A Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

 

 

Cultivating a Sense of Wonder

The Sense of Wonder
By Rachel Carson

One stormy autumn night when my nephew Roger was about twenty months old I wrapped him in a blanket and carried him down to the beach in the rainy darkness. Out there, just at the edge of where-we-couldn’t see, big waves were thundering in, dimly seen white shapes that boomed and shouted and threw great handfuls of froth at us. Together we laughed for pure joy—he a baby,  meeting for the first time the wild tumult of Oceanus, I with the salt of half a lifetime of sea-love in me. But I think we felt the same spine-tingling response to the vast, roaring ocean and the wild night around us.

A night or two later the storm had blown itself out and I took Roger again to the beach, this time to carry him along the water’s edge, piercing the darkness with the yellow cone of our flashlight. Although there was no rain the night was again noisy with breaking waves and the insistent wind. It was clearly a time and place where great and elemental things prevailed.

Our adventure on this particular night had to do with life, for we were searching for ghost crabs, those sand-colored, fleet-legged beings which Roger had sometimes glimpsed briefly on the beaches in daytime. But the crabs are chiefly nocturnal, and when not roaming the night beaches they dig little pits near the surf line where they hide, seemingly watching and waiting for what the sea may bring them. For me the sight of these small living creatures, solitary and fragile against the brute force of the sea, had moving philosophic overtones, and I do not pretend that Roger and I reacted with similar emotions. But it was good to see his infant acceptance of a world of elemental things, fearing neither the song of the wind nor the darkness nor the roaring surf, entering with baby excitement into the search for a “ghos.”

It was hardly a conventional way to entertain one so young, I suppose, but now, with Roger a little past his fourth birthday, we are continuing that sharing of adventures in the world of nature that we began in his babyhood, and I think the results are good. The sharing includes nature in storm as well as calm, by nights as well as by day, and is based on having fun together rather than on teaching.

I spend the summer months on the coast of Maine, where I have my own shoreline and my own small tract of woodland. Bayberry and juniper and huckleberry begin at the very edge of the granite rim of shore, and where the land slopes upward from the bay in a wooded knoll the air becomes fragrant with spruce and balsam. Underfoot there is the multi-patterned northern ground cover of blueberry, checkerberry, reindeer moss and bunchberry, and on a hillside of many spruces, with shaded ferny dells and rocky outcroppings—called the Wildwoods— there are lady’s-slippers and wood lilies and the slender wants of clintonia with its deep blue berries.

When Roger has visited me in Maine and we have walked in these woods I have made no conscious effort to name plants or animals nor to explain to him, but have just expressed my own pleasure in what we see, calling his attention to this or that but only as I would share discoveries with an older person. Later I have been

amazed at the way names stick in his mind, for when I show color slides of my woods plants it is Roger who can identify the. “Oh, that’s what Rachel likes—that bunchberry!” Or, “That’s Jumer (juniper) but you can’t eat those green berries—they are for the squirrels.” I am sure no amount of drill would have implanted the names so firmly as just going through the woods in the spirit of two friends on an expedition of exciting discovery.

In the same way Roger learned the shells on my little triangle of sand that passes for a beach in rocky Maine. When he was only a year and a half old, they became known to him as winkies (periwinkles), weks (whelks) and mukkies (mussels) without my knowing quite now this came about, for I had not tried to teach him.

We have let Roger share our enjoyment of things people ordinarily deny children because they are inconvenient, interfering with bedtime, or involving wet clothing that has to be changed or mud that has to be cleaned off the rug.

We have let him join us in the dark living room before the big picture window to watch the full moon riding lower and lower toward the far shore of the bay, setting all the water ablaze with silver flames and finding a thousand diamonds in the rocks on the shore as the light strikes the flakes of mica embedded in them. I think we have felt that the memory of such a scene, photographed year after year by his child’s mind, would mean more to him in manhood than the sleep he was losing. He told me it would, in his own way, when we had a full moon the night after his arrival last summer. He sat quietly on my lap for some time, watching the moon and the water and all the night sky, and then he whispered, “I’m glad we came.”

A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods. I always thought so myself; the Maine woods never seem so fresh and alive as in wet weather. Then all the needles on the evergreens wear a sheath of silver; ferns seems to have grown to almost tropical lushness and every leaf has its edging of crystal drops. Strangely colored fungi—mustard-yellow and apricot and scarlet—are pushing out of the leaf mold and all the lichens and the mosses have come alive with green and silver freshness.

Now I know that for children, too, nature reserves some of her choice rewards for days when her mood may appear to be somber .Roger reminded me of it on a long walk through rain-drenched woods last summer—not in words, of course, but by his responses. There had been rain and fog for days, rain beating on the big picture window, fog almost shutting out sight of the bay. No lobstermen coming in to tend their traps, no gulls on the shore, scarcely even a squirrel to watch. The cottage was fast becoming too small for a restless three-year-old.

“Let’s go for a walk in the woods,” I said. “Maybe we’ll see a fox or a deer.” So into yellow oilskin coat and sou’wester and outside in joyous anticipation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photos: 1. Ants nest in tree:    Colourful lichen: Brush Turkey heaped up  nest 

Having always loved the lichens because they have a quality of fairyland— silver rings on a stone, odd little forms like bones or horns or the shell of a sea creature—I was glad to find Roger noticing and responding to the magic change in their appearance wrought by the rain. The woods path was carpeted with the so- called reindeer moss, in reality a lichen. Like an old-fashioned hall runner, it made a narrow strip of silvery gray through the green of the woods, here and the spreading out to cover a larger area. In dry weather the lichen carpet seems thin; it is brittle and crumbles underfoot. Now, saturated with rain which it absorbs like a sponge, it was deep and springy. Roger delighted in its texture, getting down on chubby knees to feel it, and running from one patch to another to jump up and down in the deep, resilient carpet with squeals of pleasure.

It was here that we first played our Christmas tree game. There is a fine crop of young spruces coming along and one can find seedlings of almost any size down to the length of Roger’s finger. I began to point out the baby trees.

“The one must be a Christmas tree for the squirrels,” I would say. “It’s just the right height. On Christmas Eve the red squirrels come and hang little shells and cones and silver threads of lichen on it for ornaments, and then the snow falls and covers it with shining stars, and in the morning the squirrels have a beautiful Christmas tree…And this one is even tinier—it must be for the little bugs of some kinds—and maybe this bigger one is for the rabbits or the woodchucks.”

Once this game was started it had to be played on all woods walks, which from now on were punctuated by shouts of, “Don’t step on the Christmas tree!”

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

Parents often have a sense of inadequacy when confronted on the one hand with the eager, sensitive mind of a child and on the other with a world of complex physical nature, inhabited by a life so various and unfamiliar that it seems hopeless to reduce it to order and knowledge. In a mood of self-defeat, they exclaim, “How can I possibly teach my child about nature—why, I don’t even know one bird from another.”

I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused—a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love—then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.

If you are a parent who feels he has little nature lore at his disposal there is still much you can do for your child. With him, wherever you are and whatever your resources,

you can still look up at the sky—its dawn and twilight beauties,

its moving clouds,

its stars by night.

You can listen to the wind, whether it blows with majestic voice through a forest or sings a many-voiced chorus around the eaves of your house or the corners of your apartment building, and in the listening, you can gain magical release for your thoughts.

You can still feel the rain on your face and think of its long journey,

its many transmutations, from sea to air to earth.

Even if you are a city dweller, you can find some place,

perhaps a park or a golf course,

where you can observe the mysterious migrations of the birds

and the changing seasons.

And with your child you can ponder the mystery of a growing seed,

even if it be only one planted in a pot of earth in the kitchen window.

Exploring nature with your child is largely a matter of becoming receptive to what lies all around you. It is learning again to use your eyes,

ears,

nostrils

and finger tips, opening up the disused channels of sensory impression.

For most of us, knowledge of our world comes largely through sight, yet we look about with such unseeing eyes that we are partially blind. One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself,

What if I had never seen this before?

What if I knew I would never see it again?”

I remember a summer night when such a thought came to me strongly. It was a clear night without a moon. With a friend, I went out on a flat headland that is almost a tiny island, being all but surrounded by the waters of the bay. There the horizons are remote and distant rims on the edge of space.

We lay and looked up at the sky and the millions of stars that blazed in darkness. The night was so still that we could hear the buoy on the ledges out beyond the mouth of the bay. Once or twice a word spoken by someone on the far shore was carried across on the clear air. A few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of other human life; my companion and I were alone with the stars.

I have never seen them more beautiful: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. Once or twice a meteor burned its way into the earth’s atmosphere.

It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century or even once in a human generation, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be seen many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night perhaps they will never see it.

An experience like that, when one’s thoughts are released to roam through the lonely spaces of the universe, can be shared with a child even if you don’t know the name of a single star.

You can still drink in the beauty, and think and wonder at the meaning of what you see.

And then there is the world of little things, seen all too seldom. Many children, perhaps because they themselves are small and closer to the ground than we, notice and delight in the small and inconspicuous. With this beginning, it is easy to share with them the beauties we usually miss because we look too hastily, seeing the whole and not its parts. Some of nature’s most exquisite handiwork is on a miniature scale, as anyone knows who has applied a magnifying glass to a snowflake.

An investment of a few dollars in a good hand lens or magnifying glass will bring a new world into being. With your child, look at objects you take for granted as commonplace or uninteresting. A sprinkling of sand grains may appear as gleaming jewels of rose or crystal hue, or as glittering jet beads, or as a mélange of Lilliputian rocks, spines of sea urchins and bits of snail shells.

A lens-aided view into a patch of moss reveals a dense tropical jungle, in which insects large as tigers prowl amid strangely formed, luxuriant trees. A bit of pond weed or seaweed put in a glass container and studied under a lens is found to be populated by hordes of strange beings, whose activities can entertain you for hours. Flowers (especially the composites), the early buds of leaf or flower from any tree, or any small creature reveal unexpected beauty and complexity when, aided by a lens, we can escape the limitations of the human size scale.

Senses other than sight can prove avenues of delight and discovery, storing up for us memories and impressions. Already Roger and I, out early in the morning, have enjoyed the sharp, clean smell of wood smoke coming from the cottage chimney. Down on the shore we have savored the smell of low tide—that marvelous evocation combined of many separate odors, of the world of seaweeds and fishes and creatures of bizarre shape and habit, of tides rising and falling of their appointed schedule, of exposed mud flats and salt rime drying on the rocks.

I hope Roger will later experience, as I do, the rush of remembered delight that comes with the first breath of that scent, drawn into one’s nostrils as one returns to the sea after a long absence. For the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it is a pity that we use it so little.

Hearing can be a source of even more exquisite pleasure but it requires conscious cultivation. I have had people tell me they had never heard the song of a wood thrush, although I knew the bell-like phrases of this bird had been ringing in their back yards every spring. By suggestion and example, I believe children can be helped to hear the many voices about them. Take time to listen and talk about the voices of the earth and what they mean—the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of surf or flowing streams.

And the voices of living things: No child should grow up unaware of the dawn chorus of the birds in spring. He will never forget the experience of a specially planned early rising and going out in the predawn darkness. The first voices are heard before daybreak. It is easy to pick out these first, solitary singers. Perhaps a few cardinals are uttering their clear, rising whistles, like someone calling a dog. Then the song of a whitethroat, pure and ethereal, with the dreamy quality of remembered joy. Off in some distant patch of woods a whippoorwill continues his monotonous night chant, rhythmic and insistent, sound that is felt almost more than heard. Robins, thrushes, song sparrows, jays, vireos add their voices. The chorus picks up volume as more and more robins join in, contributing a fierce rhythm of their own that soon becomes dominant in the wild medley of voices. In that dawn chorus one hears the throb of life itself.

There is other living music. I have already promised Roger that we’ll take our flashlights this fall and go out into the garden to hunt for the insects that play little fiddles in the grass and among the shrubbery and flower borders. The sound of the insect orchestra swells and throbs night after night, from midsummer until autumn ends and the frosty nights make the tiny players stiff and numb, and finally the last note is stilled in the long cold. An hour of hunting out the small musicians by flashlight is an adventure any child would love. It gives him a sense of the night’s mystery and beauty, and of how alive it is with watchful eyes and little, waiting forms.

The game is to listen, not so much to the full orchestra as to the separate instruments, and to try to locate the players. Perhaps you are drawn, step by step, to a bush from which comes a sweet, high-pitched, endlessly repeated trill. Finally you trace it to a little creature of palest green, with wings as white and insubstantial as moonlight. Or from somewhere along the garden path comes a cheerful, rhythmic chirping, a sound as companionable and homely as a fire crackling on a hearth or a cat’s purr. Shifting your light downward you find a black mole cricket disappearing into his grassy den.

Most haunting of all is one I call the fairy bell ringer. I have never found him. I’m not sure I want to. His voice—and surely he himself—are so ethereal, so delicate, so otherworldly, that he should remain invisible, as he has through all the nights I have searched for him. It is exactly the sound that should come from a bell held in the hand of the tiniest elf, inexpressibly clear and silvery, so faint, to barely- to-be-heard that you hold your breath as you bend closer to the green glades from which the fairy chiming comes.

The night is a time, to, to listen for other voices, the calls of bird migrants hurrying northward in spring and southward in autumn. Take your child out on a still October night when there is little wind and find a quiet place away from traffic noises. Then stand very still and listen, projecting your consciousness up into the dark arch of the sky above you. Presently your ears will detect tiny wisps of sound— sharp chirps, sibilant lisps and call notes. They are the voices of bird migrants, apparently keeping in touch by their calls with others of their kind scattered through the sky. I never hear these calls without a wave of feeling that is compounded of many emotions—a sense of lonely distances, a compassionate awareness of small lives controlled and directed by forces beyond volition or denial, a surging wonder at the sure instinct for route and direction that so far has baffled human efforts to explain it.

If the moon is full and the night skies are alive with the calls of bird migrants, then the way is open for another adventure with your child, if he is old enough to use a telescope or a good pair of binoculars. The sport of watching migrating birds pass across the face of the moon has become popular and even scientifically important in recent years, and it is as good a way as I know to give an older child a sense of the mystery of migration.

Seat yourself comfortably and focus your glass on the moon. You must learn patience, for unless you are on a well-traveled highway of migration you may have to wait many minutes before you are rewarded. In the waiting periods you can study the topography of the moon, for even a glass of moderate power reveals enough detail to fascinate a space-conscious child. But sooner or later you should begin to see the birds, lonely travelers in space glimpsed as they pass from darkness into darkness.

In all this I have said little about identification of the birds, insects, rocks, stars or any other of the living and nonliving things that share this world with us. Of course it is always convenient to give a name to things that arouse our interest. But that is a separate problem, and one that can be solved by any parent who has a reasonably observant eye and the price of various excellent handbooks that are available in quite inexpensive editions.

I think the value of the game of identification depends on how you play it. If it becomes an end in itself I count it of little use. It is possible to compile extensive lists of creatures seen and identified without ever once having caught a breath-taking glimpse of the wonder of life. If a child asked me a question that suggested even a faint awareness of the mystery behind the arrival of a migrant sandpiper on the beach of an August morning, I would be far more pleased than by the mere fact that he knew it was a sandpiper and not a plover.

What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence? Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper?

I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant.

Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty

in the migration of the birds,

the ebb and flow of the tides,

the folded bud ready for the spring.

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—

the assurance that dawn comes after nights, and spring after winter.

I like to remember the distinguished Swedish oceanographer, Otto Pettersson, who died a few years ago at the age of ninety-three, in full possession of his keen mental powers. His son, also world-famous in oceanography, has related in a recent book how intensely his father enjoyed the world about him.

“He was an incurable romantic,” the son wrote, “intensely in love with life and with the mysteries of the cosmos.” When he realized he had not much longer to enjoy the earthly scene, Otto Pettersson said to his son, “What will sustain me in my last moments is an infinites curiosity as to what is to follow.”

In my mail recently was a letter that bore eloquent testimony to the lifelong durability of a sense of wonder. It came from a reader who asked advice on choosing a seacoast spot for a vacation, a place wild enough that she might spend her days roaming beaches unspoiled by civilization, exploring that world that is old but ever new.

Regretfully she excluded the rugged northern shores. She had loved the shore all her life, she said, but climbing over the rocks of Maine might be difficult, for an eighty-ninth birthday would soon arrive. As I put down her letter I was warmed by the fires of wonder and amazement that still burned brightly in her youthful mind and spirit, just as they must have done fourscore years ago.

 

Walking the Labyrinth

 

‘I shall show you the path which will take you home and I shall give wings to your minds that can carry you aloft’  Boethius

Walking the Labyrinth

  •  In a time of social distancing

Recently i got out my hand labyrinth  

and with the inspiration  from Abbess Christine Valters Paintner 

 i put aside the time to walk the labyrinth with my left hand.

It was interesting to listen to music and slowly, meditatively  take the time with a youtube scene so I felt I was not alone but in a community.  

Here is my Hand labyrinth that I bought many years ago from somewhere in the Blue Mountains. Of course I presume these days they can be ordered on line. 

 

 

  • Benedictine  Monastery Arcadia NSW.

I have had the opportunity to pray and walk a Labyrinth several times over the past 20 years. I love the journey or significance of walking into the center of the Labyrinth, into the center of my own personal prayer journey, into my heart. When walking the circular path in the silence of prayer and solitude, no words are needed. It is a very healing experience. The walk for me is a prayerful journey into the depth of my heart .

The last time I actually walked a labyrinth was last spring at a day of meditation at St. Benedict’s  Monastery at Arcadia.

Driving out to the Monastery on the edge of the city  is always a centring experience  . I arrived early so that I could walk the labyrinth  before the people arrived for the day of meditation.  It was crisp, clear day and breathing fresh country  and the sounds surrounding mewas only a zephyr of a breeze,  and bird song. The kookaburras gathered  5 of them, moved between trees and branches  and laughed intermittently. They made me smile  and reminded me not to take life too seriously.

Every labyrinth experience is difference. Besides  the elegant geometry of which   there are several there is different ground textures different sounds being inside ot outside etc. as you walk   The one at Arcadia is the Chartre model as the finger labyrinth is but it is made with white  gravel stones that have a crunch as you take each step . 

 

  • The Chartre Cathedral Labyrinth

In this world of pilgrimage one of the most famous labyrinths is the one in Chartre Cathedral. I have been there when it is covered by chairs and not to be walked because whoever  was in charge felt people were coming to do that rather then pray and one time they take the chairs away at 5 for the eager ones still waiting to walk.

My friends have been there in the evening where my friend played the cello while people walked with candles all around it. How wonderful that would be. When I walked tI marveled at the stone all smooth with a thousand years of walking this pilgrimage some for penance have done it on their knees.  I walked in in a quiet reflective way with a question. I cant remember what the question was now (It was 40 years ago) and the answer was not important.

  There is a phrase solvitur ambulando—it is made by walking. I’ll admit, while the phrase resonates, I don’t understood it fully, and perhaps that’s because I am trying to understand it with words. But after walking the labyrinth slowly  I am finding the words  ‘it is made by walking whispering, “solvitur ambulando,” and my soul echoing, “it is made by walking,” and I know the phrase is true.

I have a book called Labyrinths: Ancient paths of wisdom and peace, by Virginia Westbury and great photography by Cindy Pavlinac, which I picked up for a few dollars. There is so many interesting things  to read and learn.

 

   *  An Indigenous Story

One new fact from this book is of our own First Nation Peoples .

             

                                                            Gagadju White Lady Kakadu  National Park

There is a reluctance to say too much here for I can find no reference to credit the photos of the two Indigenous works. I have been with an Indigenous Guide to study cave painting up near Kakadu and these two paintings take my breath away.

Studies have found that ancient peoples employed for their story telling shapes such as spirals amd concentric circles to denote sacred places and being associated with their ‘Dreaming’ which today some same relates to their pholosophy  their creative stories.  Frequently they drew these figures on sand or rock and today on canvas as a way of relating their stories

In this Aboriginal painting it depicts the story of a huge snake  called
‘Rainbow Serpent ‘ which according to the stories gave birth to all creatures  . This snake is portrayed curled up in a spiral or around a series of labyrinth-like concentric circles. Serpents feature prominently in Greek mythology too, as symbols of immortality and prophecy.

Love has taken away my practice and filled me with poetry ‘ Rumi

 

A few web sights  I have found is

veriditas.org and

asacredjourney.net

 

Saint Hildegard Beer : An amazing surprise!

Yes this is real . A can of beer called St Hildegard.

What a surprise when my son-in-law sent me a iphone photo of a St Hildegard can of beer.

He was at a hotel for a celebration and was so excited when he saw this can. I think everybody quickly became aware his mother-in-law had research and written about this woman and this was exciting news for Brendan to relate to me . Then for my birthday the family  bought me a carton  of Hildegard beer !!!!and it has been good for toasting the wonderful milestones my book  Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey has achieved.

This beer celebrates Saint Hildegard – who I know as Hildegard of Bingen.

I see Hildegard an inspiration but am just learning young people in pubs are celebrating her as the  first person to describe hops in a scientific manner.

The  back of the can reads:
Brewery: Hawkers Beer
Style: American Pale Ale
Format: 375ml Can
ABV: 4.6%
This beer celebrates Saint Hildegard, the first person to describe hops in a scientific manner. During her life, she was a brewer, mystic, prophet, composer, and prolific writer on religion and the natural world.

Mel’s hop-forward XPA predominately features Yakima Chief Hops’ Pink Boots Blend, consisting of a well-rounded mix of Pacific Northwestern hop varieties including Loral, Mosaic, Simcoe, Sabro, and Glacier.

A portion of the profits from this beer will be donated to Pink Boots Australia and the Asylum Seeker Research Centre.

Hawkers/Pink Boots/ Cryer Malt Saint Hildegard XPA

A collaboration with Pink Boots Australia.

Mel’s hop-forward XPA predominately features Yakima Chief Hops’ Pink Boots Blend, consisting of a well-rounded mix of Pacific Northwestern hop varieties including Loral, Mosaic, Simcoe, Sabro, and Glacier.

A portion of the profits from this beer will be donated to Pink Boots Australia and the Asylum Seeker Research Centre. This made me very excited that a beer called after Hildegard was helping asylum seekers. 

Hildegard and Hops

Wild hops had long been consumed by ancient Romans and used medicinally in different parts of the world for their anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, and sedative qualities. So her observations of melancholy were apt, albeit arguably a bit shortsighted.

“Hops are the soul of beer.” – Jim Koch, Founder, Boston Beer Company

But given that hops had not been used in beer-making previously, and they were a long way from being ubiquitous or oft-cultivated, it is not surprising that the many benefits of hops had eluded Hildegard.  However, knowing Hildegard’s fondness for bitter tasting foods, it makes sense that she be the one to include this naturally bitter flavor in what we know of today as beer.

Some pointers I picked up from healthyhildegard.com  the wonderful informative website.

Health benefits of beer according to Hildegard

In her book,Causae et Curae, Hildegard wrote: “…[beer] positively affects the body when moderately consumed…beer fattens the flesh and…lends a beautiful color to the face.”

As it turns out, she was right on all accounts. Particularly regarding moderation. While far from a health tonic, beer does offer some unique qualities that have proven beneficial when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle. Moderation is important.

  1. Increased bone density
  2. Anti-Inflammatory
  3. Cancer fighter ( the flavonoids in hops contribute to the health benefits of beer including preventing cancerous cell growth.
  4. Cardiovascular Health ( of course in moderation and discretio
  5. Reduced risk of kidney stones
  6. Digestive health
  7. Reduced risk of alzheimersAs the long shadows of autumn cue us to bring in the harvest and prepare for the coming winter, get outside and enjoy the turning of the seasons. And if you are so inclined, find a long table in a park or a local brewpub and hoist a beer with friends and family, fatten your flesh (just a little), and don those rosy cheeks. In moderation or discretio, of course.

    Prost!

Walking Quiet Ways No 1 Central Coast by Colleen Keating

First Tentative Steps out of Lockdown 

  1.   Crackneck Headland to Shelly Beach

Monday 1st June  was the first day it was legal to drive and stay away from your place of shelter.

As soon as we could, after that we tentatively set out. I say tentatively as we had not been out much at all and we had to watch the traffic and the increased  movement about. We also didn’t feel easy about buying takeaway food even coffee. I must say I have envied the young ones sitting on blankets in the sun enjoying boxes of crispy salty sea food and others sitting up to served food in the alfresco places I pass.

On our way to our beach retreat we stopped at the Crackneck Headland to do our first whale watching  and as I faced the sea it just took my breath away. It was a gorgeous day admittedly and many people sitting watching . There was a hush  all around.

 

The sea was vast. Vaster then I ever remembered it . . . spread out in its immensity with a sheer silken surface .  It was alive as its moved and wrinkled as if someone, maybe the goddess of the sea was moving under its cover . . .the horizon dividing the sea and sky like a fine line separating the two shades of blue.  As I looked out, the sea claimed even more, its aliveness as the waves  caterpillar across the ocean, pursuing each other, perpetually.  That sense of feel-good ran right through my body  like electricity. I guess it is the feel-good hormone running sparking my blood.   I felt alive invigorated.  The ocean renews me. 

Someone said whales were there but far out and I know Michael  and I can’t see that now but what joy to know the whales were there . It added to the sense of  amazement of this ocean like a goddess in all its presence  and not changed in our months of lock down and my absence.

Yes it makes me feel small, insignificant but as I become smaller my awe becomes greater.  It gives me all the meaning I need in life to see this . . well it is the meaning in a way.  and that makes me feel grand with meaning. 

From this came the idea i have the ocean in my heart  and so I had to write  a poem about it .

We decided I would walk from the Lookout to  meet Michael at Shelley Beach. The walk was about an hour  and goes through  Wyrrabalong National Park which it is more a coastal corridor  with some wonderful glimpses of the sea and some good stands of Banksia and Red  Gums and Palms. I have written it up before, but this time I felt it has been neglected and people have walked heavily thru it  and it is damaged. No rubbish but there its not the graceful respect we need in our precious forests.

Walking Quiet Ways No 2 Central Coast by Colleen Keating

 

Early tentative steps after Lockdown 

 

Dolphin Court  to Toowoon Bay along the foreshore,
past the Ocean Baths which is still in lockdown
around the headland
along the rock shelf observing the rambling shells

to the Grey Heron home


where excitingly I found 4 new young Herons
feeding amongst the low tidal pools on the rock shelf
in the distance,
to Blue Bay along the sand to the bend
and around to Toowoon Bay


where a last walk along the beach and I met Michael with morning tea of fruit.  It was again the birds that dominated.


Well the Haven of Herons could be a future poem.

 

Walking Quiet Ways No. 3 Central Coast by Colleen Keating

Early Tentative Steps out of Lockdown

Dolphin House to Long Jetty 

Set out before lunch to walk to Long Jetty and meet Michael  for a picnic lunch.

The day was a stunning blue winters day with some gorgeous fluffy happy clouds bouncing around and giving wonderful ware reflections  as you will see in some of the photos. . I walked along the beach till it became the lake, under the bridge, past the old boat shed, along the path of huge Norfolf pines where the cormorants nest,  along past The Lake House around the bend to the south side of Tuggerah Lake. I met a couple looking very concerned taking photos of fishing lines and tackle caught up in the pines. I firstly smiled thinking of the frustration of your line getting caught like when a kite gets caught  and then herd the story of how ignorant  The Pelicans were standing there confused as picnickers were taking their place everywhere .

Only a few days back the birds had the place to themselves.

I walked along the edge of the lake enjoying the  glass waters reflection of the fluffy clouds  and as usual i enjoyed the birds   the pelicans , ibis, two gorgeous black swans

a wonderful reflection of a large white egret feeding amonst the reeds, a couple of masked lapwings or plovers as we call them

 

I kept walking past the jetty as it was a bit busy and not enough room for social distancing and found a perfect spot a little further on. Michael and I met with the app ‘ Find a friend ‘ very modern of us haha . He pulled up where i had found a view and a table and was writing and he arrived with thermos for tea and coffee and a picnic lunch.

We actually drove on after that to look at heaters and a back up charger. We bought unsuccessfully as the heater doesn’t blow out air and the charger doesn’t fit,  so Monday a return day. and we might do the same walk and picnic lunch .

Just want to add some photos that I took on our return a few hours later. Here the sunsetting over the lake  is breathtaking.

 

 

The Blue Dot by Colleen Keating

 

It is time  we look closely at the blue dot            (29th May  2020)

it’s easy to forget we are one tiny planet
spinning in space with one cosmic destiny

we fragment our fragile home into warring factions
today a race war in Minnesota
a power play in Hong Kong 
a terrorist attack in the middle East
Brexit breakdown in Great Britain
pointing the finger blaming others

we too easily drift daily into divides
and at the same time a virus
so tiny it is invisible
attacks our world
our health and economy in lockdown
people hiding in panic and fear

no wall    partition   rampart or barricade
no shield  barbwire  even an electric fence
can save us 

no gun   rifle   cannon or even a nuclear bomb
no armour  submarine or  super jet 
no armour-plated  bullet proof   bomb protected artillery  
can save us    

are we blind to the photographs
like that of Earthrise taken in 1968 from the Voyager 1

are we deaf to Carl Sagen’s words spoken
after seeing earth from Apollo 8 in 1990
warning us to cherish this pale blue dot – our earth
a dust mote suspended in a sunbeam – the only home we have!

This virus called covid-19 has us in its grip
but even now the ruling class look away
our earth is sick it needs healing
the fault lines of poverty inequality<
can be turned around
giving everyone a voice
a share in the abundance
mother earth gives over and over without complaint
until she collapses under the weight of injustice
her waters shrivel
she becomes unwell
splutters with drought   fire    famine

it is time for all of us to wake
rise up
be the light
for the fear and dark of minds
ask what comes now
what comes next
imagine a new future
walk forwards
hand in hand

( There is a dot like a pixel half way down the orange light. That is the earth)

 

The Earth, our planet is a lonely speck in the great developing cosmic dark. 

In all this vastness there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The earth as far as we know,  is the only world to harbour life.

There is no where else in which our species can migrate -visit maybe, yes. Settle, no. Not yet.

Like it or not, the earth is where we make our stand.

Our folly of killing one another , of building walls and our posturing of, we’ll decide who come’s here and under what circumstance they come”    (think fires drought pandemic)!

The pre-posturing that goes on

we’ll keep you safe
we’ve stopped the boats
we are hard on border patrol.
We promise you jobs jobs and more jobs and to keep you safe . We have bought big orange rubber boats to get out there and turn refugees back to the poverty they come from . We take no responsibility for humanity. 

 The delusion we have of some privileged position in the world or even in the universe is challenged by the distant image of our world . We can only be humbled  at the photos .

Now it is time to  find our responsibility to care for our one precious earth and our people in all their colours cultures and codes  cherish this pale blue dot  “a dust mote suspended in a sunbeam -“the only home we have “ Carl Sagan. 

Photos from NASA inspired by Brain Pickings . Thankyou Maria Popova

 The Plan Blue Dot captured from 3.7 billion miles away Earth appears    as a tiny dot half way halfway down the orange stripe on the right. 

The little dot is about two to three pixels  big  so not very large. When you get the grander of the scenes  i get chills down my back because there here is our planet, bathed in this ray of light and it just looks incredible special. 

EarthBlue Dot photo taken from Voyager 1 Spacecraft 1990

Earthrise photo taken from Apollo 8 24th December 1968.

I found this photo which is clearer to find the blue dot

 

 

The Blue Dot is  half way along the right orange stripe.  Amazing that is us .

Read Carl Sagans  on The Blue Dot

From this distant vantage point,
the Earth might not seem of any particular interest.
But for us, it’s different.
Consider again that dot.
That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.
On it everyone you love, everyone you know,
everyone you ever heard of,
every human being who ever was,
lived out their lives.
The aggregate of our joy and suffering,
thousands of confident religions,
ideologies, and economic doctrines,
every hunter and forager,
every hero and coward,
every creator and destroyer of civilization,
every king and peasant,<
every young couple in love,
every mother and father, hopeful child,
inventor and explorer,
every teacher of morals,
every corrupt politician,
every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’
every saint and sinner in the history of our species
on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

And Mayo Angelou on The Blue Dot

A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet

Traveling through casual space

Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns

To a destination where all signs tell us

It is possible and imperative that we learn

A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it

To the day of peacemaking

When we release our fingers

From fists of hostility

And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it

When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate

And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean

When battlefields and coliseum

No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters

Up with the bruised and bloody grass

To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches

The screaming racket in the temples have ceased

When the pennants are waving gaily

When the banners of the world tremble

Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it

When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders

And children dress their dolls in flags of truce

When land mines of death have been removed

And the aged can walk into evenings of peace

When religious ritual is not perfumed

By the incense of burning flesh

And childhood dreams are not kicked awake

By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it

Then we will confess that not the Pyramids

With their stones set in mysterious perfection

Nor the Gardens of Babylon

Hanging as eternal beauty

In our collective memory

Not the Grand Canyon

Kindled into delicious color

By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe

Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji

Stretching to the Rising Sun

Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,

Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores

These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it

We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe

Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger

Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace

We, this people on this mote of matter

In whose mouths abide cankerous words

Which challenge our very existence

Yet out of those same mouths

Come songs of such exquisite sweetness

That the heart falters in its labor

And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet

Whose hands can strike with such abandon

That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living

Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness

That the haughty neck is happy to bow

And the proud back is glad to bend

Out of such chaos, of such contradiction

We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it

We, this people, on this wayward, floating body

Created on this earth, of this earth

Have the power to fashion for this earth

A climate where every man and every woman

Can live freely without sanctimonious piety

Without crippling fear

When we come to it

We must confess that we are the possible

We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world

That is when, and only when

We come to it.

I Protest! Poems of Dissent selected by Stephen Matthews

 

So exciting to receive in the mail our complimentary copies of Ginninderra Press’ new Anthology.

I Protest! Poems of Dissent. 

Congratulations to Stephen Matthews on a superb publication  and so timely.

Both Michael and I are  very proud to each have a poem   chosen for the Anthology.

Michael’s poem is called Disconnect  and is a poem about the precious commodity we have
in water which has its own fragility and he writes how we can be lulled into forgetfulness
‘The fragility of our country  and the worry about the aquifers’

My poem rock-a bye-baby  speaks of the earth is in pain and yet how easy we can be lulled into sleep, into silence.

I  like to think I end hopefully
‘like green shoots from black stumps
will rise   poems of possibility’

There is 20% off all books at Ginninderra Press till the end May.

 

Silver Nautilus Award for Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey

 

 

Congratulations to Ginninderra Press. Excited to announce Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey  by Colleen Keating has received a Silver Nautilus Award: Better Books for a Better World.  Hildegard of Bingen was published late last year and launched in November.

 

Nautilus Award 

 

Nautilus Book Awards recognizes and rewards books that celebrate and contribute to positive social change, spiritual growth and conscious living. Its winners have included the likes of the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Marion Williamson. It’s truly an honour to be a part of this award-winning community of writers. I have always loved the idea of the Nautilus shell with its Fibonacci pattern and am thrilled to have this award.

 

Congratulations!  You are a Winner in the 2019 Nautilus Book Awards program!

Your book has been selected as an Award Winner in the category shown below.

Title:    Hildegard of Bingen: A Poetic Journey     

Author:   Colleen Keating  

>  [email protected]

Publisher:   Ginninderra Press   

Contact name & email:   Stephen Matthews

>  [email protected]

Award:      SILVER 

Category:  Lyric Prose  

We heartily welcome you to the Nautilus Book Awards family, comprised of highly esteemed authors and publishers from across the USA, and from over 20 nations around the world. You can be especially proud of your book’s selection as an Award Winner this season, which attracted a record-number of entries and included a magnificent diversity of high-quality books.

We are grateful for the chance to help promote and celebrate your book by increasing its visibility as a Nautilus Award Winner. And, we are truly encouraged by the new perspectives these books present with which to co-create a better future, individually and collectively. Changing the World one Book at a Time.

LYRIC PROSE

Hildegard of Bingen: A Poetic Journey
Colleen Keating
Ginninderra Press

We have developed our judging process over the past twenty years, and continue to expand and improve our parameters and our system of evaluation. It is our purpose and intent to seek, review, identify, and celebrate books that we feel best support the co-creation of a Better World.  Our goal is to offer life-affirming options with imagination and possibility to a world that longs for a new story.

Gold and Silver Awards, and one Grand Winner Award are given to print books of exceptional merit that make a literary and heartfelt contribution to spiritual growth, green values & sustainability, high-level wellness, responsible leadership and positive social change & social justice, as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspiration.

 

‘The Earth is our mother ‘ Hildegard reminded us 870 years ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Hildegard of Bingen envisioned a time when human activities would harm our Mother Earth. “The earth sustains humanity,” she wrote. “It must not be injured; it must not be destroyed.”

Hildegard further writes,  “The earth is the Mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.” She recognised and revered the notion that we are one with everything in our living, breathing, glorious universe.

Reading Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey,  at this time is highly recommended as a foil for fear and anxiety at this time of crisis and as very relevant today for Earth Day after the devastation our earth has suffered. 

 

Hildegard of Bingen is called the founder of the environmental movement.  She is an early eco-warrior aware of the need to care for the earth and for how it gives us all we need.

Hildegard spoke of how we are one and part  with the earth how we are interconnected and interdependent on each other.

Earth Day is slipping past this 2020 with all the concern on covid -19 and with the call for physical distancing meaning it is not possible for much promotion. 

Hildegard von Bingen  lived in the 12th century, during a time when there was no inkling of the devastation, destruction and pollution that humans would wreak on our planet. She cherished the natural world around her. She lived in a veritable garden of Eden, surrounded by verdant forests, fertile river valleys, and the clear running waters of the Rhine, Nahe, and Glan rivers.

Finally a beautiful poem by Hildegard:

     I am the one whose praise echoes on high.

     I adorn all the earth.

     I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.

     I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.

     I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.

     I am the rain coming from the dew.

     That causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.

     I call forth tears, the aroma of holy work.

     I am the yearning for good.

taken from a wonderful website  set up by Sarah Riehm a devotee of Hildegard or one of our family of Hildegardians who speaks of and about Hildegard with a  gentle mixture of very scholarly research and with a voice  of Hildegard accessible for us in the 21st century.  . .how I like to think Hildegard would be writing and speaking for us today

In  Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey I have Hildegard saying these words at different times including in the poem Viriditas. But it is beautiful to see it as a poem by Hildegard.

Sarah Riehm, Curator

[email protected]

www.livinghildegard.com

 

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