Waterfalls From Heaven

I feel differently when I am outside. I think differently. I see differently. I hear differently. I smell things differently. I feel the air around me differently.

I change. I slow down. Calm down. I shed wants and unknown fears.

Nature heals.

Our part of NYS was in a pretty bad drought last year. There was briefly talk of having to truck water in to our community.

About 20 minutes from my home is a narrow, 215 foot waterfall. Not tall by some standards, but still beautiful. During the drought, the water stopped. The waterfall had become just a cliff. The thundering water was silenced. The mist vanished.

This spring we have had rain. And rain. We are now in a flood warning. Our lake is high, yards and homes are flooded.

Easter morning we walked the gentle trail to our waterfall, Taughannock Falls. The water was flowing.

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Taughannock, photo by me 4/16/17

The mist purified and baptized me in a way no organized dogma could. The thunder of the raging water muffled noises in my head of worry, fear, doubt. I could smell the scent of the earth, damp, decaying and, also, alive. I focused on the force and power of the milky water launching off the side of rock cliff that was too old to comprehend. Somewhere in those rocks and cliffs are fossils of life from ancient sea beds.

The Waterfall at Lu-Shan

Sunlight streams on river stones.
From high above, the river steadily plunges–

three thousand feet of sparkling water–
the milky way pouring down from heaven.

Li Po

Surely our little waterfall is a tiny bit of the milky way pouring down from heaven. Heaven reaching down towards Earth. A reminder of things inter-connected. A reminder to seek beauty and tread lightly. A reminder to look up in wonder and awe at the stars in the universe. A reminder to look all around this biosphere called Earth with humility and and respect, gentleness and stewardship. A reminder to live in moderation and care, balance and understanding. A reminder to pause in gratitude and appreciation for our Mother Earth and all the life she supports.

**It’s spring!! That means Earth Day, marches and standing up to protect the only home we have: Earth. Here are some readings to ponder This Week

 

 

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“Into The World”

College seems like a lifetime ago. Ha! It really was! I reminisce with college friends and we laugh as we try to piece together fading memories. There are some beautiful memories that thankfully haven’t faded. They are the ones that were built on the pillars of love, trust, hope, respect.

I met my husband in college. He was building a wooden sailboat. I asked him if he would sail me to Nepal. He said yes. We were not geographically impaired. We were making a commitment of sailing through a lifetime together.

I went to a small Quaker college. It was founded on the idea of experiential learning and being a citizen of the world. I learned weaving in Greece and  Tea Ceremony at the Urasenke School in Kyoto, Japan. I worked at the International School in Kyoto and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete. I worked in Montessori schools and learned from Waldorf teachers.

One required reading was Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere Learn more  I was happy to discover it is still required reading in the field of education.

Heading to Japan I was asked to read The Chrysanthemum and the Sword  Learn more

Books by Lawrence Durrell helped prepare me for life in Corfu and Crete. Learn more here Books by Durrell  The legend of Theseus and Ariadne came to life as Ana Lisa and I walked through Knossos. Ariadne’s Thread by Judith White explored the mythology that ruled ancient Greece, and it translated nicely into the theories of Jungian psychology. Learn more

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I also discovered Anais Nin, DH Lawrence and Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Along with Nin and Pinkola Estes I read powerful books by Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Tao of Psychology and The Goddess in Every Woman.  Learn more

It’s cliché, but it feels like life was simpler then. Maybe it was as a college student traveling the world, fairly carefree. I saw beautiful places and met wonderful people. I experienced a lot of things that were very uncomfortable, and in hindsight also unsafe. I came to understand what it meant to be a world citizen. Firmly believing in the binding threads of humanity, the power of love, inclusion and respect.

In the crazy world of today it feels as if the Global Citizen, with the ideals of inclusion, respect and interconnectedness is at odds with the fear mongering, hate powered belief that is “Us/We” vs “Others/Them”.

So, I offer this feminist oriented peace poem from Jean Shinoda Bolen with the sometimes dispirited, but mostly fervent belief, that we can live in peace and respect with one another.

Peace Poem

Untappped source of peace,
The only real hope
Is to draw upon the collective wisdom of women. 
Those with direct experience of the cost of war:
The life of child, grandchild, sibling, spouse.
The loss of limb or mind of someone near and dear,
The loss of laughter, the pervasiveness of fear,
The loss of hope for the future.

Untapped source of peace,
Those who know of domestic violence:
Seen the effect of bullying on sons,
Seen daughters become silent, 
Seen light go out in their eyes.
Those who know
That when every child matters,
When none are hungry, abused or discounted
The world will become a kinder place
For us all

Untapped source of peace,
Women with empathy
Who live in a world apart,
Are safe, loved, and fortunate,
Yet can imagine
Being helpless, beaten, and raped,
Then forced to bear a child
Conceived in violence. 
Women who know in their hearts
That what happens to any woman
Anywhere
Could happen to them.

Untapped source of peace,
Women who see loved ones filled with vengeance and hate,
Hypervigilant, fear-ridden, or afraid to sleep
Because of the nightmares.
Husbands, brothers, sons, and now daughters
Home from wars,
Bearing little resemblance to who they could have been
In a peaceful world.

Untapped source of peace,
Women in circles,
Women connecting,
Women together
Bringing the sacred feminine, 
Maternal instinct, sister archetype,
Mother power
Into the world.

~Jean Shinoda Bolen

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Heraklion, Crete: a “lifetime ago”

 

 

Woven Together

“There are moments when the heart is generous,

and then it knows that for better or worse our lives are woven together here,

one with one another and with the place and all the living things.”

― Wendell Berry

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(sunrise on new fallen snow Nov. 28, 2014, photo by me)

December, the month of the Winter Solstice. Much, but not all of Nature sleeps or slows down. Nights are longer. The air is cooler. By instinct we move inward. It is a time when quiet and stillness come naturally. On the Wheel of Life, winter is the season of rest and preparation for renewed life, similar to how some animals go into hibernation.

Winter is a time of allowing yourself to be softer, quieter. To listen more, to speak less. A time to observe and see the sparkling stars after the sun has set. To see the absolute beauty of the bare, stark branches of the trees against the azure winter sky. It is a time to remember our lives are intertwined with the rhythms of Nature.

For better or worse, as Wendell Berry writes, our lives are woven together. There is no way to say it is not so. We may forget or try to deny, but when the heart is generous, we know.

Our horizons can shrink and creativity can seem to diminish when we forget our inter-connectedness. The compassion and empathy of our common humanity ebbs when we forget that we are woven together.

With the turning of the seasons, the rebirth of light after the darkness of the Solstice, we do have the ability, with continued disciplined practice, to construct new patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior.

So, let’s do it!! Let’s work with the turning wheel of Nature and life and set out on a quest to see, feel, hear and think differently. Release resentments and regrets. Turn from fear and anger to tolerance and understanding. Grow in empathy and compassion. Let apathy turn towards action. Allow hopelessness and routine to soften and be infiltrated by hope and purpose. It can be in any part of your life. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, as long as it is important to you.

As you prepare for whatever Festival of Light you celebrate, religious or not, maybe just go outside one night and look up at the stars. Or go outside when it is snowing and close your eyes to hear a snow flake land on a soft bed of fresh snowfall. Look at your partner, your child, your friend, sibling, parent, without speaking, and see and hear them. This is a time for reflection and renewal. A time for mending and strengthening our common threads so the weaving of our connected-ness can grow.

“There are moments when the heart is generous,

and then it knows that for better or worse our lives are woven together here,

one with one another and with the place and all the living things.”

Let this be the season of the generous heart for all of us.