Morning Meditations

‘Morning Meditations’

 Morning Meditations’ initially evolved out of my need to document pre – dawn wonder as I walked to the river each morning in the dark one winter. Once I entered my neighbor’s Bosque I would walk the same path in a circle, listen to river songs, the calls of the geese and watch the sky as stars faded and the sky lightened.  The haunting cries of Sandhill cranes in unison haunted me, embodying soul as they rose out of the marsh, prehistoric birds with a six foot wingspread etching the sky in silhouette, dark shadows overhead… I would return to the house just as the sun broke through mist, as a white ball of pure blinding light. 

I had never used FB until I lived in New Mexico and discovered friends that did. At first after these winter walks I simply posted pictures. Eventually words would come to me spontaneously and I would add a phrase or two. Most folks don’t spend pre-dawn time at the river and so my photographs may have allowed others to experience something of the glory that I did every single morning.

After a number of these walks I noticed that they seemed to help balance me for the rest of the day. Gradually I began to look forward to both – the walk – and the reflection. What I discovered the only summer I spent in NM was that I would have been completely housebound due to the heat without these treks which became longer and longer because I was also trying to get in 3 – 4 miles of exercise before intolerable heat struck. Because the actual length of the journey to and from the river and Bosque was less than a mile I retraced a circular path in the Bosque over and over. 

The first winter after I began this practice I noted that this walking often allowed me to enter a light trance state under which startling insights would appear, or a morning’s dream message would become clear. More rarely a vision. Although I never posted what occurred during these trance states I kept track of them. 

As a naturalist I am happiest when I am physically immersed in forest, mountain or stream. Entering the holy place I call NOW, embodiment frees me. I am no longer separate. Afterwards comes the need to reflect, and to share, along with the earnest hope that people who see these photographic  – meditations might be genuinely moved by them and by extension motivated to do something about the Earth crisis we are in…

 When I returned to Maine I discovered I needed to continue the practice I had begun in NM. Here though, unless it is summer, I am not driven out the door in the predawn, but if I look at the pictures I have taken the day before ideas surface. For me images always precede the word.  It must be said that every day I am moved to photograph something,ordinary happenings around my house, by the water, or in the woods. 

At dawn I look at yesterday’s images and then write. I never plan what I write beforehand so mistakes are commonplace. My reading influences what I write in surprising ways. Occasionally words or phrases seem to attach themselves to my images in ways that I don’t understand, at least initially. Every day that passes without the kind of change that Culture needs to embrace that will allow us all to survive leaves me even more committed. I post with the intent – the wild hope that some will begin seeing, sensing feeling or listening… using their bodily senses to hear the cry… 

 After a crisis a few years ago when I came to the realization that my years of nature writing didn’t change peoples minds or their behavior, I concluded that I still had to keep writing, because writing about nature helps me survive.  

Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks of the need for developing an attitude of reciprocity toward nature. In her way of thinking gratitude is the key. Although I don’t think this is the whole story, one way I thank nature for saving my life and keeping me sane each day hinges on these morning meditations that always remind me of how much I love this blue-green planet.

My earnest hope is that sharing these posts with an even larger audience might invite others to do the same thing – take a closer look at what’s around in their backyard. We save what we love. We are part of nature and using our senses to interact with any tree, plant, animal will bring us closer to “home” both inside and outside. As Overstory’s author Richard Powers states, “Something is always Listening.”

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