After determining how to get from our campsite to the trailhead, we were eager to enter the designated Wilderness of this Wisconsin forest. It had been logged more than 30 years ago and then left to return to a more natural state. The trail was an old logging road that had not been maintained, and could barely be recognized under the summer foliage. I felt the quiet buzz of insects around me like a choir of innocents in a holy sanctuary, the sun streaming through the new leaves as if through the stained glass of an ancient cathedral. The forest was teeming with life while calmly silent at the same time. I dared not speak, wanting to be absorbed into the pulsing breath of the place itself.
Every detail seemed to be as exquisite in artistry as a religious icon. I wanted to take it all in and cherish it for eternity.
My camera became the instrument of praise and prayer that day, and I vowed to devote myself to Wilderness protection so that humans would always have a place to experience humility.
Click the link to listen to the song as you read: 525,600 minutes – how do you measure a season of life?
Whether I measure my life in love,
in Truth and the tears I cried,
or in rain, snow, sun and the way that he died…
…every season has been rich, beautiful and full of Life. So grateful for the way that is!
(this is a featured article in this month’s issue of The Be Zine. Click here to see the whole thing.)
Once upon a time, there were a bunch of Big Brains who decided that living things (which they rarely called ‘living beings’) needed to be neatly organized. Grouping things together based on similarity was important to them for some reason. So they made up categories and named them Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, in succession from broad to specific. Then they had to remember these categories, so they memorized “Kindly Professors Cannot Often Fail Good Students” – apropos of nothing much. (Personally, I think “Kindly People Courageously Offer Fauna/Flora General Sympathy” might make better sense.)
Meanwhile, some other Big Brains decided that everything in the Universe was made by one Creator and that He gave humans dominion over all the other animal species on Earth and gave every plant for human use. That made them feel they were Most Important among the creatures on the planet. They felt very comfortable with that and valued themselves, and those that looked and acted most like them, very highly.
As for those creatures who were terribly different from them, well, they were kind of “icky”.
Well, these Big Brains were very clever. They prospered and multiplied (and divided and conjugated and came up with quantum physics). They learned how to make a Big Impact on the Earth, making things they liked out of the raw materials Earth had. And every year, there were more of them. They liked to be comfortable, so they tried to eliminate things that bothered them. Like locusts. And dandelions.
They liked to be powerful, so they claimed victories over other living things that had power. Like lions. And giant sequoias.
Gradually, they noticed that some of the other living things (or Living Beings) were disappearing completely. Some people thought that was a shame, especially if the thing was useful or furry or had a face. Others noticed that when one type of thing was gone, things began to change for the rest as well. A few Big Brains began to ask some really Tough Questions about why things on the Earth were changing so quickly and whether the Big Impact of humans had anything to do with it.
I can’t tell you the ending of this story. Perhaps the Big Brains will disappear like so many other Living Beings did, and Earth will go on without them. Perhaps the Big Brains will become less numerous, less dominant, and Earth will go on with them. Perhaps something altogether different will happen. It doesn’t really matter how I tell the story.
What does matter?
What we Big Brains decide to do with all matter will matter and will help tell the end of the story.
Yesterday, I read a travel post about a European romantic trend called Love Locks. Apparently, an Italian novel whose title translates to “I Need You” has spawned the custom of lovers affixing padlocks to public fences, bridges, gates and whatnot as a sign of their everlasting love. This idea really rubs me the wrong way, so I’m sorting out my thoughts to figure out why. Of course, this is about me, not about judging any of the couples who have participated in this ritual nor about anyone else who thinks it’s romantic. So, what do I know about me?
First of all, I worry about the accumulation of stuff. Seeing all those padlocks encrusting a surface reminds me of the proliferation of manufactured gadgets and things that we humans often allow to run unchecked. Apparently, many city officials also consider them “an eyesore”. It occurs to me that…
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Life imitates Art; Art imitates Life. What’s the difference? Maybe Life and Art are one and the same or so intermingled that it’s impossible to separate them…like mayonnaise: egg, oil and vinegar bound together in one, smooth shmear.
Here are two pictures I took on the same day in New Mexico:
Statues in the city; real people in the wilderness. The fact that I put those photos side by side might say something about life…or art. They’re blended, see?
How about this one?
It’s a photograph of flowers on my dining room table. A still life. Is it still life? Those peonies were alive, right there in front of me. I took a picture, which I think looks a bit like a painting. That’s Art, but it looks a lot like Life. Our brains tend to blur symbol and substance. Try talking philosophy for a while: the words we use for concepts often supplant the concepts themselves. For example, the sign shows the words The Grand Canyon. Is the Grand Canyon the sign or the landscape behind it?
I love Art and Life; I love their blurred edges; I love their intermingled perspective. How fortunate to be able to play with both!
Life Imitates Art