* We all know the wonderful Wendell Berry poem, The Peace of Wild Things:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
And, as the Goddess is my witness, there have been nights when Berry’s advice has kept me alive, fortified me to hang on until sunrise, helped me to wash away from my eyes what Ivo Dominguez calls the “enchantment of forgetfulness.”
Sometimes, though, it’s too late, I’m too tired, and it’s so cold that I’m not going outside, not even for a wood drake AND a heron AND still water. On those nights, I often turn (thanks to Landscape Guy) to A Man Called Pearl. Pearl Fryer is absolutely guaranteed to make me believe again in the world and (and this is often the more difficult task) my fellow humans. Pearl is, I’m pretty sure, a Bodhisattva. Today, Pearl turned me on to Ron Finley.
I think that I might be in love.
The blurb for Mr. Finley’s TED talk says, “Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty . . . .”
Fun. Defiance. Beauty. Hell, he had me at defiance.
What would it take for you to guerrilla garden?
* Yesterday, I came home from Sacred Space and sat out in my garden. I was thinking about the talk that I attended concerning how to approach The Sacred in urban neighborhoods. One of the things that occurred to me was that, often, if you ask an urban landbase how it wants you to approach it, the landbase will tell you that before you show up to do a “casting” or a “cleansing,” or a “blessing” or to come into relationship with it, what you need to do is to do something for the people in that landbase. My landbase has been clear to me that I need to be in relationship with the homeless vet who is a part of that landbase.
Maybe before we show up with sage smudging and charged water to “cleanse” an urban place, we need to make offerings to the panhandlers who live there and to have a conversation with the old women who shuffle up the street with their walkers.
I may be crazy. I could be wrong, but that’s what the my Bit of Earth suggested to me.
* Richard Louv, who writes about getting children out into nature, sometimes offers advice for today’s parents (and grandparents) who tend, perhaps quite a bit more than has been the historical case, to hover over our children (and grandchildren), wanting to protect them from harm.
It’s an important balancing act. We don’t want children to get hurt needlessly, but, if they can never turn over a rock for fear of snakebite, they may be harmed even more by lack of exposure to nature.
One bit of advice that Louv offers is to tell children to, “Pay attention,” rather than telling them to, “Be careful!” There’s a subtle difference, but “Pay attention” suggests that the world is safe to explore, as long as one stays engaged, while “Be careful,” suggests that the world is inherently dangerous and ought, perhaps, best be avoided. I’ve tried really hard (I’m not perfect; old habits die hard and I was raised by parents who, as an act of what I’m sure was love, taught me to fear EVERYTHING) to adopt this advice when I’m out with G/Son. There might be cars coming, pay attention.
Along these lines, I was interested to read today T. Thorn Coyle‘s statement that:
Some fear is a lifesaver. I want to fear getting close to the edge of an actual cliff. I want to fear walking through a strange neighborhood at night. That sort of fear is the animal self telling us to “Pay attention!” And we need to pay attention.
After decades and decades of using cheap, hand-me-down knives, I recently took part of a cash bonus and invested in some really good, really sharp knives. (Not as sharp as the knives that my friends use, but they’re semi-professional cooks. Their knives are, well, really, really, really sharp.) One of the things that I’ve realized is that sharp knives don’t call for you to “be careful.” Sharp knives call for you to “pay attention.”
* Lawyer that I am, one of my goals for this week is to spend a lunch hour with The Cyrus Cylinder, one of history’s first declarations of human rights. It’s currently on display at The Freer Gallery. Adlerian/Jungian that I am, I can’t believe that it’s coincidence that the Cyrus Cylinder is just a few blocks from the Supreme Court when the Court will consider the rights of gay people to be married. I’m one old woman, but I’m going to be engaging with and charging the cylinder to bring full rights to gay people. Of course, if other people did the same, both on site and remotely, it would be even more powerful. I am just saying.