“We All Dwell In A House of One Room”

If you have ever read anything by John Muir, it is difficult to imagine what the world would be like had he not come along and fallen in love with Nature and the Earth. Through his legacy we have come to value, honor and respect the miracle of Nature. We cannot fail to delight in the beauty the Earth offers us at every turn. We cannot shirk the responsibility to tend and care for her, always remembering we are the ones who have the power to possibly destroy her.

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Picture Rock Lakeshore National Park by Kathryn Howlett

I am an IMAX junkie! I love the big screen. I mean the REALLY big screen. Yesterday we saw a beautiful movie on the National Parks of the U.S. Some beauty was so stunning it made me catch my breath. There were moments that brought a tear to my eye and caused me to whisper “wow”.

Afterwards my husband, son and I agreed there is so much Natural, physical, planetary beauty here in this country one could spend years exploring, enjoying and communing with it. I was a little taken aback when the woman holding the door open for us laughed and commented, “That’s not for me!” I hoped she was talking about the ice climbing, rock climbing, biking…..but  found it sad to think perhaps that also meant she might never go to one of these places just to experience the beauty. We don’t have to “do” anything. Just open your eyes to the beauty of Nature.

I find such sorrow in all the hurt mankind has inflicted on Earth. And I find hope in knowing the Earth has great healing power to mend the wounds we have inflicted upon her…if we give her the chance.

“If you know wilderness in the way that you know love,
you would be unwilling to let it go. …
This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.”
Terry Tempest Williams

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Redwood National Park by Kathryn Howlett

John Muir was a man who was at home in the wilderness and saw and understood the power, beauty and fragility of our Earth. Thanks in part to his efforts and to Teddy Roosevelt who found great personal healing in the wilderness, we have these tremendous National Parks.

“Wilderness is a necessity…They will see what I meant in time.
There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls.
Food and drink is not all. There is the spiritual.
In some it is only a germ, of course, but the germ will grow.”

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to the body and soul.”

“How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious,
starry firmament for a roof.
In such places, standing alone on the mountain top,
it is easy to realize whatever special nests we make-leaves and moss
like the marmots and the birds,
or tents or piled stone-we all dwell in a house of one room-
the world with the firmament for its roof-
and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving track.”

“The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers,
of glaciers, of fertile soil.
The great poets, philosophers, prophets,
able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world,
have come down from the mountains-
mountain-dwellers who have grown strong there with the forests trees
in Nature’s workshops.”

~~Above quotes by John Muir

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Crater Lake National Park by Kathryn Howlett

I love the part about all of us sharing the same night sky. We are all, together, under the same sky. This is a previous post: Nestled Under A Blanket of Stars There is so much we can learn from Nature. There so much healing we can receive from Nature. All we have to do is go outside, see the beauty. Find the stillness. Close your eyes. Listen.  Feel. Breathe. This is where we gain understanding. This is where healing happens. This is where love and life are honored.

This is where we see, understand and accept that “we all dwell in a house of one room.”

Please read. Don’t let this happen: House and Senate Republicans and the National Park System

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaning Into

When I was in college I read books by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Hesse, DH Lawrence, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, EM Forster, Ruth Benedict, Paulo Freire, Philip Kapleau, Lao Tzu, Huston Smith, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell…….on and on. Many were on self discovery. Many on psychology and education. Others on travel and anthropology. I loved them all. Each helped me learn and grow. All of them made me think and wonder.

At that time, Clarissa Pinkola Estes was one author who made me think deeply. Made me challenge myself. She is a psychologist and powerful writer who challenges women (and men) to reach, stretch, become. She says that writing should leave a bruise on the writer, and on the reader.

I am adding a link to a story here because this story is important in writing this post. Story by Clarissa Pinkola Estes  Clarissa was raised Catholic and is a Jungian psychologist. I feel she has been able to transcend some of the theological garbage we get caught up in. It divides people. No one, or one group of people owns God or the word God, for that matter. I do not believe in the God who floats high in the Sistine Chapel. I believe in the God Pinkola Estes writes about where the Earth and all that lives upon her are but ” The Painted Face of God ”

I struggle with the use of the word God, because I do not feel comfortable with the connotation many people attach to the word. When I came across this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, it spoke of the God I know.

“Rather than chairs and tables,
I preferred the ground, trees, and caves,
for in those places I felt I could lean against the cheek of God.”

In Nature, in the lap of Mother Earth….the cool, scented soil, under ancient trees providing oxygen and beauty, in the waters of rivers, oceans and lakes, sleeping under stars and galaxies, on mountain tops, in the caves deep in the bowels of earth, dark and silent, these are places where I am held in an embrace of pure being and love, where I can let go and lean against the cheek of the God I believe in.

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Not in churches or books, not through hymns or prayers, but cradled in the embrace of this world, with the overwhelming variety of life, the cycles and inter-dependence of all of it all. Here in this universe. Here on this earth where the coming into life is a marvelous wonder and the returning to the earth in death continues the incontrovertible miracle of the connection between all in this world.

Leaning against the cheek of this God I understand I am not separate from anything. Not the soil or trees, not the caves, not the animals, not any human or sparkle of star-dust. Certainly not separate from this God. As I look into  Pinkola Este’s vision of the painted face of God and lean in to rest against that living cheek, I understand no one can own the word God. Like the woman in the blue, rose-covered scarf and the clerk behind the counter, we all belong to one another as a child to a parent, as the mountains to the earth, as the droplet to the sea. We are all the mountains, the droplets, star dust, each other. There is no separation.

“This painted face of god
That teaches us through the seasons of flowers and pines on mountains
And creatures and red hearts beating
In flurries all over the world
In all that moves with purpose on earth
In all else
How can anyone believe that here on earth is not god
Right here on earth”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, ‘The Painted Face of God’

 

 

 

This Moment

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I want to stand each moment of each day with my arms wide open.
I want to stand fragile and strong before everything that is now.
I want to hold my arms wide open and speak my heart in this moment.
  I have only what is here now.
And I choose to hold my arms wide open right now.
To embrace the joy of this moment as the sun rises.
To be comforted and sheltered in the love given freely from others.
To receive and accept that love with humility and in gratitude.

To hear the cries and screams of humans around the world at this moment.
To shed my tears and sing my songs to what is here now.
To feel, and not shut out what it means to be human.
My arms are wide open to this moment.
To everything.
To everyone.
I stand with my arms are wide open to this moment.
~ KBH 2016

I was on a silent retreat two weeks ago, and in that silence I cried often. I had to sit silently with those tears and the feelings and thoughts that brought them forth. I had to let them be. Real. Full of sorrow. The hurt and misery in the world brought about by one human being to another human being was like a cattle prod to my heart and soul. All that could manifest were the tears.

During a short meeting time with Joan Tollifson I expressed my feelings of sorrow. In her talks of ‘unbroken wholeness’, or, similarly, ‘the perfection of imperfection’, she points out there is no one-sided coin. Things in the world are as they are, in this moment. We cannot deny the hurt, suffering and pain in the world. Joan shares her thoughts that we have to move from empathy with our fellow human beings who are in pain and suffering and rise to compassion. Through empathy I may be able to understand and share (in most cases minutely so…) the feeling of others, but through compassion I elevate them to a “universal and transcending” experience. (Psychology Today)  Compassion builds on empathy and impels us towards deeper humanitarianism.

I will not stop believing we can do better for and by one another, no matter who the “other” may be. In this moment I take small actions by listening to and checking the words I speak, to keep judgment, bias, hate, fear and narrow-mindedness at bay.  In this moment I work to understand the fears I have and to inspect them for validity. In this moment, with compassion and interest, I listen to the spoken stories of others in an effort to learn and understand, so that I may be informed, free from fear and ignorance and grow in compassion and consideration. In this moment I look beyond my sheltered world, to a world where there is so much violence, hatred and hurt. In this moment I remember I am the same as “others” on so many levels. In this moment I can choose action or inaction. With arms wide open to this moment I open up the possibility of action. I open up to compassion and grow in understanding. With that compassion and understanding I may, as a result, be the source of a small increment of change for the greater good of our world and all people.

In this moment I stand with arms wide open.

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Along Comes A Teacher

There are few master teachers in life. … But there are many who can listen to life so well that they can hear the vastness in everything and in you. A teacher is someone who has learned to listen to life. Someone who has found a way to listen well. Any real teacher is only a finger pointing. In the end, we may find out more by not following our teachers but by following what our teachers follow for themselves. From a good teacher you may learn the secret of listening. You will never learn the secrets of life. You will have to listen for yourself.” Rachel Naomi Remen

We have all kinds of teachers in our lives. Not just the ones in school or college. Life teachers. Spiritual teachers. Unexpected teachers. You never know when you’ll find a teacher. Seems like one shows up when you least expect it, aren’t even looking for one. On occasion you may not even aware one is in front of you.

I’ve known this particular person for several years now. She’s much like you and I. Her alarm goes off in the morning but she might not have time to eat breakfast. She doesn’t want to be late for morning meeting. Her lunches tend to be pretty balanced and she likes to have conversations while she’s eating. She likes to talk about movies and actually she often points out little nuances in them that I never noticed.

During the day she methodically gets her work done. She has to figure out how to work with a variety of people. She has to speak up to be heard sometimes, to express her ideas. Sometimes she is insistent, sometimes she acquiesces. Like you and me she has to problem solve and every now and then she needs to ask someone for help. She doesn’t ever seem to be hung up on needing and asking for help.

She enjoys her leisure time. Hangs out with friends, runs, relaxes, tries new things. She loves to be outside. She loves books and movies. She has an eye for art. She is very kind. Effortlessly, she is thoughtful, generous, caring, concerned, curious, loving, helpful. She is the first one to reach out to someone.

Two things stand out about my friend when I think about her. Once or twice I’ve watched her just watching birds. She was outside one beautiful day and she whispered for her friends to come over….”Come here.” she softly called, “Look. It’s a bluebird.” Even though she whispers you can always hear her enthusiasm. The kind that makes you get excited too. She loves to share what she knows about birds. It’s just her thing, so to speak. One of her friends started walking closer to the bird. “Stop” she admonished softly…”Just look. Listen. You don’t need to get closer. Just be still.” Of course the bird flew away. “All you had to do was just watch.” she adds a little sadly.

On other occasions I have observed her during the busy hum of the day just sit and close her eyes. She just sits like that for a bit. Kind of like collecting herself. Sometimes it is noticeable the way her body begins to relax. Often I notice she is different afterwards…a little calmer, perhaps a little more focused. One time I asked her what she thought about when she sat quietly like that. She kinda smiles and laughs. “Nothing.” she says. “I don’t think about anything! It’s just quiet.”

When you might not expect it, along comes a teacher. She’s one of those people who I realize is teaching me. Her bird watching caught my attention becasue I love birds too. When I see her sitting quietly I can’t help but smile as I watch her body so still and serene, eyes closed, no thoughts twirling in her mind. She can seemingly find a moment, just a moment, any time during the day to be still and quiet.

She teaches me to just be still. To look, watch. And to listen. To find moments to close my eyes and let thoughts go.

In the end, we may find out more by not following our teachers but by following what our teachers follow for themselves.”

Best part is, my friend is five!!!