Making Time Away From Clocks

As I make my way down the long wooden staircase that leads to the base of the falls I’m mentally transported to a different world. A place where there are no time cards. A world where the only clock is the arch of the sun and the day belongs to the one who lives in it. That’s really the trick isn’t it? To have a little more life in the day? As the water flows over the rocks at Blackwater Falls the roar of cascade overtakes the noisy parking lot on the canyon rim and the modern world is pushed farther away. It’s easy to see why the ancient world explained creation as being made from only four elements of Earth (The stone cliffs), Wind (The breeze coming off of the falls), Fire (The warm sun beaming down) and Water ( The river itself). These things were the most powerful forces in existence outside of God himself. I recently read a headline that said that doctors in Scotland were now prescribing exposure to nature as a medicine. I definitely concur with them. God in all of his love and wisdom created a perfect world for his children. Even in it’s current fallen state it still exists to nurture and sustain his children. It stands to reason that in order to be healthy we need a certain amount of unspoiled nature in our lives.

Once more I’m fully invigorated by my time out from the world of ticking clocks and constant bombardment of ads on T.V. and whatever other media is encountered in the modern era and it’s time to make my way back up the mountain.

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Memories Of The Hay Fields

When I was very young putting up hay was a way for most young men to make a little spending money. A person could drive through the country at certain times of the year and the fields were lined from one end to the other with rows and rows of square bales of hay. The farmers would be seen with huge stacks of perfectly compressed blocks of cut and dried grasses of various types towering over tractors or pickup trucks on their way to a barn. It wasn’t really uncommon to a couple of the older boys riding on top of the stack as the vehicle drifted carefully across the fields while two more boys tossed more bales up to add to the stack. The unloading process was just as laborious with the boys on top of the stack tossing the bales back down or directly into the barn for storage.

Sometime in the late 70s or early 80s I started seeing the large round bales like you see in the feature image. My grandfather began remarking on how his poor cows wouldn’t be able to have a square meal. The iconic large stack of square bales disappeared into the past. ( I’m sure that there’s still some around however I haven’t seen it for decades). The crew of three or four teenage boys was replaced by a tractor with a fork lift attachment. The round bales turned out to be a be a better deal for the farmer because of the labor costs but every time I see the round bales I get nostalgic for the view of acres and acres perfectly lined up rectangular blocks on contour with the landscape.

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The Shaking

The small Virginia Pine stands out in a sea of Broomsedge. The open ridge line invites a harsh wind on most days. The winter here in this spot is ruled by freezing rain as well as blizzards. The wind has come through with enough rage to shake my big blue truck from side to side and knock down the power lines but still the crooked little Virginia Pine continues to flourish. I have watched it for several years now and it’s growing stronger with each storm. While it’s obvious that wind shake can damage trees it’s also true that a certain amount of wind is necessary for the trees to grow strong. If the tree isn’t shaken as it grows it never develops the mechanisms to deal with storms.

Often in our spiritual life we become distraught when troubles come and our faith is tested. But, it’s in these challenges that our strength develops to our full potential. Without them we never develop the coping mechanism that that gives us the strength to survive the storms.

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King Of The Crows

The crow sits on his usual perch above the crowd in defiance of cold wind. This is his kingdom even if the humans below don’t know it. As a wise king he hasn’t chosen the highest branch for his throne. That honor goes to his bodyguards. They are situated in the very top of the canopy where they can provide protection against the hawk clan. The crow king calls out with two short caws and listens to his sentry reply with two short caws and a long one. There’s actually a syntax to the conversation. Two short caws is asking if there’s danger. A long caw means safety. And three short caws in a row means immediate danger. So the reply of the two short caws signifies who the sentry is replying to and the one long caw is the reply of safety. As I continue to observe the king crow he takes wing and glides down to the ground. He hops around a little and discovers an open bag of chips left behind by one of the humans. Cautiously he inspects the bag and with a single thrust of his powerful beak he opens it up completely revealing the bounty within. He purrs a few times and one by one the rest of his clan joins him for the feast. All except for the bodyguards who maintain their watch in treetops above. As his clan finishes the meal the king crow pulls a portion aside and with a few purrs he announces the end of the feast and returns to his perch along with the others. A few of the clan members land on branches near the bodyguards and allow them to have the portion set aside for them by the king.

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I Was Here

As humans we are hardwired to build. No matter if it’s a child making mud pies or a master tradesman crafting a skyscraper we can observe a meditative like state of mind as that person works. I wasn’t present when the cairn in tonight’s feature image was built but imagine that each stone was specifically chosen with planing and forethought. I imagine that the actual stacking would have involved mentally placing each peace in multiple positions so as to prevent the whole thing from collapsing. In the past I was fascinated with megalithic works. Everywhere you find humans you find large stones arranged by human hands. And of course my favorite was Stonehenge. Everyone has a theory about why it was built and in fairness it has been used for many purposes over the past Five Thousand Years but I have to wonder if it’s simply a work of art. Assembling Stonehenge would have been a massive undertaking but what if like the random hiker stacking stones near Cathedral Falls the builders simply wanted to be remembered? After all, stacking stones is a great way to say “I was here”.

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Solitude And Focus

There are times when a person just needs a little solitude. When the world around you is full of flashing signs and blaring music and distractions of every kind. We all have those moments when the mental clutter just needs to be pushed back and space needs to be given for focusing on one thing at a time. We need to just let our minds drift for a little while like a bird on the lake. He’s not trapped in the water. He can leave at time of his choosing. He can paddle around and go to any part of the water or land that he wants. He’s not overtaken by winds or currents but instead he rides them. He works in harmony with creation and achieves what is needed. And he rests when it’s time. He is at peace with his environment as God intended. Solitude isn’t really about being antisocial or introverted. It’s about focus. It’s intended to be a limited time for mental and emotional recharge. We exercise our bodies to grow stronger and have more endurance but any successful athletes will tell you that it’s during the resting cycle that the strength manifests. Our minds and spirits are the same way. We need a resting state to fully benefit from the stimulation we experience in daily life.

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Letting Your Light Show

We all have that person in our lives who seems to light up the room. They never really seen to have a bad day. We tend to think that these people are impervious to life’s problems. Or in some cases you might think that they just don’t really understand how troubling things are. If you think that a positive outlook on life is effortless for that person… well, you’re probably wrong. Even if they don’t know it that person has more than likely spent years if not decades training their mind to react in a positive way. In the martial arts stories are told about the Zen Archers who are required to draw an empty bow thousands of times before they’re given an arrow to nock. This is because the repetition actually strengthens the neural pathways. When they are finally given an arrow the shot is perfect. The same thing goes for our emotional nervous system. If we practice a positive outlook over and over again it will strengthen that response in our neural pathways. Eventually the reflex will strengthen to point that it’s the natural response and you will be that person who’s inner light is undeniable.

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