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Posts from the ‘Wilderness and Nature’ Category

Pause. Photographs Capture Time, Light, a Moment

My favorite description of contemplation is a “long, loving look at the real.” I heard this first from William McNamara, OCD, a teacher who inspired me to live with intention, purpose, vigor, and passion.

National Geographic posted a photograph tip on Facebook tonight:

Photo Tip: Adventure photography leads to lots of thrilling images. But remember to also watch for those moments of contemplation that can happen when the adventurer pauses to reflect on his extraordinary experience.

The moments of pause … time when I breathe deeply and see, taking a “long loving look at the real” are the times when I grow (and groan) in appreciation, connection, empathy. When do these types of moments occur for you?

Photography intrigues me. I once dated a photo-journalist, and seeing the world through his eyes helped me understand ways we communicate and perceive. My horizons were opened to different perspectives.

I’m saving for a better digital camera now, and want to snap the details of the landscape where I live–there is wildness and hidden beauty in Alaska. It is a contemplative practice for me to see through the eyes of my camera.

Join me, and glimpse light, time, wonder, moments, and composition–the world–through these photographs from National Geographic. Treat yourself. Each  can be a contemplative pause. Delight. Notice what is evoked in you!

Simply Beautiful Photographs by Annie Griffiths

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Super Moon, Season Change, and Silent Vows

Super moon: St Michael's Tower on Glastonbury Tor, Somerset (This photo from England conveys similiar shadow & moon contrast visible in Alaska.)

Visiting friends on Friday night, the nearly full moon hovered in a pink tinged sky, rising over iced, frozen chunks of the Kenai River, Alaska. In contrast, Saturday night was already shadowless dark as  I waited for the Super moon to shine. I gasped when the entire horizon of Kenai Mountain peaks became a silhouette, and Super moon hugged the landscape luminous.

There are a hundred things I could write about–wanted to write about–on the eve of the Vernal Equinox. Alaska gains five to six minutes of light, every day. My mind was like a gumball machine. However, tears had blanketed my face earlier, as had laughter when I saw my true reflection in the mirror. I had no more words, and simply desired to lean into the liquid silence of the night, beauty unfolding peace in a time of fierce change, for me personally, and throughout our planet.

Super moon rose so gracefully as earth orbited in dance. The rhythm of David Whyte’s poetry from earlier that day breathed in me. Gazing through tall windows into the wintry landscape, I spontaneously slipped out of my sheepskin slippers, moving into flowing Qigong practice, facing darkness, within and without, illuminated by moonlight. My silence became a prayer of sorts.

Thank you Super moon, and thank you David Whyte–your poems evoke a fierce conversation within me. I welcome the season of Lent–Vernal Equinox–spring, and all the true vows. Amen.

ALL THE TRUE VOWS

All the true vows
are secret vows.
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made,
nor the work they have chosen,

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood,
in the shadows,
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,

it wants to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

Remember,
in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you’ll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

— David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected PoemsHouse of Belonging, and the CD of poems and music, Return

Have you experienced poetry or nature teaching and guiding you … communicating that for which you may have no words, yet?
Do you have a favorite poem or poet? A place in nature where you come home to yourself in your own skin?

Stand Still. Appreciate a Tree.

Wilderness is a powerful teacher. In Alaska, the landscape is sturdy. Rugged. Every day a thousand trees remind me to stand still. Trees teach me tenacity. Trees teach me to grow roots, offer support, move without snapping, let go, and to hold onto myself. I live in a log home built of tree trunks. Burning branches provide wood stove heat, protecting me from bitter cold.

A Jewish friend told me that today is  Tu B’shvat–a holiday called New Year For Trees. I recalled a favorite poem, and want to share it with you. Lost reminds me to pause, be present and embodied in the here and now of time–where ever that may be. Perhaps it will speak to you, too.

Lost
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
— David Wagoner

Reflection
Please make time to appreciate your outer landscape. Look closely at a tree, go to a park,  take a walk. Then, stand still. Where are you? Really, where are you? Give thanks for life–however it lives in you today.

Please offer your thoughts and comments. What do you discover?