Beauty of Spirit Arises From Our Work.
It is the culmination of our daily efforts; it is our distilled selves. Our labor, heart, mind, and soul meld together to create context for the spirit. When the context is rich enough, the spirit emerges, like a plant pushing forth from fertile soil. And in whatever shape it emerges, it is beautiful.
I think the spirit is a positive force, representing fertile soil, whether in the self or on the landscape. When the soil is not fertile, not much spirit arises. When labor, heart, mind, and soul have not been committed to the journey, the resulting spirit feels thin and weak. When these strands of life have been committed, a positive, though imperfect, spirit arises into the air.
Toxic soils do not present a spirit. The industrial and monotonous cornfields of the Midwest are forbidding. They do not beckon, as they have been sown with chemicals to kill, so inorganic fertilizers may preside. Whereas, a garden, rich with black earth and the hard work of many hands, emanates a wondrous spirit. The same is true for prairies and healthy pastures, pulsating with deep roots, animal impact, and human attention. This is also true for people, who tend to their work and reserve their judgment.
So, the spirit arises from within, from our work with the soils of our daily life. I concede this is theologically a very suspect point of view, but it is the prevalent experience to which I can attest.
There are times, however, when forces of Nature are so strong, that the spirit within quakes before the spirit without. The picture below caught one such recent, fleeting moment. I observed for about five minutes the sun casting its light upon this hillside. It created a vast and intense web of parallel shadows, racing madly but effortlessly up the hill and through the forest, to converge somewhere, at an impossible but inevitable point, in spiritual combustion... Don't we want to follow those shadows and discover that point? Look at the tremendous energy escalating through that forest. The whole landscape was alive and electric, as if a fire were ablaze.
Witnessing this made my legs shake. What is such an experience...? Perhaps opportunities like this happen all the time, but we only receive and perceive them when we are centered enough to do so, when our soil is momentarily fertile, and our spirit can rise to embrace the wonder. Therein lies its beauty.
Thank you for indulging me, over the past few months, as I presumed to reflect upon the "Five Strands of Life" - labor, heart, mind, soul, and spirit, with awkward and incomplete concepts. What more can be said about them, that hasn't been ventured by sages of the past? Most certainly nothing. But I offer these thoughts simply as testimony to intimacy with our land and to intimacy with you, for you are always nearby, even when we are far away. I am also grateful to Sarah Prendergast for her elegant inscriptions upon the beams of the barn.
Landis' dairy cow above served as a foster mother this winter to our Red Devon calf, whose mother had abandoned him at birth. The dairy cow lost her calf mid-term, but produced enough milk to provide for two households and to let this Red Devon calf double in weight. Landis and Brendan successfully grafted the calf to the cow, which is not easily done, providing resourceful solution for cow, calf, and people.
We will see you this Sunday, March 6 and the following March 13, at Clark Montessori.
On-line ordering for delivery March 16 is available at:
In honor of the spirit,
Drausin & Susan