The poet William Stafford, was a registered pacifist in the United States. From 1942 to 1946, during WWII, he worked incamps and projects for conscientious objectors. He was paid $2.50 per month for assigned duties such as fire fighting, soil conservation, and building and maintaining roads and trails. This poem speaks volumes to me.
LearningA piccolo played, then a drum.Feet began to come - a part of the music. Here comes a horse,clippety clop, away.My mother said, "Don't run - the army is after someoneother than us. If you stayyou'll learn our enemy."Then he came, the speaker. He stoodin the square. He told us whoto hate. I watched my mother's face,its quiet. "That's him," she said.~ William Stafford ~(The Way It Is)
I wake early today and go outside to look at the moon. The owls are hooting and now I know this is the mating call of the Great Horned Owl I’ve been hearing, and male and female are back, and if all goes well, we will have baby owls in late March. What an omen of Joy!
Yesterday I was watching the crows and the hawks screeching across the sky. Was it battle or play? It looked like play as though each was perfecting its flight and hanging out as our weeks of rain lead to sun today.
Nature shines through more clearly with the leaves fallen and coating the ground. Branches stroke the heart with their reach and bend.
I’m with this haiku by Issa this morning. This is one translation.
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. – John W. Gardner
I wake to the sound of jays, not roosters, announcing the day. Last night the moon was a blaze, and she will get brighter and brighter until the Harvest Moon on Friday the 13th.
Yesterday I saw Obi Kaufman speak. It was like being in the presence of a young John Muir. If he doesn’t walk/hike 100 miles a week, specifically in CA backcountry, he gets depressed. He arrived outfitted in hat, jeans, and hiking boots.
I love his book The California Field Atlas. His latest is The State of Water. It’s smaller, more focused, and more accessible to all ages, specifically the youngsters we need to reach. His plan is to write a book on each of the elements, says we humans are fire, and yes, we know the positives and negatives of fire.
He says we should call it “climate breakdown” as there’s always been change but this is a breakdown. On the other hand, it’s not to panic, but to work with ourselves first, to bring ourselves to unity and peace. We are being divided by those who benefit financially from division and fear. Before we can address the environmental issues of the day, we need to address ourselves, as we too, are the natural world.
Therefore, find a stream, take your shoes off, and dip in to quiet, to the sounds and songs of birds, water, and trees.
The following is from his article “How to Get the Most Of Your Time Outside” from Sunset Magazine’s article WILD GIFTS.
First, get out of your car. “The more you look, the more there is. Nature is magic like that.”
Second, read a book. “Books are trails that uncover the nature of thought itself.” He lists authors to read.
Third, watch for patterns. “Widen the lens, investigate larger trends in the ecology around you.”
Fourth, join a Land Trust. Volunteeron a piece of land that matters to you.
The fifth comes first though. Don’t panic and add fear to the already frenetic energy of the world. Several times a day, rest in nature, your own nature, shoes off, breathing deeply. Recognize and honor that we ourselves are the natural world.
My mantra lately is this haiku by Issa. It allows me to slow, receive, and taste, each moment divided into petals even as it’s held in a bouquet.
This morning I rose, received the touch of feet meeting floor. When I slipped off my nightie, then allowed a blouse to flow over my head, shoulders, and arms, I was showered with bliss, and now I wear a magisterial cape. I am a law unto myself. I know how to live and integrate. I float, carried, a cricket, singing.
The sun is shining through the mist. It’s the first day it hasn’t rained here in CT since my brother passed. We’ll scatter his ashes today. It was meant to be yesterday but, and tears come as I think of the joy of his wife Jan as we went out to breakfast and then she decided to cook Thai food for all of us. No one cooks like Jan and we enjoyed a feast together and she kept saying how much Gar would love it and then she called at 11:00 last night crying, saying we forgot to spread the ashes. I said “We didn’t forget; we thought you weren’t ready.”
So, today is the day. It will be a smaller group, just four of us, and perhaps that is as it should be, an honoring of the two sides of my brother. There was the party Gar, the gregarious, laughing one, and the one who loved to be alone with family and books, the one who radiated a wise and visionary presence. We honor both sides, all sides, as we tighten the circle for a moment.
Jeff will then drive the two of us back to JFK and home we go. Steve left yesterday and is now home.
How do I feel today? Early morning light breathes softness into the room. Three rectangles stand guard at one end and offer concentration and focus. And now the shadow of a branch spreads into one rectangle, offers form and then the rectangles of light spread like rivers rising in their banks.
I am awake, connected at my roots. Ancestors are here. Yesterday, Jeff, Lynn and I drove through the beauty of CT and seeing a small sign turned left onto a narrow road to enter an enchanted realm of education. We walked the land and then entered the building to spend two hours enjoying a private tour, learning the history of this land.
The last Ice Age ended and people came, and here we are. The constitution comes from the people who lived here. The three branches of our government come from the wisdom of the people of this land. There was a fourth piece the Founding Fathers forgot. We are one with the land. How we treat the land is how we treat ourselves. We are one.
May 5th was Cinco de Mayo. Our guide and those who worked at the Institute were wearing red. We learned it was also a day to honor missing and murdered Indigenous Women. And here I pause to honor that every day is that day. May we come to unification, in ourselves, in our world.
We each have a different tradition on this day. I look out as sun strikes the ridge with light and birds sing and squirrels chirp. I read about the explosions, blood and killings in Sri Lanka. I’m tempted to leave this page blank, feeling there are no words to express what I might say, and I resolved to post each day after my brother’s passing as my homage to him who was my greatest cheerleader. As older sister, I could do no wrong.
My family is gathering today. I look forward to the sanctity in that while knowing there is death for others, pain.
I feel my brother coming through in various ways, allowing me to know he is here in different form. Spirit speaks. I feel love in my being, peace.
Last week I participated in an improv workshop. Me? I know, and I had fun.
We laughed and bonded, bonded and laughed. We began with a “Yes, and …” exercise.
Partnered, one person spoke and then the other would say, “Yes, and” and would augment a response. Back and forth it went. It’s very different from saying simply, yes, or no, and a yes does not mean agreement but it does allow the sharing to expand. My partner and I solved the problems of the world in our back and forth.
Then, Saturday, I attended a “celebration of life” for my neighbor Louise Jenkins, a magnificent woman, who passed easily and gently in the home she and her husband built together after World War II. Louise was 91 and her children will keep the home and land as it is, property fragrant and vibrant with a lifetime of care, laughter, block parties, bread making, knitting, gardening, connecting, sharing, and fun.
Her children shared that they’d never heard their mother say anything mean about another. Oh, and then, one chimed in, “except for her grandmother”. She said her grandmother was mean. I’ve been sitting with that, seeing how quickly we may rush to condemn or judge another.
Perhaps, as a child, watching her grandmother, Louise saw the power of words to hurt and divide and she chose not to do that. I’m not saying she was a saint because Louise wouldn’t want that, but I saw photos of her when she was young and she was beautiful, but truly those photos of her as she aged simply glowed. Her whole face and being was radiant, a light.
Louise Jenkins philosophy of life is my intention for my remaining years. That, and “Yes, and ….”
And here again is Jeanine Aguerre’s photos of two hawks, monogamous and ready to mate again this year in our “hood”.