Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Flower wisdom

Here in our back yard creeping myrtle is blooming beautifully as spring comes to blossom out here in Sedona. It is a colorful connection with our home on the Big Lake in Michigan, where the myrtle will also be blooming not too long after we arrive at the beginning of May.
I did not know until I did a little research after photographing, drawing, and spending time communing with Myrtle that is is also called periwinkle. Who knew? (not me)
This is a robust, sturdy, evergreen, tenacious, gracious plant that is often used as a ground cover. A Native American friend of mine suggested I spend some time communing with a flower, listening, and receiving its special wisdom. So I did. I have come to realize, after some experience, that communing with plants, trees, animals, stones, etc. is a good way to develop one's intuition, and hone one's ability to receive wisdom and insights from the soul or the right side of the brain--however you want to think of it.
In a respectful way, to observe carefully, sketch, and then commune(by listening) with any being in nature is to enter into a special kind of relationship with it. Actually, come to think of it, this would probably be a great way to have a special connection with a human too! Frederick Franck, the famous artist, in his classic book "The Zen of Seeing" elaborates on drawing as a special way of connecting. I highly recommend it if you have not yet read it.
The book is full of his evocative sketches as well, and is a delight to the eye as well as the mind and soul.
What, you may be asking, did I learn from my communion with Myrtle?
"Sometimes, you can cover more ground by keeping a low profile."
"Keep spreading out and offering your gifts and beauty wherever you are, however humbly."
"Even if you get stepped on, you can rebound and keep right on blooming."
"You can be greening with life whatever the season."
"If you are really rooted and grounded, you won't be easily uprooted by the storms of life."

Thank you, Myrtle!
Now, why don't you try listening to a flower sometime soon?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Talk to a Tree Today!

On a sunrise walk a few days ago, I was inspired to "get close up and personal" with a gorgeous huge, ancient cedar tree that stands on the edge of Dry Creek in the wilderness near our home.
Trees are wonderful beings, are they not?
They breathe with and for us.....we breathe out carbon dioxide, they breathe it in. They breathe out oxygen, we breathe it in. Without them, we could not live or breathe. The earth would become a wasteland. And trees provide us with wood for our houses and fires and many other things we could hardly live without. They are home and food and living space to many other creatures that share our living space with us. They give so much!
As a child, I would swing from trees, climb trees as high as I could go, and sit on the broad limbs of banyan trees and read or just contemplate life around me. Certain trees became precious "secret hiding places" for me. Could not many of you say the same? We owe a lot of love, gratitude, and respect to our tree friends.
That is why, at sunrise on a spring morning last week, I stood before the tree you see in the pictures accompanying this blog, and played my flute in praise of her (I think of her as GrandMother Cedar), and then sat and leaned against her welcoming trunk, and felt her strong support behind and beneath me. I gazed up at her huge spreading limbs---so many of them, I could not count them all. I picked a little spring of cedar needles from a nearby branch, and sat sniffing its marvelous fragrance. My slightly stuffy nose cleared right up, and it seemed I could smell more acutely--the smell of the red earth beneath me, the sage growing nearby, and my dog Leo sitting patiently beside me. I decided to ask Grandmother Cedar if she had some wisdom to share with me. I put aside my own thoughts and became very quiet inside and just listened. This is what I heard:
"I offer you my gifts of strength, clarity, and calm. Receive them and live them, and through them you will bless many who come into the shade of your presence. Be rooted and grounded in Love, as I am. Do not let yourself be moved or disturbed by the passing storms of other's wrong-doing or efforts to use you for their own purposes. Keep growing deeper, growing higher, and branching out in all directions as you age."
Well! That was more than enough to keep me pondering, and challenged!
I invite you to ponder and let yourself be challenged by GrandMother Cedar's wisdom as well. And take time as soon as you can, to go sit by a tree and let it gift you with its qualities and wisdom. Then let your heart fill with gratitude for the gift of trees. And join me in the decision to plant one near where you live sometime soon.
Love live the Trees!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Here are just a few of many pictures I have on my computer taken during the last couple of winters out here in Sedona. And, like many of you, I have many, many photos of me from babyhood onwards in a stash in our cottage on Lake Michigan. Have you ever sat down and spent a fair amount of time going through a goodly number of photos of yourself, spanning perhaps a lifetime? (which by the time you get to be my age, is a pretty long time!) I have done this once in a while, and had the curious feeling that I was looking at someone else in a different lifetime when I studied some of the pictures. "That's me???" I would think as I looked at a snapshot of myself years ago. "I look so different now. I would hardly recognize myself." And then I remember how different I was inside then differently I thought, and believed, and what different perspectives I had at various times in my life. So who is the real me? The person I now appear to be, with the particular perspective and ideas and attitudes I now have? But that can't be. I will be different, I am sure, even a few years from now, let alone a decade or two, if I live that long. Even if I am not on earth that long, I believe I will still be living in some dimension. And I imagine from the vantage point of the after-this-life experience, my viewpoint will be very different from any I had in my lifetime on earth! And my appearance may change a lot too!
So---who I am can't be, essentially, how I appear, or what my ideas or viewpoints are, at any point in my life. And certainly, it can't be what anyone else, even those who think they know me best, think I am. After all, their viewpoint filters everything they perceive about me. And their viewpoints and ideas also change.
Most positively, no pictures of me can begin to capture who I am (or anyone else, for that matter) except in the most fragmentary, momentary way. That is one reason why I have never been big on posting pictures of loved ones all over the place. The pictures are so much less than my memories of them, and I find that sometimes, an often regarded picture can almost replace a living memory, just because the picture gets a lot more attention.
Well then, who am I, really? I think I get to choose what to believe about that. No one else can prove what or who I am in any conclusive way. I choose to believe that I am God's image and God's beloved, and that there is a great mystery at the heart of who I am, and that only God really knows who and what I am, and that will be revealed more and more fully in time to come. I believe that I am a combination of human and divine(God's image) in a unique way. Or, to use a metaphor I love, that I am a song God is always singing. The song keeps changing, but somehow it is the same song, and its music comes straight from the heart of God and goes on forever.
Who do you believe you are?