Archive for March, 2022

What lies beneath

We don’t parachute onto this Earth from outer space. We emerge within the planet, the atoms, molecules and cells of our bodies arranging themselves into a one time unique configuration. Not for a moment, or an instant. Not as a goal or a target. Not even to produce an outcome from the process. But they constantly arrange and rearrange themselves, accepting the flows of energy, materials and information from all that we are connected to, transforming the patterns and relationships to create new structures. A process which continues throughout our lives and on beyond the time of the body’s dissolution.

But as we live our ordinary every days we aren’t usually aware of this flow. We don’t usually stop to consider from where we have emerged, to reflect on the stories, the events and experiences which uniquely create our lives.

However now and again we glimpse something below, behind or beneath and we get a sudden moment of enlightenment, of realisation – that we are not separate; that we belong here within a centuries old flux of energies, materials and stories.

And that we too create the conditions, the foundations, for the lives to come.

I thought about that as the clear water in the spring nearby revealed the old walls constructed by the Romans centuries ago.

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Far away and close

Around here there are a lot of trees which look like this. Do you know what those clumps are? Let’s look closer.

Maybe you recognise it now? It’s mistletoe. Let’s take a closer look.

Isn’t it amazing? Every one of these clumps is like a whole colony. Mistletoe is a parasite, although at some stages in its lifecycle it does contribute some photosynthesis to the tree. It’s used in health care and has a long history of symbolic and mythological use amongst the Celts, Druids and even Romans. But of course you probably know it best from its use at Christmas where it’s hung up in a house and people kiss under it – however, the origins of this Christmas kissing under the mistletoe seem obscure!

Let’s take one step closer for a final look.

There are more forms of Life and more ways of living than we will ever know.

I like mystery and I love to explore the stories, myths and traditions associated with the plants I encounter.

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Across the road from my house, the water from the spring flows out of the pond over into the channel built by the Romans, and as it does so, these astonishing patterns appear.

I find them quite mesmerising. They are waves or ripples, delicate, transient folds on the surface of the moving water.

They remind me why I write a post here every day. There is such a lot of turmoil and stress in this world these days, so many things to disturb us, upset us, make us angry or afraid, that I decided, when the first lockdown came in here in France at the start of the pandemic, that I would send some positivity out into the world every day.

Each day I share a photo I’ve taken and write some words of reflection. Together they bring me joy, make me wonder, delight me, and/or provoke my thinking about reality, life and health.

My hope, no, my conviction, is, that these images and words spread far and wide carrying the energies of awe, wonder, joy and love. And that these positive waves, or ripples flow into your life, touching you, moving you, inspiring you to pass them on…..not just pass on the posts to friends and family, but to transform their deep energy of wonder and love and create your own ways of spreading that further.

One by one, one day at a time, we can spread the energies and influences which can heal our shared, and our individual, traumas.

Make some positive ways today.

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We grew a tree paeony in a trough in our previous garden. It took about five years to grow just over a metre high. It produced, briefly, the most astonishing flowers each Spring but many years the buds would be eaten by something before they could flower.

It was such a beautiful plant we decided to dig it up and replant it in a pot when we moved house. It seemed to survive the winter and yesterday it opened its first flower.

Look at it spilling out an abundance of yellow pollen. It just amazes me. There are at least half a dozen buds on it, and so far, none of them have been nibbled.

New life, growth and flourishing always entrance me. They seem miraculous not least because you can never be sure how things are going to go.

I’m more convinced than ever that health emerges when a good environment exists and that flourishing occurs as a consequence of care and attention.

I think that’s just as true for humans as it is for flowers. There is no healing other than through the natural processes of self-healing. Recovery and flourishing take time, patience and hope. And there are no artificial substitutes for loving care and attention.

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I’ve often mentioned the French phrase “l’émerveillement du quotidien” here. It roughly translates as the wonder of the everyday. It’s a key concept for me. It’s what brings me happiness and peace in life.

Well, I certainly find that I am continuously surprised by what I encounter and so take a look at this little colony of mushrooms which I found growing on an old tree stump in my garden. Aren’t they incredible?

I’m no fungus expert and I don’t know what these are but they might be “Brittlestems”.

Whatever name someone has given they are simply astonishing and quite beautiful.

Little encounters like this paint the day in shades of joy and wonder.

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Beginning again

Whenever I see a seed begin to sprout I feel delighted. There’s something deeply instinctively satisfying and attractive about new Life.

One of the things that strikes me about this is how I never see this as a separate event. In the moment of witnessing this burgeoning growth I think of where it has come from, of the infinite loops and spirals of new growth, maturity, reproduction and scattering of seeds. I see a whole family, generations out of which this one little life is emerging. Also in this moment I think of the future, of the potential held in this small sprouting seed, the potential to grow and become a large tree, even to begin a forest. The potential to live many many more years than any human being will.

In this moment, in this unique time and place, I see the turning of another spiral of Life on Earth.

There are so many little changes all the time, little changes we hardly even notice. But there are also the bigger ones. The days when something so significant happens that we know nothing will ever be the same again. And on those days, in these moments of endings we have a chance to glimpse the new beginnings.

What better choice to make than to nurture and nourish the new beginnings?

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Beauty and wonder

Yesterday I shared a photo of a lichen covered rock sitting amongst moss. All the elements of that photo were beautiful and provoked a sense of wonder and a feeling of awe.

This photo does the same. It’s a fungus growing on a tree and it’s colours make it look for all the world like a gorgeous piece of agate.

I remember times as a child, on family walks in Scotland, we’d look for pieces of agate. Finding them was like finding treasure. You could tumble them in a motor driven cylinder to polish them up but I thought the best ones were often those already polished by the sea and the millions of other pebbles they’d rattled over.

Fungus are astonishing life forms that are mostly hidden from our view. The parts popping up on the surfaces of trees or through the grass are just a tiny portion of their existence. They form the most incredibly large networks of fibres under the ground creating interconnectons and relationships between trees and other plants.

These networks have only recently been shown to function as carriers of both information and materials and are the core of what people call “the wood wide web”.

It’s amazing how little we actually understand about reality!

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Awe and wonder

Isn’t this beautiful?

I love the patterns of the lichen on the stone. They make it look like a glove, a map of an unknown planet. And I also love that beautiful moss. It looks like a thousand stars densely packed into a distant galaxy. Except these stars are green!

Together this tiny part of the world instantly inspires me to think of our vast universe, full of strange, beautiful and unique planets, stars and star clusters.

I gaze at this and I’m in awe of the diversity of creation. In awe of the beauty of this universe.

A phrase pops into my head….”why is there not nothing in this universe?” It’s something scientists and philosophers wrestle with. Not just why does the universe exist, but why is there anything we call material, and why is material so diverse in size, shape and form?

Whether we look around at what lies at our feet or look up on a crystal clear night to see literally countless stars, what we see is uniqueness and diversity and an endless variety of complex forms.

What is lichen anyway? Such a strange life form. It looks a bit like a plant and a bit like a fungus. What is moss anyway? It looks a bit like grass but not like any other grass you can find.

How did a rock become such a beautiful spherical shape and how did it end up here separate from other rocks?

Where does lichen begin and where has this lichen come from? Where does moss begin and how does it develop this shape? How many different kinds of lichen are there? How many different kinds of moss are there?

Sometimes I think I have more questions than there are stars in the night sky. But I don’t need the answers to them all. I’m happy in my state of awe and wonder.

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All of Life is movement. All reality is flow. All we see, hear, touch, smell or taste is in constant interaction with whatever is around. The universe is perpetually co-creating.

Nothing is fixed. Nothing exists in isolation. All of reality is constantly influencing and being influenced by the universe.

When I look at these rocks I see they have been shaped by the flow of the water. Shaped in a way that they’ve taken on the appearance of the water itself. How long did it take to create this shape? How many thousands, millions perhaps, of years. And as the water falls, creating a foaming, crashing river as it goes, it, in turn, is shaped by these very same rocks.

Water and rock, meeting each other, bounding each other, pressing against each other, exchanging molecules and shaping each other.

And even as I stand and look, although I cannot see it, this co-creation continues. It has no end. No outcome.

Becoming not being.

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Round and round

There’s something deeply pleasing about a circle as a symbol and maybe that partly explains why this wheel looks so beautiful. After all it’s a pretty old, and probably no longer very useful wheel. I mean, what would you fit it to? Originally someone made this wheel for a purpose, but that purpose has long since gone.

When I look at it now I think two lines of thought. One is the circular nature of time. We’re ruled by a very linear concept of time these days, with deadlines, targets, an idea that the past is gone and lies behind us while the future lies waiting somewhere down the road ahead. But Nature is better understood by seasons and cycles, phases of birth, new life, growth, maturity, decay and death, giving rise to new life again. Cycles of atoms and energy through rocks, plants, animals, the atmosphere. And the present moment is not an isolated point on a line but a lived experience emerging from all that’s gone before within the multiplicity of possible futures.

The other thought is how much we are stuck in a system dedicated to utility and “efficiency” when beauty, wonder, awe, love, joy and creativity are much deeper, much more satisfying, values. I wonder if we’ll be able to break free from the cycle of utility and control, and create a more satisfying way of life which gives precedence to relationships, uniqueness, diversity, beauty and awe?

I think I’d like that.

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