Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Dialogue With the Universe

We are in constant dialogue with the universe. Maybe we don't realize it, but throughout every moment of our lives, we are giving and receiving messages. Mostly, our upbringing and manner of living in the modern world has had the effect of rendering us oblivious and indifferent to such dialogues. We are ignorantly rude to the world around us, being far more addicted to consumerism-saturated aspirations than liberated by our degrees of wealth and "easy" living.

People no longer tread over the bare earth. Their hands have drawn away from the grasses and flowers, they do not gaze up to the heavens, their ears are deaf to the songs of birds, their noses are rendered insensitive by exhaust fumes, and their tongues have forgotten the simple tastes of nature. All five senses have grown isolated from nature. --Masanobu Fukuoka

As we speed over the landscape in automobiles and plop in front of our televisions for long hours of mind-numbing escapism, what might the trees and grasses and birds and wind and rocks think of our manner of living?

I think they are affronted by our insolence. I think they are also amazingly forgiving of our ignorance...and I think they sing songs on our behalf, hoping one day we will hear their voices and come out of unexamined habitual behaviors, joining them in composing new songs.

Communication with the plant and animal people begins with the realization that we are not superior but equal to the plants and animals. In fact, we should begin to understand that in most cases we rank below them in our basic ability to survive. --Tom Brown, Jr.

I have caught myself reaching for the "fast forward" button on my life since my last entry here in the Journal of Ravenseyrie. It's the harshness of this year's winter that has served to prompt me to such disrespect of the present state of is-ness...(even as I type this another "winter storm" is in the forecast, with snow, high winds and deep-freeze temperatures beginning this evening and into tomorrow). But I have caught myself in the rude act of ridiculous resistance to what is, and I've retracted my desire to shut my eyes tight and wish for immediate spring. There would be much of value I would miss if I skipped parts of my life. I almost didn't realize to wish away the rest of winter was petulant and selfish...I hope the rocks and birds will forgive me for my weakness and complaints.

As Tom Brown, Jr. has noted, the plant and animal people are far superior in their survival capacities than I am. And I daresay they are never indifferent to the dialogue of the universe, rather, are always knowingly engaged in this magical, natural, essential two-way communication.

Once again, the semi-wild horse keeping environment here at Ravenseyrie has provided me with deeper meaning of our inter-connectedness. With the landscape once again under a covering of deep snow, Kevin and I have strapped back on the snowshoes for going about certain necessary tasks that take us away from the plowed or trod-and-packed areas. As is my habit during such times, I take the pups out for their daily walks, but instead of walking, I put on my cross-country skis, and together we follow the horse trails in search of fresh air, exercise and whatever else might be revealed during such an outing.

The other day I was able to link up with one of Kevin's well-pressed trails from an excursion he took with the toboggan to fetch dead timber for our trusty Jotul wood stove, which has kept us so wonderfully warm all winter. The sun caught on the many-faceted snow particles over the fields like so many diamonds. I had to stop and take photos, though the camera couldn't quite capture the full essence. Tobbacco, who had gone on ahead of the rest of us, sat patiently on the trail waiting for me to finish snapping photos.

I had brought the camera along because now that the snow is deep again, the horses have gone back to pawing and digging to get to the grasses underneath. During the last brief melt we had, it didn't look to me like there was anything but soggy, faded, depleted and spent looking grass to be grazing upon, and I couldn't imagine why the horses would bother to expend so much effort digging for such sorrowful looking forage.

But since this last layer of deep snow, it seems some magic is at work...look! Green shoots! (Click on the image to enlarge and see the early gift the universe has given to the horses.)The song of the earth was heard by the horses (because they were tuned in and listening rather than moaning and groaning over more deep snowfall as I had been) and it told them that the awakening of the landscape was already underway!

The next day, I took the camera out with me again and took some photos of the horses:

The herd finishes up their breakfast hay up near the house.

Fada, Interessado, Ciente, Mistral and Zeus

Himself, purebred Sorraia stallion, Altamiro

After initially running off because I startled him , Altamiro became intensely curious in my picture taking and decided to offer me some poses.
Doll and Altamiro, coming in close for more intimate attention from the camera gal

And to close for today, I want to share photos I took yesterday of a piece of statuary that stands in the corner at the top of the stairs to our basement. This marble statue once belonged to my mother-in-law. I have named her St. Melangell after the legend of the Celtic patron saint of the hare and other animals. As I was coming up the stairs, my mind still focused on wanting to "fast forward" through these remaining days of winter, the sunlight happened to be falling on her exactly as you see here. Like an omen or affirmation, wouldn't you say? So mystical in its illumination of this patron saint of the animals here at Ravenseyrie...this beam of sun reveals a promise that the dialogue with the universe is an ever-evolving beautiful song suggesting things are "just right" and best experienced in the moment and not wished away.


Annemiek said...


What a wonderful entry. It so happens I am reading a book with Jennifer. It is called Torak and Wolf. It is a book for children, but I like it so much. In the book the boy Torak is able to talk with a wolves and other animals, but he can also hear what the trees and plants have to say. You know what strikes me? Jennifer does not think this is strange at all. She asks me questions about some things that happen in the book, but she totally accepts that the trees talk. I think instead of telling our kids that such things are nonsense, we should encourage them to listen. Your entry made me aware of this all over again. Thank you!

By the way, I love the statue “St. Melangell” What is she leaning on? Some kind of tool or something?

eva said...

What an interesting place for this marble saint, Melangel, at the entrance to the underworld, what's she guarding there?

I could picture her out in the landscape, snow covered with icicles on her lashes and nose. Maybe someone would come and give her a good rub.

Have you ever asked her if she wanted to go outside? Or is she hiding? So she will not raise suspicion she may have escaped from a museum?

I am glad (and marvelling at) the green sprouts under the snow. No wonder the horses are digging. Spring can't be far away.

I love the idea of a dialog with nature, it is very true we are always in a conversation. And I am glad you found a way to say "yes" to the continued cold and super-human snow-removal chores. I do feel, however, sometimes it's ok to say "no", when it's enough, and go somewhere else. The animals do it, and even more so recently migrating ever further north to escape the heat and drought in other parts of the world, even the plants are migrating north...

In fact i can imagine that your cold, magical winterworld will become very popular as time goes by (assuming all the speculation about climate change will turn out to be true) and many creatures may show up and ask for asylum...

Lynne Gerard said...

Annemiek and Eva,
Thank you for taking the time to read and leave your comments...which have sparked me to answer them in a new entry. Thanks for the inspiration!