TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Posts tagged “Trees

Winter Doldrums


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It is frigid outside and has been for a few days now.  It is frigid in many parts of the country.  The holidays have come and gone. Now begins the nitty gritty of hard winter work.  I find myself listless and not wanting to go out or exercise or paint or take pictures or do much of anything I usually love to do.  I have a cold but that does not excuse this lassitude and when I go to my favorite deli, I find that Terry is in the same mood.  “I was ready to go home the moment I came in,” she said.  And I wondered.  My husband was dour and I was sour.  What is this?  Could it be some vestigial remnants of human hibernation?  Maybe we should hibernate for awhile each winter.  We binge on food and drink over the holidays.  Perhaps we should be sleeping off the extra pounds.

I who love winter and live for Fall each summer find myself longing to hear the music of the spring peepers.  It is months away– well, about a month and a half away.  They are the first harbingers of new life for me.  Terry, who also loves winter, tells me today she is sick of winter.  Perhaps it is this string of Arctic air and grey days and icy road conditions.  Perhaps it is the human condition to always be dissatisfied with something or other.

I miss the squirrels.  It has been so cold they seem to be laying low in their nests.  Judging from the tracks in the back yard the only animals on the move are the deer.  And as much as I love the silence of winter, I find myself longing for the sweet dulcet music of birdsong at mating season in spring. 

We bought this calendar that has a celestial map of the sky for each month so you can find the constellations in the night sky.  But it has been too overcast or too cold or too something.  We have yet to go out with flashlights and match the map with the canopy of stars.  But I am still humbled in a dazzled psyche over the view of the stars through the stripped down trees that we see out our window from bed every night.

Then again maybe it is laziness.  Too many sugar highs in December have led to a deep low in February.  And with a tease of spring one day in which the temperature reached almost 50 degrees maybe we were let down even further.  Not liking being unproductive I think I can overcome this– but maybe the thing is to go with the flow and allow a period of inactivity, let the land lay fallow, so that an increase in productivity may eventually result.

Maybe the thing to do is not to panic.  Spring will come.  Hopefully, if man has not destroyed all the vernal pools, the spring peepers will return and, if pesticides have not destroyed all the birds, sweet mating songs will be sung and bees and other insects will buzz.  And if the weather turns more clement, our spirits will once again soar and we will be busy buzzing with the business of living.

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JOY * PEACE * LOVE


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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


The Edge of Winter


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It is an overcast day.  Brightly colored birds stand out like jewels in the greyness.  The winter birds– jays and cardinals, juncos, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers flock to the bird feeder and it has to be filled up almost every day.  The red berries on the bushes are nearly all gone and the feeder is becoming a matter of survival.  On our walks we see empty nests held in the bare arms of winter trees.  An empty robin’s nest is filled with snow– the hatchlings and the mother long gone to fairer climes.  The trees are stripped down to their souls.  With ice storms they become tinkling chandeliers.  In the rain the few remaining dead leaves drip icy tear drops.

Occasionally a dove visits the feeder.  The chipmunk, who gathered scattered seeds under the feeder all fall, is not to be seen.  He must be in torpor in his den.  According to Bernd Heinrich in: The Winter World: the Ingenuity of Animal Survival, the eastern chipmunk builds a twelve foot storage system with a nest chamber some three feet down and a tunnel system which includes a food storage chamber.  Heinrich says chipmunks go in and out of torpor.  He reasons that they would not gather food if they were to be in torpor all winter long.  We will probably not see our chipmunk for the rest of the winter for, in his stuporous state, he would be easy prey.  However he can be roused to eat and venture outdoors if need be, especially in March when there still may be snow on the ground but mating season begins.

The grey squirrels are busy clearing snow from branches as they run along tree limbs.  On the ground they dig through the snow for the walnuts we watched them bury in the ground with their noses this fall.  They do not need to hibernate for they have food stores which they built up in the autumn and leafy, well-insulated nests.  The red squirrels survive winter by putting on a thick, insulating fur.

The back yard is a maze of tunnels.  We think they are deer mouse tunnels as many have tunneled their way into our house.  But they must get by the feral cat who sometimes waits out a snow storm under our deck.  In the woods, the occasional deer waits out the same storm under a squat fir tree.   The tracks in the snow tell the story of how they weathered a Nor’Easter.

Beneath the tracks in the snow, in the frozen leaf litter, the insect world is dormant.  Some hibernate.  Others fill their bodies with antifreeze, glycerol, to stay alive.  Heinrich talks about  woolly bears hibernating but they are also capable of freezing solid and surviving, coming to life again as they thaw in the spring.  The pupae, however, don’t survive being frozen. 

In Winter: an Ecological Handbook, authors, James C. Halfpenny, Elizabeth Besiot and Roy Douglas Ozonne, tell us that the reptiles and amphibians pick out a “microclimate for hibernation that does not freeze” for their winter, such as the “bottoms of ponds, streams, or deep in the ground.”

Our stream flows out back in the marsh under ice and snow and one can see the elongated bubbles of running water.  In the pond next door the turtles lay beneath the ice in their hibernacula.  At the end of the book, The Year of the Turtle, David M. Carroll, the naturalist, author and artist, has his watercolor of a spotted turtle hibernating.  This picture is hypnotic and in its spell, I think of all the animals hibernating beneath our feet in lugubrious gloom.  It reminds me of the penguins in the film, The March of the Penguins, in the dead of an Antarctic winter, huddled together for warmth in the harsh, strong winds and snow, taking turns being on the outside of the huddle.  Winter can be magnificent in its transformations yet tragic in its harshness: hibernating animals who freeze to death and deer starving to death in the snow among the victims of its violence.

Carroll’s drawing shows the turtle all alone, withdrawn into its shell under less than two feet of water lodged firmly in the mud under ice under snow in a sunny winter’s day, a far better clime than the penguin’s–  and yet it evokes a certain sadness for this little creature all alone beneath the snow, in a torpid state.  The turtle is missing out on a sunny day, sleeping a deep sleep in a “half year of stillness.”

Carroll’s writing is sheer poetry as he describes the turtle’s hibernation: “Mounting layers of snow silently cover the ice.  Night after night in the harshest depth of winter, as Orion and the Pleiades burn distant and brilliant in the black sky and strong winds howl off the mountain to the northwest, the turtles rest beneath the ice.  With the life in them nearly suspended, reduced to its most tenuous hold, all but extinct in the vast, inhospitable regime that reaches above them to the limits of the universe, they lie within their shells, waiting for the earth to make its required turnings and return them to the sun that will awaken them to another season.” 

I think of the turtles below, along with all the other beautiful creatures.   I wish them a kind sleep from which they will safely stir with the life force surging through their veins as the sun brings them to the fullness of life again.  The death of some, and the half life of so many, proffers the poignancy of winter.

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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


The Trees of Late Fall & the Promise of Winter


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Bontecou Lake Swamp, Millbrook, New York

Every year what budded in autumn blossoms full blown in the weeks before official winter– my love affair with trees. Trees that were drop-dead gorgeous in their fall colors are now bare, with the exception of evergreens and a few stray deciduous trees that refuse to relinquish their leaves. Now the trees are stripped down to their souls and their souls sing a siren song to the universe.

The tops of trees lift my spirit; brushlike they paint the sky the baby pinks and blues of mornings, and the majestic magentas and violets of day’s end. Each tree has its signature shape against the sky, like a fingerprint or a snowflake, similar yet each unique. Some treetops in their bare state are shaped like a fancy coiffure; others look like wrought iron filigree. On distant mountains, against the snowy ground, some look like stubble on an old man’s unshaven face.

It is the cold, colorful pre-winter sky showing through, and showing off, the bare branches that woos me. The bare curvaceous branches are stark, dark lines against the bright of day and the inky sky of night. These resplendent creatures are living lines that explode. Branches tangle like the lines in a Jackson Pollock painting. Others curve in the sensuous lines of a Brancusi sculpture. Buxom tree trunks stand strong surrounded by their colorful, dead blossoms amid the ground cover and their burgeoning berries, the offspring of a Renaissance Madonna. In truth these trees are not like art at all. Rather art imitates them– their beauty provides the timeless inspiration for artists, writers and poets of all ages and styles.

Trees not only inspire, they themselves are paragons of diversity. One look out of a car window while driving on the Taconic and one can see squat pines alongside towering majestic firs, birches interspersed with maple and oak. And together the different brown and tan barks interspersed with evergreens create not only a mosaic of contrasting colors, but display an example to inspire humans to live together in peaceful unity.

These beneficent beings carry the heavy, dark grey clouds of winter. When it snows the tree trunks become canvases for the abstract patterns of windblown-snow, while the serpentine branches are outlined in white. In ice storms their branches become chandeliers, each enveloped in glassine ice. While in the melancholy of a winter rain, the branches become oiled skins of snakes weeping to the ground below. And finally, in the night sky, the branches hold the stars in their arms, those with leaves holding them in their hands, as they nurse the moon.

All trees, no matter what their species, age or height, stand tall in proud humility, their arms reaching up to the Heavens to our Creator in prayer– soft-spoken beings of peace and tranquility towering over us, while we wee, little creatures race around distractedly below.

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Hammond Road, Millbrook, NY


Realism and Abstraction no.2


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Electrified, Giggling Flowers, Talking Trees, and Thanksgiving


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Mom told me one day why Dad’s African Violet plants in his office flourished.  “He talks to them,” she said.  “He teases them and tells them jokes.”  That was very Dad.  Once, on a trip to Gloucester, we sat eating breakfast and were admiring a rowboat on the front lawn, planted full to the brim with pansies.  Suddenly it began to rain.  Big drops fell on the pansies and my father insisted he could hear the pansies giggling.  It was then, I think, I thought about the interesting connection my father had with flowers.  Mr. Macho Dad had a soft spot for the flowering plants, well, more than a soft spot, a communication.
 
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He wasn’t the only one who spoke of these things.  I spent much time in grammar school at the house of my Polish friend whose mother was an artist.  She told us about trees talking and, she used to say, talking to them made her feel happy.  At the time I did not think much of it.  But now, many years later, on walks, occasionally a tree will say something.  Utter a benevolent greeting.  And now, I find myself so in love with trees, I shoot portraits of them constantly, singly or in groups, with their “friends and relations.” 

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Any doubts I had about trees communicating were put to rest when I read in J.Gordon Douglas’s column in the now defunct Dutchess CountyRegister Herald, about how trees in an area communicate with one another in planning their reproduction strategies for the season or warning each other chemically about caterpillar infestations.  Scientists are not sure how.  Maybe through the roots.

Not only do plants have feelings, they can also generate energy.  See the website by artist, Caleb Charland.  He used apple trees to generate light.  Perhaps one day we will use plants for alternative energy– just another amazing aspect to nature’s ways:

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680497/turning-apples-into-alternative-energy-and-surreal-photographs?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews#comments

Of course, hearing them “talk” is a little different.  However, Valerie Wormwood, one of the world’s leading aromatherapists, in her book entitled The Fragrant Heavens, tells us not only does the earth hum but it emits a low frequency radio signal known as the ‘Shumann resonance” and this signal can be detected coming off trees. She relays that researchers in America wanted to know if this signal could be altered by human thoughts or feelings.  They had a group of people circle a tree and say Native American prayers, sending the tree love.  They attached electrodes like those measuring human brain waves to the tree. A response not only registered but the sensors went off the scale.  Clearly some form of communication went on, confirming my Polish friend’s mother’s belief and many others as well. When trees are cut down we are not only destroying the tree we are cutting down and giving it a terminal sentence as firewood or worse, but we are also upsetting all the trees around the “victim.”  The surrounding trees must witness their friend and neighbor being chopped down.  Do they feel outrage, fear, sadness?

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We do know now that they feel something.  Wormwood tell us that in 1966 Cleve Backster, a lie detector expert in New York, had a group of students go into a room with 2 plants next to each other on a table.  One of the 6 students was chosen to “murder” one of the plants, hacking it to bits and then they all left the room.  After the attack Backster attached the lie detector to the “survivor” and had the students enter the room again one by one.  The sensors were quiet as the “innocent” students entered but when the “attacker” entered they started jumping “wildly.”  I think of this as I weed the gardens in the summer. Sometimes we are forced to cut down a tree and we must pick vegetables to eat.  And we have to weed the gardens.  But perhaps it is in how we do it.  If we can express gratitude and appreciation and maybe an apology.  Or if we could ask permission perhaps, as the Native Americans do.  When they take from the earth they give an offering as well. 

The Native Americans had the real idea for giving thanks, for thanksgiving.  It was not about stuffing oneself with sweet potatoes and gorging on gravy and turkey.  They gave Thanksgiving to Spirit in the earth, in the trees, in the animals, for whatever they took. Flowers “giggle” and trees “talk”.  If only we would be attuned enough to listen.  Sentient beings surround us and we must follow the lead of the Native Americans at Thanksgiving and give thanks for what we take from the earth, and, of course, from the animal kingdom, and give back something in return.  Even if it is only words, but words with heart behind them, words that understand the sacrifice made by sentient beings for us, words that capture the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO THOSE WHO CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING AND HAPPY AUTUMN TO THOSE WHO DON’T!


Bontecou Lake in Autumn


Millbrook, New York

This landscape no longer exists. Cut down for hunters. 😢


Autumn Memories


Millbrook, NY “Cool Change” by Little River Band

Que Bella



Reaching for the Stars


“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree… a tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray.”  The opening lines of the poem,“Trees,” by Joyce Kilmer.  Indigenous peoples through the ages have talked of tree spirits and trees as wise ones.  Trees are striking as they permanently lift their arms to the Heavens in seeming prayer, day and night in communication with the Creator, their outstretched arms reaching for the stars. 

Reaching for the stars.  The image calls to mind a dance of the Kalahari Bushmen who were featured in the movie “The Gods They Must be Crazy.”  The Kalahari, the last men born of the Stone Age culture according to Laurens Van Der Post, have no sense of individuality and so share all they have. They have a dance of gratitude which Van Der Post describes in his book entitled “A Mantis Carol”: “I never see their dancing without feeling deeply moved and utterly irreverent and blasphemous because of our own incapacity for acknowledging what life will give if only we will let it in.”  And then there is their dance of the “great hunger,” a dance that says we do not live by bread alone, a dance at life’s end fraught with longing, with arms outstretched taughtly towards the Heavens as they reach for the stars.

My grandfather reached for the stars.  He came here,  a 16-year-old peasant stonecutter from the mountains of Sicily, knowing no English.  He wound up carving the Lincoln Gettysburg address at the Lincoln Memorial in DC.  While working on the Gettysburg Address he studied English at night school.  I remember him telling me how he was the laughing stock of his fellow stone cutters because, inspired by Lincoln’s words, he carved his initials at the top of the monument, “A.L.” for Anthony LaManna (and, of course, for Abraham Lincoln), followed by: “Attorney at Law.”  Working his way through school, he actually did eventually become a VA lawyer.  He reached for the stars and touched them without ever forgetting where he came from.  And he was childlike as he took care of me, as we danced to records on the victrola or as he played the mandolin and sang to me.  I always think of him with a tinge of sadness, for more than anyone, he taught me to reach for the stars. 

Reach for the creator–  that is what the trees say.  At this time of year I yearn for the days of childhood in which God seemed close.  This yearning fully ripens each year at Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah when the people brighten their houses with festive lights.  It is a time of year in which we light up our hearts and look to the heavens and sing songs of love to a babe born not so very long ago, or in which we give thanks for the oil to light the lights of the temple for eight days.  We are all really seeking the love that motivated the Kalahari Bushmen to do their dance.  We are seeking a savior, and yearning for the Light in this overlit, commercialized, complicated world in which the inspiring simplicity of the Bushmen, the peasant, is rapidly disappearing.  And the trees touch my heart in their upward reach for the Heavens.  For at this time so many millions of them are sacrificed as they become our Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes, to be discarded after the holidays are over. 

May we enter this holy season with a simpler yearning, not for presents and parties and hoopla, but with our hearts full of gratitude, taking lessons from the trees, from the Kalahari Bushmen, from our ancestors, and seek Love, in whatever form it takes in our souls.


The Spirit of Snow


The Spirit of snow

highlights the love of line

the loving grace of trees in winter

bare and spiritual

the horses a gift of color

in otherwise black and white


What the Trees Say


Feather trees whisper a blessed new year to you all!


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Nearly Gone


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Spirit in Summer


Summer spirit

whispers to

the lowly weeds

dances round

the graceful trees

and sends peace

to pacify

an observant cow

 

 


A Barn in Winter


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Bare branches
yearning towards
turquoise sky
with fast floating
sunlit white clouds
white above
white below
the snow
hides the land
of insects
and mice
and moles
and snakes
and in the vernal pool
next door
turtles sleep
in their hernaculum
while frogs lay
dormant in the mud
I sit in sleepy
surrender
glad to be
in our little hideaway
in the woods
of our young dreams
wondering
if we will all
awaken
to another Spring.

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The Trees of Winter


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Every year what budded in autumn blossoms full blown in winter– my love affair with trees.  Trees that were drop-dead gorgeous in their fall colors are now bare, with the exception of evergreens and a few stray deciduous trees that refuse to relinquish their leaves.  Now the trees are stripped down to their souls and their souls sing a siren song to the universe.

The tops of trees lift my spirit; brushlike they paint the sky the baby pinks and blues of mornings,  and the majestic magentas and violets of day’s end.  Each tree has its signature shape against the sky, like a fingerprint or a snowflake, similar yet each unique.  Some treetops in their bare state are shaped like a fancy coiffure; others look like wrought iron filigree.  On distant mountains, against the snowy ground, some look like stubble on an old man’s unshaven face.

It is the colorful winter sky showing through, and showing off, the bare branches that woos me.  The bare curvaceous branches are stark, dark lines against the bright of day and the inky sky of  night.  These resplendent creatures are living lines that explode.  Branches tangle like the lines in a Jackson Pollock painting.  Others  curve in the sensuous lines of a Brancusi sculpture.  Buxom tree trunks stand strong surrounded by their dead blossoms and their burgeoning offspring like a Renaissance Madonna. In truth these trees are not like art at all.  Rather art imitates them– their beauty provides the timeless inspiration for artists, writers and poets of all ages and styles.

Trees not only inspire, they themselves are paragons of diversity.   One look out of a car window while driving on the Taconic and one can see squat pines alongside towering majestic firs, birches interspersed with maple and oak.  And together the different brown and tan barks interspersed with evergreens create not only a mosaic of contrasting colors, but display an example to inspire humans to live together in peaceful unity.

These beneficent beings carry the heavy, dark grey clouds of winter.  When it snows the tree trunks become canvases for the abstract patterns of windblown-snow, while the serpentine branches are outlined in white.  In ice storms their branches become chandeliers, each enveloped in glassine ice.  While in the melancholy of a winter rain, the branches become oiled skins of snakes weeping to the ground below. And finally, in the night sky, the branches hold the stars in their arms, those with leaves holding them in their hands, as they nurse the moon.

All trees,  no matter what their species, age or height, stand tall in proud humility, their arms reaching up to the Heavens to our Creator in prayer–  soft-spoken beings of peace and tranquility towering over us, while the little creatures race around distractedly below.

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Reaching for the Stars


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“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree… a tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray.”  The opening lines of the poem,“Trees,” by Joyce Kilmer.  Indigenous peoples through the ages have talked of tree spirits and trees as wise ones.  Trees are striking as they permanently lift their arms to the Heavens in seeming prayer, day and night in communication with the Creator, their outstretched arms reaching for the stars.

Reaching for the stars.  The image calls to mind a dance of the Kalahari Bushmen who were featured in the movie “The Gods They Must be Crazy.”  The Kalahari, the last men born of the Stone Age culture according to Laurens Van Der Post, have no sense of individuality and so share all they have. They have a dance of gratitude which Van Der Post describes in his book entitled “A Mantis Carol”: “I never see their dancing without feeling deeply moved and utterly irreverent and blasphemous because of our own incapacity for acknowledging what life will give if only we will let it in.”  And then there is their dance of the “great hunger,” a dance that says we do not live by bread alone, a dance at life’s end fraught with longing, with arms outstretched taughtly towards the Heavens as they reach for the stars.

My grandfather reached for the stars.  He came to the United States, a 16-year-old peasant stonecutter from the mountains of Sicily, knowing no English.  He wound up carving the Lincoln Gettysburg address at the Lincoln Memorial in DC.  While working on the Gettysburg Address he studied English at night school.  I remember him telling me how he was the laughing stock of his fellow stone cutters because, inspired by Lincoln’s words, he carved his initials at the top of the monument, “A.L.” for Anthony LaManna (and, of course, for Abraham Lincoln), followed by: “Attorney at Law.”  Working his way through school, he actually did eventually become a VA lawyer.  He reached for the stars and touched them without ever forgetting where he came from.  And he was childlike as he took care of me, as we danced to records on the victrola or as he played the mandolin and sang to me.  I always think of him with a tinge of sadness, for more than anyone, he taught me to reach for the stars.

Reach for the creator– that is what the trees say.  At this time of year I yearn for the days of childhood in which God seemed close.  This yearning fully ripens each year at Christmas/Hanukkah when the people brighten their houses with festive lights.  It is a time of year in which we light up our hearts and look to the heavens and sing songs of love to a babe born not so very long ago, or in which we give thanks for the oil to light the lights of the temple for eight days.  We are all really seeking the love that motivated the Kalahari Bushmen to do their dance.  We are seeking a savior, and yearning for the Light in this overlit, commercialized, complicated world in which the inspiring simplicity of the Bushmen, the peasant, is rapidly disappearing.  And the trees touch my heart in their upward reach for the Heavens.  For at this time so many millions of them are sacrificed as they have become our Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes, to be discarded after the holidays are over.

May we experience this holy season with a simpler yearning, not for presents and parties and hoopla, but with our hearts full of gratitude, taking lessons from the trees, from the Kalahari Bushmen, from our ancestors, and seek Love, in whatever form it takes in our souls.

eyelocks_612x792

on Amazon


My Cathedral


The wilderness
is my cathedral
Spring Trees at Sunset  (digital photo)
The sky
my steeple
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 The trees
my buttresses
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Hay bales
my statuary
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 Flowers
my stained glass
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A babbling brook
my organ
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Frogs and toads
my choir
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Fields of wildflowers
my incense
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 Thunder storms
my high mass
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A very diverse congregation…

From cows

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to snails and turtles

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to gazillions
of insects

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030 (3)

Deer sometimes come round

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Butterflies abound

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Moths, too

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Birds of every hue

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All that’s missing is you

but you worship your own way

doing charity every day

more than I can say


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Summer Morning



Nature’s Prayers


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Still yourself

and fold your hands

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humbly

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stand in awe

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radiate His light

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with eyes upwards

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towards

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the telephone

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to the sky

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and comtemplate

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the glory that is He


Chi flows, Wind Blows


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Wind blows

through tree tops

bird song

wafts in breeze

flying

dead branches

fine perches

dragonfly on leg

don’t move

admire

just be

like tree

see chi

in air

spark-like

specks

tiny lights

Chi flows

wind blows


The Vibrations of Life


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Pulsating life

flows through

tree branches

vibrating

to the song

of a red-winged blackbird

singing to the moon

as a cloud

stands by

in the approach

of twilight


Verticalia


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Naked trees reach

upwards toward the sky

in pursuit of our Creator

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Trees dressed in flowers

 turn our eyes skyward

to gaze at cottony clouds

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Church towers

carry our sight

to the bright blue heavens

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as we stand

gazing

in unparalleled awe.


“Willow Weep for Me…”


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