Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spirit in Nature

spirit (n.) directly from Latin spiritus "a breathing (respiration, and of the wind), breath; breath of a god," hence "inspiration; breath of life," hence "life;" also "disposition, character; high spirit, vigor, courage; pride, arrogance," related to spirare "to breathe."

The word "spirit" has come into my life lately. This happens with words sometimes; they just turn up and keep repeating themselves everywhere. So when I noticed a small sign along the road that said "Spirit in Nature" I made a U-Turn and decided to follow the signs to wherever they might lead me. 

I had just visited the group show "Northern Neighbors", of which my work is part of at the Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont. My Burlington friend, Bruce had joined me and we were now going to go explore the woods on this beautiful Spring day! Luckily he is as curious as me and was game to follow the  "spirit signs" as well. We ended up being the only human beings on a series of well marked "Inter Faith Nature Paths". It was like a magical forest just for us had appeared out of the blue. 

On land leased from MIddlebury College, the Spirit in Nature Sanctuary seeks to continue the work of the "Spirit and Nature" symposium held in 1990 at the college.

"Spirit in Nature is situated on seventy acres of diverse Earth on the western slope of the Green Mountains. The paths wander gently along river banks and the shores of beaver ponds, over mossy stone walls and spring-fed creeks, and through old-growth forest dotted with animal tracks. Poems and quotations from world religions are posted on trees." 

I had been struggling with a name for my upcoming solo show in Lake Placid this summer. I had words but nothing had come together yet. I found the title in these woods, or should I say the title found me as I walked ..."Breathing the Forest".

I will share some of the quotes and moments of beauty in these woods that have inspired (breathed into) my new body of work that is currently being made in the studio where I continue to Breathe with the Forest.

The forest breathes. Listen...if what a tree or bush does is lost on you, you are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows where you are, You must let it find you. ~David Wagoner

 I Know nothing else but me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the 
Earth is spread with miracles,
Every foot of the interior swarms with miracles. 
~Walt Whitman
At times the poet converses with the trees and the grasses, talks with the stars, befriends the sun and talks with all beings. In these she sees life and breathes life into them, finding in the changing phenomena of the world, the unchanging principle of the universe. ~Daisaku Ikeda

Tree - Come sit by me. I am tree. You and I are close kin. Listen and I will teach you the mysteries and cycles of the green world; forest, leaf, root and bark. My sap rises with the upwelling of life each Spring. I flower, leaf, soak up sun and rain, fruit, unveil my true brilliance in the Fall, and finally surrender my leaves to nourish the soil. My roots and life force descend deep into the underworld...and the cycle begins again.
 Spirit is the bond that keeps matter (almost nothing) connected, related, active and something. Everything has a spirit, without spirit "it" is not. ~ Kokohaus (ScreechinOwl)

Notice that you breathe 
in and out 
and that the light 
in the sky changes 
all the time 
in waves

And that the sky curves all 
the way around
to the edges of your eyes
then keeps going behind 
your head 
to make a circle

~Lawrence Collins


 All the stones that are around here, each one has a language of it's own. Even the earth has a song. ~Wallace Black Elk DAKOTA
To believe that every tree, plant and insect can talk takes an open mind. Go by yourself into nature and sit quietly. Then pick up a rock and listen to your thoughts. After a while put that rock down and pick up another rock. Your thoughts change. These are the voices and wisdom of the Stone People. Each one has a different wisdom and they are willing to share their wisdom with you. Many of the Stone People are very old and wise. Great Spirit let every rock and every leaf be my teacher.


The Forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life and activity; it affords protection to all beings.  ~Buddhist Sutra

 The element most lacking in our lives today is a sense of the sacred. An awareness that both body and earth are sacred. ~Matthew Fox

Half our misery and weakness comes from the fact that we have broken with the soil. And we have allowed the roots that bound us with the earth to rot. We have become detached from the earth. We have abandoned her. And when we abandon nature we have begun to abandon ourselves. ~ Pierre Van Passen

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence, we could rise up rooted like trees.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

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