Thursday, April 21, 2016

the winds will blow their own freshness into you




Ansel Adams - Winter Sunrise



"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, 
places to play in and pray in, 
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
...
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. 
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. 
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, 
and the storms their energy, 
while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn."



~ John Muir



John Muir was one of the earliest advocates of the national park idea, and its most eloquent spokesman. Born in Dunbar, Scotland, on April 21st 1838, he moved with his family to a Wisconsin farm in 1849. Muir's father, an itinerant Presbyterian minister, treated him harshly and insisted that he memorize the Bible. By age 11, he was able to recite three-quarters of the Old Testament by heart, and all of the New Testament.

Muir studied botany and geology at the University of Wisconsin and had a natural flair for inventions. In 1867, after recovering from a factory accident that left him temporarily blinded for several months, he cut short a promising career in industry to walk from Indiana to Florida, creating botanical sketches on his way. From there he sailed to California and then walked from San Francisco to the Sierra Nevada – the "Range of Light" that would transform his life with his "unconditional surrender" to nature.

After working as a sheepherder in the high country for a season, Muir took a job in the Yosemite Valley in 1869, building a sawmill for James Mason Hutchings. In his free time, he roamed Yosemite, where he developed a scientific theory that the valley had been carved by glaciers. Muir felt a spiritual connection to nature; he believed that mankind is just one part of an interconnected natural world, not its master, and that God is revealed through nature.


Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, 1903


To preach his gospel of nature, he moved to Oakland in 1873 to write articles for leading magazines like Overland Monthly, Scribner's and Harper's Magazine. Muir's articles made him nationally famous. He married Louie Wanda Strentzel and turned her family's farm in Martinez, California, into a profitable orchard business. But he grew restless to immerse himself in nature again, and, at Louie's urging, he traveled to Alaska's Glacier Bay and Washington's Mount Rainier. His writings brought national attention to two more places that would eventually become national parks.

Muir would also champion protection of the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. He was the public voice for setting aside the high country around Yosemite Valley as a national park in 1890, as well as for General Grant and Sequoia national parks. His efforts to make a large park in the Kings Canyon region of central California would not be successful, but later park supporters would take up the cause.

Muir's three-night camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 could be considered the most significant camping trip in conservation history. He was able to persuade Roosevelt to return Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to federal protection as part of Yosemite National Park. The trip would have a lasting impact on the president.

Muir's final crusade, to prevent the city of San Francisco from building a dam and creating a massive water reservoir in Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley, ended in bitter defeat with federal approval of the project in 1913. Muir died a year later, on Christmas Eve, at age 76.

Muir was a founder and the first president of the Sierra Club; Muir Woods National Monument, a grove of redwoods north of San Francisco, is named in his honor.


"If you think about all the gains our society has made, from independence to now, it wasn't government. It was activism. People think, 'Oh, Teddy Roosevelt established Yosemite National Park, what a great president.' BS. It was John Muir who invited Roosevelt out and then convinced him to ditch his security and go camping. It was Muir, an activist, a single person." 


~ Yvon Chouinard
 Patagonia founder and outdoor enthusiast



Monday, April 18, 2016

wind in the vast sky








If someone asks
about the mind of this monk,
say it is no more than
a passage of wind
in the vast sky.



~ Ryokan


inside the brushwood gate







I don't regard my life
as insufficient.
Inside the brushwood gate
there is a moon;
there are flowers.



~ Ryokan
from Sky Above, Great Wind
by Kazuaki Tanahashi


Saturday, April 16, 2016

humility and compassion







Can true humility and compassion exist in our words and eyes
unless we know we too are capable of
any act?



~ Saint Francis of Assisi
translated by Daniel Ladinsky

the vase





I am always holding a priceless vase in my hands.
If you asked me about the deeper truths
of the path and I told you
the answers,

it would be like handing sacred relics to you.
But most have their hands tied
behind their
backs;

that is, most are not free of events their eyes have seen

and their ears have heard

and their bodies have felt.

Most cannot focus their abilities
in the present, and 
might drop what 
I said.

So I'll wait; I don't mind waiting until
your love for all
makes luminous
the now.


~ Rabia
(c. 717-801)
translation by Daniel Ladinsky


Friday, April 15, 2016

the way it is









There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.


~ William Stafford
from The Way it Is, 1998
with thanks to alixe


William Stafford’s journey with words began most mornings before sunrise. This simple poem was written 26 days before he passed.
One of his students, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye, wrote, “In our time there has been no poet who revived human hearts and spirits more convincingly than William Stafford. There has been no one who gave more courage to a journey with words, and silence, and an awakened life.”







Tuesday, April 12, 2016

you who let yourselves feel










You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing
that is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks
as it divides and rejoins behind you.

Blessed ones, whole ones,
you where the heart begins:
You are the bow that shoots the arrows
and you are the target.

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.

The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.



~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, IV
translation by Joanna Macy


Monday, April 11, 2016

first he looked confused










I could not lie anymore so I started to call my dog "God."
First he looked
confused,

Then he started smiling, then he even
danced.

I kept at it: now he doesn't even
bite.

I am wondering if this
might work on
people?



~ Tukaram
translated by Daniel Ladinsky

(c.1608-1649) Born in Dehu not far from Poona, his poems chronicle his discovery
of God within and are written with a humor similar to Hafiz.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

within the heart




The little space within the heart
is as great as the vast 
universe.
The heavens and the earth are there,
and the sun and the moon and
the stars.
Fire and lightning and winds are there,
and all that now is and
all that is not.



 ~ The Upanishads 


Saturday, April 2, 2016

would you?








~ Sweet Honey and the Rock