it’s about time

cavernWhat is time?  What is time for?

The measurement of a breath, the space between breaths.

Sleeping, waking, toil, and play.

The passage of a season in planting, tending, harvesting, and preservation.

The celebration of birthdays, holidays, moments of intensity.

The currency of our lives.

In the time it took for me to mulch my tomatoes, a family of sparrows hatched and fledged from an abandoned harvest basket on our porch.  The sparrows and I were busy with the same work – toiling with the materials at hand in an effort to feed our families.  The sparrow children grew up faster than ours, though some days, it feels like it may have just been a week ago that ours were born, too.cute kids

Time stretches and contracts.  It is constant but not consistent.

Once I heard my Tibetan Buddhist friends say that time is our own creation.

They weren’t talking about creation in the Biblical sense, of dividing the day and night. They were talking, as they often did, about perception, and our perception of time. In this age, when busy-ness is glorified and nearly inescapable, it’s worth consideration.

If we didn’t create the way we look at time – who did? If we didn’t decide how to use our precious time – who does? Who tells us whether “time is short” or “we have all the time in the world”? We do. We learn it early on, from others who have learned before us. And we are given training in schools to unify our perceptions and hustle when the bell rings, regardless of the task at hand. We are not taught to question this perception, and it takes a substantial degree of study and reflection to re-train these perceptive reflexes. Here lately I’m thinking it’s a worthy effort.

There are never enough hours in my day. I’ve heard myself say and think that phrase over and over. How exhausting!  It’s high time to break that habit.  Not that I will all of a sudden get everything done that I hoped to do in a day, but maybe I will be relaxed about the fact that my life is full.  It’s full of beauty, food, friends and family.  Full to bursting with the stuff of life and love.  What is time for but to love?

Last year, as we tapered off our writing habits, it felt like there was just too much going on to be able to write about it and be honest. And of course there wasn’t time.

Now, it feels like there’s too much going on, and to NOT write about it wouldn’t be honest. There’s no more or less time than ever. But I have missed this place to share thoughts at hand, visions, the beauty of life out here, so I’m choosing to take the time.

Because, this is another important thing that time is for – sharing.geese and girls

 

inner space

The cost of simplicity is not less than everything.” – Anthony Blake, playing with T.S. Eliot’s “The Four Quartets”.  (Chew on that for a little while if you like.  I am.)wowee

That’s what he said last weekend.  I only attended a couple hours of the seminar.  This is one of the snippets that was given, and received.

If you have, like me, exposed your mind into the workings of Anthroposophy, then you understand how thick reading material can be.  It’s not easy reading.  The works are G.I. Gurdjieff are similarly dense literary material.  Similarly rare, somewhat strange, and esoteric.  Similarly profound in possibility.

I only dipped my toes in, last weekend.  It was an interesting dip.  I came away with some thoughts I hadn’t had before.

The esoteric, the inner teachings, workings, wisdom of any and all paths, necessitate a certain amount of internal space.  There were spaces between Anthony Blake’s words.  He could have elaborated on many points, but didn’t.  There was space, quietness, in the music that accompanied the event.  Spaces for the words that aren’t being said.  Spaces for thoughts.  Spaces for experiences that might not express themselves in thought or word.  And more than just the space itself is the invitation to explore it.

Inner space is a constant.  We may not know it, or feel it.  We may ignore it all together.  But even in the thick of the things of life, there is space inside of us, and we have an choice about how to use it.  We have the choice to be conscious.family canada pumpkin 2

Being aware of our inner space opens us up to amazing opportunity.  It may not be an easy opportunity.  It may sometimes, or often, be very difficult.  Staying awake to the fact of our inner space may lead us to see uncomfortable things about ourselves and the world around us.  But it also opens us to experience the miracles of everyday existence.swirl

Life is fast.  It flies by, and it is sometimes easier to not pay attention to the details, not to connect to ourselves and our fellow people as it goes.  Engaging our sense of inner spaciousness gives us more tools for engaging with our world – outer space, if you will, which certainly includes everything from the dust bunnies in our closets to the far reaches of the Universe.  It looks to me like the people who have lived well and pass out of this life in peace and without regrets are people who have integrated their inner and outer spaces.  They live fully, love fully, share freely and enjoy the fleeting waking moments of this precious opportunity to be alive.

All paths of esoteric spiritual thought are concerned with this inner space.  The word esoteric itself is from the Greek eso, meaning within.  But that doesn’t mean you have to join a secret metaphysical society to be aware of your inner space.  So many “secrets” are right out in the open.  A deep slow breath in the open air, under a warm sun.  What does it do to your senses, your mine, your heart?  How secret is that?

NGC 4639 is a beautiful example of a type of galaxy known as a barred spiral. It lies over 70 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo and is one of about 1500 galaxies that make up the Virgo Cluster. In this image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, one can clearly see the bar running through the bright, round core of the galaxy. Bars are found in around two thirds of spiral galaxies, and are thought to be a natural phase in their evolution. The galaxy’s spiral arms are sprinkled with bright regions of active star formation. Each of these tiny jewels is actually several hundred light-years across and contains hundreds or thousands of newly formed stars. But NGC 4639 also conceals a dark secret in its core — a massive black hole that is consuming the surrounding gas. This is known as an active galactic nucleus (AGN), and is revealed by characteristic features in the spectrum of light from the galaxy and by X-rays produced close to the black hole as the hot gas plunges towards it. Most galaxies are thought to contain a black hole at the centre. NGC 4639 is in fact a very weak example of an AGN, demonstrating that AGNs exist over a large range of activity, from galaxies like NGC 4639 to distant quasars, where the parent galaxy is almost completely dominated by the emissions from the AGN.

NGC 4639 is a beautiful example of a type of galaxy known as a barred spiral. Thanks Hubble!

There are worlds within you, within each of us.  Galaxies.  Ecosystems.  Fertile garden beds, pastures, and deep forests.   Lightness, and darkness too.  It only takes a moment to turn your attention there.  You may not even have to stop what you are doing.  But turning your attention that way will probably change the way you are doing whatever that is.  Letting yourself live and work in this world, with a living connection to the inner world….

I think we were born to do that.moth to the flame

horizontal and vertical

basilIt’s the smell of basil that does it to me. I feel grounded. My thoughts come in for landing. At the same time, I am uplifted. My spirit is full of light. I guess, overall, picking basil balances me. And that is how the various streams of thought that have been bouncing in my head all week finally coalesce. It’s the basil.

In the garden, the visual field of work is horizontal. Plants grow out of the earth, into the air. Ourselves and our various livestock walk on the earth with our heads in the air, more or less. We share the effects of gravity, the quality of the atmosphere. We share a horizontal plane.

But in truth, we are being influenced and are making waves in the vertical plane as well. The life beneath the soil has everything to do with what happens above it, as does the atmosphere above us, and beyond.bee flower

It is easier, simpler, to work horizontally and not think too much about the vertical plane. Don’t worry about the soil as long as the plants grow. Just slap down some NPK and carry on. Don’t think about CO2 emissions or the phase of the moon, just drive that tractor!

In the practice of Biodynamic agriculture, we are called upon to expand our thinking, and our work, in every direction. The life beneath the soil is of utmost importance, and we cannot see it. We have to rely on the evidence we find growing out of it to learn about it, and do what we can from up here to make a positive impact below. Likewise, we stretch our understanding upward, into the cosmos, and try to perceive that the soil, the plants, and all life, is influenced by the near and outer reaches of space. We even do things to try to help that relationship be healthy and strong. We cannot see it, but maybe, with time, we begin to feel something about it that we didn’t feel before.

I began thinking of this after attending church last Sunday. The visiting pastor spoke about a three fold way of forgiveness. It was a new one for me. He explained that as we come to understand, ask, and receive the forgiveness of a higher power, we grow in our ability to forgive others. This is laid out in the Lord’s Prayer when we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The unspoken third link is that by engaging in that relationship of forgiveness and forgiving, we become able to forgive ourselves, as well. It’s a very important third link, in my opinion, often overlooked, to the detriment of our well-being.

And it seems to translate into other realms of relationship, as well.

My parents are of the Baby Boomer generation. They had some rather severe differences with their parents, my grandparents, in both lifestyle and ideology. But, from what I witnessed growing up, they still respected their parents. By respecting their parents, they were able to respect themselves, and in turn became respectable people. And I respect them all the more for having watched it all go down.

I don’t know, but I suspect that when we lose respect for others, especially those older than ourselves, it becomes harder to develop a sense of self-respect, which in turn makes it more difficult to treat those younger than ourselves with respect. But how else will they learn? Surely, it’s up to us, each one to become a respectable person.

Verticality isn’t easy. Look to see whether you are sitting up straight right now. Your spine and all the internal organs around it work best when it is lined up, balanced, vertically. But many of us have a tendency to slump into the horizontal plane. When we sit back up, there is an instant of relief, a feeling of rightness, a deeper breath. That instant is followed by some tension, because we have made a habit of the horizontal slump. The habit has invaded the musculature of our backs, so it becomes more difficult to do what we were made to do.tree light

But it’s worth it to do it anyway. We can establish a new habit of sitting tall, and our musculature will adapt, and we will be stronger and breathe more freely. Likewise, if we practice making friendly and respectful relationships with people of all ages (and colors and creeds), our community will be healthier, stronger, and more enjoyable as we begin to appreciate all those people who share our world. If we accept and practice forgiveness, with others, with a higher power, with ourselves, our hearts will be lighter. If we grow our food in relationship to the soil and the air and the whole universe, seen and unseen, our world will be fit for life in abundance, in balance, in beauty.

There’s plenty to be said about the effects of letting ourselves slide into existence on a purely horizontal plane.  I don’t really want to say all that.  It’s easy enough to see, everywhere.  It seems more important to affirm that verticality is worth the effort.

At least, that’s how it seems when I am picking the basil.sunset cloud 2

I would like to give credit to some of my thinking today to the following:

Robert Bly’s book The Sibling Society.

Rudolf Steiner’s work in creating Biodynamic Agriculture.

And Pastor Jason Roe for his effective sermon.