On a pilgrimage to Mount Shasta, butterflies became my spiritual teachers.
One of my favorite places in the world is Mount Shasta, and of all the sacred and beautiful locales around this mountain, I love a particular meadow about half-way up the slope. The source of its beauty – that nourishes the abundant life there – is a pristine spring.
This is where I like to sit when I visit, right next to the spring. Not only am I able to hear its sweet trickling sound and dip my feet in the freshly-melted-from-the-glacier water, but I’m able to look over the many wildflowers blooming around the tiny stream. And along with the flowers come the butterflies.
I’ve only been to a couple places that had more butterflies (I have seen Monarchs on their migration). There’s a lovely variety of them, too – orange and brown, white, periwinkle. They tend to linger nearby on the warm step stones, not just on the flowers. And this is when I get excited, because I love to coax them onto my fingers. Continue Reading
A couple weeks ago, I had planned to hike on a Thursday morning with a friend I hadn’t seen in months. We were looking forward to being together and venturing into one of my favorite forests at nearby Huddart Park. The forecast was for rain – not just a little drizzle. Did we want to venture beyond our comfort zone, even if it was pouring?
I was game, and so was she – what an adventure! Going outdoors brings me great joy, but there’s always an element of being uncomfortable. Will I get muddy? Will my new rain pants truly hold up? What if I slip and fall? How about the cold? Being in nature mirrors to us the fact that life is unpredictable and uncomfortable sometimes.
We met up and drove together through the windy road to the park entrance, then on to the grassy field near the trailhead. On with the jackets, hiking books, and mittens (yep, it was chilly!), and off we went into the redwood forest. Continue Reading
Every morning, shortly after I wake, I do my “sit-spot” practice outside in our front yard. This is a practice of simply sitting and being present with everything in nature. It’s a beautiful way to begin my day with the freshness of the morning air, the sun beginning to peek through the leaves, the squirrels racing up and down the oak trees, and most of all, the birdsong.
I relish hearing the variety of birds in our neighborhood. On those beautiful, bright, sunny mornings it is pure delight to sit by our grassy patch and hear a bird calling from the tall redwood tree 5 houses down to the right, and to hear the high-pitched clicking sound of a hummingbird as it zooms in for a drink from our Mexican sage.
This morning, however, was quite different than the others for the last couple of months. It was dense with cloud-cover, and rain was expected. For California in June, this is rare. With ordinary eyes, one might wake up, see the dismal looking skies, and decide to just pull the covers over the head and go back to sleep. A dreary, cloudy day. Continue Reading
photo by trestleJeff from morguefile.com
Humans are a strange species. We are, to my knowledge, the only species that attempts to live in insolation from other species. We may collect in human groups – and we may have a few select “pets” – but by and large we don’t consider ourselves part of the ecosystem, and certainly not kin to other living beings. After all, we are human, and therefore we transcend animal instincts.
Well, maybe not so much. Or, maybe the traits that we think define us as human aren’t limited to our species. Isn’t it rather anthropocentric to believe that we’re the only beings that think, consider the future, reflect on the past, and have feelings? What if these are traits of consciousness, of any living being, and not exclusively human? What if our experience is universal between us and animals, and maybe even other forms of life, only we experience ours through particular filters of human language, perceptions, and behavior? Continue Reading