Happy Earth Day!

“The earth, the air, the fire, the water: Return, return, return, return. . .” –Libana song

Contemplative Research Journey for Earth Day:
Contemplate the earth you walk, right in your yard, your neighborhood, your town.
If you can, put your bare feet on earth today.
Think about the people who were here before your, and before them.
Do you know who were the indigenous peoples who lived on and hunted and farmed and fished on the land where you stand?
What do you know of the soil and the rocks and minerals of your place?
What feeds the life of the place where you are?

Contemplate the plants of your neighborhood.
Can you name three trees? Five? Twenty?
Who is in bud now? Who is in bloom?
There is so much more than grass in the grass. Do you know the names of all the plantfolk who provide the green carpets you walk on?

Contemplate the wingfolk and the four-footed people who share this space with you.
Can you tell one shining bird from the other?
Can you differentiate their calls?
Can you see evidence of the night wanderers?
Who might be visiting your yards and gardens and alleyways while you sleep?
And the tiny insect people that try so hard to live inside our houses.
Have you watched them make webs, tend to their own business, seek the dark spaces?

What about the waters of your place?
Where does it come from and where does it go?
If you have wild water running near you, take some time today to trail your fingers through it.

Touch earth. Touch water. Touch bark.
Listen for the messages in birdsong.
Smell the rising spring.
Breathe wind. Take ten deep outside breaths.
Greet the Beings of your place with love and gratitude.

Gratitude List:
1. The guarddogwoods are beginning to bloom. Even though I no longer hang poetic laundry on their branches, I always feel like poetry itself is blooming when they start to throw pink at the sun.
2. Wangari Maathai, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Greta Thunberg, Berta Caceres–and all the fierce and joyful activists around the world whom they represent.
3. The many Beings of Skunk Hollow. The shine and the flutter. The wafting and the whoosh. The verdancy. The brilliance.
4. Golda’s Lake and Goldfinch Creek and Ezilie’s Spring and Cabin Creek and the Susquehanna River, and the Chesapeake Bay.
5. The promise of a new way. The hope of change.

May we walk, so joyfully, in Beauty!

Earth Day Words:
“The world is, in truth, a holy place.” —Teilhard de Chardin

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” —Henry David Thoreau

“You are your own cartographer now.” —Ralph Blum

“If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke

“Every creature is a word of God.” ―Meister Eckhart

“The forest for me is a temple, a cathedral of tree canopies and dancing light.” ―Dr. Jane Goodall

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” ―The Onceler (Dr. Seuss)

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” ―Rachel Carson

William Stafford: “I place my feet with care in such a world.”

“A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy.” ―John Sawhill

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ―Rachel Carson

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ―Rachel Carson

“Few words are so revealing of Western sexual prejudice as the word Goddess, in contrast to the word God. Modern connotations differ vastly from those of the ancients, to whom the Goddess was a full-fledged cosmic parent figure who created the universe and its laws, ruler of Nature, Fate, Time, Eternity, Truth, Wisdom, Justice, Love, Birth, Death, Etc.” ―Barbara G. Walker

“Our vitality is inextricably bound up with creativity. Like a tree whose expression is fruit, giving our gifts is what keeps life pushing through our veins. It’s what keeps us feeling alive. As anyone who has strayed too far from their creativity knows, without it every corner of one’s life can fall prey to a terrible greying spread. As Kahlil Gibran writes about trees in an orchard, “They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” —by Toko-pa Turner


Faerie Tree

Today’s prompt is to write a settled poem.  Thought I would try a sestina today. This is in honor of all those who will be protesting at the Lancaster County government offices tomorrow, protesting the proposed pipeline that will cut through Lancaster County, dangerously close to the Susquehanna River and through wildflower preserves and wildlands and the beautiful Tucquan Glen.

This morning, a single shaft of sun
settles on an opening curl of fern.
A hermit thrush yodels, breaking the silence;
a salamander lays her eggs in a vernal pool;
trout lilies, may apple, and trillium come alive in the breeze;
and a gravid squirrel prepares her birthing nest.

Spring has settled into this glen, this nest
of a valley dappled with sun
where a dread new word is whispered on the breeze:
“Pipeline.” Listen to me, seed and egg and fern.
Hear me. Let the message sink into the pools
and the shadows in these hollows.  It shatters our silence.

The time is past for us to be settled and silent.
Safety will no longer be found nestled
in these hills, in these pools.
The trees will be torn out, your secrets open to the sun,
the yellow machines will crush the ferns,
and diesel fumes will waft on the breeze.

Tell it far.  Let it float on the wild winds and breezes:
We must not stay silent!
Awake and rise up like the unfurling fern!
Un-settle yourselves to protect the wildness.
Be fierce and penetrating as the sun.
Let action ripple outward like circles in a disturbed pool.

We must work together, pull together, pool
our energies.  Tell it to the breeze.
Marshall the forces of our hearts, our will, our reason.
Protect and preserve the settled silence.
Make it safe for the den, the perch, the nest,
for the spider, the swallow, the fern.

We want no pipeline, only the gentle swaying of the fern.
Tell them No.  We want to see the salamanders in the pools
in the glen, the intricate basket of oriole’s nest,
the wild honeybees, the lady slipper, the melodious breeze.
Tell them a firm and settled No. We seek the solitude and silence
of the unscarred valley dappled by the sun.

Gratitude List:
1. The snow of blossoms from the pear tree outside the window
2. The sound of rain on the roof
3. Sun salutations
4. There are always more choices
5. Taking action

May we walk in Beauty!