Jim’s Walk in the Woods

DECEMBER 11, 2018

Concern about the ecovillage board meeting and attempts to drive changes to the by-laws through without much discussion bothers me and took a good deal of my energy when first sitting in the woods.  A few deep breaths and breathing exercises helped a lot.  I then went for a walk concentrating on my steps.  I went through an area that took some concentration to get around honey suckle and other plants and stumps.  For a while I was clear of the niggling concerns about the board meeting and in touch with the awesomeness around me.

It was cold but felt wonderful with the sun shining its light on all the elements of the woods, including me.  It struck me what an amazing thing Earth is.  It is truly mystical and magical.  And we have the honor, at this time in history, to be a part of it. What an honor it is.

 

 

DECEMBER 6, 2018 – St. Nicholas Day

It’s cold out.  Bundled up we headed to the woods.  Under the tree, sitting on my cardboard that had some ice on it, it was a little cold.  The creek bubbled by, sending watery music to fill the woods.  It was very soothing and meditative.  I decided to do a walking meditation.  I followed a path with deer tracks, an area where they slipped toward the creek, probably running. There was very little snow on the path, meaning it was well used. I stopped, leaned on a tree and slowly the Robins began flying close by.  I focused on them, sent them love.  Today they moved on, not stopping to explore the expression. At this place it was a woods full of Robins.

Returning, watching and feeling my feet encounter the leaf laden path, hearing the crackling of leaves, watching the path meander back to the log where I encountered Leah who had already arrived at our meeting place.  It was a beautiful morning in the woods.

 

NOVEMBER 20, 2018

We spent time listening to Stan Slaughter’s Earth songs before going to the woods. It got me in touch with our connectedness, we are Earth.  As I listened to the birds, hugged the oak tree, and leaned against its bark, heard the flowing of the creek I felt myself entangled into my surroundings.

It struck me, it is our disconnect from Earth that leads to our disconnect from each other.  We have objectified the Earth we are part of, made it an object, and all aspects of it, object.  The beginning of agriculture may have been the strongest drive to this objectification – it made it easier to raise and kill plants and animals if we saw them as other, as object, as lower than us.  But this can lead to the objectification of each other: Gay people, African Americans, Guatemalans, Asians, the people across the street.

Since we are genetically oriented to an us and them mentality, my guess is it was way too easy to objectify our food.  And now we can objectify everyone and anyone.

We are Earth.  There are no objects.  We are all subjects, we really are one in Earth.

 

October 31, 2018

It’s Halloween, a season for the ancestors. Strong winds today, blowing in the spirits as the vale between the two worlds thin.  The truth of this vale is irrelevant, the remembrance of ancestors can be real.  The cemetery stands tall across the creek.

The wind was amazing flowing up the valley.  I could hear a rush below and slowly it would come whipping through the trees around me.  The leaves are falling.  In the spring the small buds slowly become leaves where the sun photosynthesizes and becomes energy within the tree, which they do for some six months.  And fall comes, the leaves close down their activity and slowly wilt and fall from the trees.  However, they don’t cease to exist, they protect the soils and become soil themselves over a season or two. It is truly amazing.  I was born the end of August, just a month or two before my first fall shedding of leaves.  It has happened 75 times during my life.  It is said it takes a hundred years for a woods to produce an inch of soil.  An inch has almost grown in my lifetime.

The life energy in the woods was palpable this morning as trees swayed in the wind, hawks glided with the wind, leaves fell, I set mesmorized. The oak tree I set under’s limbs high up swayed while the trunk set solid.  Small trees around swayed down to their roots. So much happening all around.  It truly felt alive.

 

OCTOBER 23, 2018

I sat under the Oak Tree.  Lawnmower running in the cemetery, thoughts of things I’m working on impinging my meditation.  But the wonder of the woods seeped into my consciousness.  I felt a need to go into the woods.  I slowly eased myself into the creek, and consciously walked up the creek, over a huge tree stump, along the rock lain creek bed, to another huge oak tree where I set for a little while.  An awareness of the awesomeness of this woods entered my awareness as I followed my footsteps up and down the creek.  I climbed out of the creek and set for a bit under the Oak Tree.  I stood and went to the upper part of the tree, leaned there and continued in the wonder of the place.  I whistled, slowly walked up the hill in consciousness, set on the elephant log, waiting for Leah.  A beautiful morning of sun and crisp air.

 

OCTOBER 16, 2018

For over 30 years I have been saying that we humans have about a 20 percent chance of surviving for more than 50 to 100 years as a species on this planet.  Saying it and having the reality of it placed right in front of my face are two very different things.  I read an article this morning called, 10 facts from the world’s most terrifying climate change report.  It points out the absolute necessity of our changing our behavior in relationship to climate.  However, this is just one thing that we are attacking.  Water, soil, air – all the elements of our lives are being contaminated.  Only one of them has to reach a point where it doesn’t support us and our species ceases to exist.  I know this, but the changes now taking place with climate change makes it real.  Until now it has been mostly conjecture, looking at how we have been relating to the Earth over the past two hundred years.

I also read Wendell Berry’s poem: “When despair grows in meand I wake in the middle of the night at the least soundin fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,I go and lie down where the wood drakerests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.”

Going into the woods this morning, touching the beauty, wonder and wisdom of those who make up this wood’s calmed some of the despair and fear that the article aroused.  The oak tree stands tall.  The birds and cayotes continue to sing.  The leaves fall gently to the ground.  The creek sits with its small puddles of water.  Arche, our neighbor’s cat, came ambling through the woods into the creek.  Life continues.

 It is not in despair that we need to live, but in the wonder and amazement of the planet, and from there do our best to live lives that will help sustain it.  That is what we can do.  And that is enough.  And also to continue to hug trees and all that make up this wonderous planet we have been honored to be a part at this moment in history.  That was the message of the woods this morning.

OCTOBER 9, 2018

Melancholy, the word I would use for myself this morning as I visited the woods.  The death yesterday of Tom, who lives across the street from us, and Norma’s death brought death centerstage, with leaves, dying and falling from the trees.  Then the Redtail hawks screeching in the tree tops, one flew over me, seemed truly stressed.  And Tim, Tom’s brother, stressing in tears over where they would find the money for Tom’s cremation. My offer to help them out seemed to slide by him in his sorrow.  A plethora of other birds singing all around, and the sound of the Waldorf preschool off in the distance brought a sense of the wonder of life.  All of these entered me, circled within me and brought the spectrum of life and death into my being.  And melancholy left its gentle mark on me.  Not harsh or exuberating, just very present, very much an awareness of the wonder of our existence.

 

Love. We, as a species are such a proponent of it.  We spend a life time trying to figure out what it is.  Chemicals flowing through our bodies underlies it all.

 

Brien Swimm speaks of the sun and Earth being enchanted with each other.  This enchantment permeates the Earth.  We are not the only species that is enchanted.

 

With this thought I centered myself among the plants and animals, the water flowing in the creek.  In this enchantment I curled up against the trees that were supporting me.  It was very comforting to be centered in this love.

 

The words of Gary Snyder, that we need to stay in place if we are going to truly learn to fall in love, seemed to come alive.  Our small brains need the steady contact to really get to know those around us, to truly fall in love with a place. In this love we can come to love the broader Earth around us.  My guess is, the Earth all around us also Needs this steady contact to be enchanted.

October 2, 2018

 

In this woods is amazing wisdom.  It is a community of plants and animals that survive together.  It is the wisdom of connectivity and survival.  It was in this wisdom that I nestled this morning.  In conscious awareness, in dreams, in looking at the course on the eco village, focused on community.  It was in this that I set.

 

And when I reflected on the course I asked: what is the end all goal of the course, from Leah’s questions what are the questions people will have around starting an eco village, with community underlying the formation of an eco village.  What is the community of a retrofit eco village?

 

Then back into wisdom nest around me.  It truly feels safe and wise.

 

SEPTEMBER 18, 2018

After a roaring creek last week, this week the flow is slow.  I scratched my back on the Oak tree.  Swatted away a mosquito.  Saw a chipmunk run down a log.  I haven’t seen one in the woods in years.  I focused on it for a few minutes, sending it love.

An awareness came to me, I should apply for the People Liberty Foundation grant for $10,000.  While I may not get it, it will help me focus on what I want to do.  This felt right.

 

September 11, 2018

The creek spoke with a loud voice today, after the 5 or so inches of rain the other day. Everything was green and alive.  It dawned on me that these plants and animals in the woods all made seeds, together billions of seeds right here in the woods.  Only a few of the seeds produced will become plants.  The mother tree of the oak tree I sat under produced thousands and thousands of acorns over the years, this may be the only prodigy that survived.  Billions of seeds produced millions of plants.  Most of the seeds fall to the ground and become ground, become the soil that layers the woods. It is amazing that the plants and animals that are here are the plants and animals that survived.  Like the hundreds of sperm that my father released into my mother the time I was conceived – any of them could have fertilized my mother’s egg, but the one that created me was the one.  Any other ones would have created a whole different human person.  Life is so amazing.  We so easily forget what a miracle we are, and fail to revel in this reality.

 

September 4, 2018

There is consciousness all around me.  This was the sense that I had as I set under the oak tree.  We have become aware that animals are conscious.  However, there is less awareness of consciousness in the plant world, in the water and the rock world. I believe we are conscious because consciousness imbues the whole of the Earth.  We are, as Thomas Berry says, the Earth conscious of itself.  While I am not sure that other species have that depth of consciousness, as I set in the woods I was conscious of the consciousness all around me. As Leah said, I was bathing in consciousness. I was sharing my consciousness with all the consciousness around me. I was conscious of consciousness.  There. Sitting under the tree. Plants and animals, water and rocks surrounding me, entering me, exiting me. We were one in our consciousness.

And when I left the woods, the consciousness continues there. It doesn’t need me or any human.  The ant I saw crawling along a twig, the birds singing, the squirrel squawking, the water flowing, the rocks in their steady state – all these consciousnesses continue. The Earth is conscious.

 

AUGUST 28, 2018

What has brought me to the woods today? These were my morning thoughts in the woods.  It is the experiences of the past 40 years.  It is the connection to some amazing people.  Joyce Quinlan was one of the first to bring a consciousness of Earth to mind as she worked on her dissertation for her doctorate at Union Institute back in 1978.  She visited Findhorn, Pendle Hill, and Chinook.  These are three Earth oriented communities deeply connected to Earth.  She brought back the ideas that she learned from her visits and helped us understand our interconnection with Earth, and changed Imago from an anthropocentric to a Earth Centered organization.  She also introduced us to Thomas Berry and provided us with a set of his blue books.

Ruth Traut, with her involvement with Sunbear and the Bear Tribe brought an interrelationship with Earth through ritual.  She introduced us to the celebrations of the eight seasons, full moon celebrations and the sweat lodge.  She brought Sunbear and a number of Medicine Wheel Gatherings to Cincinnati hosted by Imago.

The list of presenters we had come to Cincinnati through Imago, communicating about Earth and especially Earth Spirituality is lengthy.

But there were also the time I spent under the Oak tree in Hoosier National Forest soon after my father died that grounded me in my interconnection with other species of Earth.  And the time in these woods, under another oak tree, that shared with me a deep understanding of our interconnected. And the MAGIC committees at the Bioregional Congresses

These were the thoughts that entered my mind as I sat in these woods that I have visited for 40 years, under the Oak Tree, above the creek, surrounded by plants and animals. I both remembered and was present to this deep connection that has made my life a life of meaning and purpose. I have been so very honored.

 

AUGUST 21, 2018

I am in my 75th year.  I have done a lot of things over the years.  I divided my life into five phases.  The first phase was Dale, IN, where I lived till I was 14.  The second phase was the seminary where I stayed for 10 years.  Upon leaving the seminary I entered phase three, the social work phase, which went till 1978.  Phase four was Imago where I was director for 28 years.  And phase five is the ecovillage that overlapped Imago some starting in 2004.

Along with these phases was my before marriage which lasted 26 years, and since then my marriage to Eileen which continues.

All of these, because they happened the way they did led to my being in the woods this morning.  From the consciousness that evolved over the years to the present internship program that specifically got me to the woods this morning, these come out of the experiences of 75 years.  And I was honored to sit in these beautiful woods with the water flowing in the creek, the trees swaying in the wind and the birds singing their songs. I was honored in my 75th year.

 

August 14, 2018

This was an opportunity to share in each other’s space.  We spent a time in each other’s spot.

This was an opportunity that we, who are conscious of the woods were there together experiencing the same space.  It struck me that each of us had the same, but also a very different experience, and together there is a combined wisdom that in some way serves the woods while we are there, and maybe beyond.

The woods were alive.  Cicadas, birds, squirrels, a deer, woodpecker – sounds all around, and the beauty of the trees, silent and motionless surrounding us.  The plants of all kinds were alive in the woods.  And we were there each experiencing this amazing place in a whole different way, but each with a love of the place.

This was a very appropriate time, experiencing each other’s place that we have come to love, knowing now that this was Dessa’s last time with us. The log that Dessa chose as her spot will remain Dessa’s place.  I loved the opportunity to share my place under the Oak tree with them.  I knew where Leah’s place was, the cardboard that Jonah pointed out.  The dead log was so alive with plants on and all around it.

So, with some sadness at Dessa’s last time, the woods will continue to beckon us, invite us to be a consciousness, to be in love.

 

AUGUST 7, 2018

I set under the oak tree quite relaxed, none of the anxieties that have been bothering me.  I thought about Thomas Berry’s concept that we are the Earth conscious of itself.  It dawned on me that we can be the Earth in love with itself.  When we enter the woods we are the woods.  Together, the three of us can be, for the time we are there, the woods in love with itself.  This is not discounting that other species may be in love with the woods and so are the woods in love with itself.  However, I do know that we can love, and that we do love this woods, and so we are the woods in love with itself.  We love in different ways.  As individuals, as male/female, as young and old.  Together we bring a synergy of loving experiences to the woods, to ourselves, when we enter the woods and experience its wonder.

 

JULY 31, 2018

Yesterday I spent the morning in the woods, sending energy to fellow ecovillagers to help them in a negotiation that was hard and potentially painful.  It appears that all went well.  Of course, there are doubts, but it felt right.

Today I spent my time being grateful for the help received.  And for the rain that dropped on us as we set in the woods.  The creek was flowing.  The plants accepted the water as the rain hit their leaves and dropped off onto the organic matter covering the Earth, and from there slowly filtered into the soil.  The water permeated the woods this morning, awakening this lifeforce in all the plants and animals dependent of it.  It has been dry, so the rain was a welcome friend coming to become the woods as we also, when we enter the woods become woods.   But the rain will also enter the bodies of all the living beings in the woods, and deeply become the woods.  It was glorious – and wet.

 

JUNE 26, 2018

A hawk squawked as we began to settle into the woods. It flew across the cemetery and swerved into the woods and landed in a tree several hundred yards away.

As I settled under the tree, my thoughts swayed away to issues around houses that we are dealing with. Attempts to bring myself back to the woods, to the amazing life that surrounded me, failed over and over again. I finally decided to take a few deep breaths and try to listen. As I did so I was able to spend longer times listening and escaping the chatter from outside. As I listened it became clear that I need to keep a sense of love and caring deep inside me. If I was able to do that whatever happened would swirl around it, maybe try to challenge it, but not take it away. As I listened I became more grounded in the tree I set under, the grasses and plants around me became greener, the sense of hawk awakened. The concept that what is really important is sharing the idea that we are Earth held me and I exited the woods understanding that that is what I am about.

 

JULY 10, 2018

You would think that after 40 years of studying and thinking about community and our total connectedness with Earth that it would now be automatic, and there shouldn’t be much more to learn. Wrong. I remain daily in this culture of individualism, of the mechanical worldview, of seeing humans as the reason for the planet. It is so much easier to be engrossed in that mindset since it is all around me.

The talk on the connection with the forests, Charlene Spretnak’s talk, and maybe most of all, the opportunity to touch the part of me that knows this and to share it with people is essential.

In the woods, the struggles of houses wrapped around me. Sitting under the oak tree I decided I need to move. So I walk down the creek, listening to the mosquitoes, watching the moss climb another oak tree, slowly the interconnectedness seeped in enough that I could touch it for a bit. And then an awareness that the issues I am dealing with are also totally interconnected with the woods because it is all connected. It felt good, it felt right, and for a short time, it felt real.

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