A cloud of interests

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There wasn’t
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do

in a single day. Patience
comes to the bones
before it takes root in the heart

as another good idea.
I say this
as I stand in the woods

and study the patterns
of the moon shadows,
or stroll down into the waters

that now, late summer, have also
caught the fever, and hardly move
from one eternity to another.

Mary Oliver
From ‘Patience’
New and Selected Poems
Volume Two

Happy September! I’m having a quiet evening and feeling peaceful and mellow.

I’ve been thinking, too, about my automatically generated ‘tag cloud’ here, and of how it gives a pretty good account of some of my chief interests … inner life, contemplation, Edinburgh, poetry …

Autumn and winter will be warmed by an array of interests and occupations like these.

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archive – a list of all earlier posts

Close-up

To get close-up to Springtime unfolding in nature is to encounter experience of awe and wonder. Every tiny hair and stem and vibrating atom invites me to deep contemplation: why such beauty? Why such variety? Why me, and this capacity that I have, and you have, to experience our environment in such deeply affecting ways? And my sense of gratitude, my awareness and observation, my being here, reaching out and reaching in – is something akin to love …

Can you see what I saw?

Anil Seth tells me that the colours I see are perceptions created by my own brain; that not every living thing is able to ‘see’ a rainbow as I can.

Iridescence: windinmywheels.com
8 December 2021

… and I wonder whether you can ‘see’ what I saw this morning? Visual imagery within the context of space – indoors or outdoors – is among the gifts to my life I most prize. The more I learn about the imagery my eyes and brain work together to produce, the more I find myself in awe of what it is to be a human person. Gifts – like this rainbow, and all the thoughts of ‘promise’ that our stories about rainbows represent to us – just keep arriving in our lives, unannounced and unexpected. Again and again the spiritual teachers of humankind encourage their fellows to ‘look within,’ and eventually we come to recognise that doing so is an absolute prerequisite for our appreciation of ‘looking without.’

Recovered

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The songs of small birds fade away
into the bushes after sundown,
the air dry, sweet with goldenrod.
Beside the path, suddenly, bright asters
flare in the dusk. The aged voices
of a few crickets thread the silence.
It is a quiet I love, though my life
too often drives me through it deaf.
Busy with costs and losses, I waste
the time I have to be here—a time
blessed beyond my deserts, as I know,
if only I would keep aware. The leaves
rest in the air, perfectly still.
I would like them to rest in my mind
as still, as simply spaced. As I approach,
the sorrel filly looks up from her grazing,
poised there, light on the slope
as a young apple tree. A week ago
I took her away to sell, and failed
to get my price, and brought her home
again. Now in the quiet I stand
and look at her a long time, glad
to have recovered what is lost
in the exchange of something for money.

Wendell Berry
The Sorrel Filly, Collected Poems: 1957-1982

What is to be done after a reading of Wendell Berry? A walk outdoors as soon as possible. And if the poem has been feasted upon in early evening then a sunset walk will probably be necessary – with a camera close to expectant hearts.

And so it was … and tonight we did ‘stand / … glad to have recovered what is lost.’ And though these images are written well enough upon the aforementioned hearts, still the photographs, the written record, will remind us, over time, to stand … glad, again and again and again. Awed.

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I am grateful for …

click photos to enlarge – a second time to zoom further

… lingers awhile along borders for a translator to savor secretly,
borrowing from both sides, holding
for a moment the smooth round world
in that cool instant of evening before the sun goes down

William Stafford
from Walking the Borders
The Way It Is – New and Selected Poems

I write a few lines in my meditation journal each day, and from time to time review what I’ve written – looking for patterns and repetitions. One of the most frequent notes that appears in the ‘I am grateful for …’ sections is what I often describe as ‘nature’s art and light’.

And I realise that the poets I regularly turn to have eyes and ears for the detail in the natural wonders that surround them; some having especial penchant for the sky, or sea, or lakes, or mountains, or sweeping plains, or animals and their particular, chosen, encouraged or given habitats, flora and fauna. I delight in all of these.

But most of all I am entranced by light, always changing, writing, painting, softening, sharpening, defining, reaching, touching, listening – full from earth to sky with metaphor and parable, reaching onwards, upwards, and into the heights and depths of the Universe. And into my soul.

So it was during our after-supper walk this evening. So it was a million aeons ago. So for a million, million more. Meditating in and upon light I stand time and again in awe.

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Perspective

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Here’s a photo of my study made earlier today, the sun streaming through the windows, shortly after a snowfall – seen through a kaleidoscopic lens filter – the multi-perspective possibilities through which are infinite. What immense depth lies just beyond what we usually ‘see’. What wonderment, praise and awe are forthcoming when I still myself – even if only very briefly each day – to meditate upon the intricate extra-ordinariness of our life and experience in this world, and the universe in which it spins. I love it. Plain sight, or kaleidoscopic art and reach, this is quite a place to be!

Clear sky and silence

northern-lights-1149868_960_720Photo at Pixabay

I took my after-dinner amble beneath a clear sky this evening. I regularly walk a short stretch of road, sandwiched between two high drystone walls, that’s so dark at night I’m always mildly fearful, and my pace quickens.

But there’s sight, tonight, of a new crescent moon. And there’ll be another frost, so Clematis Rebecca has been tucked up in her fleece. And those two facts may help you to picture the night sky, the sharp, twinkling clarity I’ve just seen, above the dark corridor. And maybe you have experienced the absence of aforementioned mild fear that is a ready – even if temporary – consequence of awe?

Life is rich beyond all our imagining. When our vain fears and fantasies chatter daily, like monkeys, within the halls and chambers of our minds, the Universe provides the gift of a quietening, a stilling, an acceptance of both knowing and unknowing, faith and the absence of it, confidence and a tempter’s call to doubt.

I think of one (and many before him, and since) who ventured out into a dark corridor of wilderness long ago. And of his mental busyness being silenced, then, by the same stars that have silenced me tonight. And I imagine his being sometimes comforted, in his long sojourn there, by both awe and silence. And I am.

Inquisitive and tentative

A hedgehog’s spiny presence
belies the truth it’s shy – and
inquisitive though tentative with
bright watchful eye

Intent on bird seed windfall
beneath our open aviary
it curls up tight into a ball
when we step out to see

And it is a wonder of
which we never tire when tiny
wild creatures come
close enough to inspire

with gratitude and awe –
for life and breath in many
forms quite near us and
beyond us countless more

And the shy curiosity and the
tentativeness too, and the
inquisitive and watchful eye
suggest hedgehogs share some

characteristics
with me and you

SRM