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Posts Tagged ‘Nature Poetry’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  169                             Cumulative Days Blogging: 154

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                 Total Trip Mileage: 1129

In my most recent blog I spoke about my strong disagreement with a historian’s statement about the future as an “apathetic void of no interest to anyone.”  I highlighted what I believe is the importance of the “here-and-now” and the “possibilities” of the future.  I’ve had a discussion with several people about this point and I wanted to clarify my views a bit further.

Life is a balancing act!

I recognize that our attention can easily be drawn to the past like an intriguing movie or play.  We often know some of the characters by name (i.e.., Generals and Presidents, siblings and parents), we know some of the locations by experience (i.e., battlefields and Capitals, childhood homes) and we often know how the story ends (i.e., who wins the battles and the war, where people are now).  By delving deeper into the story (our shared or individual past) we often discover new scenes, intriguing relationships and hidden plot twists that had escaped our earlier awareness. While the past can offer insights as to how we got to where we are today and at times offer possible solutions to current problems, our decisions have to be imbedded in the present and take into account the forces at play in the here-and-now.

I am always suspicious when people like the Tea Party activists, frame our present problems as identical or closely related to that which occurred hundreds of years ago.  I remember seeing where a local church was advertising that it was “First Century Christianity in the Twenty First Century!”  This appeared to be based on the fact that their “church” had no physical building, but met on a rotating basis in members homes. I see that statement as being nonsensical or at least historically inaccurate.  Who knows for sure what first century Christianity looked like!   It was a product of a time and place that no longer exists.  It represented a new movement (not an established faith or societal institution) pitted against an established institutional religion (paganism) and was being persecuted (not embraced by the society’s leaders) and forced to operate under a cloak of secrecy (the fish symbol and hidden meetings). Whereas now Christianity is an established religion and social institution, it operates in the open, it controls many media mouthpieces and counts a majority of the nation’s leaders among its members.  What this church was offering was a variation of twenty first century Christianity! I also suspect that once their membership grows large enough they too will purchase a church building!  At that time I guess they will need to market themselves as “third century Christianity” or just join the rest of us in the present!

Dwelling on the Past

Small islands of pink granite

Stretch like a chain of pearls

The strand lies broken

Large gaps separate them

Filled with swirling waters

Brown, green and murky

Even the lone goose   

     navigates the eddies with caution

Only a giant or NBA center

     could transverse these stepping stones

Small rock outcroppings

     In the center of the river

Human free sanctuaries

     Sporting clumps of trees and scrubs

Is it wrong to wish

     for the droughts return?

When the main channel was a slow moving stream

     And bridges of stepping stones

     Offered walkways to green islands

     Far from the noisy picnickers

     And their second hand smoke

****

Several month ago I blogged on one aspect of the challenge we face on our spiritual journey.  I quoted an Ani DeFranco’s song: “When I look down I miss the good stuff (scenes about us and on the horizon) and when I look up I just trip over things (obstacles at our feet)”.   I noted that one of the challenges on our journey is find a rhythm and balance between stopping to look up (checking out the road ahead) and then moving a distance while glancing down to watch your footing.  I would like to add our current discussion of the importance of the past to this analogy. 

Some times there are warning signs!

The  challenge is to find a rhythm and balance on your journey through life among three components: First, we must at times stop and look up toward our future path, see our goals, look for forks (decision points) in the road ahead, note if there is a blind turn in the road or signs of adverse weather. If you fail to do this with sufficient frequency or adequate attention to detail you will be “surprised” and “blind sided” by forks in the road, washed out bridges or dangerous and threatening situations that seemingly “just happen.”  Secondly, at times we need to stop and glance over our shoulders into the past, to see if the surrounding scenery looks familiar and ask how our past choices have shaped our current situation, look for reoccurring patterns (like what happened the last time when the fuel light lit up on our dashboard and we ignored it).  While we cannot backtrack and redo an earlier choice we often can make future choices that steer us back toward our stated goals, or we can reevaluate our future goals to match future possibilities. Lastly, we always have to remember to move forward while focusing on life’s moment-to-moment demands on the path about our feet.  Be attentive to the moment-to-moment changes in our relationships, the unexpected delays and detours, the multitude of small seemingly simple choices that occur.  It is not the past or the future that trips us up, it is life unfolding and playing out at our feet, which includes repeating patterns and predictable events and choices!

Some events just feel familiar!

I find it ironic that three days ago there were many people around the world who had plans to travel to and from Europe on vacation and/or business.  Then an event that no one had any control over, the eruption of a volcano hundreds of miles away brought much of the world air traffic to a halt.  This acts as a reminder that the “best laid plans” are just that: “plans”!  Some events (often called acts of God or Nature) just appear with little or no warning… welcome to the balancing act we call life!

Why?

Perhaps I was a bit too hasty

In cursing the high water

On an island well out of reach

A dozen large turtles

Bask in the midday sun

Further down the shoreline

A young man

And his three bikini clad companions

Occupy an island

I watch with amusement

And appreciation

Their slow and noisy

Return to shore

It was a slippery journey

But leaves me with a question

Why do young girls

Scream so much?

****

Water + Sun + Friends = A Basking Moment!

I hope you enjoy the two poems I included today.  They were the product of my river walk that took place several days earlier.  Tomorrow we return to our pilgrimage journey across northern Florida.

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Celebrate Life out of Joy and Gratitude!

Greetings to all my family, students and friends.  Many of you have been asking “what happened to the stationarypilgrim?”  I did disappear from the blogosphere for several days but I am ready to return to our pilgrimage journey.  

I have a job/profession, as a Psychology professor, that involves a great deal of thinking, pondering and speaking.  I strive to “bring together” somewhat abstract ideas with everyday activities, observations and behaviors.  I am known as a “man of many word and stories” and a good teacher, at least that’s what the students say on their evals of me!  I am seldom without some topic to speak about, some insight to share, some observation to make!  However, there are times that I do fall silent! 

I have learned over the years as a teacher, therapist and spiritual seeker that there are times when one’s words and ideas stop flowing or become murky and chaotic.  This often signals the coming of a serious life choice and/or the arrival of a significant insight.  I have been experiencing one of these periods!  

I have also learned that the best thing for me to do is to not force the words, but to just quiet myself and listen!   I listen to the voice from within me, and those from outside (e.g., a sermon, a partner, friends and students, sacred scriptures, secular philosophy, world events) and of course all forms of the voice of nature.  

I am preparing right now to take a hike along a beautiful river on a sunny Spring day, then I will attend church and enjoy the sharing of fellowship before joining a long time friend for lunch and an always stimulating discussion.  Later this evening I will climb back on the bike and share with you more about this period of silence.  Again thank you to all my fellow pilgrims for your concern and  encouragement.  I will leave you with a poem/musing I wrote this morning as I read the paper and fed my caffeine habit at a local eatery! 

Listen: There is always something to hear!

One to Go 

  

Like a parade of classic cars 

they creep past 

wearing gray trim 

   – like me 

thin top covering 

   – like me 

they savor their coffee 

   – like me 

they ponder serious issues 

   – like me 

they seek Sunday morning wisdom 

   – like me 

they open their Bibles 

   the youngest among them 

      leads the prayer 

I close my paper 

   and my notes 

Called to worship 

    by the sun 

        the rushing river 

           the bird calls 

This classic prefers 

    a path less travelled 

        at a creeping pace 

Fifteen for coffee 

   one to go! 

**** 

A new day with promises, opportunities and joys!

Have a wonderful day… embrace, savor and share it with those you meet!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  165                         Cumulative Days Blogging: 150

Today’s Mileage: 5                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1112

As I rode the bike this evening my thoughts drifted to yesterday’s visit to a Christian Easter Day service.  The service was joyful with the reading of scripture and singing, directed by my partner Susan.  The service brought back memories of my childhood and significant church holidays.  The one thing I missed was the sight of children running around the lawn collecting colored eggs!

While I enjoyed the service I also made it a point to take a walk around the church campus before and after the service.  It was a particularly beautiful day and as always nature bombarded me with distractions.  I have decided to share with my readers several poems and musings I wrote before and after the service.

Across the Street

Church lawn:

   Pristine green

   Parallel mower marks

   Edged pathway

   Leads to a

   Tall white building

   Stark wooden cross

   Bares white cloth drapery

   Easter Lilies

   In plastic pails

   Circle the base

       Signs of a Church’s belief in resurrection!

 Across the Street

 Empty house:

   Unkempt lawn

   Mats of dark green clover

   Points of purple and yellow

   Dandelions and wild violets

   Scattered about

   Flowering dogwood

   Twisted wooden fingers

   Bearing pink jewels

   Majestic white irises

   Circle the base

       Signs of Nature’s promise of renewal!

****

Tree Mysticism!

In the Shadow of Giants

 Ancient oaks

Tower overhead

Midriff bulge

Extends its base

Onto the sidewalk

Like a living

Volcanic flow

What was two

Had become one

An extra

Roll of bark

Marks their seam

They are not alone

A vine

With a girth

Similar to my own

Sends tentacles

Like heavily laden

Fire hoses skyward

Braiding with branches

And twin trunks

A small flowering dogwood

At their base

Cannot compete

For size and age

It counters

With its beauty

Living in the shadow of giants

 ****

Natures Gifts!

Holiday Treats

 Forty steps

Along the sidewalk

From the back

Of the church

Before the Easter  

Sunday service

I found green grass

Colorful blossom gifts

On the lawn

All that was missing

Was a basket

And a chocolate bunny

 ****

Gaia!

What was…

 My favorite part

Of the Easter

Church experience

Standing at the base

Of a majestic

Magnolia tree

In the sun

Surrounded by

Spring bird calls

I admired the

Tree’s shade and

Structure

It must have been

Wondrous being a child

Around these trees

They were designed

For climbing and

Hiding in the branches

 ****

Patterns, cycles, beauty!

I hope that you enjoyed my words and caught glimpses of the beauty I find in nature!  My experience yesterday reminded me of the fact that “one size does not fit all.”  While the church was filled with people finding meaning in their sacred scripture and the story of a risen savior, there are others, myself included, who find meaning and guidance in the “voices of nature.”  I do not believe that one path/approach has more “truth or validity” than the other, they represent preferences based on our experiences and history.

After a recent posting concerning the Catholic Church one reader made the comment: “Sorry to hear that you are a former Catholic. Only Catholics that don’t know their faith leave because if you truly knew the faith of your birth you would see that there is no other faith to move to. The Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus founded upon Peter and it has lasted the last 2,000 years. Come home!”

Nature Saints?

I respect this reader’s right to his opinion and recognize his exclusionary beliefs about the Catholic Church.  However, I have found my path and like many others “my home” is within the realm of nature, its symbolism, its cycles, and its beauty!

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His shadow is the answer!

Please note that this is my second posting for today.  Please go to the recent posting heading to the right and visit: “Stepping off the Bike and Into the Spiritual Mountains” if you did not read the earlier posting.  It explains where I am at.  The following are the product of a walk I took down and back up “The Mountain.”  I hope you enjoy!

Three Forms

My early morning breath

     Coffee fumes above the cup

Mounds of tainted snow

     Crunches under foot

Tear drops race down stalactites

     Streams trickle in the cracked roadside

Sun and still mountain air

Bring about transformations

The night will stop the process

And hide the dangers of ice

 

Insulation

 

Snow

Covers the landscape

Hides sleeping creatures

Protects the spring seeds

Snow

Covers the landscape

Deadens all sound

Echoes of my footsteps

Do not resonate

Water drops fall

From sun lit leaves

Borrow silently into

The covering

Snow

 

Words

 

Are these poems?

Are these musings?

Are these distractions?

Are these products

       Of an overactive mind?

Are these messages?

Are these reminders?

Are these answers

       To unknown questions?

Are these profound?

Are these wasted ink?

Are these meaningless questions?

Or

Are they simply moments of being?

 

Simple Observation

 

When the sun is up

Shadows are never black

They are always some hue

In later afternoon they are blue

 

Three Quarters of a Mile

 

Winding path

On the mountain side

Slow measured pace

Note pad and pen

Yields five poems

And deposits me at

The Labyrinth’s gate

 

No Cheating

 

Now there is a good sign!

The labyrinth

Covered in a pristine

Blanket of snow

No one cheated

Walking straight

To the stone obelisk

In the center

Spiritual insights

Spiritual wisdom

Must be achieved

By following the process

 

The Labyrinth

 

Wears a pristine

Winter cloak

Hides its rock outline

A cold stone bench

And four capped

Torch lights

The only indication

Of the outer circle

Today’s visit

One of admiration

A visit to the center

Will wait for another time

The forest spirit

Will understand

My respect

For winters work

Renewal is not yet here

Dormancy prevails

 

Wish I had my camera

 

I will have to carry

The image in my mind

Paint it for you with my words

Trust me

For I do not have the verbal hues

Or sufficient techniques

To convey the beauty

Or the serenity of

A rare moment

 

The Car

 

It slows down to pass me

It rocks with youthful energy and song

The chaperone lowers the window

And nodes toward my son

Seated in the back seat

“You owe me!” he exclaims

 

Pilgrim on the Path

 

I was going up

She was coming down

I was visiting

She was leaving work

We both agreed

This is a special place

To live or to visit

 

Always Amazed

 

I’d been too busy

Writing a blog

Watching the kids

And enjoying a nap

To take my usual walk

Down the mountain side

But I found time

As the teens visited town

And nature rewarded me

With a multitude of gifts

If I hadn’t been here

They would have

Just gone to waste

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Days Riding: 140                            Consecutive Days Blogging: 122

Today’s Mileage: 8                                          Total Trip Mileage: 986

Product of a Process!

Today was the first day of my Spring Break.  As I drove back from the University I found myself taking an exit that lead, not back to my house, but to a small park along a local river.  I have walked along this river in the past, found inspiration in the river scenes and the sounds of water.  As I walked I was visited by the following words:

Convoluted Stone

It looks like

  Dirty gray blue clay

    Ripples and waves

      Frozen on its surface

        It stands as a testament

         To water and time

This Taoist stone

Shaped by a millennium

  Of flood waters

    The falls upriver

      Works on its siblings

        As a half dozen geese

          Silently flow past

This natural monument

 

In Taoist artwork a common and powerful image is the convoluted stone, full of holes and hollows eroded by water, whose shape never repeats itself.  Its reference always is to the truth of Tao as a reality whose essence is a never ceasing, perpetual, seamless process.

 

Offerings

I travelled to the river

    With nothing

        To offer the ducks

But someone

    Has left bread crusts

        Scattered about the shore

The ducks gave me

    Their verbal blessing

        As I made my offering

I believe the ducks

    Receive offerings like God

        It’s the process that counts  

 

 Mollusks

Delicate

 Symmetrical

  Pearly white

   Pairs

    Joined at the apex

Have tiny fairies

 Dropped their wings

  To swim

   In the swirling pool?

No

It’s the handiwork

 Of raccoons

  Remains of their

   Late night snack

    At some junior clams

     Expense

 

I hope you enjoyed these poetic offerings, as the geese enjoyed the bread and I’m assuming the raccoons enjoyed their snack.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 45                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 46

Today’s Mileage:  10                                          Total Trip Mileage: 386

Holidays and Holy Days on November 24 :

Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom (Sikh) a time of remembering the execution of Teg Bahadur by the Moghul Emperor in India.

_______________________________________

Marco beach!

As I ride the bike today I review the various internet photos and scenes I uncovered about Marco Island, the city on the west coast of Florida.  It is a beautiful place and brings back many fond memories of the tourist beaches along the Georgia and Carolina coast and Southern California. As a nature lover I prefer the more undeveloped coastline, but when one has a family to entertain or does not want to sleep in a tent, resort towns such as these are a joy.   Many families I know return to the same beach each season, the familiarity is comforting, and adds layers of a family’s “growing up” memories to a place. 

 

Simple Rewards

If I walk long enough I will reach it.

Small squat building with greasy windows.

Odor of breakfast meats and tobacco smoke.

Offers steaming java and folded papers bearing today’s news.

–       –    –    –

Shellers on Marco Island Beach.

I’m one of those people who appreciates daily routines at the beach, whether it be a sunrise walk in search of shells or a stroll to a small coffee shop for my morning “fix” of caffeine and news. One aspect of the beach I love the most is the sand, that fascinating ribbon of reality stretched between two totally different worlds. It’s a surface constantly changing, yielding new mysteries and a reality not unlike our own moment-to-moment existence.

Each wave

Pulls at the beach’s fabric,

Returning sand to the sea

Streaking the smooth gray surface.

Sweeps the beach clean,

Leaving only a line of foam

As testimony to its presence.

–       –    –    –

Stationarypilgrim as a young man inspecting his Indian Ocean shell collection.

Walking along the beach always bring out the collector and scientist in me!  I think about how people differ with respect to the collecting mementos and memories.  Some people just walk by the beach litter as it is not relevant to their conversation or plans.  Perhaps they already have too many souvenirs from previous visits, or will argue that they have no place to keep or store them.  Others beach travelers carry their pails, baskets or shopping bags to fill with treasures as the stroll along.  These travelers are now faced with the question: “What do I do with this new stuff?”  They may show it to loved ones and then discard it, their purpose has been served. They might find space in the family car or van for the return trip home.  Yet once there, the mementos will be stashed in the garage or attic to be revisited as treasured memories in the dead of winter.  Others display them in a bowl, on a window sill, or under glass in a display case.  Such displays can be placed in a kitchen or near the bath so that every morning as one sips their coffee or steps out of a warm invigorating shower, they will be reminded of the mysteries and treasures that awaits in our exploration of life as it unfolds before us.

Shell Mementos: Reminders of Island memories.

Their Loss My Gain 

Sand still damp from the last big wave.

Streaks like fingers reach towards the ocean.

Others came before me, I see signs of their passage.

One barefoot, one with heavy treads, one who treaded lightly.

What did they seek on their journey?

For they walked right past the “perfect shell.”

Cone shaped, pink with brown markings, glistening and polished.

It called out too me like ripe fruit, I picked it.

Maybe they weren’t watching.

Maybe they didn’t care.

Maybe they walked together deep in conversation

Ignoring the treasure at their feet.

Whatever, their loss is my gain!

–       –    –    –

I hope you have enjoyed my poems and photos today.  In the morning we head towards Naples and then on to our next Pilgrimage Site, a place that stirs up controversy!

 

A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 38                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 39

Today’s Mileage:  8                                           Total Trip Mileage: 329

stage7      As I ride the bike this morning a number of topics swirl about in my mind.  I have enjoyed our week in the Miami area. Next time I visit the area in person I’ll make a personal pilgrimage to the Holocaust site as I was struck by the images which still haunt me with their poignancy.  I am looking forward to hitting the “open road” as we head west I hope to see more gorgeous nature scenes.

     I’ve been investigating pilgrimage sites down the road.  We will swing south for a day’s ride before heading west across the northern part of the Everglades and into Big Cypress National Preserve.  Then it’s on to Naples, where we’ll visit a controversial religious site:  a religious city which some people view as the epitome of American freedom, while others view it as a sign of growing intolerance and the fragmentation of our nation’s religious fabric.  As we head up the coast toward Fort Myers we will visit two sites: an ancient Native American site and a place which is a failed tribute to the human desire to create “Paradise in the Wilderness.”

     One of my viewers asked the question, concerning yesterday’s postings, if meditating was so profound then why did I stop after seven years?  There are probably several potential postings embedded within this question.  Let me just give a brief answer for now.

      Any good habit such as exercise or diet can fall prey to changing circumstances.  In addition, there is always the danger that we can become so complacent about the positive efforts that we forget the source of these effects.  My life took on many challenges as I married, entered graduate school, moved about the country.  My meditative practice suffered as I took on the roles of Professor, therapist, and father!  However, the ability and knowledge is there, and at particularly stressful times I return to it to steady my nerves and calm my mind.  Why have I not fully reimmersed myself in the meditative practice? In a way I have, but in a different way!

     In general there are two forms of meditation.  Concentration meditation, the form recognized by most people, where the mediator sits quietly and turns inward using a mantra (sound) as a meditative device.  The goal is to quiet your mind to the point of “no thoughts.”  Transcendental Meditation is one such technique.  The second form of meditation is called Mindful Meditation, and is practiced by several branches of Buddhism.  It involves focusing on and being mindful of whatever one is doing at the moment.  Mindfulness of walking, breathing, studying a flower, the breeze on one’s skin can all be part of a walk through a garden.  It is found to promote deeper insights into how our minds work to “create” the world around us and how to control our attention and focus. 

     As my artistic interests grew over the last twenty years, especially my poetry, I found myself naturally and effortlessly using this technique.  I would state that I still meditate but in a different form.

     Here is a poem and one of my drawings, both are products of a mindful walk:

exbeauty

Beauty by StationaryPilgrim

Nature’s to Blame

Checked my watch

     It happened again!

Half an hour pasted,

     I barely moved.

Oh well!

          I’ll blame the flowers,

               Their beauty impeded my progress:

          And the bird call,

               The humming insects,

               The inviting cool shadows,

               And the still air.

          Don’t forget the fragrances,

               There were way too many.

If I missed something important

     Please accept my apology.

****

sunset and bike by oojeff

If I had a real bike and was really there!

     Enjoy your day and be mindful of your journey!

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