Category Archives: Spirituality

Plants as Pets?

Often they are invisible, the plants we keep. Some grow inside our homes, many grow in our gardens. Others live naturally in nature and have captured our attention. Unlike dogs, cats, birds and reptiles, we do not commonly associate plants as pets. We give plants attention and care. Feed, prune and nurture. If we don’t they often die or struggle. Yet we do not regard them in the same manner as our animal friends.

We should consider why this is the case. With what significance do we regard plants as lifeforms? The closer a life form is to our own human form, the more mindful we are of their significance. We regard chimpanzees, whales and elephants as almost equals, due to their similarity to our human thought processes. Insects and plants get little respect.

Why? Plants are fellow lifeforms. Intrinsically, they are based on the same model as animals. Organic carbon lifeforms, utilizing amino acid proteins which are produced genetically from DNA codes.

On the surface, most lifeforms are different from human, but deep, deep down at a fundamental level, every species is equally sacred. Each individual of every species is unique and is blessed with the gift of being alive and as such should be treated with respect.

So why not plants as pets. If there is a particular plant that you are drawn to, then consider it a friend and create your own personal relationship.

My friend Tina had a spiritual relationship with a tree. It was about a half mile from her house on the hillside. She would walk to the tree every day and then sit quietly over looking the surrounding valley. Tina named the tree the “Yew” tree.

I now live in the house that Tina once lived and have walked to the Yew tree many times to sit under it’s branches. The Yew tree died last summer in a wildfire.

Get out there and be amazed…

Expressing Gratitude to the Earth

I listened to a Christmas Eve podcast of NPR’s “On Point”. Dacher Keltner, co-founder of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, was discussing the positive benefits of expressing gratitude.

New research is validating an old wisdom. Money, power and station in life cannot buy happiness. In fact, the pursuit of material possessions can increase stress, anxiety and affect health adversely.

The antidote to materialism is to shift your mindset and express gratitude for the things you have. Perhaps what you already have is enough to provide contentment. There is a difference between need and want. Most of us want so much, but actually need so little.

Studies of the neuroscience of positive emotions conclude that activities that benefit your pro-social nervous system result in a happier attitude, healthier immune system and better sleep patterns.

These activities include experiences in beauty and awe. Where better to find experiences of beauty and awe than in our own natural world.

Instead of acquiring a never ending mound of consumer goods, why not pursue experiences in nature. Spend some of that money on a wilderness trip, an outdoor hiking adventure or rafting down a white water river. The opportunities are endless. Studies have proven that experiences have a  longer lasting positive memory than the purchase of yet another consumer item. An experience can last a life time. The newness of a new consumer item seldom lasts longer than a few days.

Gratitude is the social glue that holds communities together. Being grateful for the gifts you have and the folks you know is good for your soul. People have a large capacity to express gratitude in situations of crisis.

The earth is entering an era of climatic and ecological crisis. It is time to express gratitude to our home, the earth. We should be grateful for the gifts the earth has provided and show that gratitude in our relationship to nature. We can give back by being good stewards and conserving our natural resources.

Most important we can express our love for the earth and the natural world in which we live. The diversity of animals and plants are a special gift, a sacred gift to be cherished, not plundered.

Get out there and be amazed…

Winter solstice reflections

Shortest day of the year, but what a lovely start.

Solstice sunrise

Solstice sunrise

You can’t take a warm and sunny day for granted this time of year. Our destination was the marshy confluence where the Okanogan River flows into the Columbia River in north central Washington. There is a great walk along the dike that separates the river from the marsh.

A perfect day to stroll along the dike and enjoy being in nature. Bald eagles where hanging out near a Cormorant rookery.

Eagles in Cormorant rookery

Eagles in Cormorant rookery

This adult had been hunting ducks and was drying its wings in the sun after getting them wet in the river. The eagle then took a short test flight to make sure his/her wings were dry.

Solstice.12.2014.09Solstice.12.2014.10

A kingfisher successfully hunted a small fish.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Ring-necked and Bufflehead ducks lazily floated on the water that had been frozen at Thanksgiving.

Ring-necked ducks

Ring-necked ducks

Goldeneye duck

Bufflehead duck

Hundreds of coots were rafting together in the water. An eagle flew out to hunt the stray birds on the edge. The coots saw the eagle and as if of one mind formed a very tight circular ball, protecting everyone from an individual eagle strike. The eagle gave up and returned to shore.

Coots rafting

Coots rafting

The sun sailed across the southern sky as if in a hurry to give way to night. Late in the evening returning home, we happened upon an old abandoned homestead. It was at the end of life, just like this year. As 2014 gives way to 2015, a new year is born.

Solstice.12.2014.16

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy and successful new year.

Get out there and be amazed…

“WOW” Moments

I was driving into Seattle on a recent morning. Rounding a curve in the road, I suddenly was looking directly at the full moon setting over Fisherman’s Terminal with the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop.

Definitely a “WOW” moment. We all have them occasionally. When we’re least expecting, a moment of intense awareness as we notice nature in its most glorious manifestation. Usually something most simple. A special tree, unique cloud, brightly colored bird. A moment that turns our ordinary ‘take it for granted’, ‘don’t notice it existent’ into a spectacular display of nature.

During those WOW moments we are ‘in the moment’, fully engaged and aware. Time seems to pause. Are we noticing nature or has nature reached out and touched us?

Savor those moments and Be Amazed…

You can only go forward in time

Time is a fickle concept. For centuries mankind has been obsessed with knowing the time of day. We are really good at measuring time, down to nanoseconds, and recording time accurately, using atomic clocks.

We began our obsession by keeping track of the relative position of the sun. Mankind became quite clever a long, long time ago of noting the position of the sun in the sky. After making many observations year after year we could tell the approximate time of day, the day of the month and the seasons of the year. You might say this was the science side of  time and lead to the development of our first clocks. ‘Stonehenge’ and the ‘Sun Dial’ are two examples.

But what exactly is time? That’s the fickle part.Our philosophical and spiritual contemplations have addressed that question for many centuries. We still do not have a complete answer.

As you experience nature, notice that time equals change. Nothing in our life is permanent. Seasons come and go in cycles. Animals, plants, rocks and continents come and go. Species evolve and become extinct.

Time manifests itself in cycles. Within those cycles entities experience birth, life and death. For some that life will last for a short time. Subatomic particles created in a particle accelerator exist but for a moment. Rocks are created form molten lava and can exist for billions of years.

Time is also a one way street. You can only go forward in time. You can remember the past but you cannot turn around and go back in time. Its only through the cycles of time that a path can be repeated. Each cycle is different. Each year, season, month and day is different from all the others. Each life is different and each and every moment is different.

Alpine path

So the next time you walk down that path which you have walked down many times, notice the subtle differences. That’s when you will be in the moment and closest to nature.

Travel that path and Be Amazed…

Crocus, purple gold

CrocusAlmost stepped on these little purple nuggets popping out of the leaves.

Crocus flowers are some of the first to bloom in the spring, often emerging long before snow and freezing weather has passed. When warm and sunny the flowers open. At night and if the air is cold the flowers shut tight.

You can tell from the photo just what kind of day I am enjoying. If asked to describe an image of my soul, this little flower open to the sun would suffice.

Experience nature and Be Amazed…

 

Singing Springing Songbirds

You might be thinking that spring will never ever get here. Forget about that groundhog. Pay attention to the birds in your backyard. They know spring is on its way.

Grey Jay

This morning I walked out back and the sound of songbirds greeted my ears. Songbirds, mostly males, begin their annual dawn chorus just as spring is beginning to arrive. The theory is they are defending their territory and trying to attract a mate.

No matter the reason, what a surprise when you notice those songbirds singing for the first time. Just stop and listen for a few minutes. Feel the joy of knowing that winter will soon give way to spring. Its just around the corner.

We all share the winter,

You, me then the spring.

Again we hear the songbirds sing.

Experience nature and Be Amazed…