Blaze in January snow
An excerpt from Diane Ackerman’s Cultivating Delight:
“…Snow looks glittery and solid, and yet its molecules are in motion, it’s constantly flowing. I like snow’s odd quality of pouring over and around things without breaking up, so that it creates pockets of air, overhanging eaves, accidental igloos, where garden animals huddle to keep warm. I like how solidly snow packs, and how tiny flakes of it can bring a large city to a halt, when snow is nothing but water and air, mostly air…”
I became a Unitarian Universalist minister in part because I wanted to learn how to live everyday with a sense of wonder. It is so easy to be cynical, or earnest, or busy or bored in our consumer capitalist techno society, but not so easy to be struck by wonder at the magnificence of planet earth. This video (which is really an ad for BBC1) has been making the rounds of the internet for awhile, but I present it here as the Monday Meditation because it speaks to my hopes for the new year.
David Attenborough’s aged voice speaking the song over all of the gorgeous creatures reminds me to pay attention to all that is. May we find time in this season to appreciate the wonder of life on earth.
This is a bright little song from American singer-songwriter Josh Ritter about love making its “cold and weary way back home”. Besides its message of hope, the cut out paper animation is simply astonishing.
May all of those grieving in these dark nights find love returning.
This lovely video for the winter holidays comes from the music ministry of Unitarian minister Wendy Luella Perkins.
It’s December! A welcome to the frosty beauty of wintertime from the ethereal voice of indie singer Gregory and the Hawk with some equally sweet photos by youtuber underpaperstars.
the guardians. painting by ann altman. words by diane ackerman. from syracruse cultural workers.com
I love this poem “School Prayer” by Diane Ackerman. The second verse speaks to me of what it means to be a Unitarian minister.
In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,
I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.
In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,
I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.
From I Praise My Destroyer (Vintage Books, 2000)
But when we begin to tell stories,
our imagination begins to flow out through our eyes and our ears to inhabit the breathing earth once again.
Suddenly, the trees along the street are looking at us,
and the clouds crouch low over the city as though they are trying to hatch something wondrous.
We find ourselves back inside the same world that the squirrels and the spiders inhabit,
along with the deer stealthily munching the last plants in our garden,
and the wild geese honking overhead as they flap south for the winter.
Linear time falls away, and we find ourselves held, once again, in the vast cycles of the cosmos —
the round dance of the seasons,
the sun climbing out of the ground each morning and slipping down into the earth every evening,
the opening and closing of the lunar eye whose full gaze attracts the tidal waters within and all around us.
David Abram excerpt from Storytelling and Wonder
This Monday’s meditation is Ursula Le Guin’s translation of Chapter 16 from the Tao Te Ching. Her interpretation of the Tao Te Ching’s ancient wisdom is the one I return to again and again. This chapter fits the moodiness of November as the northern earth sinks homeward in anticipation of winter. I like the notion that peace comes from taking the long view and in taking the long view, we can open our hearts.
Be completely empty.
Be perfectly serene.
The ten thousand things arise together;
in their arising is their return.
Now they flower,
returning to the root.
The return to the root
Peace: to accept what must be,
to know what endures.
In that knowledge is wisdom.
Without it, ruin, disorder.
To know what endures
is to be openhearted,
following the Tao,
the way that endures forever.
The body comes to its ending,
but there is nothing to fear.
For those living through the Hurricane Sandy …
image from scrapetv.com
Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all.
And sweetest – in the gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
spoke to me
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain –
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
Mary Oliver from What Do We Know (2002)