this is my belonging : no desk : no computer : no demands : no worries : no fear : just peace : embraced : I could fly out : released from a weary body : held up by emptiness : but knowing freedom : the wind swirls the cloud around me : rain drops mingle with the senses : air so fresh : I ask for healing and freedom : I ask for guidance and forgiveness : I ask for being : I ask for belonging : I ask for presence : I ask for peace in my soul :

back : along the path : stop : see the pine needles, long, slender : each holding a few drops of water : diamonds almost ; small sparkles of beauty : reflecting light : formed from the mist : still and graceful : a temporary appearance of beauty : but yet visible : I have seen it : it is seen by me : and yet above and around me are hundreds of trees : this small vision of light and colour and creation is repeated across every pine needle : on every twig : on every branch : on every tree : up and beyond : out of touch : out of sight ; but existing ; unseen : a present beauty that exists repeated across an immeasurable expanse : whether observed or not by me : it is there : such divine beauty : such infinite beauty :

surrounded by the dark forest and mist shrouded trees : rain drops : all around : not just all around but an almost infinite dimensional sound around me that has no direction and no source : but total : the sound of water droplets on wood : on bracken : on bramble on stone : on wood : on leaf : sound so totally surrounding : present throughout the wood : no-one can hear it : a present sound with no observer

a profound meeting with nature : a touching of senses : a union of the mysteries of my existence and the physical natural environment : different concepts of reality : coming together : the trees and me : sharing the rain : spiritual? : it felt a deep experience : was something reaching to my soul? : was my soul creating an emotional tie with something? : a melancholic union of longing and the present : it felt more than just a pleasurable experience : it felt as though I was touching a connectedness of spirit : felt before in life, but now acknowledged : it seemed life changing : memorable : fleeting : imagined yet tangible : has the human soul power to create such an experience and perceptions? : for what purpose? : why have that sense of beauty and connection if we are in dominion? : overwhelming peace and security : this is belonging :


The next post Struggling with Evangelical Christianity continues with this.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

A Place in the Imagination

I welcome this place.

I walk through the dense trees
Ahead of me, light requests my presence
Sunlight streaming through the tall thin pines.
I enter a circle of sunlight
A place of soft grass surrounded by the darkness.
Above, the clear blue sky
Warmth welcomes the scent of pine to the air
And me, as I stand,
Alone but for the company of trees
The circling buzzard, calling
And the slight wave of the breeze
In the tallest branches.
The grass is warm
Soft to the touch of the barefoot.
I am lying, looking up at the sky
Or dancing, free as can be.

In Peace
Alone
Beauty all around
Freedom to be
Released from pain
The soul refreshed.

I give thanks for this place.

I open my eyes.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Does Nature mind litter?

I, like many people, probably hate seeing the litter and rubbish that now seems to find its way into many miles of hedgrows and ditches around where I live. In the mornings I often have the pleasure of walking around the industrial estate where I work where there are a surprising number of hedgerows, trees, fields and even a disused railway line. All the vegetation seems to act as a net to catch wind-blown litter and there is always, of course, the rubbish dumped on purpose by those who seem to have little contempt for their environment. I admit to having a vague fascination when walking of looking in hedgerows and ditches to see what people have thrown away. It disturbs me to see such waste. My response is that I wish I could forever have a supply of bin-bags and be able to clear up bit by bit whenever I am out for a walk. Practicalities make this unworkable - sofas and fridges don't really fit into bin-bags!

We want to clear up litter but, looking at the problem from a different perspective, does Nature itself see it as a problem in the same way that we do? Clearly, at an individual, micro-habitat level the effects are immediate. Plants may suffer light and water deprivation, they may get squashed to varying degrees or they may get killed. But plnats are resilient things and to them litter may be only the same effect as a fallen branch or being trampled on by a cow. They will probably adapt to the new situation and grow on as best they can. Insects, animals and other creatures will be inconvenienced to varying degrees. Rubbish may well provide an enhancement to a local ecosystem by creating, changing or enhancing microhabitats to enable more flora and fauna to grow in that location.

To our eyes, litter is an immediate pollutant. Is it any more disagreeable than a weed growing in a vegetable patch? We are probably guilty of picking up more weeds in our gardens than items of litter. To Nature litter, on a biospheric timescale, is likely to be insignificant. Much will decay in the soil within the lifespan of even a single tree. Metals and plastics will take a while longer and obviously more toxic pollutants will have their own effects.

Nature, from its concious viewpoint as a whole being (?) may just see these man-made intusions as just inconvenient - an annoying consequence of having to share the planet with with other (human) beings who are always 'gardening' Nature and the landscape. But does that absolve us of any responsibility to the environment? Can we litter and fly-tip at will? What does it matter? Is it not just a continutaion of the great cycle of creation and decay. After all, trees produce leaf 'litter' each autumn. I believe that resource extraction, consumption and disposal should be a continual process that respects the producer (Earth) at each stage. A tree does not waste energy on producing leaves that are of no intrinsic value or use to its survival - unlike man's creation and production of goods to satisfy 'wants', not needs. Throwing away rubbish disrespectfully means we don't care for the environment in that locality. It is just another way we can show our dominance and superiority over consumable items and Nature. It is about self-satisfaction. The cardboard disposable coffee cup is not now our problem. It is out of our sight, but not out of the sight of others, or for the wild arum or dogs mercury that suddenly has its sunlight blocked out.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Return of Spring

Listening to the music of Nigel Shaw in Hitchin on Saturday was an experience that went far beyond just the music itself. For a musician to make such beautiful and inspiring music from flutes made from wood around Dartmoor I am sure involves a greater sense of connection between the wood and its place in the landscape than just the desire to make music. You would have to 'feel something' for the wood and almost let it speak to you and have its own voice through the music. You become a go-between - a medium through which a tree can communicate.

I have listened to much music in the past and have usually been unable to take any interest in connecting words and music. The music itself has always been the lure - words meant very little. Now I find that in this music, words begin to have significance. I begin to find music that means more - because I understand and identify with those who write it. I was struck by the beauty and love that was showed between the two musicians (Nigel and Carolyn) and how they communicated with each other and the audience. The words and music evoked in me the sense of the loss of communication we often experience in families and communities which was, presumably, stronger in older tribes and cultures.

How can I express the voice within me that speaks from the earth?

Thank you for this day.