Being Still

Clouds and Reflection on Tomales Bay

We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.

from Earth, Fire and Water W.B. Yeats

I found this quote on the back of a business card that an associate handed me last week. It seems appropriate for the season.

We the Untamed

Balanced rocks on Manchester Beach.
With only a little self-knowledge and a little sitting still and looking, the conventional perspective of wild and domestic will be reversed: we, the industrial consumers of the world, are the wild ones, unrestrained and out of control, self-excluded from the world’s natural homemaking and living at home. — Wendell Berry. From  Orion Magazine Summer 2018. Wild and Domestic

Tree Song

Trees and lake. Ireland
Trees at Muckross Lake. Killarney National Park. Ireland

I saw a tree by the riverside
One day as I walked along,
Straight as an arrow and pointing to the sky growing tall and strong
How do you grow so tall and strong I said to the riverside tree,
This is the song that my tree friend sang to me.

I’ve got roots growing down to the water,
I’ve got leaves growing up to the sunshine and the fruit that I bear is a sign of life in me,
I am shade from the hot summer sundown,
I am nest for the birds of the heaven,
I’m becoming what the Lord of trees has meant me to be. — Ken Medema

I heard this song during Sunday morning worship service. Sung by our children’s choir, the Cherub Choir. With the words and the young voices, I found this song particularly soothing amidst the tensions and conflict of our social discourse. It helped bring me back to my own spiritual roots.

Island in the Sky

Juniper and sky at Island in the Sky. Canyon Lands National Park.

I captured this image a couple of days ago, close to sunset at the Green River Overlook, Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park.

“All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.”– T. K. Wipple, Study Out the Land

What can we learn from Leonardo?

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I just finished reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. Isaacson paints a picture of a man that was truly a creative genius. His curiosity and his powers of observation were simply astounding. From observing the beating wings of a dragon fly to the finest brush strokes of the Mona Lisa, a painting which was still in his studio waiting for the master to provide the final brush strokes.  I’m not going to give you a book review. The book is worth the read if you have an interest in the workings of the creative mind. This is one book you’ll want to read in the hard copy version, given the many illustrations. Isaacson does provide a chapter with concluding remarks. Here are the things Issacson suggests are a requirement for living a creative life:
  • Be curious, relentlessly curious
  • Seek knowledge for its own sake
  • Retain a childlike sense of wonder
  • Observe
  • Start with the details
  • See things unseen
  • Go down rabbit holes
  • Get distracted
  • Respect facts
  • Procrastinate
  • Let the perfect be the enemy of the good
  • Think visually
  • Avoid silos
  • Let your reach exceed your grasp
  • Indulge fantasy
  • Create for yourself, not just for patrons
  • Collaborate
  • Make lists
  • Take notes, on paper
  • Be open to mystery

Any one of these could be a subject for future exploration.

The Messenger

Fields of coreposis on the Carrizo Plain

The Messenger
by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here, which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever.