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 Soon 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
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.
“Fear not” – but only follow
Of emerald light.
Where the black-chinned hummingbirds fly,
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
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
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
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
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
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 Butterfly Waves farewell, Bereft, a spell Broken. Who wore the ancient cloak Of magic power? Were there Too many springs Of yesteryear? So Now, On the tides of eternity, Rings 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 Shimmering, Remembering, 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 Grow Stronger where they journey Beyond the knife Of the dark wind rushing. Will the wildflower Grow – Who belongs in a far, far land? – Now Hear The glad frogs croak Their singing Songs, 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.