White-EyesBY MARY OLIVERIn winterall the singing is inthe tops of the treeswhere the wind-birdwith its white eyesshoves and pushesamong the branches.Like any of ushe wants to go to sleep,but he’s restless—he has an idea,and slowly it unfoldsfrom under his beating wingsas long as he stays awake.But his big, round music, after all,is too breathy to last…
In autumn, the trees start to sing once again
of the bittersweet mystery of change.
Is it beauty or pain
now attached to my soul?
Is it grief…or relief…or nostalgia?
In the scarlet and gold,
the blood red of life’s hold on my heart
and the warmth of its love
mingles memories and years
into afternoon tears
falling softly as leaves to the ground.
— Priscilla Galasso,from “The King’s Gift” ©1997
The Lens-Artists challenge subject for this week is the season of Autumn. It is my very favorite season for color; the muted tones of greens, golds, oranges, reds, and browns in all shades of light create a tapestry woven of beauty and pain so exquisite that it makes me weep. The poem above was my attempt to describe the feeling of Autumn as it washes over me each year. I have lived most of my life in the Midwest where the deciduous trees undergo a spectacular change in their life cycle every Fall. I will be moving to Oregon next week, and in a few months, I will get the chance to witness the season in quite a different way. I’m looking forward to photographing it!
Thank you, Patti, for hosting this week and sharing your beautiful Autumn photos.
The weekly Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is taking a tour of the seasons. Last week, it was Summer; today, it’s Spring.
Last week, I featured a song by John Denver. I became a huge fan of his at the age of 12, just two years after seeing a mountain for the first time. A few years later, I got into the Jazz Choir in High School and became a huge Ella Fitzgerald fan. I found a very fitting song for Spring 2020 in her repertoire. It’s called “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”, by Tommy Wolf and Fran Landesman.
“…Spring, this year has got me feeling
Like a horse that never left the post.
I lie in my room staring up at the ceiling.
Spring can really hang you up the most…
Morning’s kiss wakes trees and flowers,
And to them I’d like to drink a toast.
I walk in the park just to kill those lonely hours.
Spring can really hang you up the most…
Those birds twitter twit.
I know their tune –
This is love, this is it.
Heard it before,
And I know the score,
And I’ve decided that Spring is a bore.
Love seem sure around the New Year.
Now it’s April; Love is just a ghost.
Spring arrived on time,
But what became of you, dear?
Spring can really hang you up the most…”
This Spring was really tough for me for several reasons, only one of which was the Covid 19 pandemic. However, I am continually reminded in Nature that life goes on, changes become new horizons, and beauty and joy are renewed each day.
Thank you to Tina of Travels and Trifles, who hosted this week’s challenge by sharing some beautiful shots of her home island.
May the spirit of Spring bring us all hope in new life to come!
“Silently the morning mist is lying on the water
Captives moonlight waiting for the dawn
Softly like a baby’s breath, a breeze begins to whisper
The sun is coming, quick you must be gone…
“…Smiling like a superstar the morning comes in singing
The promise of another sunny day
And all the flowers open up to gather in the sunshine
I do believe that summer’s here to stay…
“…Do you care what’s happening around you?
Do your senses know the changes when they come?
Can you see yourselves reflected in the season?
Can you understand the need to carry on?…
“…Riding on the tapestry of all there is to see
So many ways, and oh, so many things
Rejoicing in the differences, there’s no one just like me
Yet as different as we are, we’re still the same…”
“…And oh, I love the life within me
I feel the part of everything I see
And oh, I love the life around me
A part of everything is here in me…
“…A part of everything is here in me
A part of everything is here in me.” ― John Denver, Season Suite: Summer
Thank you, Amy, for hosting this first week in the Lens-Artists Seasons challenge.
The sudden sting of tears, unbidden. Grief leaking out along the edges of a prepared lid, supposedly clamped shut.
I have been surprised by joy often. Lately, it is surprising to find myself awakening to deep melancholy. I am not used to this. I think of myself as an optimist.
But I know that I live in a very protected world of my own design. I am educating myself intentionally. I am letting go of delusions.
“Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world…”
― Thich Nhat Hahn
This morning, I awoke with a visceral feeling of sadness, of uncertainty, of betrayal and abandonment. I imagine it’s a response to the images and knowledge I’m absorbing through news media and films.
When emotions arise powerfully in me, I am taken by surprise. I was raised to regulate them with logic and religious faith. I have now learned to tolerate looking closely at them.
My housemate found a poem for me that helped me put the feeling into words. It is “Dover Beach”, by Matthew Arnold.
The sea is calm tonight.The tide is full, the moon lies fairUpon the straits; on the French coast the lightGleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!Only, from the long line of sprayWhere the sea meets the moon-blanched land,Listen! you hear the grating roarOf pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,At their return, up the high strand,Begin, and cease, and then again begin,With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.Sophocles long agoHeard it on the Ægean, and it broughtInto his mind the turbid ebb and flowOf human misery; weFind also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.The Sea of FaithWas once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shoreLay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.But now I only hearIts melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,Retreating, to the breathOf the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.Ah, love, let us be trueTo one another! for the world, which seemsTo lie before us like a land of dreams,So various, so beautiful, so new,Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;And we are here as on a darkling plainSwept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,Where ignorant armies clash by night.
“…Find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, sounds. By such means, …awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world. If we get in touch with the suffering of the world, and are moved by that suffering, we may come forward to help the people who are suffering.”
― Thich Nhat Hahn
Perhaps surprise is simply the evidence that we live in a state of unknowing. We delude ourselves in order to shelter for a time in the idea that we are in control and can predict events and outcomes. The “cosmic 2x4s” of life will whack us upside the head from time to time and wake us up. It can be painful, surely. And it is beneficial as well. Once awake, we can acknowledge reality with greater perception and take actions that will be more specific and appropriate.
“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.” ―
It is my hope and faith that the sunshine of awareness can transform the devastation of our man-made storms into guiding visions of beauty and light.
May we awaken and become wise and kind.
Thank you, Ann-Christine, for inviting us to ponder Surprise.
“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Patti’s challenge this morning is to capture on camera a quiet moment.
“All of our great traditions – religious, contemplative and artistic- say that you must a learn how to be alone and have a relationship with silence. It is difficult, but it can start with just the tiniest quiet moment.” ~ David Whyte
I am spending a quiet weekend taking care of my friends’ dogs in their home while they are away. Like me, they don’t own a TV, they are musicians, and they love walking in nature. Walking their dogs is a pleasure.
Their dogs are very mellow in the daytime and rather vigilant at night. Nocturnal animals in the backyard bring them out of a seemingly sound sleep and propel them downstairs, barking. This is the first time I’ve shared a bed with dogs overnight. Hence, I’m enjoying a very quiet next day to catch up on my rest and take notes on how to enjoy silence and solitude.
“In the quiet moments of your day, what do you think and do? When you are with your Self and no one else, how does life proceed for you? Who are you when you are alone? Self-creation is a Holy Experience. It is sacred. It is you, deciding Who You Are.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch
May your quiet moments bring you the joy of Self-creation.
“When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.” ― Amanda McBroom
Last week, we Lens-Artists were on the long and winding road. This week, hosted by Cee, we are in search of One Single Flower.
In the first verse of the song The Rose (quoted above) there is the line, “I say love, it is a flower…”
“May our heart’s garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.”―
What other flowers grow in your garden?
The Lotus flower is regarded in many different cultures, especially in eastern religions, as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. Its characteristics are a perfect analogy for the human condition: even when its roots are in the dirtiest waters, the Lotus produces the most beautiful flower.
“Practice until you see yourself in the cruelest person on Earth, in the child starving, in the political prisoner. Continue until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket, on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. See and listen with the whole of your being. If you are fully present, the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your consciousness, and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding will appear as a beautiful flower.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Congratulations to the Lens-Artists on their 100th week of photo challenges and for building an artistic community that reflects vision and awareness!
I have not participated in all 100 of the challenges; I joined in at week #13. This week, Tina is our host, and she puts together a beautiful and moving post incorporating the theme and thoughts surrounding current world events. Her inspiration is spot on.
We live in challenging times. The struggle to move forward despite grave difficulties threatening survival is a real one. Whenever I am feeling the need to get emotionally grounded for the journey, I head outside for natural inspiration. This afternoon, as I walked the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, I noticed all the biodiversity of a summer woodland scene and the competition for sunlight. There were millions of maple seeds that had sprouted and created a blanket of living green on the forest floor.
I realized that very few of those delicate sprouts would become seedlings and that even fewer would grow to maturity. Survival and survival strategies are complex and interrelated among all species. And yet each organism is hardwired to try to survive…somehow.
Looking at the teeming abundance of green in a June woodland, you have to respect that Life seeks to survive. I think of myself as a Biophile. I love Life. I think is it beautiful, interesting, awesome, and sacred.
A humble respect for Life is paramount to the health of our Planet and to civilization. The peril of the arrogant human practice of willfully extinguishing Life is realized in a million different examples throughout history. Life has plenty of healthy self-regulating systems already in place. A much more useful human practice is kindness, wonder, and love.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
We certainly have a long way to go on the road toward a reality of unarmed truth and unconditional love. Best to strap on our hiking boots and take steps.
Newton B. Drury, National Park Service Director, 1940-1951:
“The American way of life consists of something that goes greatly beyond the mere obtaining of
necessities of existence. If it means anything, it means that America presents to its citizens an opportunity to grow mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. The National Park System and the work of the National Park Service constitute one of the Federal Government’s important contributions to that opportunity. Together they make it possible for all Americans–millions of them at first-hand–to enjoy unspoiled the great scenic places of the Nation…. The National Park System also provides, through areas that are significant in history and prehistory, a physical as well as spiritual linking of present-day Americans with the past of their country.”