Saturday, November 27, 2010


On November 19, 2010, NBC aired a very special movie, "Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World," which was inspired by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and produced by by Stuart and Julie Bergman Sender.  A trailer of the movie can be viewed by clicking on HARMONY and the movie itself can be seen in its entirety by going to the NBC archives video.

I have been so moved by this movie and its message that I want to recommend it to all who visit this site on a regular basis.  Lest you have any doubt, this is not a movie about Prince Charles.  It is a movie about how we can return to sustainable environmental practices that will preserve the earth for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.  Feeling passionately about this subject, I could write about it endlessly, but I think it's best to let the movie speak for itself.  I hope you will not only enjoy it, but conclude in the end, as I did, that we must all do more to protect the fragile resources that we have been allowed to use for our limited years on earth.

To give you a flavor of some of the topics discussed in the film, I am setting forth a few quotes from Prince Charles, as well as some relevant quotes from other thinkers such as Einstein, Gandhi, E.F. Schumacher, and Stephen Jay Gould.  May you find the same inspiration that I have found.

Remember that our children and grandchildren will not ask what our generation said, but what it did.  Let us give an answer, then, of which we can be proud.
* * *  
We have lost something very precious.  That is an understanding of our interconnectedness with nature and a world beyond the material.
* * * 
Carrying on as if, fundamentally, it is "business as usual" is no longer an option.  We cannot solve the problems of the 21st Century with 20th Century solutions.
* * * 
Visionary people have a vital role to play in helping the world to find the strength needed to address its problems. 
 HRH The Prince of Wales 

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.

The best friend on earth of man is the tree.  When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on earth.
Frank Lloyd Wright

We still have to learn how to live peacefully, not only with our fellow men but also with nature and, above all, with those Higher Powers which have made nature and have made us.
E.F. Schumacher

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Our world has enough for each person's need, but not for his greed.

Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the people of the earth.  Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it.
Chief Seattle

Human consciousness arose but a minute before midnight on the geological clock.  Yet we mayflies try to bend an ancient world to our purposes, ignorant perhaps of the messages buried in its long history.  Let us hope that we are still in the early morning of our April day.
Stephen Jay Gould

For those who are interested in pursuing these ideas further, Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World is also available in book form (see header photo) and can be purchased from either Amazon or the Harmony movie website.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of my friends in the blogging community for enriching my life daily.  You have been, and continue to be, great sources of inspiration, education, and joy.  More importantly, you have proven yourselves to be true friends — fellow pilgrims on this magical and mysterious journey we call life.

My offering today is very simple:  some abstract photos taken during the past few weeks, some pertinent observations of others about unexpected beauty, and, finally, a lovely poem by Anne Sexton about everyday blessings.  Enjoy.

One of the most important — and most neglected — elements in the beginning of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendor that is all around us.
Thomas Merton 

Everything is life is speaking, is audible, is communicating, in spite of its apparent silence.
Hazrat Inayat Khan 

 For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.

Evelyn Underhill

                                 No more words.  In the name of this place we
                                 drink in with our breathing, stay quiet like a flower,
                                 So the nightbirds will start singing.


If you love it enough, anything will talk with you.
George Washington Carver 

The moment one gives close attention to anything . . . it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
Henry Miller 

Take, for example, a pencil, ashtray, anything, and holding it before you in both hands, regard it for a while.  Forgetting its use and name, yet continuing to regard it, ask yourself seriously, "What is it?" . . . Its dimension of wonder opens; for the mystery of the being of that thing is identical with the mystery of the being of the universe, and yourself.
Joseph Campbell 

                                                 WELCOME MORNING

                                   There is joy
                                   in all:
                                   in the hair I brush each morning,
                                   in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
                                   that I rub my body with each morning,
                                   in the chapel of eggs I cook
                                   each morning,
                                   the spoon and the chair
                                   that cry "hello there, Anne"
                                   each morning,
                                   in the godhead of the table
                                   that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
                                   each morning.

                                   All this is God,
                                   right here in my pea-green house
                                   each morning
                                   and I mean,
                                   though often forget,
                                   to give thanks,
                                   to faint down by the kitchen table
                                   in prayer of rejoicing
                                   as the holy birds at the kitchen window
                                   peck into their marriage of seeds.

                                  So while I think of it,
                                  let me paint a thank-you on my palm
                                  for this God, this laughter of the morning,
                                  lest it go unspoken.

                                  The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
                                  dies young.

                                  Anne Sexton

Notes on photographs:  (1) detail from abandoned Chevrolet tow truck; (2) mooring line and reflections from dock in marina; (3) patina of old metal strip found in boatyard; (4) sailboat rudder and keg; (5) sunrise on Tred Avon River; (6) stern of old work boat; (7) water reflection of boat workshop; (8) water reflection of machinery and sailboat masts: (9) detail from abandoned Chevrolet tow truck; (10) collage of some of my other abstract photos created by my blogging friend, Neighbor, over at Temporary Reality .


Saturday, November 13, 2010


Perhaps it is trite to say this, but nature is, indeed, an amazing artist!  If you have any doubt, just look at the interplay of color, form, and reflections in this little scene that I discovered near my home late one afternoon earlier in the week.  For one blissful and surreal moment, I felt that I was standing in the middle of a Monet painting.

Amazingly, this scene was found next to a well-traveled bridge on the upper headwaters of the Tred Avon River.  Cars were crossing the bridge incessantly while I stood on the riverbank, but no one seemed to notice the miracle of light that was occurring not more than fifty feet from the road.  Strange, isn't it?  The magic can be so close, yet most people are too busy to notice it.

After discovering this lovely scene by happenstance, I decided to take a more disciplined approach to my photography this week.  More specifically, I made sure that, camera in hand, I was near some body of tranquil water during the hour just after sunrise and the hour just before sunset, the two hours of day when the light is usually at its best, especially in mid-November.  A few of the photos taken this week are set forth below, paired with some relevant thoughts about the role that nature plays in the preservation of our sanity.

Some of these photos are representational, while others are abstract.  Each image, however, reflects that beauty than can be discovered on rivers, lakes, and ponds during the luminous days of autumn.  Enjoy!

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
John Muir 

I'll tell you how the sun rose a ribbon at a time.

Emily Dickinson 

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

Civilization has fallen out of touch with night. With lights, we drive the holiness and the beauty of night back to the forests and the seas; the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it.  Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of the night?  Do they fear the vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars?

Henry Beston,
"The Outermost House" 

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night . . .
Rachel Carson 

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Lao Tzu 

Each moment of the year has its own beauty . . . a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
e.e. cummings 

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.
Walt Whitman 

We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.  For it can be a means of assuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.
Wallace Stegner 

When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be — I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.  I come into the peace of wild things . . .

Wendell Berry 

If the only prayer you said in your life was, "thank you," that would suffice.
Meister Eckhart

Peace to everyone and thank you! 

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Small Room in Hermitage Near Assisi
Where St. Francis and His Followers Often Dined and Meditated

Here is a small confession from one who aspires to move through life with the calm equanimity of a Zen master.  In recent weeks, I have allowed events beyond my control to send me into a small tailspin of despair.  It began with the unexpected death of a childhood friend whom I loved dearly, and it picked up steam with a back injury, a troublesome vitreous detachment in my right eye, an insane political season, and a number of ensuing questions in the pathetically self-centered category of "what the hell is happening to this world and my life?"

I recognize, of course, that absolutely nothing is happening in my life that has not happened before or which will not continue to happen for as long a mankind has a foothold on this fragile earth.  Everything is constantly changing and the cycle of life and death continues in ways both large and small.  The changes are increasingly personal, however, and this is why I found myself awake at three o'clock this morning, pondering the question of what I can do, other than become frustrated, angry, depressed, or all of the above.

The practical answers from Buddhism are always wise and helpful — just let go of the craving to possess that which is transitory, which is to say anything and everything.  The answers of Zen provide similar guidance — just remain detached, suspend all judgment, and allow everything to pass like water flowing over a rock. This is all great advice, undoubtedly, but at three o'clock this morning, I needed something more, something that would allow me to take a more active role in the world without trying to control things beyond my control.  It was at that point that my mind shifted to a framed prayer that has remained on a wall above my desk for almost twenty years. It is the incomparably beautiful prayer that is well known and widely attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi.  

A Simple Prayer

                               Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
                               Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
                               Where there is injury, pardon;
                               Where there is discord, unity;
                               Where there is doubt, faith;
                               Where there is error, truth;
                               Where there is despair, hope;
                               Where there is sadness, joy;
                               Where there is darkness, light.

                               O Divine Master, grant that 
                                  I may not so much seek
                               To be consoled as  to console;
                               To be understood as to understand;
                               To be loved as to love.
                               For it is in the giving that we receive;
                               It is in the pardoning that we are pardoned;
                               It is in the dying that we are born to eternal life.

I acquired my hand-lettered copy of this prayer on my first visit to Assisi many years ago. Since that time, I have been blessed to find great wisdom in various religious and spiritual  traditions.  At no point, however, have I found a better blueprint for life than is found in the words of St. Francis.  My life, of course,  continues to fall woefully short of the noble ideas set forth in the prayer.  It continues to inspire me, however,  and I am convinced that it provides a path that can lead anyone — Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, or otherwise — beyond darkness and despair.