Saturday, August 07, 2010
Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.
-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from Aurora Leigh
I'm in my THIRD month of trippin' about in this huge, awe-inspiring country of ours (and a *touch* of Canada as well)!!! Today I rode my Trek to -- and about 20 miles around -- Niagara Falls. I'm so glad I have this unique opportunity to see more of it, since up to now, I've been generally more traveled internationally than domestically.
RECENT HUMAN INTERACTIONS: There was Laura in the St. Lawrence Seaway Region and Judy in Ontario, Canada...who both got in their cars and LED ME significant distances to my campground when I showed up at their front doors miserably lost! (Over the three months, two others have LED me to places, the latest of which was a young man who yesterday led me to smalltown Brookville, PA , library.)
Then there was Ellen from Buffalo, a pal I went bicycling with in Allegheny State Park (a retired [published!] law librarian), and Melissa (a world traveler, currently a teacher and summer employee at Alleghany State Park, NY) from Salamanca, two kindred spirits that I intersected with in a sweet and substantive manner (e.g., shared meals, wonderful conversation, bike rides, etc.).
I wish I had photos of these women!
RECENT NATURE INTERACTIONS: Here I will post a photo journal of just a token of the last two parks I've been in (wish I had a better camera, but you'll get the idea)...oh, and a few shots of Niagara Falls:
Here I am (can you see me?)!
A beautiful garden adjacent to the falls
This wonderful "Sri Chinmoy International Peace Falls" plaque was in the garden
A breath-taking silvery lavendar hibiscus in the tropical greenhouse
Loved the tall grasses
I also made it to the Niagara Falls Botanical Gardens (at Azimat's recommendation), but my camera battery pooped out, dang it! It was amazing in every way!
ALLEGANY STATE PARK, NY (BTW, they spell it "Allegheny" in PA!) :
Osprey pair with their young in the nest right at the park entrance!
Loved that I got site 108!
Quaker Lake (the side of ASP I camped on). I got very few photos of ASP, a beautiful park that I would love to return to, both Quaker and Red House sides, to explore further.
COOK FOREST, PA (absolutely magical):
Can you see the amazing trunk *design* in a center background tree?
I loved the sun-dappled trees
Incredible mushrooms were scattered through the forest
Still life with coffee (can you see it?)
Lots of fern in the shaded, misty forest
Friday, July 23, 2010
The Saint Lawrence River (Mohawk: Kaniatarowanenneh, meaning "big waterway") is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage of the Great Lakes Basin. It traverses the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario and forms part of the international boundary between Ontario and other places in the United States:
St. Lawrence Seaway
I camped at Black Lake last night, about 25 miles from Alexandria Bay, the 1000 Islands region:
This morning I head to Wellesley Island State Park in the St. Lawrence River for three nights
Wellesley Island State Park
A friend who is from this area insisted that I MUST go on the boat tour of the islands. She said that albeit it's a "touristy thing" it is nonetheless a spectacular sightseeing experience: "The most popular cruise is the Two Nation Tour, a 2 1/4 hour cruise departing from its home port of Alexandria Bay. This features a narrated international tour offering enjoyment of historic and scenic wonders in both American and Canadian waters. At the end of each trip there is an optional stop at Boldt Castle on Heart Island for a self-guided tour." usboattours.com/1000islands/
Uncle Same Boat Tours
I also plan to do lots of bicycling during these days...and I even hope to perhaps rent a kayak (thanks Francesca)!
I sadly left Francesca's loving home yesterday -- and the company of Timothy the handsome freckled springer spaniel, her two beautiful rescue horses Onyx (who is sun-bleached to a dark brown now!) and Zeus, and her sweet DH. At her recommendation I drove west on NY-3 through exquisite scenery...green, green, green...with lakes, rivers, and all the myriad the joys of the Mother at her finest!
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.
~ Mary Oliver ~
Monday, July 19, 2010
I just spoke to dear lovely Francesca (FRANCESCANAZ); we'll meet about 5:00pm; I'm back at the state park after an 11-mile bike ride and decided to use some battery power to write a brief blog before I have lunch and begin the journey north.
Me'n Azimat, nighttime
Being with Azimat (another SparkFriend), and meeting her husband, at the retreat was wonderful beyond what I could have imagined. I am deeply indebted to her for telling me of this Teaching, to the universe for arranging my trip making it workable to attend, and to the Sufi Order for gifting me with a partial scholarship, which made it financially feasible. The two teachers, Pir Zia, head of the Sufi Order International, and Aziza Scott, Director of Esoteric Studies, were unbounded in their wisdom and the generous sharing of it.
The mountain top where the programs were held.
Pir Zia is a soul of high consciousness, a noble man who moves and acts with grace and beauty. Being in his presence (darshan) was a deep blessing. Though my notes are paltry, since I was mostly too taken by his words to write, here is just the smallest sampling of a few thoughts that touched me deeply (paraphrasing): "Every opening, every flickering of desire for Truth IS the goal of the whole creation...sentient beings and otherwise. When you look for God, God is in the look in your eyes. The One we seek is seeking us. Every movement toward the One is another hidden disclosure. In the span from eternal to mundane is the paradox of all that is magic and splendorous in life.
"The vertical dimension of the heart is the medium of communion with the Divine Source. Its horizontal dimension is the medium of communion with all other manifest beings. Do not close the heart from being wounded, from pain. It shouldn't be avoided in a dual universe.
"It is our sacred task to be present for it ALL, to bear witness to it all. Pain is not to be disowned. Pain denied or repressed morphs into suffering.
"When I hold another in my heart (prayer) the person is uplifted by the holiness of my thoughts toward the other. We are the channels through which Divine remembrance flows through creation...divine grace pouring out to the world.
"Interbeing is our state, from the smallest particle to the largest galaxy. We are all made from the same *stuff.* In showing compassion toward all other sentient beings we are acknowledging this interbeing."
I came upon a huge red-tailed hawk hopping along the ground at Beaver Pond in Harriman State Park the day before arriving to The Abode. It was no more that eight feet from me! I was shocked and delighted by this incident, a first in my life, and just stood there as it moved toward a puddle in the path where I was, drank from it and then just remained there in its elegant magnificent plumage looking at me. Pir Zia would say that this "was a moment of mutual seeing, each of us having been impacted by the presence of the other." Indeed, my life was changed by the communion with this creature. It eventually flew away, its enormous wingspan awing me, its red tail glimmering in the sunlight.
After the retreat at The Abode over the weekend and the night at Hearthstone Point State Park at Lake George in the Adirondacks, this piece by the incomparable poet Naomi Shihab Nye so very perfectly describes my state of heart and mind.
Needing to be
From any store.
To lift something
You already had
And set it down in
A new place.
What does that do to
The old blood moving through
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~
(You & Yours)
With failing battery power I won't even attempt any photos at the moment. Perhaps there will be time at Francesca's.
Among other things Francesca and I will take our Treks on the ferry across Lake Champlain to meet DokeyOkey (Kathleen) in Burlington, VT for bicycling fun and dining together. Also ahead is 1000 Islands in the St. Lawrence Seaway region, Ithaca leading into the Finger Lakes region, Niagara Falls, including the Canadian side, Yellow Springs, including Antioch College and hopefully Spark friends! I need to be home for fall semester and birthday celebrations by mid-August.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
This morning I woke up to the sound of rain on the camper roof. It was raining when I went to bed early last night also. PennyAn and I couldn't seem to get to bed early (too much to do and talk about!), so last night I took advantage of my alone time to do that!
I drive on to the Berkshires, to Abode of the Message Mountain Conference Center for a silent retreat with Pir Zia:
which I've been looking forward to since Azimat sent me a link about it a few weeks ago. I'm SO excited that I'll meet her and DH today, both on the Sufi path for many years, a path that m heart deeply resonates with.
I did a retreat with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan many moons ago in San Francisco. He was then head of the Sufi Order International:
Now that Pir Vilayat has left the body, his son, Pir Zia Inayat Khan, has taken on the mantle of leadership. I will have the auspicious opportunity of being in retreat with Pir Zia:
The poem below from Panhala spoke deeply to me in my meditative time this morning. I am increasingly aware of the briefness of this life and of the few years that I have left during this sojourn.
The trip has been the occasion of much time of inner reflection.
I am communing more deeply with nature. When my "heart stutters with pain and hope," I am learning to"bend forward over it like a (wo)man at a small campfire." This retreat is coming at an important time and I look forward to the inner journey it will encourage.
The journey continues....
OLD MAN, OLD MAN (aka OLD WOMAN, OLD WOMAN)
Young men, not knowing what to remember,
Come to this hiding place of the moons and years,
To this Old Man. Old Man, they say, where should we go?
Where did you find what you remember? Was it perched in a tree?
Did it hover deep in the white water? Was it covered over
With dead stalks in the grass? Will we taste it
If our mouths have long lain empty?
Will we feel it between our eyes if we face the wind
All night, and turn the color of earth?
If we lie down in the rain, can we remember sunlight?
He answers, I have become the best and worst I dreamed.
When I move my feet, the ground moves under them.
When I lie down, I fit the earth too well.
Stones long underwater will burst in the fire, but stones
Long in the sun and under the dry night
Will ring when you strike them. Or break in two.
There were always many places to beg for answers:
Now the places themselves have come in close to be told.
I have called even my voice in close to whisper with it:
Every secret is as near as your fingers.
If your heart stutters with pain and hope,
Bend forward over it like a man at a small campfire.
~ David Wagoner ~
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