Happy New Year!

May 2022 bring blessings for the earth! Happiness, peace, protection, and well-being for all the trees and plants, for the mountains, the oceans, the rivers, the forests, the deserts, and all wild lands. May all wild creatures be blessed and free in the wild – and all animals everywhere be safe, protected, and happy. May all the peoples of the earth be blessed and touched with a spirit of kindness. May ancient traditions be once again revered and respected, honoring the Earth and all Her children!

A thought about environmental awareness

landscape photography of mountains covered in snow
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What we do is not inconsequential, and our lives are not inconsequential.

We are each part of great currents that move unseen along the air waves.

When we turn our attention to the oceans and the manatees, just as an example, we may find that, coincidentally, there are a few stories that appear on the TV news about manatees. Does this mean that we have had some magical effect on the TV news? Not necessarily. We are all connected. None of us is a separate island.

We pick up the thoughts of others and also tune into what their attention is on. For example, there have been lists compiled of the odd coincidences of simultaneous inventions – like the telephone, the radio, etc. which were invented at almost exactly the same time in history, quite independently of each other – with no knowledge of or communication between the two inventors. For an intriguing list of these, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_multiple_discoveries

Sometimes, it seems as if there are ideas, concepts, movements, or historical trends that are floating up there in the ether somewhere, which any of us may tune into – and while tuning into them, we then become part of these trends or movements, and we also help to further them.

So, with every thought that we have and every action that we take, even the small ones, we may, simply by being aware and conscious, contribute to a direction that the world – or society, or some parts of society, is taking. Of course, unfortunately, this can happen negatively too – we could become part of a force leading towards war or violence, for example.

But let’s focus on the positive because these are the effects we wish to create – especially when we are among those who love the world of nature and the living beings of the earth.

Let’s do our part, in whatever way. It may be through action – like spending an afternoon helping to clean up the graffiti on a natural rock face – or organizing groups all over the country to clean up the forests and wild places – or writing about, or singing about, or painting the beings of nature – the birds or the wolves. Or being a scientist who studies ice cores to understand the climate over time. Or showing our neighbor how to do recycling. It may be meditating or talking to a tree or feeling grateful for the beauty of a snowfall or the sunset. It may be different for each of us depending on our inclinations and our abilities.

Instead of allowing in negative thoughts that come into our head, that seem to arise from who knows where – about how hopeless things are – or even how ineffective we ourselves are – let’s make an effort to be aware that we are part of positive forces that we may not even be able to see – forces of change and renewal, of peace, life, understanding and awareness – forces that may possibly even take over the earth – of re-creation, of life-giving – of a sudden new collective view – of a wave of energy arising in the earth herself – among the forests, the oceans, the mountains, and the deserts too, which have their own life cycles.

Yes, there is cruelty, harm, evil, and death – these things exist. But there is also kindness, love, peace, and the awe-inspiring beauty of the living world – which exist too – and which will exist, one way or another – either in this world on this earth – or in another cycle yet to come.  And let us be part of that force towards life and towards the blessings and beauty of the Earth Herself and all Her children.

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021

Awareness and your presence

photo of a turtle swimming underwater
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Awareness is the key to transformation. And what is the key to awareness? Your presence.

Focusing our attention on the need to protect the world of nature – whether it’s the oceans – or the air – or the forests where we live – a great deal of energy and a vast amount of time is spent by very committed and very dedicated people trying to explain to public officials, government agencies, and others – what they should do and how they should do it. Pass this law. Stop this harmful practice. Ban the hunting and trapping of endangered species – or any species. Do this or don’t do that. Sometimes this can be effective. Often it just falls on deaf ears.

What tends to be missing is that we do not comprehend the genuine lack of awareness of these public officials. If we are focused on preserving the beauty and majesty of the natural world which we care about intensely, and the public official or the businessperson who we are addressing is focused on the inner drive that he feels to be successful, to uphold the expectations of his family and his community, or to create a thriving downtown where he lives or to bring a lot of industry and economic prosperity to his local area – his world and yours are just two separate worlds. And there is hardly a bridge between them.

In this situation, it won’t do much good to explain that the highway that he wants to construct or the mining that he wants to do is going to disrupt the herds of deer or the birds and the other life of the forest – because your effort will only be seen as the very annoying interference of some kind of “environmentalist” (probably, he thinks, from somewhere else) who is pretty much evil and who only wants to harm his business, his community, and maybe his chance to run for local office too.

So, the more energetically, the “environmentalist” pursues his vision of protecting the natural world, the more dangerous, threatening, and irritating he or she seems to be.

What is missing here? Awareness. I remember a chance conversation I had with a man many years ago.  He told me a story – that he had always rather disliked dogs – he felt they were kind of dirty; he’d never grown up with them and was a little afraid of them. Then someone unexpectedly gave him a dog. (I’m absolutely not recommending giving a dog to anyone who doesn’t care for dogs. That is the wrong thing to do and can lead to tragedy.) But in this particular case, the man became enchanted with the dog — he fed him, he took him for walks, he found that the dog was his closest companion, and he loved him dearly. What brought about this change?

Awareness – simply awareness. For the first time in his life, he allowed himself to be around and be with a dog. The dog was no longer an alien being, possibly dangerous, but instead became a close friend. He became aware of the true nature of a dog.

All animals can bring us closer to nature – and, of course, especially the wild ones.

A significant percentage of the people around us really do not focus on wildlife, trees, and the natural world at all. They may, just possibly, care about a tree in their own yard.

But purely human concerns reign supreme in their consciousness nearly all the time. Yes, they do feel that clean air is a good idea, and maybe a lot of electric cars might help bring that about. But what is missing is a deep connection with the great mystery and profound beauty of the world of nature. And so, we need to, with our presence and our voice, speak up for the natural world — not simply berate people because they want to build a lot of condos on top of the leks of endangered sage grouse. Instead, we need to show them a sage grouse – out in the wilderness, or on TV, or in a video, or a painting, a song, or a newspaper article. It’s like introducing a friend. Introducing a sage grouse is similar. Here is a living being – enchanting, amazing, beautiful, spectacular, living his life and caring for his flock and his family. Because that awareness is just not there unless we, through our presence and our voice, bring it there.

Our task is first to be present – often this means simply physically present – at a town meeting or at the site of a proposed mine or wherever we need to be. But sometimes being physically present isn’t the best idea – if it ignites violence during these troubled times, that’s not effective – and, too, there’s the pandemic, at least for the time being. But, especially these days, we have so many different ways of being present – online, on zoom, through videos, artwork, through song or music, poetry, letters to the editor, standing by our backyard fence talking with our neighbor. We each have a voice. And so many ways to use it.

The key is to be present and to start with one other person — just one.

This doesn’t mean being blaming or condescending – and sometimes we may need to stay away from a situation, if we know for an absolute fact that we’re going to lose our temper, because that will only do harm to the cause we represent.  But whenever we can and as much as we can – we need to be present for other human beings – not as a judgmental tormentor – but as a friend – a friend who can be present, in kindness, who can show others how their dog would rather not be tied up on a chain, how it’s possible to build a fence instead – or how to look out over the distant hills and feel grateful for the gentle green peace they bring and the spectacular sunset.

We need really to start, not with instructions, certainly not with recriminations, but instead simply by being a presence, a friend, a neighbor — a presence who carries an awareness of the living spirit of the earth and who communicates the mystical beauty of nature all around us. To open the heart and the awareness of one person – and others too, one by one — is one of the most life-giving things we can do.

It may be the quickest way to change the world.

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021

Largest collection of free-floating planets found in the Milky Way — The Extinction Chronicles

by Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) https://phys.org/news/2021-12-largest-free-floating-planets-milky.html An artist’s impression of a free-floating planet. Using observations and archival data from several of NSF’s NOIRLab’s observatories, together with observations from telescopes around the world and in orbit, astronomers have discovered at least 70 new free-floating planets — planets that wander through space without […]

Largest collection of free-floating planets found in the Milky Way — The Extinction Chronicles

Giraffes May Be as Socially Complex as Chimps and Elephants  — Natural History Wanderings

The New York Times  reports A review of earlier research shows giraffes have the markings of social creatures, including friendships, day care and grandmothers. Giraffes seem above it all. They float over the savanna like two-story ascetics, peering down at the fray from behind those long lashes. For decades, many biologists thought giraffes extended this […]

Giraffes May Be as Socially Complex as Chimps and Elephants  — Natural History Wanderings

Within the clouds

flock of penguins near sea
Photo by David Dibert on Pexels.com

Within the clouds

Within the mountains

Within the universe,

All things are living and alive.

The universe, a friend.

There is no death,

No shrouds

No hearse.

Only the pale shadows

That flit, mothlike

Between the standing centuries

Of drifting snow.

Only the lost call

Of the raven

Who will find his mate again nearby

In the green sheltering cottonwood tree

Only the young giants, wandering

On a dim, mistaken world

While overhead

Calling in the mist,

The Great Winged Beings

Are there

Still – soaring upward,

Friends of the night,

The sun,

And the dragons of old

Yet the fires of kindness

Burn in the night of gleaming intent,

In the eyes of Heaven

In the soul of the mountains

In the heart of the eternal world.

In the night,

In the day

That is to be,

Always here,

Always near,

While the penguins dive

Into the white-tipped waves of the Antarctic sea –

Jubilant

And ever-free.

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021

If you like this poem, you might also like this website, Forest Voices of India https://forestvoicesofindia.com

Within the rain

gray owl on tree branch
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Within the mystic rain

An echo

Calls toward the distant gateway

To a deer-enchanted meadow,

While the white-

Crowned sparrow

Finds her intended way

In the bobbing boat of cottonwood leaves

Along the weaving river of one day,

One

Afternoon.

Then, soon,

When the windows rush on by

From the train

That goes,

Where

No one knows,

In the evening

Of a lost spring,

In the foothills of the Western Ghats

Where the young Ganesha

Plays,

Picking lots

Of blueberries

For his mother, Parvati,

Eating a few –

Just one or two —

Trusting in the bright winds

Of eternity that growl,

That run past the rain,

Past the lumbering bears that prowl

Over the green hills of the forest of mist,

Of ashwagandha

Trees.

(Where does the rishi Agastya live now? Where

Does he walk long before the dawn

By the riverbanks of rain-washed song?)

And, way out beyond the moon

The deepening darkness – punctuated

Like the islands of the oceans,

With the star-winged flight

Of legions

Of strange-patterned flocks

Of owls, all though the night,

(Though owls do not really fly in flocks)

Now the hours of dark have hesitated,

So the spirit, Ayanar, patrols

The village outskirts, his course

Goes round and round,

Brave on his tall horse,

Who, now and then, drops his head to drink,

While reflections glint within the bowls

Of the pool by the stream,

There pings

The lilting sound

Of tadpoles

Who play among the rocks,

All waiting to grow into frogs that will sing

Deep songs

Within the dream,

To bless the mystery of the being of all souls

Who are the One Soul – Brahman,

While the rain falls

Within the silver calls

Of the long-eared owl,

Awake, in the ever-misted night.

© Copyrght, Sharon St Joan, 2021

If you like this poem, you might also like this website, Forest Voices of India https://forestvoicesofindia.com