To the extent that each person can feel like a naturalist, the old excitement of the untrammeled world will be regained. I offer this as a formula of re-enchantment to invigorate poetry and myth: mysterious and little know organisms live within walking distance of where you sit.
Splendor awaits in minute proportions. -
E.O. Wilson

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blackberries and the Circle of Life

Yesterday was the quintessential summer day. How lucky we were to gather together under our old, sacred apple tree to consider the blackberry with all its seeds!

Read the poem August by Mary Oliver

Find and eat a blackberry or other seedy fruit. What do you notice? Ah yes! the seeds. What are seeds? The circle of life. Where do seeds come from? Where do they go? What nourishes them? What happens if they aren't nourished?  Notice the plants around you. Where are they in this circle of life? Flower, plant, seed head?

We have been journeying to our "circle" for four weeks now, and our circles have offered up many gifts. Using natural things within your circle, build a little altar in your circle or somewhere out in nature and place a berry or other fruit there in gratitude for all you have seen and heard and felt within your circle. You are offering the blackberry as an act of reciprocity – as a gesture that you are in communion with nature, exchanging gifts, sharing in the life of the woods.

Write down in your journal what you imagine happening to the seeds inside that blackberry.

Look around your circle. How have all the plants gotten there? How did they begin? Look closely. Can you find any seeds? Draw or paint a seed.

Our ideas and feelings can be seeds, too. The wise Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said that our minds are like a field, or
a plot of land in which every kind of seed has been planted,
seeds of suffering, happiness, joy, sorrow, fear, anger, and hope.
The quality of our life depends on which of these seeds we water.
The practice of mindfulness is to recognize each seed as it sprouts,
and to water the most wholesome seeds whenever possible.
What sorts of seeds can you imagine waiting inside you? Draw or write down the seeds that are inside of you. Which of your seeds to you want to water and feed?  What might happen to you if these seeds grow?  (Parents: you might ask your children what dreams or hopes or wishes they have that are like little seeds inside of them. How do they think they could help those seeds grow.)

                              Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.
                                                                        Shigenori Kameoka

See "For Further Reflection" for additional poems about blackberries.

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