Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Nature

“Measured against the agenda of human survival, how might we rethink education? Let me suggest six principles.

First, all education is environmental education.” — David Orr, What Is Education For?

 

I actually met and spoke to David Orr at a conference near the Aldo Leopold Foundation Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin a few years ago. He is a fascinating speaker, a person who has clearly thought a great deal about how humans fit into the natural world.

Yesterday, I spent the morning volunteering in a homeschool class at a Nature Center. The children, aged 6-8, shared their journal entries during snack time. They each had spent time in a “Secret Place”, observing the natural world around them, drawing pictures, writing sentences using vocabulary words, and playing. I was so pleased to see this, and told them that they were following in the footsteps of Aldo Leopold, Henry David Thoreau, Beatrix Potter and many, many others — very important thinkers and learners.

What do we need to learn from Nature? So much. I have a page on this blog called “Spiritual Lessons from Nature”. Click on the link just under the header if you’re curious about them.

Some things I’ve learned about Nature: it’s powerful and deserving of respect. 

It’s complex and autonomous.

It’s vast and largely incomprehensible.

It’s older than anyone can imagine. 

It’s more detailed than anyone can see. 

Humans are just one small leaf on the great Tree of Life.  That’s always good to remember. 

Thanks to Patti for hosting this challenge and for sharing stunning photos of Fiji.

For My Own Sake

It’s still cold and snowy here in Wisconsin, and I have to do my taxes. I’m looking for a bright spot. I found a lot of them last weekend when I was in Chicago for my son’s wedding. The brightest were about family and love, but there was this other bit that was also bright and colorful — a visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory.

There are goldfinches at my feeder. I see their feathers brightening a bit each day from their winter brown to that radiant, sunny yellow I love so much. It’s only a matter of time. I will try to “possess my soul in patience”. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!

“Hey, look! A plastic castle!”

No thank you. Plastic? Yuck. Man made? Not interested. 

My favorite diversions, distractions, and delightful detours are definitely of the flowers-and-butterflies variety.

Polygonia comma

Gray treefrog

Blue vervain

But to tell you the truth, these things are not merely beautiful bagatelles. These are the elements of a grand eco-system, the intrinsic parts of a working Universe. And so I am trying to be that disciplined, working person that focuses on protecting these habitats. They are not my distraction, then, they are my day plan. 

Ooh, Shiny!

Flowers! Just because….

The sun peeked out today for the first time in about a week. Cold, gray, snowy, icy, cloudy, foggy Wisconsin tends to get me down. Getting up in the dark, working through a sunless day, and then going home in the dark seems to pull all the shape out of life. And the news is even more depressing. So, I’m injecting some color and light into things with this post. Enjoy!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Nature of Grace

This is the challenge of a lifetime. Grace is my middle name – for reals! I have been striving to live gracefully ever since my parents explained to me what that name means, hence the blog motto above. I find subtle differences in the nuance of the definition now that I’m learning Buddhism and leaving the Christian world view that I was raised with in my background.

There is something of elegance, but not a worldly elegance. 

warm-rose

There is an element of casual generosity, an unearned favor and abundance.

lilacs

The Buddhist perspective lends the flavor of ego-less-ness to it; it is beauty without attachment, as ephemeral as frost.

now 2

To live a life of grace is to open yourself mindfully each moment to being in the flow of the kindness of the Universe, in a way. To walk in harmony with my surroundings – people, places, things – and to be a living benediction is my aspiration. It sounds pretty lofty and ethereal, like a cloud, and I don’t claim to be doing the metaphor justice. But I might as well aim high in my practice. 

graceful-cloud

 
Graceful