Posted in 000 Poets, 100, General Interest, Musicians, Spiritual, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart, TheBeZine

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. 

******

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

.
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

terrisignoffblog

Posted in General Interest, Nature

In Memory: Robert D. Rossel, Ph.D.

062One of the first of three (the others being Buddhist poet Ann Emerson and Methodist Minister Terri Stewart) to be invited to share work on this site was Robert D. Rossel, Ph.D. who passed away on Sunday, July 26, surrounded by his family. He participated here for about two-and-a-half years. Below – in memory – is a piece Rob wrote and shared here in 2011. We know many fondly remember Rob and his work. Enjoy!

Photograph California Quail in Golden Gate Park courtesy of Mila Zinkova under GNU Free Documentation License via Wikipedia.

Nature’s Gifts

by

Robert D. Rossel, Ph.D.

This morning I had an amazing encounter.   After a sleepless night,  I woke up late and decided to go for my morning walk in the local nature preserve behind my house.   It was drizzling slightly— a very gentle spring rain.    I was deep in an intense internal reverie as I entered the park.  I looked up and found myself  looking at three deer slightly ahead of me on the trail.  I instinctively calmed myself and walked slowly forward.   They didn’t seem in any hurry to leave as they often do when I encounter deer in the preserve.  It may have helped that I caught one of them, a two year old buck, in the middle of “doing his business.”    He turned around and looked at me head-on but didn’t move because he wanted to finish.  The others, perhaps encouraged by his unwillingness to stop what he was doing, were in no hurry to leave either.  They just managed to  keep  themselves at a safe distance as I slowly moved forward.     Very slowly, I walked forward.  The buck kept me in his gaze but didn’t move.    I was able to get maybe within six or eight feet of him, almost within reach.   Finally he finished his business and slowly walked away from the trail, still keeping me in his gaze.

Then while walking further, I encountered a mother quail and ten teeny, teeny, babies  walking into the tall grass on the side of the trail.   It was like a cartoon, the last little straggler trying to negotiate and jump over strands of weed and grass, mother scolding/encouraging them all to come along.  The little chicks must have been no more than a day old, very small, very cute.

Public domain photograph courtesy of Arpingstone.

Then I arrived at a farm in the middle of the preserve.  The farm is for families with children—goats, pigs, chickens and ducks to enjoy, and a cow, named Luna.   I have become very fond of this cow over many trips to the farm–perhaps because of my bovine heart valve.   She knows me now and accepts my touch, and will occasionally give me a big affectionate lick. (I haven’t brought myself yet to lick her back).    Anyway, she has been away for a while so they can repair her paddock and I haven’t  been able to see her.    But to my great delight she was there this morning, nursing a  baby bull and calf.  Even while occupied with her nursing babies, she recognized me and let me give her a few scratches and nuzzles.

I felt so gifted this morning by Nature.   It was as if in the inscrutable wisdom of nature the Gods found a way of bringing me out of my funk and deep reverie and welcomed me into the world.   All of my efforts at self-care in a painful, sleepless, night had utterly failed me.   But somehow Nature’s magic managed to touch me and bring me out of my funk and  reverie.   It amazes me  that this happens over and over again in my life.  When I seem to most need it, Nature finds a way to touch me.  I am grateful. I am also grateful that I am still able to be touched!

Photograph courtesy of Mandie Lancaster, Public Domain Pictures.net.

© 2011, words, Robert D. Rossel, All rights reserved; photos credits as indicated above.

Posted in Beauty, Essay, First Peoples, General Interest, Michael Watson, Spiritual Practice

A Brief Meditation on Grace and Comfort

GardensAfter a cool, damp week the sun is out! June is in full bloom, our perennial gardens bursting with color. In the the kitchen garden rows of tender plants have appeared in the raised beds, and we are eating mesclun. Lovely!

Here in Vermont the trees are a dense, lush green. Plants need to take full advantage of our four to five months of warm weather, and go about the tasks of reproducing and storing energy with vigor. In just a few weeks, by late July, the foliage will begin to thin, already preparing for the autumn to come.

We have stopped filling the feeders as the birds have other food sources available to them. Now that the feeders are empty we will likely take them down and store them until October. Come the first chilly days of autumn the birds will remind us to bring out the food; we have a good working relationship!

I recently read a post on Australis Incognita, an interview with an Australian Aboriginal elder, Uncle Paul Chapman. The essence of the conversation is that we learn who we are in the world by paying attention to the landscape and Nature. There is an ancient Indigenous knowing that we can’t figure it out by turning totally inward, as that is out of balance. We learn from bridging the worlds of inner an outer, self and landscape.

Reading Uncle Paul’s words reminded me we are of the landscapes we inhabit; we even have our own internal seasons. I often suggest to students that after we watch for a while we may begin to notice that sometimes the inside and outside worlds are in sync, other times not. Lately I have found myself diving deeply into the interior, even as I engage the Natural world as it bursts into furious activity.

Lately, I seem able to stand with a foot in each world, shifting between them as need be, and am rewarded by moments of grace. Grace reminds me to be grateful for my life, family and friends, and the Beauty surrounding me, even as I feel disappointed and angry with much that is unfurling in the world. Grace encourages me to be concerned for my grandchildren, and curious as to how we humans will manage the road ahead.

In dark, difficult, times it is easy to forget that summer invariably follows winter, and life sprouts anew when given any opportunity. This will be so as long as there is life on our precious blue-green planet. May we take refuge and comfort in that.

Evening-Sky The sun has broken through and the sky is a brilliant blue. Over the lake a layer of clouds, white and bubbly, hangs. Trees and gardens are  abloom, and the scent of lily-of-the-valley and lilac saturates the air. The day is beautiful. May we walk through this day in Beauty, together.

– Michael Watson

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

Posted in Nature, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Victoria C Slotto, Victoria C. Slotto

outside my window, life goes on

Photo: Victoria Slotto
Photo: Victoria Slotto

outside my window, our neighbor putters in her garden.
her roses languish while weeds have their way.

chemo, a fourth round, has taken its toll.
a few wispy hairs blow in the soft breeze.

i close my door gently behind me and we exchange a quick hug.
fear of crushing fragile bones holds me back a little

though her spirit soars, strong, unwavering
like the circling hawk above us, sun on golden wings.

at a distance a blackbird caws,
while hummingbird savors nectar,

drinks in the sweetness of the moment,
unafraid of that which is to come.

– Victoria Slotto

Photo: David Slotto
Photo: David Slotto

© 2014, poem and all photographs, Victoria Slotto, All rights reserved

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October and always posts at 7 p.m. PST.

Posted in Art, Nature, Paula Kuitenbrouwer

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.

baby_birds_hiding_under_mother_wing
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.

70-dove-under-the-wing-from-e-mail

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.