Climate Care as Spiritual Practice

Editorial Note:  With this piece by Terri Stewart (Cloaked Monk) we announce our focus for 100,000 Poets (and others) for Change 2016, environment and environmental justice. We continue our Facebook group discussion page. Let us know if you would like to be included in that.

Terri is also the lead for the upcoming November issue of The BeZine. The theme for that zine issue, which will publish on the 15th of November, is at-risk youth. 

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Caring for all that is can be an overwhelming job! If I think of the things within my control and trying to do the best I can, maybe I can do it in bite-size chunks. After all, I will never be able to invent some magical thing that converts pollution to life-giving energy. But I can compost!

Call on the animals to teach you; the birds that sail through the air are not afraid to tell you the truth. Engage the earth in conversation; it’s happy to share what it knows. Even the fish of the sea are wise enough to explain it to you. In fact, which part of creation isn’t aware, which doesn’t know the Eternal’s hand has done this? His hand cradles the life of every creature on the face of the earth; His breath fills the nostrils of humans everywhere. Job 12:7-10, The Voice-A Storyteller’s Bible

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Climate-care, earth-care, creation-care, creature-care, caring is a deeply spiritual practice. How we approach the other starts with our interior orientation. If we practice expansive spirituality, we will be filled with gratitude, mindfulness, and joy. If not, we will be led to a diminished experience.

I wonder how we could reconnect, simply, through ritual, to creation? Perhaps a mini-ritual?

1. Set your sacred space

What are you trying to connect to? Earth? Cosmos? Stars? Bunnies? Create an easy environment where you can let your gaze gently rest on a photo, object, or even the real thing!

2. Set your intention

What do you need at this moment? For example, “I am here to connect to the earth in a way that honors the createdness of us all.”

3. The body of the ritual

Combining your intention with a ritualized act. For example, if you were sitting outside on a lawn chair, offering honor to the cosmos during the day, you could gradually look around honoring each creation you see. “Blades of grass, I honor you. Cedar trees, I honor you. Beloved cat, I honor you!”

4. Closing ritual

A signifier that it is finished. Perhaps, if you were outside in the grass, you could bring a handful of grass seeds to add to the growth. Then you could sprinkle the grass seeds in all directions, offering life. 

Be creative! This framework for ritual was created by my friend, Deborah Globus. Her avatar is LaPadre. She’s awesome!

Shalom and Amen!

Terri Stewart

by Terri Stewart

© 2014, words and illustration, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

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On Christmas

Don’t let the title fool you . . .  because this post is prescheduled and because I will not write about Christmas in the traditional way, mainly because it isn’t today (as in “today, when I’m actually writing this text”) and also because everybody writes about Christmas these days, so I thought that a change would be good. Therefore I’ll write about the things that are going through my mind in this moment.

It’s rather early now, while I’m writing this, and the only company I have at this time is that of my dog, Bella, who constantly pushes me with her nose, in search for my hand. And while I caress her and look at her, I cannot help seeing the need for love in her eyes. She’s a member of our family for about ten years now (which is a lot of time for a dog) and everybody loves her. Some would say she’s been lucky. And the thought that pops in my mind now is “why do animals need to be lucky in order for people to love them”?

What did animals (in general) ever do wrong in order to deserve the harsh treatment given to them by certain representatives of the human species (otherwise nothing else than some supposedly evolved mammals)? Think about the stray dogs or cats, the experiments on mice and monkeys and other animals, the cruel hunting parties menacing with extinction certain species, and the list could go on.

I was asking myself at some point in time what is the purpose of flies – I honestly can’t stand them, and I’m sure that most of you can say the same – and a friend of mine told me that they simply are food for birds, and it’s good that they exist, because otherwise the birds would have to find food from other sources, and who knows what those would be?! His answer left me thinking. We already know that, should bees be extinct, everybody, but EVERYBODY on the face of the planet would have to suffer, that affected would be the ecosystem. The fact that we haven’t yet found out the hidden purpose of some animal, insect or plant doesn’t mean that it has none. It simply means that our understanding is still VERY limited. And that should make us cautious, careful, when interacting with all the life forms on our planet. And first of all with the planet itself – the biggest living organism with which we ever interacted directly.

I once bumped into a highly caustic text which stated that “should any animal species go extinct, so would the rest of life on earth, but should humankind go extinct, life on this planet would flourish.” Now, I like to think that we’re not THAT indispensable on this planet – such thought would be too painful. But what if we are? This acid poison of the “what if” should make us all stop for a second from what we’re doing and ponder. Maybe then we’d realize that it isn’t the dog that is lucky for having lived with us for ten years, but we are the lucky ones, having had for ten years such a loyal and loving friend. We are the lucky ones to have been born on a planet with so much potential, a place of such an indescribable beauty. We are the lucky ones to benefit from all the resources of this splendid parent we call Mother Earth. And we should all be thankful for that.

I think it’s not that bad, to see your luck in the eyes of a loving dog, on a Saturday morning :). Merry Christmas to all of you!

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© 2013 Liliana Negoi

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The text is mine, the image (my dog, Bella) was taken some years ago by a very dear friend of mine, Mihai :).

IMG_7667LILIANA NEGOI  (Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru) ~ is a member of our core team on Into the Bardo. She is the author of three published volumes of poetry in English, which is not her mother tongue but one that she came to love especially because of writing: Sands and Shadows, Footsteps on the San – tanka collection and The Hidden Well.  The last one can also be heard in audio version, read by the author herself on her SoundCloud site HERE.  Many of her creations, both poetry and prose, have been published in various literary magazines.

Honoring the Mother

Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Nowhere it says it is only for human mothers, so let’s have a look at two bird-mothers.

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The first second I saw this photo, I thought it was gross because the bird looked distorted. However, a serious deformation as having 4 pair of extra feet is a bit too much to take. Close inspection learns that this Common Ringed Plover is sheltering her chicks from the cold wind that can make their habitat, the beach, rather unpleasant. Mummy Ringed Plover will regularly do this till the chicks have replaced their fluffy down with insulating feathers.

Imagine being a chick Ringed Plover and just walking into the warm, insulating plumage of your big mum and having a chat with your siblings. I bet mummy-bird is enjoying this peaceful moment of having all her chicks near her too.

This peaceful moment is a pause in the paradoxical task that characterizes motherhood; mothers have to keep their offspring close to gear them safely in to adulthood, adulthood that is all about growing away from the parents. Keeping them close in order to let them go.

Here is another mummy-bird, shielding her chicks to keep them safe and warm.

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I like to point out that I can’t state for sure that above photos are depicting mums with chicks. The Dove and Common Ringed Plover can be fathers. They can be those excellent fathers that care about their youngsters. Mothering isn’t exclusively done by mothers. Therefore, if Mother’s Day is about mothering, caring and loving, we should celebrate Mother’s Day with all who care, love, and share. And this includes childless couples, cooks, nurses, doctors, and all those who take others under their wings for a cuddle, a dinner, a supporting hug, or a bit of warmth.

– Paula Kuitenbrouwer

© 2013, essay, photographs and artwork, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

mg_4414paulaPAULA KUITENBROUWER is a Dutch nature artist living The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website. Paula says, “Mother’s Day is about a hug or a poem. Nothing more is needed. But if gifts are given; flowers express gratitude and love.”  She’s designed a Mother’s Day Gift-set for the 12th of May.You can purchase her art HERE.

In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. We are often honored with and most grateful for the wise and gentle posts from our much-valued Paula.