Thursday, January 31, 2013


Just a reminder of what a tiny bit of fluff Midge was when she bounced into our home.


Once in awhile Midget the Idget does stay still.


Bandit has always loved shoes. Any shoes. Just loves, and loves and loves them For some reason she took a shine to my new Teva's. And fell asleep in mid love.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Creator of all life

You bless the earth, the earth that gifts us with the food, shelter, clothing and tools that we need to live our lives.

Thank you for these gifts and forgive us when we misuse them.

Creator of all life,

You bring water from the sky and from deep in the Earth. Water falling, streaming, bubbling, dancing. It is our life and our joy.

Thank you for this gift and forgive us when we use it as if it were endless and with little care for the damage we do to ourselves and to all those others who must share those waters with us but have no control over what we do.

Creator of all life,

You give days when the air is crisp and sweet scented, and days when it is heavy with dew and the scent of fallen leaves.

Thank you for these gifts and forgive us when we forget that others must share that air too. Even when it’s loaded with the poisons of our carelessness.

Creator of all life,

You nurture us in the long bright days of summer and in the rich darkness of night and winter, you teach us the mysteries of the moon and stars.

Thank you for these gifts and forgive us when we fail to raise our eyes to appreciate the jewels planted in the darkness, the mountains of clouds lit by the sun, the flight of birds across blue black of the sky at dusk or dawn.

Inspired by a prayer in  Yearning for the Wind by Tom Cowan.


“To those who followed Columbus and Cortez, the New World truly seemed incredible because of the natural endowments. The land often announced itself with a heavy scent miles out into the ocean. Giovanni di Verazanno in 1524 smelled the cedars of the East Coast a hundred leagues out. The men of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon were temporarily disarmed by the fragrance of the Jersey Shore, whiles ships running further up the coast occasionally swam through large beds of floating flowers. Wherever they came inland they found a rich riot of color and sound, of game and luxuriant vegetation. Had they been other than they were they might have written a new mythology here. As it was, they took inventory.” Frederick Turner. Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness.

I’ve never been to sea, so I’m not sure what we can smell now when we’re a hundred miles or so off shore. Diesel fumes. Gas fumes, hot asphalt, and industrial pollution? I’m betting the Jersey Shore has a much difference fragrance nearly five centuries after di Verazanno made his run up the coast. And the beds of floating flowers are a forgotten memory. Unless you want to count plastic bags, discarded bottles and cargo lost from containers as “flowers.” Well, there’s a riot of color and sound all right. We spend a great deal of time and energy trying to escape it. And, it looks like we finally did write that new mythology. Of the virtue and necessity of conquest and exploitation. Now, we find ourselves in a trap of our own making.

One industry develops low wattage LED’s and touts them a replacement for home light use while another industry finds a totally new use for light bulbs. Soon every corner bank and drugstore hosts a mini bill board advertising services. In firesale red. Electrical useage stays the same or goes up and visual pollution increases. Plant based bio fuels replace petroleum, at least in theory but it still takes more energy to produce the fuel than we’ll ever see in our fuel tanks.

Each appliance may take less energy but the number and SIZE of the appliances increases. Remember the TV’s with nineteen inch screens? Can you even get one of those these days? I may really like Tom Selleck, but I have no desire to count the number of hairs in his moustache.

And any suggestion that we might simplify our lives a little, just a little is met with that you’re a Marxist, Socialist, Fascist, nihilist trying to destroy the American nightmare. Whoops, pardon me, dream.

Which led me back to this little prayer in one of mom’s workbooks from her Methodist women’s group.

I am your mother: do not neglect me!
Children protect me-I need your trust;
my breath is your breath, my death is your death,
ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

I am your nurture; do not destroy me!
Love and enjoy me, savor my fruit;
my good is your good, my food is your food,
water and flower, branches and root.

I am your lodging: do not abuse me!
Tenderly use me, soothing my scars;
my health is your health, my wealth is your wealth,
shining with promise, set among stars.

The Creator is our maker, do not deny,
challenge, defy or, threaten this place;
life is to cherish, care, or we perish!
I am your mother, tears on my face.

Adapted from a prayer by Shirley Erena Murray 1996

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


“Everything which God created millions of years ago and everything which will be created by God after millions of years-if the world lasts that long-God is creating that in the innermost and deepest realms of the human soul. Everything of the past, everything of the present, and everything of the future God creates in the innermost realms of the soul.”
Meister Eckhart. I wonder if I can find out if Eckhart actually used the term millions or if he just meant a very long time. In any case he probably won’t win any points with the American Creationist crowd.

Is the human soul isolated? One per customer? Or, as Tom Cowan writes of the teachings of Hildegard of Binger, does that soul stretch out, touch the soul of all Creation? Flowing in. Flowing out. Combining. Mixing. Dancing. Can my soul dance all the way out to Andromeda and surf the star stuff pouring out of the blue white giants? I’d like to think that it can. 


This meditation, essay whatever was brought on by the news that Sarah Palin’s contract with Fox wasn’t renewed. And both sides are saying it was their idea. Whatever. A sorrier example of verbal illiteracy I’ve seen yet.

So, this is a bit  of a departure from what I’ve been writing, but maybe not so much. Back when the boys were little we picked out a few books that we thought would be fun to have on hand to read from. Turned out to be a complete flop. Kids that wore out my Sleeping Beauty tape couldn’t sit still long enough to listen to one of Kipling’s Just So Stories. I was entranced by The Elephant’s Child. They weren’t.

My generation were probably the last to be verbally rather than visually oriented. Read Kipling. Read Dickens. They drew word pictures and your imagination was free to run riot. Dicken’s intro to A Christmas Carol is really priceless. The winter cold. The fog. The growing dark at three in the afternoon. Fog so thick it was creeping through the key hole in the door. Scrooge, who went through life with an icicle hanging from his nose in the middle of July.

The elephant’s child with his ‘satiable curiosity and endless questions setting off to find out what the crocodile has for dinner complete with a supply of melons (green) Sugar cane (purple) and bananas (the little red ones) in search of the great, grey green Limpopo River all set about with fever trees, where, he’s told, the crocodile lives. On the way he meets a bi colored python rock snake… and the crocodile. Only to find that today, he’s on the menu. And did mention that up to this point elephants had noses that looked more like a boot than a trunk?

So, here’s the elephant finding himself in the middle of a tug of war between the crocodile who has hold of his nose and the snake who’s hanging onto the hind legs with all his snaky strength and advising

Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake scuffled down from the bank and said, 'My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster' (and by this he meant the Crocodile) 'will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before you can say Jack Robinson.'

This is the way Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk.

Then the Elephant's Child sat back on his little haunches, and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose began to stretch. And the Crocodile floundered into the water, making it all creamy with great sweeps of his tail, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled.

And the Elephant's Child's nose kept on stretching; and the Elephant's Child spread all his little four legs and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose kept on stretching; and the Crocodile threshed his tail like an oar, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and at each pull the Elephant's Child's nose grew longer and longer—and it hurt him hijjus!

Then the Elephant's Child felt his legs slipping, and he said through his nose, which was now nearly five feet long, 'This is too butch for be!'

Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake came down from the bank, and knotted himself in a double-clove-hitch round the Elephant's Child's hind legs, and said, 'Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension, because if we do not, it is my impression that yonder self-propelling man-of-war with the armour-plated upper deck' (and by this, O Best Beloved, he meant the Crocodile), 'will permanently vitiate your future career.” (Talented snake. He can do double clove hitches)

The crocodile the elephant and the bi colored python rock snake. 

I loved it. My nephews couldn't be bothered. They were too busy playing Super Mario Brothers. Heck I watch movies. I watch some TV. Not as much as I used to. But, we really lost something in the transition. The old authors painted pictures with words in a way that most film just can’t match. And that most writers can’t match either. No matter how many awards they get.

And that may be part what attracts me to the Celtic traditions. The old bards and poets were masters of the word. The best of the old poets could compose a satire that would topple thrones or cause a king who chose to ignore the rules of hospitality to break out in boils. It was not wise to insult a bard. 

Monday, January 28, 2013


What is in my mind isn't coming through with the words. This happens. But here goes anyway. 

The word enchant is from the Latin and the French. In those languages it means “to sing.” In English we use it to mean to cast a spell or to move deeply. Perhaps even in English enchant can have the meaning Caitlin Matthews give it ‘to infuse with song.”

In legend the bards of Britain maintained choirs that were constantly singing or chanting. The singing was intended to maintain the balance and connections between this world and the other world. Imagine hearing the tales of your land and your people Every day, every hour, every minute.

Hearing the  tales and stories that keep us grounded but what happens when we lose the songs. Lose the stories that connect us to each other and to the land.

So we have to write and sing our own songs. Lisa does it with her birds in the back yard. Including a beautiful bald eagle. And a very beautiful bald eagle it is. I’ve discovered a blogger or two who combine Quaker practices and what we usually call pagan practices. Quaker Pagan Reflections  is an excellent example. Try your hand at writing a poem. Feed the birds. Spend time chasing weeds in a garden, You might hear the universe singing. We can’t sing all the time, but we can listen. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013


“To live in a storied world is to know that intelligence is not an exclusively human faculty located somewhere inside our skulls, but rather a power of the animate earth itself, in which in which we humans along with the hawks and the thrumming frogs, all participate. It is to know, further, that each land, each watershed, each community of plants and animals and soils, has its particular style of intelligence, its unique mind and or imagination evident in the particular patterns that play out there, in the living stories that unfold in that valley, and that are told and retold by the people of that place. Each ecology has its own psyche, and the local people bind their imaginations to the psyche of the place by letting the land dream its tales through them.” David Abram quoted in The Salmon in the Spring.

Which is an elaborate way of saying that the stories told by say the Po Valley in Italy will be different from the stories told by the Willamette Valley in Oregon. At least what would have been told by the native peoples who lived in the valley, hunting elk and digging the camas roots before the European settlers arrived.

But, what stories are we telling each other in this modern America of ours? “For us, it's not about love. It's about domination. Of the world, of our fellow animals, of each other. It's about "this is MINE!" We don't love anything, and we certainly don't care if it loves us back.” This is from Lisa. And she’s right, at least for the national mythology that powers our economic and political actions.

We’ve heard some of the stories during the last election cycles. This is a Christian Nation. Well, yes; most of the original colonists were Christians. Too bad they came from wildly divergent sects; most of them didn’t get along with each other. Except for the Quakers, and everybody else considered THEM to be heretics and kicked them out of THEIR colonies.

The constitution is Holy Writ. Well again, yeah sort of. It’s really a well crafted set of compromises designed to get as many states to ratify it as possible. The Electoral College to mollify the little states like New Hampshire. Counting people who would never get a chance to vote as three fifths of a person to satisfy the southern states like South Carolina.

And worse, the majority doesn’t hear stories from nature. The natural world is there to be dominated and conquered. Anyone ever see the film How The West Was Won? Especially the epilogue. Granted it was released in the very early sixties. It’s a collage of images. Huge farms, multi layered freeways, strip mining, old growth trees being loaded on ships for export. It’s a tale of conquest and exploitation. 

Any stories that the valley’s of the Mississippi and Ohio had to tell were drowned out, the native peoples who knew the stories forced west away from their stories and the land that told them. We've buried the Snake River and the Columbia in water caught behind dams for flood control and power stations. The tribal fishing grounds at Celilo Falls. Gone. The valley of the Hetch Hetchie, gone to supply water for San Francisco. The stories gone. the tales the people and animals could tell. Gone. The tapestry ripped and torn. If we don't find a way to reweave the fabric our very humanity is in danger. 

And in spite of the damage we've done the mantra continues. A tree that doesn't make it to the mill is wasted. That you can cut logs over and over. You can but you've lost the ecosystem and its stories forever. Buried under logging roads, herbicides and pesticides. That fresh water that makes it to the sea instead of our faucets is wasted. Even though too many rivers are loaded with those same herbicides and pesticides so that we're slowly poisoning the waters that gave us birth. We clean up our air, but export coal and dirty oil over seas only to have the pollution ride the jet stream back to haunt us.

It's like trying to bail the ocean with a teaspoon, but I'll search out the stories and bellow them at the top of my lungs...or keyboard. Anybody got some good stories out there? Lisa's birds. My vision of a fox. Reweave the world. 


It's very difficult to take pictures of something or someone that won't stay still long enough to focus on. Last night at dinner. Bandit did something noisy, mom did something noisy and I turned on the camera...all at the same time. She's right at that pay attention to EVERYTHING stage. Took five minutes to convince her that something new wasn't out to get her. 

One small kitten about three days after she came to stay with us. Hardly a handful. And so very puzzled by it all. 

At about four months turning into quite a lady  A golden eyed girl. And very careful to stay out of reach at bedtime. She still sleeps in the kennel. Bandit needs some peace part of the time, after all.

And it's very odd. Cat's with green eyes reflect green. Cats with golden eyes reflect gold. But, our blue eyed Bandit. Looks like a perfect demon with those red eyes when she's actually the biggest wussy pussy you'd ever come across. She does like to lay on top of the laundry basket play pen. When Midge is in it. Lay end to end and wave her tail down the back. And smile.

Now at five months a sleek, black lady with a tail almost as long as she is. Loves string, little plastic balls, socks,,, and toes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The veils between the physical and spiritual worlds seemed thinner in the past. There was a time when it was easier to believe that there were spirits in the rocks, the trees, the streams. A vision of the world that’s still often dismissed as “Nature Worship” by mainstream society.

I don’t believe that the old Celts worshipped Nature as I understand word, but they were much more in touch with the world, seen and unseen, around them. This immersion in the spirit world seems to have persisted longest on the fringes of Europe. In Ireland, where Rome’s writ never ran. Or in the highlands and islands of Scotland beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Even the people of Wales held onto most of their independence until the thirteenth century and the invasions of England’s Edward I.

I’m not even sure that the Celtic concept of creation or creator is the same as the world view I grew up with. They certainly have enough different words to work with. And heck, maybe it doesn’t really matter unless you’re trying to learn how to speak one of these jaw breakers of a language.

The word often used in Irish for creator, Duileamh (always capitalized and pronounced dool-yev) doesn’t have the root word for create. It doesn’t have the root word for God, or the Almighty, or Supreme Being; all those words our world view equates with a supernatural Creator.

This difficult, for us, to pin down word can mean “being in the elements,” or “one who is in the elements” or “one who is the elements.” To make it even more interesting the root duil can also mean desire, hope, fondness or expectation. They’re all related, I guess, maybe…….oh heck I’ll take their word for it. Try asking Who is fond of What? Who desires What? Careful, the next thing you know you just might decide that Creator and Creation are caught in a web of desire, hope, and fondness that we aren’t used to facing in our world view of the sacred confined to a few hours on a certain day and tucked in the closet the rest of the time.

The highlanders of Scotland used to bless each other in a way that turns the way we treat each other and the world around us on its head.

“The love and affection of the moon be yours.
The love and affection of the sun be yours.
The love and affection of the stars be yours.”

And work their way through all the things of nature around them until they end with

“The love and affection of all living things be yours.”

Adapted from Yearning for the wind.

Perhaps it isn’t so strange to feel a kinship with the sun. The sun feeds the plants, the plants feed the cows and the cows feed us. I guess you could say we carry a bit of sunshine with us through the day; and the night.

If we really believed that the local river had love and affection for us we might treat it like the irreplaceable creation that it is instead of as a sewer. If we could stretch our minds around the idea that the mountains and valleys might love us perhaps we’d think twice about carving off the top of a mountain to get at the coal and dumping the tailings in the valley below. If we truly felt the living web instead of seeing board feet when we look at an old growth forest maybe we’d be more careful as we harvest the trees we need. As it stands we don’t believe we have the love and affection of our fellow human beings much less the rest of the world and the creatures in it.

The elements of creation. “The Love and Affection of the Elements. The Pure Love of the Elements. The Being of the Elements. The One Who is the Elements.” Tom Cowan notes that the participants were trying to discuss these concepts at a workshop for Celtic Shamanism. One woman in the group wished our language had words like these. Another broke in with “Wouldn’t it be great if our culture had ideas like this.” Taken from Yearning for the Wind.

Just wouldn’t it though?


Where is a river born? A high mountain lake? A hidden spring that wise men keep to themselves? The trickles from a melting glacier? However it’s born it joins the great lacework of freshwater that eventually joins the ancient salt waters of the world’s oceans. Elemental water joins with sun fire and the vapors rise. Clouds form and drift. When the time is right, the rains fall and the cycle begins again.

But rivers and streams are more than the water flowing between the banks. It’s marsh and delta grasses that slow the floods and help to store high waters against the dry times. It’s the trees that shade the water and deadfalls that make hiding places for fingerlings and insect larva. The river is the kingfisher, the eagle and the osprey. The river is the mallard, the teal and the heron. The otter, the beaver and the muskrat. The river is the deer that comes to drink and the elk bugling in the water meadow.

The river is sunlight dancing through new leaves and the mist that rises in the early mornings of autumn hiding everything beyond the nearest bend except the water whisper through the reeds. The river is spring shower and summer thunderstorm, ice sprinkles in late fall and the deep snows of winter.

And some believe that because every drop of water is different, never standing still you can never enter the same river twice. And I wish I could find pictures to match what "saw" while I was writing this. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Well, it looks like the dry spell is over, All it took was a little time and a few good books.


In legend, the rivers of Ireland have a common source, the Pool of Wisdom in the Other World under the rule of Mananan Mac Lir. Around the pool are hazel trees, the nuts fall into the pool where the salmon who live in the pool eat the nuts. When the nuts are broken the juice turns the water purple and it flows into the rivers.

Mananan told a visitor that everyone drinks of the water from the rivers. But, only poets, those of vision and mystics can pierce the veil into the other world to drink from the pool itself. The information that feeds our senses comes not only from the world we can touch, but from the world we can only sense when the veils are thinnest.

Could it be that everything around us is more than we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears? And could it happen that what one sees isn’t quite the same as what another “sees.” There was an Irish hermit who lived by a lake. One morning he decided that fish for breakfast; well what could be better? So, he launched his boat a rowed out into the lake. He could see his neighbor’s hermitage on the other side of the lake just beginning to be lit by the early morning light. When he looked again, he saw is neighbor walking across the water. “Good morning, you’re out early.” “I need some flowers for my alter, and if you don’t mind my asking, what are you doing in the middle of the meadow sitting in a boat.” “Meadow, I’m going fishing, what are you doing walking across a lake.” Or words to that effect.

The second hermit pointed to some flowering bushes near the shore. “I think the fish are biting over there.”  In the end, one man got his fish and the other got his flowers. From the same place. One hermit’s lake, was another hermit’s flower filled meadow. I guess sometimes a lake is more than just a lake and a meadow is more than just a meadow.

Hermit story from Tom Cowan’s Yearning for the Wind. 


This message is true no matter who we call Creator. The president said pretty much the same thing last year and look what happened to him.

Pray for the whole world, pray this very earth become a heaven. Pray especially to be freed from the evil of greediness. Pray to recognize others who are in need-for there is no such thing as “my” bread. All bread is ours and is given to me, to others through me and through me to others. For not only bread but all others things necessary for sustenance in this life a given on loan to us with others and because of others, and for others and to others through us.

Whoever does not give to another what belongs to that other does not eat his own bread but steals that bread from that other. For nothing that we have acquired unjustly is ours.

All gifts of nature and of grace have been given us on loan. Their ownership is not ours but God’s. God never gave private property to anyone-not even to his own Mother or to any other person or to any creature in any way. Treat all things as if they were loaned to you without any ownership-whether body or soul, sense or strength, external goods or honors, friends or relations, house or hall, everything. For if I want to possess the property I have instead of receive it on loan, then I want to be a master.

I have told you this time and again, if a person were in a rapture as great as St. Paul once experienced and learned that her neighbor were in need of a cup of soup, it would be best to withdraw from the rapture and give the person the soup she needs. Meister Eckhart Thirteenth century preacher and mystic.

So, if we knew these things in the twelve hundreds… wonder the church labeled him a heretic.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


One day Tom Cowan (Yearning for the Wind) realized that he wasn’t carrying his soul around like a backpack. His soul was carrying him and he quoted the Welsh bard Taliesin. “I adore my God…who has infused a soul to direct me with its seven faculties; fire, earth, water, air, mist, flowers and southerly wind.” Well, that just about covers everything doesn’t it? Because those “faculties” don’t just infuse my soul. They infuse the soul of all Creation. And that soul reaches down and joins my soul and can carry me past the ends of the earth to the edge of Creation if I’ll just let it.

Remember someplace you’ve been that really reached out and touched you. A mountainside in spring when the flowers are just beginning to bloom and there’s still a nip in the air when the sun goes behind a cloud. Summer at the beach as the waves break over and over. And if you’re in Oregon, and it isn’t that special two weeks in August? Well, there’s still a nip in the air. While the sun is out. Maybe it’s fall and the leaves are at their best. Red, orange, burnt orange. Fire in the branches. Then there’s winter and the bare branches are hidden in the mist or covered with snow. Remember how you felt. Let it fill you with fire, earth, water, air, mist, flowers (I like that one) and southerly wind.

Irish or Celtic Druids and saints often asked the blessing or protection of the natural world. Patrick supposedly wrote this one.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heavens,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

Now go beyond mere blessing. Get past asking for elemental protections. Stretch out your soul until you are the heavens, the sun, the moonlight, the lighting bolt, the wind, the rich life giving earth and the sea we all can call our mother. Walk out into the world knowing that you and all of Creation are one. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I think Lisa has posted this too. I suspect that we got it from the same place. Thanks Tom. The image is from the web.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Invoke: Call on (a deity or spirit) in prayer, as a witness, or for inspiration. This is secondary definition.

A variation of a poem attributed to Amergin, Druid and poet of the Irish mythological cycle. One of the Milesians who conquered the Tuatha De Danaan….as reworked by Tom Cowan. As beautiful and complex as a piece of Celtic knotwork.

I invoke the land of Ireland:
Forceful, the fertile sea;
Fertile, the lush highlands;
Lush, the showery woods;
Showery, river of waterfalls;
Of waterfalls, the lake of deep pools;
Deep pooled, the hilltop well;
Welling, the gathering of peoples;
Gathering, the tribes of Tara;
I invoke the land of Ireland.

This is almost like a helicopter flyover of the island. As you repeat it, you follow that knotwork around and around with those beautiful images. 


Invoke: Call on (a deity or spirit) in prayer, as a witness, or for inspiration. This is secondary definition.

A variation of a poem attributed to Amergin, Druid and poet of the Irish mythological cycle. One of the Milesians who conquered the Tuatha De Danaan….as reworked by Tom Cowan. As beautiful and complex as a piece of Celtic knotwork.

I invoke the land of Ireland:
Forceful, the fertile sea;
Fertile, the lush highlands;
Lush, the showery woods;
Showery, river of waterfalls;
Of waterfalls, the lake of deep pools;
Deep pooled, the hilltop well;
Welling, the gathering of peoples;
Gathering, the tribes of Tara;
I invoke the land of Ireland.

This is almost like a helicopter flyover of the island. As you repeat it, you follow that knotwork around and around with those beautiful images. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013


What I wrote about the fall may have been influence by the introduction a colleague of Tom Cowan’s, Sandra Ingraham, wrote for Yearning for the Wind.

“Once upon a time a spell was cast upon people across the land. The spell made people believe we are all separate beings with no connection to each other and no connection with nature or the rest of life. … Happiness only came from financial gain, collecting material objects, and having power over people, the animal world and all nature.”

How else can you explain the attitude that would turn this country into an armed camp? That our neighbors and the people around us are so dangerous we have to be armed to the teeth.

We don’t know what made the Connecticut shooter tick. But, who knows? A thousand years ago he might have been happy in an enclosed monastic order copying manuscripts. At the beginning of the age of exploration he might have been a well known map maker.Two hundred years ago he might have been a mountain man. Who knows? I do know that there are fewer and fewer places in our society for the square pegs. And more and more people who would have been productive members of society in the past are labeled “defective” and shoved to the margins.

There must be a better way. There has to be.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I'm not a literalist when it comes to the Bible. And more than a few Quakers cross over and follow what are considered Pagan paths. But, every once in awhile something hits me.

When I was doing some reading during Advent using the Revised Common Lectionary for Year C. I realized that the original sin wasn't eating that pesky apple (or whatever it was). That was the result. The sin was a lack of trust.

Instead of taking a few minutes and going "hey, God there's this guy with a heck of a story." Eve believed the "I know something you don't know" and swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Side note. I've come across folks who contend that there was no death before. I never did run across the following conversation. "Uh, You said if we ate of the tree we'd die. What's death?" Something did die in that story. Trust died. The link that connected us to the natural and the spiritual worlds. And it's killing us.

And as far as I'm concerned something else "died" that day. Our stewardship or dominion over the rest of Creation. Many of us still claim it, but one look at the devastating mess we've made of doing it on our own proves how well that's working out. And I ran across a quote from Gandhi that runs something like this "the earth provides enough for man's needs, but not for his greed." And that is so true.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I've started keeping a notebook on the bedside table. I get some of my best ideas at two in the morning and they're gone when I get up. Anyway, I made these notes last night. They'll be worked into something better later.

"Find a tree. Any tree, really, If you can sit down next to it, good. Best if you can lean your back into it. Fell the bark. Imagine your arms reaching for the sky. Your feet sinking down into the roots. Deeper into the soil, deeper into bedrock and the under ground springs.

Reach for the sky. Feel the sun. Bend with the wind. Endure the rain and snow. Welcome the spring, returning bird song, wind song. Watch the stars wheel through the seasons."

I got that far and put it away. Settled in for the night with the image of trees and undergrowth.  A sort of a clearing and into the clearing came a fox. Seemed to be following a track. Then the image ended. And I can guarantee that I was not thinking of foxes...or any other kind of furry critter at the time. I'll have to chew on this for awhile.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


This is from the Tewa Pueblo from a book on Native American remedies and healing rituals.

O our Mother the Earth,
O our Father the Sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you the gifts you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the white light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
O our Mother the Earth,
O our Father the Sky!

It hit me how beautiful this image is. Imagine a robe with all the shades of sunrise and sunset, fringed with all the shades of the rain from soft showers to drowning downpours with a border of all the colors of the rainbow. While I'm at it I'd add beads to the fringe. Beads that flash with all the colors of the stars and glow from within with silver of the moon and the gold of the sun. This is a beautiful image of the unity between the earth and all the life on it and around it.

And wouldn't any of us love to find this in our closets? And wouldn't we love to see everyone wearing this our in the world. 

Friday, January 11, 2013


Koosah Falls on the McKenzie River east of Springfield, Oregon.

I didn't really realize how truly rooted I am in the Pacific Northwest until I was
working my way through Rae Beth's books on wildwood mysticism a few years ago. (and it's world view not too far from the Celtic way of seeing Creation) She describes a guided imagery exercise that I decided to try. I love the description of the World Tree and I even found a very nice pendant showing a great oak with roots that go as deep as thebranches are tall. Trouble is.......I didn't grow up in the shadows of oaks,
maples, or beeches. Outside of a few trees in the yards around Oakridge, and the two dwarf apple trees in our yard I grew up surrounded by evergreens. And a single evergreen just won't do as an image for a world tree.

But a most evergreens, except sequoias simply won't survive by themselves. Sequoias, they’ve recently discovered keep growing. Adding height and diameter even though the tree is more than  two thousand years old.  Where an oak or maple has a low lying single trunk that branches and branches and branches an evergreen spikes straight up. I've seen a few cedars with a double trunk, maybe a triple but that's it. The branches tend to slope downwards to survive heavy snowfalls and the root system is usually shallower. This makes most evergreens vulnerable in ice storms or severe windstorms. The best defense? Grow in huge groves so that each tree is protected by the others. So a world forest as a symbol of faith isn't too far off. Each tree protects the others and any damage to one tree threatens the rest. So instead of one great tree, I find myself picturing a world with a great forest in every part of the globe with the roots reaching for the center.

So, where did this come from? As I read her guided imagery exercise my
little avatar didn't go looking for an oak or a maple. It made tracks for
the tall timber. Some place with tall trees, ferns, deep moss, some deadfall
for the mushrooms and lichens to grow on, and some berry bushes. If a
waterfall makes an appearance that is a definite bonus

 If I can't have a waterfall then a drippy, misty, coastal forest will do very nicely.So if my
 little spirit self doesn't head for the Cascades it heads for the coast. Not to the beach, 
to the great basalt headlands graced with low-lying evergreens shaped
by the winds. To that Pacific Ocean that William Clark called the Great
Western Ocean
. When he made the entry he said he wasn't about to call it the
Pacific. He hadn't had one pacific (peaceful) day since he laid eyes on it.
And silence. Not the scary, wake up in the middle of the night, where is
everybody silence. But the root deep silence of the world before the first
word was spoken. Not a silence where there is no sound. Bird song, wind song
and water song are part of that silence. A silence with no background hum. A
silence that sings.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013



 I speak on behalf of the next generation
My sons and daughters, their children to come
What will you leave them for their recreation
An oil slick, a pylon, an industrial slum
   Leave them a flower, some grass and a hedgerow
        A hill and a valley, a view to the sea
        These things are not yours to destroy as you want to
        A gift given once for eternity

You plunder and pillage, you tear and you tunnel
Trees lying toppled, roots finger the sky
Building a land for machines and computers
In the name of progress the farms have to die
Leave them a flower, some grass and a hedgerow
        A hill and a valley, a view to the sea
        These things are not yours to destroy as you want to
        A gift given once for eternity

Fish in the ocean polluted and poisoned
The sand on the beaches stinking and black
And you with your tankers, your banks and investments
Say, Never worry, the birds will come back
Leave them a flower, some grass and a hedgerow
        A hill and a valley, a view to the sea
        These things are not yours to destroy as you want to
        A gift given once for eternity

When the last flower has dropped its last petal
When the last concrete is finally laid
The moon will shine cold on a nightmarish landscape
Your gift to your children, this world that you made
Leave them a flower, some grass and a hedgerow
        A hill and a valley, a view to the sea
        These things are not yours to destroy as you want to
        A gift given once for eternity

by Wally Whyton

 I remember when this song came out in the seventies. For all the fairies in my garden, your garden and everywhere else. And most of all for all of us. From Pelagius to William Penn to Howard Brinton to heart breaker. 


It looks like the ideas are starting to come together. Across the years from the early fifth century to the mid nineteenth century a way of looking at Creation echoes over and over. From the pen of the early fifth century   theologian and teacher Pelagius comes this fragment written to a friend. 

Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the fish in the river and sea: God’s spirit dwells within them.

There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent….When God pronounced that His creation was good it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature; it was that His breath had brought every creature to life. Look too at the great trees of the forest; look at the wildflowers and the grass in the fields; look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well. The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what  makes them beautiful; and if we look with God’s eyes nothing on the earth is ugly.

 More than a thousand years later, and with a little less poetry is this fragment from William Penn, the Quaker. 

If we better studied and understood God’s creation, this would do a great deal to caution and direct us in our use of it. For how could we find the impudence to abuse the world if we were seeing the great Creator stare us in the face through each and every part of it? — William Penn (1644-1718

And from the mid nineteenth century from Howard Brinton. Again a Quaker and teacher. His battered collection of essays on the basics of Quaker belief are finally beginning to make sense. 

As I write this I am writing in a house which will soon be destroyed by a thru-way enabling automobiles and trucks to save a few minutes in going from one place to another. I hope they will make good use of the time they will save. Because in building this road a great deal of life will be destroyed. The living fields and woods will be shrouded in a dead shroud of concrete, destroying all life under it and much that is near it. This is only one example of how death is replacing life in the western world. When this cold, dead shroud of concrete is extended further, life will decrease and death will increase, and when it goes far enough life will cease. We are living in a world where death is gradually supplanting life. And the final end of this process is predictable. Howard H Brinton. 

Many of the early Irish monks chose what they called the White Martyrdom. At a time when family and place meant safety and protection they turned their backs on family ties and land where they had a place and set out. First through northern England and then into what became Germany and further. They finally fetched up on the heel of the Italian boot. It's no coincidence that Quaker writings echo earlier Celtic beliefs. The Quakers came out of Yorkshire in the northern English path the Irish took. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


And nearly three hundred years later Penn is echoed by another Quaker, Howard Brinton.

 "As I write this I am writing in a house which will soon be destroyed by a thru-way enabling automobiles and trucks to save a few minutes in going from one place to another. I hope they will make good use of the time they will save. Because in building this road a great deal of life will be destroyed. The living fields and woods will be shrouded in a dead shroud of concrete, destroying all life under it and much that is near it. This is only one example of how death is replacing life in the western world. When this cold, dead shroud of concrete is extended further, life will decrease and death will increase, and when it goes far enough life will cease. We are living in a world where death is gradually supplanting life. And the final end of this process is predictable."

This was taken from a series of pamphlets he wrote explaining Quaker beliefs. Beliefs that are dead opposite to the "machine" definition that has taken over how we view the world. And the opposite of life isn't death. After all, a seed has to die for the new plant to be born. In his view the opposite of life is the machine. And his view goes a long way to explain the God/dess awful mess we find ourselves in. 


Monday, January 7, 2013


Downloaded from a facebook site.

Ok, we've put away the party favors. The decorations are going back in their boxes. The last of the cookies have been eaten. Now we roll up our sleeves and tackle a mess that would have sent Hercules screaming into the hills. I've been strangely silent these last few weeks. Maybe there are too many words competing right now and the Quakers had the right of it. Staying silent, waiting for the Light. (And the candle is burning pretty low right now.)