To be and let be: seeking a way to negotiate with nature by Colleen Keating

Waitara Creek

when the sun broke through 

after the storm 

the grass plants   ferns and  palms 

here in the understory of the  bush

lit up like fairy lights 

and the dappled shadows

swayed gently

bringing the path alive

a whole different world 

to the moody  grey-green

mystery of just before

all the time

there was work going on 

frogs acrocking in the wet

whip birds were chatting 

and a few other birds high in the canopy

were exchanging news

how interesting it would be to interpret

many lizards and water dragons 

out sunning themselves 

popped away with a rustle

as I stepped quietly along

brusk turkeys  wander along

 

white butterflies flitted and feed

amongst the flowering weeds

bees were busy 

and the creek was gurgling

along in the background 

enjoying its fast bountiful flow

the track follows the Waitara Creek 

lined with second generation

 amazing patchy coachwood trees

then our of the valley

with its mystery and intrigue  

climbing out to the open woodlands 

where if you look up

 

you can see a crimson rosella

but also  the encroachment

of suburban sprawl  

high in the trees birds were  busy 

but the inevitable  had happened 

in the understory bush retreat

where i discovered the fairy wren before

the bush was gone

birds were silent

the inevitable planned  back-burn

necessary

for the fire risk

when the dry heat of summer sets in

has taken the bush retreat of the little birds

devastated i stand and ponder –

how can we find a way to be and let be?

Finding Zen: The opportunity of this time adapted by Colleen Keating

“We can create a fearless life
by living daily out of our comfort zone,
and in the deliciousness of uncertainty”

The Opportunity of This Time

The truth is, all of this has always been here. We’ve always been distracted, numbing our difficult emotions like loneliness and sadness and anger with social media, food, alcohol and other comforts. We’ve always felt uncertainty, anxiety, frustration and overwhelm.

It’s just that this pandemic has brought it all front and center. Put it directly in our faces, so we can’t ignore it.

That’s difficult, but it’s also an opportunity — to look directly at the things we don’t want to admit to ourselves.

To become present to our emotions.

To train ourselves in compassion, gratitude, wonder, connection, meaning and mindfulness.

It’s terrible that people are get sick and die,— we don’t want to pretend that everything is rainbows and unicorns. It’s terrible and easy to turn to alcohol are other unhealthy ways of coping with all of this.

But we need to make the most of this time, use the opportunity of this time.

We start first by recognizing whatever is there for us: overwhelm, distraction, loneliness, sadness, frustration, disconnect, anxiety.

We get present with it: how does it feel in our body? Can we be with the sensations of these emotions, mindfully, gently, with openness and curiosity?

We bring compassion to ourselves — a sense of warmth and wanting happiness for ourselves.

We then try a new frame of mind — here are a handful to try out:

  • Curiosity: can we be curious about something in this moment, from the sensations of our emotions to what another person is going through? What changes for you when you practice curiosity?
  • Wonder: Can we view this moment (ourselves, our surroundings, other people) with a sense of awe and appreciation? With a sense of wonder at the miracle of life? How does that change things for you?
  • Gratitude: Can we feel a sense of gratitude for what we have in this moment, for the other person, for our eyesight? What would it be like to lose those things? Can we see the things we have through this new lense of appreciation?
  • Meaning: What if everything we did had a sense of meaning — what if every act could be a way to love ourselves, or to love and serve others? How would that change each act for you?
  • Mindfulness: Can we simply be present in this moment? Connect with a sense of spaciousness and awareness of what is happening right now? What shifts for you when you do this?
  • Connection: Can we feel a sense of connection to others in each moment? To the light in ourselves? To the world around us? And realize how we’re supported by the entire world.
  • Empowerment: There’s a big difference between doing something because we feel we should, or because we have to … and doing something because we choose to. Can you choose into each act in your day? Or choose out of it, if you really don’t want to do it? What would life be like if you were choosing to do things from an empowered place, rather than feeling like life was happening to you?

Choose one at a time, and practice it for a few days. Life in the pandemic will give you plenty of practice opportunities, if you look for them. Embrace them, and train.

gratefully,

Leo Babauta
Zen Habits      Thanks to Zen Habits

“We can create a fearless life by living daily out of our comfort zone, and in the deliciousness of uncertainty”

Countdown to COP 26 Glasgow from Hildegards point of view by Colleen Keating

Hildegard speaks out today reminding us to care for our planet,
with her words,
her music,
her knowledge of healing plants,
her writings on the cosmos,
her understanding of the interdependence of all of creation,
her instruction of not demanding over yields from the earth
and how the earth is our mother.

Hildegard writes,
“The earth is at the same time mother, She is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human. She is mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.”
~ Hildegard of Bingen

Her words are even more important in the 21st century, 842 years after her last breaths, Hildegard’s voice is crying out for humanity now .

This year is our watch . We are the witness.

Our silence is our complicity

The 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian , Søren Kierkegaard, offers an allegory for our dilemma now at this time of red code for our planet.

 

“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.”

 

However today it is more traumatic for on that stage we have a chorus of pearl- dressed women and dark-suited men serious, educated, sometimes religious who sing from the side that is all a hoax lulling the audience even sabotaging anyone who gets up for action while behind the curtain their self serving pork barrelling hurriedly goes on. Also leaders who reassure anyone in lullabies of reassurance we the masses of humanity will be kept safe and they speak for us, make decisions for us. and we will be safe.

How we treat mother earth is a reliable measure of how we treat ourselves.

The way we treat our people mirrors the way we treat the earth

How we treat the vulnerable, women, the aged, indigenous peoples children, handicapped mirrors how we treat the earth.

Ask, how many women have died as a result of Domestic Violence this year?

Ask, how many Australian Indigenous people have died in custody this year?

Ask, how many children have been abused this year?        

This year is our watch . We are the witness.

Our silence is our complicity .

counting dead women

i rose towards dawn
to sit by the big picture window

the sky black as raven wings
lay still and silent
like a dark night of the soul

i was desperately seeking
some colour some hope
upon the dark edge of the world
where sea and sky meet

my mind kept scribbling
names of women dead women
words of violence can’t be erased

as the darkness of the first news
counting dead women
crowds my mind
blankets my heart
even as the breath of dawn
spreads its radiance

Colleen Keating 2014

Published in A Call to Listen by Colleen Keating

Lockdown walk No. 20 Waiting for godwits by Colleen Keating

 

 

w

Waiting for godwits

Today we had a picnic near the broad walk

overlooking a sanctuary for water birds

we have been waiting for godwits 

the bar-tail godwits

with their long curved beaks to arrive

special visitors from the Arctic for their breeding 

the furtherest distance of  migration 

we wiled away time observing water birds

sea gulls  shear waters  egrets  spoonbills  pelicans

plovers their five chicks

learning to forage in the sea grasses 

many species of ducks

their ducklings  tucked away

some grazing on the wrack and sea grasses

some gazing  about peacefully 

and we too gazed peacefully

suddenly the plovers were seriously distressed

birds honked, quacked, squawked as they filled the air 

and i looked out to see a dog

wildly flying across the shallows

chasing the fleeing birds 

disturbing the wrack and sea grass

with its food of crustaceans and other insects 

it chased after any bird that landed again 

galloped like a horse backwards and forwards 

a man watched on 

the still mirrored lake was  shattered 

the sanctuary was ripped apart

splashed up

churned like a miniature tsunami 

finally the man whistled

got on his bike and the big brown dog

 sloshed out of the lake followed him

I stared at him leaving . I was distressed.

i was shattered like the lake

 broken like a vase into a thousand pieces 

so powerless  close to tears 

my mind   my whole being 

needed to be picked up 

gently mended  

my tutor of course to restore calm

the lake 

and  the birds

List of my Lockdown Walks during July, August, September, October, November

 

 

      List of Lockdown walks on  my blog

                    during the months

July, August, Septemeber, October, November

 
1.  Getting to  know local inhabitants
 2. North Beach/Lake 
 3. Crackneck  Lookout to Shelley Beach
 4.A track less worn
 5. Full moon beach walk
 6. Colours of early spring
 7. Bedazzled by patterns of nature
 8. Enjoying the birds
 9. Saltwater Creek Boardwalk
10. Undercliff rock platform
11. Sensory Gardens on Tuggerah Lake
12. Spring today
13. out to the trig station and back
14. Full of surprises
15. Finding beauty and pathos
16. Finding inner solitude in days of uncertainty 
17.Loosing our Marbles
18. Rock-hopping and tide-pooling
19. A bird pilgrimage.

20. Waiting for Godwits

Lockdown walk No 19. A bird pilgrimage by Colleen Keating

Bird pilgrimage

they walk the lake fringe
amidst its shore’s rehabitation

the susurrus of the lapping tide
a gentle background rhythm

to the chatter of a willy–wag tail
and magpie warble

they listen
after the whoo-crack of the whip bird

laugh together
when the female doesn’t answers her cheepcheep

they take a less worn track
through a forest of swamp oaks

come upon a landcare effort
at planting a stand of banksia
now wild with flickers of candle-fire

he was the first to spot
the honeyeater curled on a candle cone

she was the first to hear fairy wrens
chirping in the bristly heath

he spots the first one dart
low across dun grasses
so quick only visible swaying
is her first view and then she sees them

she says they are a burst of cobalt sky
he says blue shot in a shiny black cloak

and admires the aegis for the harem of
smaller brown females

 

they find an open grassy spot
warm curved encounter with
trunks of swamp oaks
upon which to lean their backs

little did they know
they had chosen the home

of a butcher bird family
who flew down to join their picnic

she listens to their song
he observes variance of colour

males, females, juveniles
and their glossy beaks

when they both struggle up to walk back
their attention returns to the lake

she admires the elegance of the black swans
he notices how the pelican looks so stately

she points out the swans’ flounce
as they bottom-up to feed
in the sea grasses
he admires the spoonbills way of grazing

 

seeing a large darter
with black wings hanging out
he calls it Dracula of the lake

she calls him a shag on the rock
and they both laugh

 

when cormorants dive
it becomes fun to guess
their resurface spots

they both sign with delight
at the family of ducklings passing
chaperoned so closely by mum and dad duck
he quotes Wordsworh’s ninth sonnet
“who put budding courage to the test”
i just stand in wonder

he points out a white–faced heron
she notices a few more
and a white egret

together they admire the elegance
of the herons stalking in the sea grasses
mindfully step by step

reminded of conscious walking
heads high
backs straight
they walk slowly home
hand in hand
to the willy–wag tail chitter

IMG_9118

Lockdown walk No 18: Rock-hopping and tide-pooling by Colleen Keating

Rock-hopping
can be done  through creeks and  brooks, in shallow rivers, and as with  my story today along rock platforms. It is not just stepping and hopping and jumping from rock to rock.
It is about finding your way, choosing rocks to step to, checking if each rock is stable enough for your weight, secure footing and finding balance. It means not overstepping but rather  like the heron checking the ground is secure before taking the next step, making your way through gaps, clambering up and down by choosing stair like features.
It is about reading the way, watching the tide ( easier at low tide as you have more selection of ways to travel,)  taking your time finding a rock to stand securly on  and gaze about,and  for mefinding  a flat rock to sit on with a  curly rock that fits my back. I always watch for and remember those places for  as a poets rocks are for sitting on with notepad and pen and if you have some water and fruit one can sit for hours well depending on the tide for the  ocean gives you time but returns to claim its own.

It includes feeling the texture of rocks that you use to hoist, heave and  hold,  along the way, to stop and wonder at the patterns and geological story that turns like a history book page by page.

 

Tide pooling

is about exploring tidal pools. A marine habitat for marine life providing a home for many hardy organisms such as starfish, crabs and anemone. with shells and rocks glistering with the action of water and sunlight.

Tide Pool Tips
1. The best time to visit tide pools is at low tide.
2. Bring a bag with you to pick up any plastic, paper, glass, or metal trash on the beach.
3. Find footholds on bare rocks, which are less slippery than those colonized with algae and other sensitive sea life.
4. If you peek under a rock, put it back where and as you found it. Leave the animals and plants alone.
5. Do not collect intertidal species. It is illegal to do so in many areas.

Safety Tips

Respect Marine life and be careful not to touch sea urchins,
blue bottles, octopus or any other creature you are unsure of.
Research the tides for the day don’t get caught out on the incoming swell
Rock pools are slippery be careful
Wear protective water booties
Stay far from the rockpool edge where waves can unexpectedly lap

 

Watch for the clouds and your reflectionin the mirored pools and sometimes the moon

and be prepared to meet herons,  cormorants, pelicans gulls  and rock fishermen along the way.

Rock Pools note

Formed in depressions along the shoreline of rocky coasts, tide pools are filled with seawater that gets trapped as the tide recedes. While these small basins at the ocean’s edge typically range from mere inches to a few feet deep and a few feet across, they are packed with sturdy sea life such as snails, barnacles, mussels, anemones, urchins, sea stars, crustaceans, seaweed, and small fish.
As ocean water retreats outside the tide pool during low tide, the resident marine life must endure hours exposed to the sun, low oxygen, increasing water temperature, and predators such as wading birds that specialize in dining in these shallow pools. At high tide, the pool’s plants and animals are bathed in fresh seawater, but must endure the pounding of crashing waves and foraging fish with temporary access to the shoreline.
To survive in this rugged environment, tide pool inhabitants often cling very tightly to any rock to which they can adhere. Barnacles, for example, produce a fast-curing cement that lets them stay put. This natural substance is among the most powerful glues known to exist. In fact, researchers are trying to figure out if and how it can be harvested or reproduced for commercial use.
The space in a tide pool may be limited, but the food there is plentiful. Every wave at every high tide delivers fresh nutrients and microscopic organisms, such as plankton, to support and replenish the pool’s intricate food chain. Washed in by the waves, these organisms nourish the smallest animals, which, in turn, sustain the larger ones.

 

lesson learnt

first rule when questing for the poetic
on a tidal line of an ocean rock ledge
watch for the rogue wave

it is not recommended to lie on the barnacled edge
of a scalloped moon-shaped rock pool
as you wait on its mystery and watch
your reflection in azure sky
with clustered clouds
like empty thought bubbles
around you fill with deep secrets

the second rule is to keep your wits
do not get lost in an inner realm
as you can in a Beethoven symphony

it is not recommended to become immersed
in tapestry of colours shimmered by the sea

in the light among the stones
drum-shaped chitons
clustered iridescent stars and speckled shells
a venetian-red anemone flirting
like a solitary flute
black spiky urchins and the wait for the shy crab
to scuttle out from the king neptune necklace

it is all too hypnotic

the lesson learnt –
expect the unexpected

From Fire on Water by Colleen Keating  2016

 

 

Lockdown walk No. 17, Loosing our Marbles by Colleen Keating

Photo: from our calendar  The night We Lost Our Marbles by  Michael Leunig, a modern day prophet, where I understand ‘prophet’ to be one who challenges us to remember our core values.

Loosing our marbles

“We not only listen to the birds but find ourselves talking  to them.”

Turning the calendar has its own monthly ritual.
Our Leunig calendar always gives us a surprise
often prophetic for our time.
Turning to October was no exception.
It gave us a laugh.

We resonated. It looked how we felt
on our walks in lockdown
birds, fish, flowers moon our companions.

It was while sitting against
the trunk of a swamp oak
on a lockdown walk
we found ourselves both talking aloud
to the Pied Butcher Birds
that had flown down to join us.

A family of seven
some with the distinctive black bib
some more tawny and freckkly
which according to Morcombo –
our Bird Bible –
is the juvenile and poetically
pale rufous-buff.

They hopped around
inquisitive about us relaxing
in their territory.

Besides watching them
dart for insects on the open grass
we enjoyed a choir on a branch above
its musical four-note sequence
lilting flute-like deep and mellow.

The laugh was on us.
listening to the birds
believing they were communicating with us
thinking we were understanding
and talking back to them

Are we happily loosing our marbles?

Now we talk to every bird that comes to meet us –
the willy wag tails  our companions on the way
the tiny wrens we chirping
and sometimes catch their splash of blue
the magpies that warble along our track
their carolling a rings from high
to low, deep and  always  tidings of joy.

We love the lake birds
find the  haunts of the white-faced herons
watch their monk like shoulders
ponder quietly as if pretending to pray
but actually with the great white egret
stalking to prey.
If our spoonbills call in
with their bevy of ducks
we become very effusive


and enjoy the plovers
telling us to be aware of their eggs
and their young.
We wait for the whip birds to sing
listen and laugh with its song of reply.

Loosing our marbles figuratively
gives us permission
to be immersed in their world
like the cartoon of the two
smiling contentedly
surrounded by nature.

Humbly we know we are a very small
and incidental part of their world
yet secretivly a little part
likes to think they are communication with us.
and loosing our marbles stays figurative.

 

 

Life isn’t measured 

by the number of breaths we take 

but by the moments 

that take our breath away

Treasure every day

 

 

The Climb Back Poems for Ted by Pip Griffin

Congratulations to my friend Pip Griffin. Her new poetry collection  The Climb Back  Poems for Ted is up on the Ginninderra  Press web site.   A worthy read  . . . .’these passionate poems open out and touch us with a consoling grief’
and as I wrote,
 ‘For those of us who know life is a gift and are called to the hard work of hope, The Climb Back is invaluable.’
Highly recommended
There is a fierce tenderness in these poems of happy remembrance and devastating sorrow. With so much love expressed so beautifully in the first half of the book, we instinctively fear what is to come, as if all that light cast shadows across our path. Though the death of a loved partner – also a poet – is deeply personal, these passionate poems open out and touch us with a consoling grief.’ – Paul Kane
‘”Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, stains the white radiance of eternity.” Percy Bysshe Shelley. From the first poem that speaks of the ‘delicate prints of oystercatchers’ to the comfort of a ragged dressing gown, the protective love of the kahu-feather cloak and the ‘butcher-bird that perches very close’, Pip, as a poet and wordsmith transports us into an experience that shines multicoloured with the beauty of a stained-glass window. Each poem is a facet that adds to the mosaic, each poem a gentle play of light, illuminating page by page. For those of us who know life is a gift and are called to the hard work of hope, The Climb Back is invaluable.’ – Colleen Keating
‘Poignant, sensual, spiritual, sorrowful, and funny, Pip Griffin’s latest poetry collection The Climb Back encompasses a life richly lived. What is not to admire about a poet who can write lines as diverse as ‘the shags open their sodden wings like flashers’ raincoats’ and ‘cherry trees in blossom line the streets like flower girls at a wedding’. This book is a hymn to New Zealand, Pip’s homeland, and a celebration of its landscape, wildlife and the Maori language. But even above this, it is a memorial to Ted, her friend, lover and fellow poet. If he were still here, I’d be clinking my glass with his, to celebrate her achievement.’ – Mark Mahemoff
978 1 76109 191 9, 92pp

Versions

Paperback

9781761091919
$22.50

https://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/store.php?product/page/2356/Pip+Griffin+/+The+Climb+Back

Hildegard of Bingen on the pedestal all week on the ABC Classic with Martin Buzacott

What a tribute to Hildegard of Bingen  being chosen  by Martin Buzacott for the pedestal all this week dedicated to mental health.  Listen to ABC  Classic at 10 am  each day this week to lift your spirits.
Her story,  Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey by Colleen Keating is available from Ginninderra Press 
and has been acclaimed ‘ a masterpiece’

As the host Martin Buzacott says :

A week of Hildegard’s music for

Health and healing

Comfort and consolation

Mystic marvel

Musical adventurer

Hildegard of Bingen

delivering eternal hope.

for us in this week 11th to 15th October 2021  . . .also the week we come out of lockdown with all its possibilities and uncertainties.

 

The story of Hildegard of Bingen as told by Colleen Keating .

Become immersed in her environment, feel her joys and suffering, loves, passions, betrayals and loss. Live with Hildegard, a medieval mystic and prophet  through her more them 80 years and be renewed with hope. It has taken a thousand years for her to be acclaimed. 

What a treat and how wonderful in Mental Health Week Hildegard is being acknowledged for her music, her poetry,  thoughts of health  and healing and caring for her Abbeys conscious of well being and all this in the 11th-12th century.