Sunday, October 7, 2012
Into the winter of my memories, the thoughts that spring from the springtime of others, become that which brings about renewal, refreshment and revitalization. This is an experience that is so difficult to express in words. Why? Because words, at least the words I know, are so limited and limiting. All words are limited by definition. Definition springing from the finite mind of human beings. Fr. Rohr says at one time we had the language to communicate the deep reality within, but we lost that language. This is part of our present-day poverty. So for me to communicate, with confidence, that which is my depths I must rely on the thoughts and the wisdom of others. "The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferrable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift any vary under your eyes, no, they are not like ant trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time." That is the famous quote of John Steinbeck after his visit to the Redwoods. I followed in his footsteps this summer, as I have done a number of previous summers. I have taken a great number of photos of that place of mystery, awe and wonder. I was wounding why I was never satisfied with any of those pictures. Now I realize, after reading that quote, I was attempting to capture the timeless through an action in time. A fool’s errand. This summer I was privileged to wander through, and wonder at, the Redwoods near Eureka,California. The silence was truly amazing. It was, to build on Steinbeck, awe-full, wonder-full. I described it as “a silence that crackled". That is a contradiction in terms. That is a paradox. How often have we been told that paradoxes stretch us, and bring us to a place we otherwise would never go to. Now add mist and you are really taken to another reality. A reality we in the desert cannot relate to. There is no way to describe the feelings and emotions as one journeys along the trail that leads through the mist shrouded trees. You can only see a short distance ahead. You lose sight of the trail as it disappears into the mist. Look behind you and the trail is also lost as it too is lost in the mist. (A great paradigm for my life.) On each side shadowy, ageless sentinels appear to stand guard drawing attention to the fact this is a sacred place. As one begins to focus on where one is at and what one is doing, a special gift is given. A gift beyond the descriptive power of words. Words cannot describe, or explain mystery. Mystery cannot be explained, or described, it can only be entered into, again, again and again ad infinitum. The redwoods, for me and many others, are places of mist and mystery that keep calling on us to return. The result ,we are mysteriously led, so very gently, into an ever new, and an ever deepening sense of wonder. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essentials of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived". That is the famous quote of H.D.Thoreau. Another great champion and defender of nature was John Muir. There is a wilderness named after him. He wrote the following, "Keep close to Nature's heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. This one I really like. I have found it to be so true for me. “Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books." (John Lubbock) "I drank the silence of God from a spring in the woods" (George Traki). It is such a privilege to be able to experience that which I am able to experience at this stage in my life. It is a true gift. Because of this I am becoming more aware of The Sacred, The Mystery, in all that is. I am becoming more aware of my Celtic roots. I am now able to understand why ii was so easy for my ancestors to accept Christianity. Ireland was converted without anybody being martyred. It was such an easy step from the religion the Celts embraced and practice. That was a religion based on the sacredness of time, space ,and place. So it was an easy transition to accept and come to believe in the One God, and the many manifestations of His/Her presence. There was a religion in Ireland. It was what theologians call, natural religion Natural religion was practiced by our ancestors for 70.000 years. (O Muruchu) He also points out formal religion has only existed for about 5,000 years and counting. We, then, are part of the ongoing formation and evolution of which has it's origins in the mists of history. This evolution continues within the reality of our being, and within all of creation, wherever and whatever that reality may be. Hence all this is, is vivified with the Spirit, who is bringing all that is into a wholeness. We may not be able to see this new creation as it occurs, but it is happening. As it was in those days of old, so it is today and will be until the end of time. Nothing can prevent the emergence of this new reality. It is happening in and through all the realities of your everyday experience. We, then, must reverence the present. We must also have a deep reverence for that which is past, ancient. We have to again reclaim the reverence for the sacred presence in all of nature. Before it is too late, we have to accept our interdependent. Nobody acts alone. That adage, "What I do is nobody else's business", no longer holds water. It is a lie. We are so interconnected all our individual thoughts, and actions have a lasting effect on the whole of creation. We have the responsibility to nourish, and care for our hearts, souls and minds. We must not only acknowledge but grow in the acceptance of this fact, "As I am so is all of creation". Nature is our mother, our mother will feed us only that which will fulfill our mutual destiny, hers and ours. May you be blessed in all your wanderings and wonderings knowing when you stand will always be a holy place.