belles lettres

Waterfall Alchemy

Sitting by the inner or outer waterfall creates the feeling of timeless beauty and the sudden awareness that life is not just about business and accomplishment. Life is also about being and listening, sitting without doing. While this is an obvious truth to read, it is not an easy one to live. Sitting by the waterfall makes us suddenly aware of not paying attention to the other side of life. The “meaning” of the waterfall is slowing down, paying attention to the beauty around us, and listening to the sound of life that we almost always ignore. This meaning is not intellectual, but a feeling engendered by the experience itself. Combining the experiential meaning of the waterfall with the intellectual realization that waterfalls symbolize the transformation of energy, we come to the realization that taking the time to slow down and listen to nature can be transformative.
-from Jeffrey Raff’s book Jung and the Alchemical Imagination

The Grand Show is Eternal

The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
– John Muir

Cultural Options

We are all brothers and sisters. We are all cut from the same genetic cloth. All of humanity is probably descended from a thousand people, who left Africa roughly 70,000 years ago.

But the corollary of that is that if we are all brothers and sisters and share the same genetic material, all human populations share the same raw human genius, the same intellectual acuity. And so whether that genius is placed into technological wizardry—which has been the great achievement of the West—or by contrast, into unravelling the complex threads of memory inherent in a myth—is simply a matter of choice and cultural orientation.

There is no progression of affairs in human experience. There is no trajectory of progress. There’s no pyramid that conveniently places Victorian England at the apex and descends down the flanks to the so-called primitives of the world. All peoples are simply cultural options, different visions of life itself.
-from Wade Davis’ talk on the worldwide web of belief and ritual

Still water

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
– Wendell Berry

Welcome Morning

Welcome Morning
by Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.

The Rhythmic Tide

the rhythmic tide
sleek silver fans of seawater
encircle us
glistening with secrets
of moonlight

and we walk together
silently exploring the sands

or lay upon our backs
in the warm steady sunlight

and dive underwater
into the silence
the voice of love envelops

in the being:
a quiet togetherness

and love
anew and anew
again and again
like the rhythmic tide,
the underwater silence coalescing with
the infinite grains of sand,

celebrates and
sings odes of joy
for us and every moment of
you and you and
you and you and
you and you

co-written with Maura Fallon-McKnight

Another dream of quiet nights

Awake, close our ears, hear our own breath, the round and round of the Universes. On the way in Universal colours, colours Universal on the way out. Breathe… marvelling at the peace of sleep, the bliss of rest, the quiet of closed eyes… Push off with the feet, all the way to the toes, and the body slowly rises up, ever so slowly, to be floating above the Earth, just the length of a caterpillar for now. Slowly flying forward, our bare toes skimming the tips of the green grass, softly acknowledging our connection.

And we sweep ourselves into the caterpillar’s outstretched existence pulsing with the need to transform completely. Eat. Be with eating. Time. Breathe. Be with breathing. Time.

We now crawl. We then fly. Within the same existence! And the butterfly remembers being a caterpillar. The butterfly looks at the reflection in the slow flowing river to admire the miracle of her own flight, her own reds, oranges, greens, blues, her spectacular, hued flight. Fly butterflies fly. Crawl caterpillars crawl. We each have our place and our place to go, our own colours and our colours to go.

the dream entitled crystalline chrysanthemums

We walked along the riverside, our long gowns trailing in the white grass. Up ahead a small blanket emerged from the water. Captured in its own warmth, red, dried herself off with herself. Presenting her corners stiff, protected, and yet, inside, pleading, she, the blanket, the little she, shyly bowed. We did bow in return. We bowed lower than the blanket. She wrapped herself around herself for she fell in love with her color, her color red. And we did, too. And we both reclined in the sun, feeling the deep warmth of white light. How gracious of the sun to share with us, with us and the encircling crystalline stained glass chrysanthemums.

Fern Hill

A selection from Dylan Thomas’ Fern Hill. A graceful bow to you, Mr. Thomas, and all of your nerve endings and beginnings.

Fern Hill
by Dylan Thomas

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.