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Posts Tagged ‘waterfalls’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Days Riding: 142                            Consecutive Days Blogging: 126

Today’s Mileage: 0                                          Total Trip Mileage: 996

Leaving prayers at the center!

Greetings everyone!  I am writing today’s blog from atop Little Scaly Mountain near Highlands North Carolina.  I am acting as a chaperone for a group of church teens who are attending a Youth Conference at the Mountain Retreat and Learning Center.

I had intended to blog on a Pilgrimage site in Daytona Beach yesterday, but sometimes life’s demands conspire against us.  Meetings and preparation for this trip occupied my day and my chaperone duties occupied the entire evening.  In addition, there is something about cold fresh mountain air that draws me into a state of deep sleep.

 Mountain Dining Hall Banner: “To embrace the diversity of life, creating an environment to energize people to work for positive change.”

“The Mountain” as we Unitarian Universalists of the South Eastern US call our church affiliated retreat center is literally housed on the top of a mountain in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain range.  From the fire tower at night you can see lights from South Carolina and Georgia

Mountain Dining Hall Plaque: “We drink from wells we did not dig.  We are warmed by fires we did not build.”

I just left the “morning gathering” where the 100+ High School aged teens sang songs and prepared for a series of workshops that will occupy much of their day.  I retreated to the “library” where the energy and noise levels are more conducive to my writing today’s blog.

Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Energizing for Generations to come”

Meditation Rock!

I am one of those people where the solitude and serenity of nature is a powerful influence on my spirituality.  Nothing relaxes and inspires me like a walk through nature.  The Mountain has been a special place of spiritual renewal for me since I first discovered it, on a church retreat, some sixteen years ago.  I have acted as my church’s ambassador to the Mountain, given workshop and presentations for group retreats, accompanied church youth here for conferences, and most often just “dropped in” and stayed to hike, meditated, relax and create. The center is open to individual and groups of any faith or secular group.  The mountain embraces diversity and promotes positive and just social change.

Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Living Simply and Sustainably”

The Mountain has been a place I have come to: let go of painful relationships, write poetry, find inspirational images for my artwork, sort out my life goals, relax while visiting various waterfalls, walking the surrounding mountains and the labyrinth and reconnecting with nature.  One of my favorite stories was the time I visited during the winter.  I arrived and the staff announced that they were all going away for three day.  They left food in the Dining Hall fridge for me to eat.  I spent two days and three nights alone on the mountain top.  The serenity and sense of solitude, especially at night, as the wind blew and ice crystals danced in the noon light was profound.  I ended up discovering that I was not entirely alone, as I found rabbit tracks in the fresh snow!

Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Embracing Diversity”

The Labyrinth at the base of the mountain contains an alter stone at its center where people leave offerings and mementos.  Among the items are two stones, one bears a painted yin-yang symbol the other the sacred Hindu symbol “Om.”  On the bottom of each stone is the name of my sons. I have carried them with me in my thoughts and prayers as I walked this sacred path.  I left each stone there that they might draw strength and serenity from these sacred mountains.

Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Being Just”

Before I leave today’s blog, it is nearing lunch time and I must rejoin my teens, I wanted to share with you a piece from the book: “Everyday Tao” by Deng Ming-Dao.  He writes about the mountains by saying:  “The ancient teachers took their students to the mountains, so that they could find inspiration in the high, sweeping vistas.  Each of them could take pleasure in the fresh air scented with pine and herbs.  None of them could fail to clear the mind of the toil and considerations of daily life.  From ancient times to the present, the mountains have been the best places to learn about Tao.  In the isolation of the mountains, with the voices of the throng stilled, the whispers of Tao could finally be heard.  This is what the ancients called the mountain spirit.”

Sunrise from the Fire Tower!

I am breathing in and relishing that mountain spirit.  I feel its presence refreshing and recharging my own spirit.  But it is now time that return to “the throng” with its infectious teen energy and youthful joy.  It is all part of the yin-yang dance of life!  Have a wonderful day!  I will return to our virtual journey and Daytona Beach tomorrow.

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!  For more information about the Mountain visit: http://www.mountaincenters.org

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 14                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 15

Today’s Mileage: 5                                               Total Trip Mileage: 137

      As I ride the bike today I am happy to note we have reached a milestone, we are two weeks into the journey.  I know my teenage son and many of my students would say that this calls for a party. 

     Instead I am going to shorten the ride today and let myself take a break.  As this is a virtual journey I can park the bike and, like we do in our dreams, step into any scene of my choosing.  I am going to return to the rural home I inhabited less then four years ago. When I stepped out of the back door I was in the woods, and less then a hundred yards from a beautiful waterfall and babbling creek.  I took many a walk along the path leading to the waterfall, writing poems along the way.  Nothing takes me back to the feelings and memories of those woods like reading my poetry and viewing the photos of the waterfalls.  So today I will share both with you. 

 falls-far

Natural Place of Worship

 One, two, three, four, five!

One, two, three, four, five!

      The bird’s high pitched call…

             A pace I do not wish to follow.

One, two, three, four, five!

             But a welcomed backdrop beat…

                  As I enter the spring green cathedral

                          With its carpet of decomposing leaves

                                   Like last year’s discarded vestments

                  Haphazard patterns of sunlight

                          Stream through the arched vaulted ceiling

                                   Dance about the floor like votive flames

                  Wisps of silvery filament

                          Labor of the spider priestesses

                                   Lift skyward and sway like incense offerings

                   I hear it already in the distant

                          Like a Gregorian chant

                                  The thunderous chorus

                                           Of the distant falls

One, two, three, four, five!

 ****

      My Catholic roots show through in the above poem which abounds with symbols of that faith. As I walk deeper into the woods the sights and sound of civilization are replaced with the voices of the natural world.

 falls-winter2

 Finally,

   With in sight of the falls,

       I am surrounded by only the sounds of nature. 

No blasts of canine alarm,

   no distant motor carriage,

       just the voice of water.

 ****

      I admire the dedication and faith of people who try to live a philosophy of peace and nonviolence.  I met a Jain when I was working as an enumerator for the 2000 census.  We had a conversation about how difficult it was to be faithful to his beliefs when living in an America suburb.  He would not cut his grass as it would harm insects inhabiting the lawn.  His angry neighbors would mow his lawn when he was away at work!

 A Prayer

 What a challenge it must be

    for a Jain to walk through the woods. 

With life all around and under foot,

    every step and every movement 

       must be accompanied with a prayer

For that life which one disturbs,

    crushes and maims

        with the simplest of movements.

But I’m not a Jain,

     I do not worry about the unseen,

         for life and death is but part of the cycle. 

But the idea of a prayer with every step,

     a prayer with every breath,

         a prayer with every heartbeat,

             is an idea with merit. 

Prayers of recognition,

     for the gifts from the divine  

          for the beauty and life that abounds!

 ****

     After dodging low hanging limbs and spider webs we have finally arrived at the falls.

 above-falls

Transformation

 Smooth reflective pool

Calm deep water

Above the falls

 

transforms

                                               Rushing,

                                                       pulsing,

                                      surging,

                                                              cascading, 

         around the rocks

                over the edge

         down the flue

                                       churning,

                                splashing,

                                                        foaming,

                                       swirling,

transforms

 

Smooth reflective pool

Calm deep water

Below the falls

 ****

falls-below2 

     I hope that you have enjoyed the poems and images.  We will be back on the road again tomorrow.

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