Before we left, Stephen handed each of us a few precious corn kernels asking that, when we returned to our respective home lands, we reverently bury them, grieve over them, tend their graves, and with nature’s grace watch the renewal of life and the growth of a new corn plant. It occurred to me that this is what he had done – planted seeds in our hearts and our minds, which are watered by our tears and tended by the labours of our learning, in the hope that a new elder might begin to grow in each of us with an understanding that death is a gift, “the cradle of our love of life”.
Stephen Jenkinson, the author of Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, calls upon people to bear witness to a world that we wish were otherwise and he offers an opportunity to learn how to labour at the planting of hard-won seeds so that we might possibly, against what are sometimes great odds, learn to live, and die, well.
For some years now I have been encouraging creatives to plant nasturtium seeds and, over a period of at least a month, talk to them and watch them grow. I encourage people to keep a record in a small notebook that is covered with imagery of growth.
This is a simple task. Just fill a planter with rich potting mix and add some nasturtium seeds. Talk to the pot and the seeds and agree upon where to place it. Then spend at least ten minutes each day tending to it, taking photos, keeping a journal record. You will be amazed by what this simple plant has to teach you.
http://www.dailywriting.net/imagery9.htm – tree guidance
This Soul Food Café visualization leads the reader to a vast oak tree in the grounds of an abbey. ‘You sit under the shade thinking about the knowledge of this ancient creature. You rise and embrace her again… this time asking for directions and guidance…..’
When I read this I was transported back to the time when I sat under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, India. This tree is a descendant of the tree Buddha sat under when he became enlightened. Bodh Gaya is the place in the northern India where the event took place. The original tree grew for centuries then, when Buddhism was on the wane in India, a branch was taken to Sri Lanka and grafted onto a tree there. Many centuries later a branch of the Sri Lankan tree was taken to India and grafted onto a sapling. This tree has thrived and is now centuries old.
It was in the early 1970s when I went to Bodh Gaya. Not many westerners made the pilgrimage then and the journey up country was arduous and convoluted. I travelled with a very unusual and very determined American boy who continued to continue with the pilgrimage long after others would have given up.
Recently I had a fit of nostalgia and looked up Bodh Gaya on the Internet. I was amazed to discover it is now a major Buddhist pilgrimage destination. I remember only two temples at the site; the main Mahabodhi Temple and a smaller Tibetan Buddhist temple. Now apparently there are also Thai, Japanese, Burmese and Bhutanese Buddhist temples at the site. Thousands of international pilgrims make the journey every year. The route is sign posted and is far more accessible.
When I visited the site with the young American pilgrim we were the only people at the Mahabodhi temple. While my American friend explored thoroughly I contented myself with standing in front of the vast stone Buddha in the main room of the temple. Feeling ill from the journey and the heat I then went outside and lay down under the Bodhi tree. While I certainly didn’t become enlightened I fell into a strange trance like sleep where I felt myself to be hovering in the sanctified atmosphere. The mysteries of Buddha’s enlightenment and the history of Bodhi tree surrounded me but in my mind there was a shimmering, a vibrating, a pulsating that made no rational sense.
When the American boy returned I attempted to tell him of my experience but it did not tally with the notes in his guide book. It did not fit within his train timetables and list of must see places. ‘Come,’ he said looking at me as if he doubted my sanity. ‘We must go to the Tibetan temple now.’ I followed him and obediently turned the vast cylinder that represented the Wheel of Life outside the temple, my head still filled with the strange buzzing vibrating. ‘Its lack of sleep,’ said the American boy.
I’m not one for crowds and so doubt I will ever return to Bodh Gaya. Now, it seems, my pilgrimage to the tree is an inner one. Now, it seems, I have finally reached the stage in my life where I must sit and ask for directions and guidance. There is no bold American boy to lead me on through the difficult terrain. There are no sign posts to guide my way. In fact there seems no way at all to follow. My options are extremely limited. There is no place to run to, no instant solution to grab hold of. There is only this, this sitting.
As I sit in this place where it seems there are no options left me, no path to follow, I become aware of something I had not suspected before. It is here, in the sitting, that a space opens up. It is not a path. It is not time for new venturing yet. It is a place, a space, a being-ness, an intimation of the essence of things. Strangely, the sensation is not unlike that buzzing vibration I felt at Bodh Gaya all those years ago. The word Viriditas comes into my mind. Here is this sitting place that gives of itself to me I experience a greening, vibrating healing vitality.
The way forward does not reveal itself to me. My options have not expanded appreciably yet I feel I have received a gift.
It is time to make medicine pouches.
“Yggdrasill, the World Tree”
Collage of digital and painted elements
“The axis of the [Norse] universe was an enormous tree, Yggdrasill, also known as the World Tree, which formed a column linking the worlds of the gods, mankind, the giants, and the dead. Its fortunes mirrored those of the universe it sheltered; as well as sustaining the world, it suffered in the same way as those who lived it.” —Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth and Storytelling, p.277
Image: L. Gloyd (c) 2009
From our recent dialogue about Hildegard’s “greening”, I made this quick little sketch in my journal. After I titled it the “Green Tree”, I realized that this was not quite the right name — but maybe there is some unconscious motive behind my naming a white tree “green”. LOL.
L. Gloyd (c) 2009
This is the digital equivalent of a sketch – a way of capturing an idea before it slips away.
The inspiration behind it is Lori’s use of the words Hildegard and Viriditas in her heart map. It is also in response to Heather’s post on gardening.
Hildegard was a medieval German nun. She was a mystic and spent her time writing and making beautiful illuminated manuscripts. The word viriditas is thought to have been coined by her.
According to Wikipedia – Viriditas is one of Hildegard’s guiding images, used constantly in all of her works… It has it has been translated in various ways, such as freshness, vitality, fertility, fecundity, fruitfulness, verdure, or growth. In Hildegard’s understanding, it is a metaphor for spiritual and physical health.
The idea is expanded on this web site http://www.greenflame.org/gf-viriditas/
-Viridatas – ‘the animating life-force within all creation, giving it life, moisture and vitality. Viriditas was green fire and energy’
Reading that viriditas is associated with a green fire and energy made me think it belongs at the Hearth. The photo I have used in the centre of my image is one I took many years ago of a garden I created then had to leave. Thinking of Heather saying goodbye to her home of many years reminded me of it.
Suzanne – Almurta