Once in a lifetime, perhaps, one escapes the actual confines of the flesh. Once in a lifetime, if one is lucky, one so merges with sunlight and air and running water that whole eons, the eons that mountains and deserts know, might pass in a single afternoon without discomfort. The mind has sunk away into its beginnings among old roots and the obscure tricklings and movings that stir inanimate things. Like the charmed fairy circle into which a man once stepped, and upon emergence learned that the whole century had passed in a single night, one can never quite define this secret; but it has something to do, I am sure, with common water. Its substance reaches everywhere; it touches the past and prepares the future; it moves under the poles and wanders thinly in the heights of the air. It can assume forms of exquisite perfection in a snowflake or strip the living to a single shining bone cast up by the sea.
- Loren Eisley, from The Immense Journey
Summer Night Storm
The ranting of the gods, this tumbling sky, this wind-strong rain which pelts against my cheek, the world re-lit by lightning, and the lie of tall sea grass low bent against the sand. I stand here, strangely still, with all the world tumultuous at my feet, and yet my heart is stronger than the roaring wind that swirls about my body, taut against its force; that blows my eyelids shut, that locks my lips, lest all my spirit end its restlessness in one wild song.
- Jane Tyson Clement
If waters are placid, the moon will be mirrored perfectly. If we still ourselves, we can mirror the divine perfectly. But if we engage solely in the frenetic activities of our daily involvements, if we seek to impose our own schemes on the natural order, and if we allow ourselves to become absorbed in self-centered views, the surface of our waters becomes turbulent. Then we cannot be receptive to Tao.
There is no effort that we can make to still ourselves. True stillness comes naturally from moments of solitude where we allow our minds to settle. Just as water seeks its own level, the mind will gravitate toward the holy. Muddy water will become clear if allowed to stand undisturbed, and so too will the mind become clear if it is allowed to be still.
- Deng Ming-Dao, from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations
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…. 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 spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.
- Rachel Carson, from The Sense of Wonder
Instead of dashing through the day, completing one activity as quickly as possible so as to get at something else, it would be better to savor each part of the day as if this were your last day.Get as much out of the present moment as possible, from daybreak to bedtime. Even sleeping should be done well, even if one must wake up now and then to enjoy the night. When you eat, give each dish its full importance and extract its individual flavor… Most everything we do deserves reverence, and a special setting. But one must live naturally, without pretense.
- Harlan Hubbard, from Payne Hollow Journal
Heron Dance is sold out of this title, but it is available on Amazon here.