img_20190130_102341Last year I used my birthday money to buy two stones. I don’t often buy stones. I am wary of the means of their mining and the truths around their origins, and I think we are too quick to rip treasures from the ground and careless of the consequences. Nevertheless, for my birthday I indulged myself a little.

One is a large quartz crystal, chunky where the rest around it had been slender, a facet on one side close to square. It’s clear enough to see right through it, its wispy white inclusions giving the impression of ice. The other is an egg-shaped piece of labradorite. It’s dark and dense, an ancient twilight forest image trapped in the plains of blue and aquamarine, with hints of red and gold on one side. The other side is reminiscent of peering through deep water.

They are as different as night and day – one sharp and angular, one soft curves, one translucent, the other opaque, one speaks to me of high, icy mountains, of angular cliffs, of sky and stars and the clearness of desert. The other drags me deep into the mossy leaves of forests and down into the depths of secret lakes. Balanced.

Balanced between reason and logic on one hand and creative imagination on the other.

Balanced between the silence and stillness of meditation and non-action on one hand, and the rush of music, movement, words, worlding, weaving, dying, dancing, exploring and expanding on the other.

I find the two stones a comfort now – balanced – one in each hand, sitting in the space between one era and the next, watching our world shatter and shift, our doing, our too-muchness, yet according nature, the nature of the rise of one sort over another until it all falls down.

In this space, one stone in each hand, I can come to a stillness, watching with the distance of the icy peak, or watching with the awareness that out of the cauldron of chaos, new things arise.

I am in this, I am of this. My bones and blood are this planet. Earth. Her treasures in my hands.

From Noticing to Seeing

There are three particular trees across the road from me in the park area. I have given them names of sorts. There is the Dragon tree – an7-1179 old rough eucalypt, with stringy bark, and blood red sap, that defies identification. It hides a myriad spiders and beetles in the dark and dusty nooks and crannies of its base. It doesn’t look beautiful in the usual way. It’s liable to make people think of dark things in the night that bite, and they will probably warn their children away from it.


Then2-1165 there is the Grandmother Tree – a lemon gum. She is huge, her bark shiny white at the right time, but currently a sort of dusky pink, as we are nearing the end of bark fall. My arms would not even go half way round her old trunk, and she stretches high and always had cockatoos,
lorikeets or rosellas nesting in one or other hole.


Lastly, there’s the Vision tree, which has eyes in its trunk. I did find out what it was called but I’ve forgotten. It doesn’t matter. Perhaps you will recognise it from the picture. I like to sit with my back to it and imagine it helps me find my way through difficulties.

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I paid a visit to these trees while out walking, yesterday, and as I did so, I considered the nature of feeling connected to environment. To be perfectly honest, I actually stood with my hand on each tree and asked them to help me figure this connection thing out, and no, I’m not crazy. I’m just imaginative and creative.

The realm of connection – feeling connected to others – starts in infancy before we have language. Connection is about feelings, emotions, and sensory cues – touch, sight, sound, taste, smell and intuition. None of these things require a language of words. Instead they require art, creativity – the things our subconscious brain loves. Oh yes – words become helpful once we grow, as the acquisition of language allows us to build images or pictures with words and bridge the gap or guard the gate between our conscious and sub-conscious awareness.

I suggested, in my last post, that the very beginning of feeling connected to environment was “noticing”. Now I will suggest that the next step involves the senses – not just noticing, but seeing – taking in, pausing for a moment.
Listen actively to the birds. If you listen carefully you will begin to notice more clearly the many nuances to their chatter, and you will start to appreciate that you are hearing complex language, not just mindless twittering.
When you notice a tree, let the artistry of it sink in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a naturally growing tree (un-hacked by humans) that isn’t artistic in the way it arranges itself.
If you have the time and inclination, you may like to try a Taoist tree meditation.
Oh – and on the subject of being aware of and connected to the environment, today is the longest day in the southern hemisphere, so I wish you all a wonderful Alban Hefin.