Monday, March 28, 2016

Beauty Enough

Following a rain, a luminous glow reveals the inconspicuous beauty of a cluster of Boxelder flowers. Surely these delicate ornaments usually go unnoticed, but I am beginning to think such unobserved grace and loveliness fills our world whether we notice or not. 

This raises the question of why there should there be such unnecessary beauty? What good comes of unseen charm? Does it exist simply on the chance that I may see? Is there an advantage to being beautiful if there is no admirer? Is the purpose of the Boxelder's beauty simply to delight the eye of an unseen Creator? Does beauty exist simply for its won sake?

I don't know. I am no theologian, and I am certainly no philosopher, but I think maybe it is enough for me to know that such beauty exists, and to know it not only exists, but is common. Maybe the beauty of common Boxelder is enough.

Friday, March 25, 2016


You can pick it, but you cannot own a wildflower. Wild things cannot be possessed. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Where Wild Lives

All of wild nature lies right outside your door. Nature is not confined to some place "out there" away from us. One doesn't need exotic lands, the grandeur of a national park, or even a  few acres of city park to experience nature firsthand. For those who care to look, nature is revealed in the wind blowing dandelion seeds, the robin listening for an earthworm lunch in the lawn, or the ever-changing phases of the moon. Within walking distance of where you sit, there are wonders you've never really seen before. You should go introduce yourself. Learn of the green world. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Riven: A Lament Seeking Understanding

riven: [past participle of rive] torn apart, split, rent, severed, cleft, torn asunder. 

We as a people are riven. We are divided among ourselves by race, culture, politics, and money. Whether intentionally or ignorantly, we build and reinforce walls to separate us. Our frequent response to fear is to kill. 

We are fractured at every level. We are riven whether you're looking at race, religion, nation, community, or even family. We are torn and have come to believe this is the natural way of things. Maybe we have forgotten what it is to be whole. 

We are cleft from the land that nurtured us. We have forgotten our ties to the earth and fool ourselves into thinking we are somehow independent of the rest of creation. We have forgotten our wild nature, and believe the environment is only a political topic.

We have severed ourselves from our heritage. We believe only in the newest, fastest, shiniest technologies. We reject old ways merely because they are old, as if standing the test of time meant nothing. Our society has come to consider the educated young geek somehow smarter and better than the plumber or housekeeper who sacrificed to create his opportunities. 

We believe our church or religion is better because, well, it just is. We believe other food, other languages, other music, other perspectives are fundamentally inferior to our own. We cannot spend time together in a meal, a discussion, or just listening to a song. We no longer assume positive intent in others, and we judge motivations before we know facts. We are not diverse, but divided. Unity and harmony are forgotten in the wars against our enemies. And then we don't understand why our enemies are growing more numerous every day.

We are a riven people. We are torn asunder, bleeding, and ripped apart by our own hands. Tattered and torn we long for that which would make us whole again, if only we could remember what it is. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Beautiful Weeds

Some people see only a weed, but I prefer to look more closely. Lamium purpureum is the purple broadleaf coming up in many lawns right now. Although this European immigrant it is commonly known as Red (or Purple) Dead Nettle, this small herb is a member of the mint family. It spreads invasively in sunny lawns, so it is regarded by most American homeowners as a weed. Personally, I can't help but marvel at their tiny yet intricate purple blossoms.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Filling the Margins

Looking at a mushroom I am overwhelmed to consider the dazzling diversity of life found in our small forest. I can't even begin to comprehend the breadth of life that must be displayed across our great planet. Life is relentless. Life persists even in the margins, like the colorful illuminations in ancient books. When we think we've found a lifeless spot, it's usually because we haven't looked closely enough. Life is ubiquitous. Life finds a way everywhere. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Whatever else may happen,
there is a peace in standing silent in a twilight wood listening to Spring Peepers sing their love songs from an unseen forest pool. 

Last year's age-softened beech leaves cushion the ground beneath my feet. Cool air flows around me like water around a rock in a stream. All is hushed except the singing frogs. And then above them a deep soft voice flows from the trees. 

An owl spirit
summons the night
and my senses settle
calm among the branches
holding above me the silver half-circle
of a first quarter moon. 

I breath slowly, listening.
My air joins the wind
and lifts my praise.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Finding by Not Seeking

Even the most familiar path can take me to unexpected places. Sometimes I just need to explore, off trail, going nowhere in particular, rambling about aimlessly, noticing mayapples just poking out of the ground beneath cottony white clouds sailing the blue sky above. My fingers and eyes roam mossy rocks, logs, and cradle-knolls. Being in the forest without purpose almost always leads to discovery. It's as if by not looking for anything I am receptive to everything. Sometimes the best way to find something is by not looking for it. 

Orientation: a guiding question

Why is the world so beautiful? There's a lot wrong with the world today. Scary things. Horrible things I can never forget. A lot of stuff I can't fix. Stuff we must confront. But I am drawn back to this question: Why is the world so beautiful? And I surrender to wonder and go looking for it as an explorer on a quest. Sometimes discovery is more about new vision than new places.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Serendipitous Beauty

Even if I live to be very old, I will always be captivated by the waking of wildflowers in spring. If anything, my wonder increases with each new year. Beauty and serendipity turn out to be fairly common.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)