May 14, 2011
Today we are having one of those all-day rains that I remember from years past. So often now it seems we have¬†mostly weather events of extreme kinds, with high winds and driving downpours.¬†Today, though, it’s a grey, all-day soaker¬†gentle enough for the¬†orioles and finches¬†to be at the feeders as if nothing is out of the ordinary. We are particularly happy that Joan’s 2nd book, “HumaniTrees: Exploring Human Nature through the Spirit of Trees”¬†(Findhorn Press) has arrived at the warehouse in Chicago and is now available in the U.S.¬†The book, and the¬†beauty of today’s weather, reminds us that the woods can be a place of quiet contemplation — and great excitement — where we can¬†experience love and grace if we¬†allow it.
HumaniTrees has arrived!
January 12, 2011
November 9, 2010
Elections, the dollar, the economy, inflation…so much to worry about, if one wants to.
Meanwhile, the trees and the autumn skies sing of the way of things¬†in the same way they have done for the past 1000 years.
September 1, 2010
For the past several years we‚Äôve spent much time walking around the beautiful lake where we live. PersonaliTrees is one result of the awareness we‚Äôve gained by connecting with our surroundings. The feeling we have is that we not only live here, we ARE here. Having become acutely aware of nature‚Äôs spiritual realm and its underlying intelligence, we were invited to become a part of it and accepted the invitation with all of its attendant responsibilities.
One of those responsibilities is to leave it as healthy and beautiful as when we entered. If possible, we should leave it better. The most obvious way to do that is to remove all of the unsightly and unwanted trash that humans leave behind. Each day we collect a combination of plastic water bottles, aluminum drink cans, candy wrappers, glass bottles, styrofoam containers and the various packaging left on the bank and in the water by people who‚Äôve been fishing, boating or hiking. We can‚Äôt keep up but we try, and thankfully so do others who live here.
I used to get angry at those who didn‚Äôt have the respect of nature or courtesy for others to take away the products they brought with them after turning them into trash. It is, I thought, as if they never intended to return. Surely they would not leave such a mess if they were intent on coming back. It would be like throwing one‚Äôs garbage into the corner of one‚Äôs living room or the floorboard of one‚Äôs car.
And so it is. That‚Äôs when the light came on and I forgot my anger.
What one does is what one is. To respect our natural surroundings is to respect ourselves. We learn that truth only by living it. You cannot do what you do not know. Once enlightened, you cannot go back and behave as before. It is a fortunate circumstance to have become aware of, and to have earned, that respect.
We cannot police our way to respect for the environment. It is just not possible to enforce common courtesy when the fountain that emits such spiritual intelligence is not turned on. But we can bring forth ideas that turn on the fountain, refresh the mind and foster the understanding that comes when one sees his reflection in the pool of his actions. ¬†
It is heartening that to hear that a half million people attended an event on the mall in Washington D.C., last weekend and, according to the Wall Street Journal, left not a scrap of trash behind. Perhaps we are on the brink of a new consciousness, one that will extend all the way into our human activities in the wilderness.
August 20, 2010
July 30, 2010
by Joan Ketels
Lay beneath them
Lay on them
Pick them up
Observe how they
Disarray to some
Exactly as they
June 11, 2010
June 9, 2010
April 21, 2010
By Joan Klostermann-Ketels
Frank Lloyd Wright once wrote an essay called The Man Who Plants a Tree, in which he said tree planters will be found by posterity to be ‚Äúfirmer in fiber and finer in sensibility.‚ÄĚ In my interaction with people of diverse professional talents who are interested in the health and well-being of the human spirit, I am struck by how many of them are drawn to trees. People universally seem to love them and regard them as a high form of spiritual energy.
Who among us have not found calmness in the way trees respond to a summer breeze, or been thrilled at the fiery show they put on in the glow of autumn? What children do not find comfort beneath a huge oak tree ‚Äď or rush to climb branches their mothers would think too high and vast? (Never mind that their mothers climbed the same tree when they were young.)
I have always thought trees make their strongest appeals to the human spirit when the foliage falls away from their bones. November‚Äôs low light makes long shadows of their skeletons. Faces of bark and fiber that have been hidden behind leaves all summer laugh out loud and bellow their lust for life.
We fragile humans bundle against the chill. Woodland critters fur up and dig in when the wind shifts. But trees paradoxically shed their glorious wardrobes to show off their lithe athleticism. What shapes they reveal! No wonder they can dance like they do! They use their brute strength to grip the earth while rolling with the punches of the wind and rain.
Some older trees shed their final leaf each year. Some crack and bend toward the earth that they will again become. Their dance is slower but just as poignant and transformational. Their weariness and grief are natural, just as the joy and exhilaration of the younger trees shooting up all around them. For all of their youthful exuberance, some of them won‚Äôt live beyond their elders, not having gained enough strength and wisdom in time to survive hungry deer or the next big hail storm.
Every human condition and emotion is reflected in a forest of trees sans the colors of the growing season. Observing people on a city street would be as instructive if only we were as forthcoming about our experiences as trees. Trees show us how to live, how to celebrate, how to bear weight and pain, how to accept, and finally how to die ‚Äď while maintaining a constant sense of dignity, honor and place.
Trees are the ultimate expression of love and faith. They are consummate storytellers. The only thing they ask in return for the opportunity to confer with them is that we quiet ourselves and slow down enough to see and listen. Given the pace of life in the 21st century, that may require adjustment on our part. But it is a small compromise given the legacy of the tree planter and the sacred information borne by the fruits of that labor.
April 7, 2010
By Joan Klostermann-Ketels
Say one word with your mouth shut! — Zen saying
This wonderful statement implores the student of Zen to convey meaning, intention and condition through simple, focused attention. The idea that a sender of communication could accomplish complete understanding on the part of the receiver by becoming the manifestation of one perfectly formed thought runs counter to our modern society, which relies more on sensory overload.
We all have noticed how a single inspirational quote can instill more meaning than other complex forms of exposition. A beautiful thought may stick in our minds for many years to good effect. Likewise, one powerful photographic image can click a switch in our brain. Such a picture can transform us. Hence, the truism, ‚ÄúA picture is worth 1000 words.‚ÄĚ
The closer our proximity to enlightenment, the fewer words are required. Mark Twain, in his essay on American realist author William Dean Howells, wrote, ‚ÄúWith a hundred words to do it with, the literary artisan could catch that airy thought and tie it down and reduce it to a concrete condition, visible, substantial, understandable and all right, like a cabbage; but the artist does it with twenty, and the result is a flower.‚ÄĚ
When it comes to expressing ourselves, it is essential to say as much we can with as few words as possible. It is so easy to become lost or disoriented in the forest of our thoughts. Should we become enamored with the shape of our argument or the sound of our voice, we can easily wander into unfamiliar territory. Our communication quickly can become so misdirected or diluted as to be ineffective or completely misinterpreted.
Poets, musicians and artists often achieve simple and pure expression. Nature always achieves it. Flora, fauna, and the seasons provide us with a direct, spiritual connection with life forces for which there are no accurate words. The glimpse we are offered into an understanding of the oneness of which we are a part is in the shape of trees, in the movement of eagles and in the light on the horizon. Occasionally, we grasp a sense of spirit and try to use language and material to express it. It is important that we do so, just as it is important that we are mindful of simple and direct effectiveness in all of our daily communication with business associates, friends or family members.
How successful we are is less the result of form and function learned from books and classes than it is from how pure and well-formed our original intention. The greatest clarity can result when the receiver of communication is afforded space in which to relax and infer meaning, in the same way that the listener of great symphonies benefits from the rest between notes.
As stated in the Tao Te Ching, which provides the basis for the philosophical school of Taoism, ‚ÄúWe shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.‚ÄĚ