The mountains and the mist

amazing waterfall with lush foliage on rocks
Photo by ArtHouse Studio on
The mountains and the mist

Stone - the house of spirit

Spirit without a house is like

A tortoise might be without a shell

Or a flower with no upholding stem

The sun without a companion moon

A dream without the awakening

The night absent the dawn

The indwelling spirit – gone

Like the man without a wit of sense

That strange, ill-tempered one

Who, with no permission

Built a world of plastic,

A desecration, bereft of magic

A digging up of the hallowed bones

Of the sacred

Gold-winged dragons

Bringing forth a brittle box –

Stolen from the earth’s crust

And the planet’s inmost soul

Leaving an empty pit

A blasphemy

A parody of being

An End

Hence, we must go back now


To the land of dawn-green forests

Where the horned lark may call forth her wisdom,

Where a pack of wolves sing

In the echoing dark

Where the Mediterranean plum

Trees greet the tall, talking rocks

With the pattern of the sunlit web of shadow,

The houses of spirit

Rise again in the mist

Where the waves honor the owl-bright night,

And fishes leap with keener sight

Under the fleet,

Billowing sails of the eternal moon -

The ship of all beginning.

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2023


el arco de cabo san lucas under white and blue sky
Photo by Efrain Alonso on

An odd

Turn taken,

And now the road goes by beside

Burned cities all forsaken

And the ashes of fields are crumpled into dust.

The canyon wrens

No longer fly near here

And their guiding spirits

Seem to have no wings,

A numinous cloud blocks

The lunar rays from shining

While the moon forgets her phases, just

As the sun

Is lost, setting in the cave by the sea,

When the tide

Has turned out of sight

Yet beyond the time still gone,

The dragonfly flits

Anew through rainbowed fountains;

The light of heaven sings

High on the shimmering

Branches of the holy mountains

Beyond the impenetrable night

Of hidden majesty.

“Abhaya mudra”

“Fear not” – but only follow


Always wise,

With eyes

Of emerald light.


Where the black-chinned hummingbirds fly,

That host

of angels,

Who stay

Unwavering, steady on their way

Brave in the bright

Wind of dawn

Above the sea crashing long

On the rocks

Where all begins, again and yet again

Within the bells

Of Shiva,

Far along

The wave-bent coast,

In the still-sung, rising song

Of the Holy One.

In the mists of the bells of Shiva,

in the winds of the song and

The ringing of the seas.

© Copyright Sharon St Joan, 2023


time lapse photography of waterfall
Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb on

Please join us this Saturday in person or on Zoom!

A Forest Voices of India presentation, second of a series of events focusing on the fascinating world of nature. 

Saturday, July 29, at 2 pm 

“Water ?”   

You are invited to attend “Water?,” a talk and discussion led by Bart Battista.  

At the Nomad Café, at the Port of Entry, Kanab, UT  

There will be music too, by Bobbi Chaney!     

This Saturday, July 29, 2 PM!  

Bart Battista   As a Major in the Marine Corps, Bart Battista focused on managing the environment. Both a scientist and an engineer, he has a Masters degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Management, with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology.  Working with Battelle as a research scientist, he organized an environmental clean-up project in both the southwest U.S. and in Japan. Later, as the operations manager and lead environmental planner at Camp Pendleton, with a team of 100, he oversaw the drinking water and wastewater systems on 125,000 acres, with 70,000 people working there. At Best Friends Animal Society, he is the Facilities and Infrastructure Manager, keeping major systems functioning.

A captivating speaker, Bart Battista will give us a clear view of water systems throughout Utah and the southwest, including our aquifers and how they work, will tell us about amazing aspects of the physical nature of water, and will talk about our changing relationships to water – followed by a discussion. Water is relevant to all of us.  

Here is the zoom link for anywhere in the world –

2:30 pm, July 29, U.S. Mountain time:  

Note: The Zoom link will begin at 2:30 pm, not at 2 pm.  

We look forward to seeing you!  


Sharon St Joan,

Forest Voices of India

What is happening to the Mogao Caves

brown tomb
Photo by Jose Aragones on

By Sharon St Joan

In 2011, I, along with several friends, visited China. One of the more amazing sites we saw were the Mogao Caves.  (The photo is of caves that are somewhat similar to the Mogao Caves.)

Far out into the Gobi Desert lies the city of Dunhuang. The atmosphere there is somehow reminiscent of frontier towns in the southwestern U.S. during the late nineteenth century.  There is the sense that one is far, far from civilization. The population is around 180,000 – so not that small. 

Nearby lie the Mogao Caves. These are caves inside cliffs, along a long natural wall, which house some of the most beautiful examples of Buddhist art spanning around one thousand years, from around 400 CE to 1400 CE. There are many thousands of paintings and sculptures, found inside the system of around 500 cave temples. They are very striking works of art.  

There are also documents that were found, in recent decades, in a hidden cache of ancient writings. Apparently, they were found, unexpectedly, hidden in a compartment behind a wall. Many of these documents were sent to Beijing, but some remain. Some are very ancient, written in various languages. We were told that some still remain undeciphered.  

Very sadly, in an article on July 17, 2023, the Washington Post writes that recent floods and heavy downpours have caused extensive damage to the caves and to the artwork. This is quite hard to imagine since the caves are in an area, far out in the desert, that has been excessively dry for around 1500 years.  

Now, out of the blue, moisture is causing severe damage. Water vapor levels can cause salt to crystallize, resulting in the dislodging of the paint. A certain distance from the Mogao Caves, in the Jinta Temple Grotto, humidity levels reached 93 percent during a severe downpour last year.

1,000 miles to the southeast of Dunhuang, in the grottoes of Maijishan, in two of the caves, more than half the murals had fallen off.  

All this is happening despite a great deal of attention and hard work on the part of both international and Chinese conservationists and environmentalists who are well aware of the problem and who are attempting to save the ancient artwork.  

Incredibly beautiful, irreplaceable, ancient artwork is being destroyed by downpours in an area that has been dry for thousands of years. Now, unpredictably, the art work is gone.   It is a tragedy when beautiful artwork is destroyed. But somehow the tragedy is compounded when the artwork is very ancient and is also part of history that has endured for many centuries.

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2023

The wings of nevermore

close up photography of a white egret
Photo by Zonda on
Have you left

So soon?

Where have you gone

On the shadowed wings

Of nevermore?

The moon 

A chalk 

Handprint before the winter of an old dawn

Fades. The light blue 


Waves farewell,

Bereft, a spell


Who wore the ancient cloak 

Of magic power?

Were there

Too many springs 

Of yesteryear?



On the tides of eternity,


Of misted beings

Haunt the bow 

Of the lost ship

And a fear

Lurks, why?

Look to a brighter land

Beyond the blue lake

Where smoke curls, rising



More real than you would know,

Patterns of hawkbills,

Turtles, enchanted urns, a token

Almost forgotten in the sand,

In the dip,

Where the rolling wave spills.

You may think that the myth is fading,

But know 

That the myth is life –

All the webs of life


Stronger where they journey

Beyond the knife

Of the dark wind rushing.

Will the wildflower

Grow –

Who belongs in a far, far land? – Now


The glad frogs croak

Their singing 


One day to return on the rain-drawn

Wings of daybreak,

To go, 

Now and evermore.

Always, hear,

Ever near, 

The song sung by the one who

Sings in the way of the wind on the shore

Where the rocks grow tall

Where the seagull’s call

Rises on the wave of the light of the dawn. 

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2023.