Monday, November 15, 2010

Wood Nymphs





















This past weekend we were out for a hike in the Croatan National Forest.  I had heard tell that wood nymphs had been spotted in the area, so I had my camera ready.


























I thought they would be more camera-shy, but it turned out to be pretty easy to get some shots of them.




















The next fellow is called Bigfoot.



















Not hard to see why.



























This is a "portal" to the lower regions.



























I caught a shot of this fellow emerging from the portal.



























It's perhaps a little-known fact that wood nymphs are not great fans of horses.... 



























And these signs are an example of how they like to play at confusing people who visit the forest.  Though, in truth, they seldom bother, since there's so little challenge to the sport.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spirit (8)




























TAPESTRY
Each day brings new life, new opportunities for creating - an immense tapestry that you "weave" thread by thread.  You control the final product.  What colors you use, how rich the thread, how elegant or how poor the final result, will be your choice because it is a matter of how you live every day of your life.  You work with the richest silks, the finest cottons.  The colors you choose cover the full spectrum , bright and shiny, or dark and dim with your moods.  Every color, every tint, every shade of each hue.  Weave with a light touch.  Stitch with a carefree hand.  Let the pattern emerge as it should - as it will.  Hold your needle or bobbin or shuttle lightly and, if you wish, we will help to guide your creative hand, help you to weave your personal tapestry - the image, the visual representation, of the complex workings of the soul's creation.



























AFTERLIFE
And when the time comes for your final passage from your earthly light, I will be waiting for you.  Standing with your mother and your father, and others of your people, we will welcome you with open arms.
We travel amongst the stars in the cold and clear ether of eternity.  We know each other at the most basic level.  We share this journey together.  We welcome your awareness and are truly very pleased for it.  You are a good traveler.  You recognize the voyage and relish the adventure.  This is a most precious knowledge, something to be treasured, to be shared with others.  The wonder of the journey and of the experience.  The joy in the acceptance of and the participation in the eternal dance.
I bow to my partner. I reach out my arms to you.  Come into their circle, and we shall dance together.  With joy and love and wonder.  Step lightly.  Float.  The stars sparkle in your eyes.  The clouds cushion your feet.  You look at me.  You see only me.  But in seeing me you see all that ever was or ever will be, because it is all me.  I am the source, the fountainhead.  I am the home to which you return - the home that you have never really left.  Step-one-two-three.  Faster, higher, lighter, brighter.  Swing in a circle.  Circles.  Wheels.  Rounds.  Come, my dearest love.  Come dance with me.
















Joy is not mine to give.  It is the nectar of your soul.  Drink deeply.  It is an unending source, a bottomless well, renewed as you take from it.  We are together.  We pass the baton back and forth till it becomes difficult to see whose hand is doing the conducting - and then we do see - we are doing this together.  All of our hands are on the baton.  You lead and I follow.  I lead and you follow.  We both lead together.  The music swells, the dance is joined, and the joy of eternity is glimpsed by our shaded eyes.  God bless.















 





Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spirit (7)



























SOULS
There isn't a much better word for one's journey through life than the word "odyssey."  This word is taken from an epic poem attributed to Homer, recounting the travels of Odysseus.  The definition of odyssey is: "A long wandering usually marked by many changes of fortune."  How very appropriate.
Few of us look upon our life as a journey, a flowing of movement and action through time.  Rather, we see ourselves in static situations, living for lengthy periods in one residence, going to the same job, taking care of the children.  A friend may ask, "What's new?  What's happening?" and we reply, "Nothing.  You know - the same old thing."  You see, we have lost sight of the journey.  We no longer see the path.
How to recognize our path through the foliage and undergrowth of our daily lives?  It's like a woodsman looking for signs that mark the trail.  A slash in the bark of a tree, a small pile of stones indicating a path, an arrow scratched into a rock to show direction.

















What comparable signs do we find in our own lives?  Some special word from a friend, a passage with significance discovered in a book, a phrase from a sermon heard in our place of worship.
And what purpose these seemingly random markings?  For one thing, they serve as reminders of the existence of our spiritual selves, our souls.  We can be ever so busy in our lives, consider ourselves "successful," chose among the finer things in life for our pleasures, but when we reach the end of our earthly span, what is left to us?  How true that old chestnut, "You can't take it with you."  But even that adage indicates the underlying nature of things - that you are indeed going somewhere (though you may have doubts about that in the here and now).  Let us assume for the moment that there is a place or state for you to enter after death.  You know that you won't be taking along your worldly goods.

















(Whatever does one do without TV??)  You know that your physical body will remain behind.  So what does that leave us but for that mysterious quantity that we refer to as a "soul"?  That part of us that is so easy to ignore amidst the busyness of our lives.
One important aspect of the soul is that, as something "living," it is capable of growth, of further development.  May I be so forward as to interject the hypothesis that the further growth and development of our souls is an important purpose, perhaps the most important purpose, of our earthly existence?
No, I'm not suggesting that you spend hours on your knees in a church!  It's more a matter of living your life with one ear partially tuned to the rhythyms of your soul.  Faced with choices?  Look inward for the proper answer.  An opportunity arises for a creative learning experience?  Take it.  Creative activity feeds the soul.  Using and developing our skills, whatever they may be, nourishes our spirits.


























Why bother?  Simple answer, really.  When you pass through the portal called death, the only thing that goes with you, which is the thing that you are at the most fundamental level, is your soul.  And if, along life's journey, you have occasionally fed (through creative activities), cleansed (with meditation or prayer), or otherwise cared for it, one might envision for you a bright, shiny, polished apple of a soul.  A soul ignored and left to carry the debris of thoughtless actions and abuses might be seen as dark and dusty, mossy, cobwebby, maybe even a few barnacles thrown in for good measure.  A choice, you see.  Truly, each individual's ultimate choice.
(More to follow.)


Friday, November 12, 2010

Spirit (6)

























PRESENT TIME
Sea breeze, ocean waters, empty expanse of space.  Eternal horizon, always stretching ahead, unending path, reaching.  You are on a path, with no beginning and no end.  Each part of the path, justification in itself.  No need to look back or too far ahead.  This particular place and time, this infinitely changing bit of sea, this space, this happening, is all that can ever matter.
One sometimes looks ahead and wishes for something that one sees in the future - an end to schooling, a promotion, the purchase of a new home, a change of lifestyle, an end to pain - whatever.  But forming too strong an attachment to that future screens out the fascination of today, blocks out the opportunities that make themselves known daily in our lives.  You're in a hurry for something?  Well, it will come in its own time.  If you try to rush through what is your "here and now," you will miss so much.
























ROCK GARDEN
There's a kind of wonder when you look at the world.  An awareness that there is so much more than that which is visible on the surface.  Every flower, every bird, every blade of grass has a life of its own.  There are instincts to follow, yet each creature proceeds in its own unique way.  You may say that every bird of a particular species builds a certain kind of nest, and while this is so, there will never be two nests that are exactly alike.  Every leaf is different from every other leaf, though they hang from the same tree.  Each individual life, from the smallest insect, or the most common weed, to the animals of the forest, or man himself - each existence is totally unique from every other one that ever has been or could ever be.
Larger bodies formed from individual existences such as a garden full of flowers or a sky full of stars are in constant flux.  Try to think of something unchanging - a rock garden, for example.  On no two days can it be exactly the same.  A weed has sprouted and, in being pulled, some small stones are shifted.  A spider has spun a web and changed the character of a corner.  A coating of dust or snow reflects light differently.  And even if the rock garden could maintain its exact sameness for two days in a row, it would still be different because you yourself would have changed from one day to the next, and you would therefore be incapable of perceiving the rock garden in exactly the same way.
























And if something as stable as a rock garden cannot maintain its sameness, just think then of the liquid sea.  Heaving swells, white-capped waves, currents, tides, storms or calms, the lives and deaths of those "denizens of the deep."  Ah, how easy to see the changing face of an ocean - how obvous you say, compared to the stillness of the rock garden  True, but beyond the change, notice also the continuity of the sea, the sameness, the ability to continue to be its essential self despite the constant change.
(More to follow.)


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spirit (5)

























NOURISHMENT
We are nourished by the love around us - that of family and friends.  We are also nourished by the earth itself, by its beauty, but more particularly, by its life.  Seeping in the essence - nurturing the soul.  Pulling the stars from the heavens - found in the twinkling of an eye.  Absorbing strength from the hills and mountains - courage, and standing tall.  Washed clean in the rains.  Glowing warm with the heat of the sun.  At night, radiating a pearly glow in the reflected light of the moon.
OCEAN SAILING
It is not always easy to feel comfortable when one is out on the sea in a small boat.  It seems a foreign environment and, at first thought, a dangerous one.  But familiarity genders a type of security, a dissipation of the fear.  Storms may come, rough-and-tumble seas, navigational dangers like ships or reefs, but confidence increases through practice, and when one knows that one's boat will see one through practically anything, then the tensions and anxieties ebb away like the tide, and a sense of communion with one's surroundings is born.  How beautiful the ocean with its undulating swells, the sun sparkling across the water, seabirds keeping presence with the boat, breezes that gently rock your home, or strong winds that send her, heeling, in headlong flight through the swells.
























And then there are the nights.  Many fear these most of all because of the darkness.  But is it ever truly dark?  Perhaps there's a moon painting a lighted pathway from boat to horizon.  Or, if no moon, on a clear night, a sky full of diamond chips on black velvet cloth.  And on a cloudy night?  Look for the phosphorescence in the sea.  Perhaps there will be no diamonds in the sky, but that is because they have fallen to earth and spend themselves in sparkled sequins in the water's wash from the boat's passage.  You want more?  Then we'll bring in the dolphiins and have them swim with the boat and play by the bow.  As they streak through the water, magic wands of silver light are drawn by their passing.  You think of them as playful day creatures, but what of the nighttime when they amuse each other by creating designs - loops, zigzags, spirals - momentarily etched in phosphorescent sparkle, dazzling in their beauty.  The clouds pass and the stars come into focus.  They sing through the cold ether with crystalline purity.  What you see is no longer there, already passed away in previous millenia.  But their image and their song travel down through the corridors of eternity, and the soul responds and takes flight and chants in cadence with the singing stars.

PATHS
Paths are routes, courses, travel plans, ways through the woods or across a field, and - besides all of these - there is a path, a way through the jumble of our lives that we are meant to follow.We are all children in the maze of life.  We wander around, trying this corridor or that one, reaching many dead ends, backtracking, and making new forays into our personal wilderness.  What we are seeking is ourselves, or rather, self-knowledge.  Who am I?  Why am I here?  Is there any purpose to it all?
When a person is at peace with his or herself, the question of "Who am I?" seldom rears its head.  That's because the answer is known intuitively:  I am ME - and that is sufficient, fine and dandy.  It all comes back to paths.  If we, in tune with our inner spirit, are traveling along what appears to us to be our proper path, then we have a sense of rightness about ourselves and thus about the world around us and our relationship to that world. 
























Are you relatively content or at peace with yourself?  If not, then you've strayed into the underbrush.  How to identify your path?  Look inward.  The answers are all there.  You do, ultimately, within your heart of hearts (soul of souls?) have the answers for your own life.  Who else possibly could but you?
It's true that you may be in such an overwhelmingly negative situation that you can't imagine being able to get yourself back out of it.  Then just start, one tiny step at a time, to connect with your inner spirit.  Once you have achieved a bond - with God, with your spirit guide, with your guardian angel, or with you, yourself - then, and only then, will you begin to know what steps (again, small steps, executed in patience and with forethought) are the right ones to take to lead you out of your personal morass.  And once you have taken even the smallest first step in the right direction, then you will find that your feet are once again treading on your proper path.
(More to follow.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Spirit (4)




















HOURGLASS
The sands of time.  Picture an hourglass with the sand slowly trickling from one half to the other.  Now picture the hourglass of your life, filled with x-number of grains of sand that slowly trickle from the upper to the lower level while you live your life.  Stop and do nothing.  Pause and watch the small stream of sand.  It continues regardless of whether you are busy or idle, doing things which you consider useful, or a waste of time.  Nothing stops the sand, nothing can impede its flow.  No, don't panic!  It doesn't mean that you have to worry about how you use each moment.  You don't need to plan or fret or rush about.  Yes, your time in this life is limited - limited from the moment that you were conceived - but that isn't what matters.  For whatever time you have will be sufficient for whatever it is that you need to do.  And what that need will encompass will be every moment of your life - the bad as well as the good, the mistakes as well as the right choices, the daydreams as much as the decisive action, the heartbreaks as well as the joys.  You need it all, all the experiences, all the emotions, because they make up the fabric of your life - they are the grains of sand in the hourglass of your life's time.



















LAYERS
Living on a sailboat, you are far away from the work-a-day world back home.  Time stretches out, as if it were elastic.  Days can follow one another in a tumble of activity, all interests chosen specifically because they are of interest.  One peels away many layers.  There is no job to go to.  No children or other people to take care of.  No large house or garage full of cars.  No ongoing social life.  No religious affiliation with its attendant duties.  No television, no evening news, and no newspaper.  In essence, the world is left behind so that one may find the world.  The busyness is dissipated and a peaceful calm evolves.












NATURE
When living on a sailboat, nature is not something observed on a television screen, but rather is something experienced first-hand in the ocean, in the surrounding lands, in the sky, in the very stars above.  One no longer looks at four walls but rather at beautiful vistas that pry open the soul with their loveliness.  A gentle breeze caresses the cheek and ruffles the hair.  The sea envelops one like a warm bath.  The sands of the beaches are fleetingly impressed with one's footsteps, until the surf again washes them away.  Birds fly about their business, some diving for fish and then rising again with a splash of silver held in their beaks.  Terns swoop past while calling out their messages in a Morse Code of sounds.  Frigate birds soar above using their scissor tails as airborne rudders.  Fish swim and glide in a world of color and coral and delicate swaying fans.  It would be news to them to hear that anything of importance exists beyond their watery realm.  In the midst of it all, you sit on the deck of your home afloat, and seep in the rightness of the world around you.











(More to follow.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spirit (3)




















FLOWERS
How rich a place where flowers grow by the side of the road.  Where the sun warms you through to your bones.  Where the smiles of the people you meet in the streets reach through to your soul.  It's important to go slowly enough to see as much and feel as much as you possibly can.  It's a kind of love that the world gives generously in return for your noticing what is around you.  Every flower has a spirit of its own and relishes the attention bestowed upon it.  It responds to the open face of the person bending over it to admire its intricate construction and beautiful colors.
FRIENDSHIP
There are certain people who become special to us during our life's time.  Each person possesses their own unique spirit, their soul.  One person becomes a friend to another person when their spirits meet and touch in a special way.  When two Hindus meet, each joins his hands together, bows and says, "Namaste," which means, "I greet the god within you."  How perfectly right to always be conscious of the inner spirit instead of giving emphasis to outward, superficial appearances.  Would that we could all see the god-like spirit within every person whose path crosses ours.  How much more respect we would feel.  And how much awe to truly understand that God is alive (though not necessarily well!) within every one of us. 
When a person offers a gift of friendship, it is a gift of love, a sharing from soul to soul, a bond, a connection.  We meet people for a reason - because they will have some effect on us as we will also have on them.  They may carry a clue that we need to discover; they may offer encouragement, even inadvertently, when it is needed; they ease the loneliness of a too-solitary life.  They share our interests, spark our imaginations, and warm our hearts.  How special then is the gift of friendship.
HARMONY
You are a spirit, a spiritual entity - one that is housed within an earthly body.  Think of the body as a vehicle for the soul.  The soul absorbs and shares and, hopefully, has the opportunity to grow, to develop through what you choose to do with your body.  The soul "goes along for the ride."  It grows through a person's acknowledgement of its existence, as in prayer or meditation.  Knowledge enters through the mind via discussion or reading, satisfaction accrues through creative activities; sensual pleasure through physical contact, the taste of food and drink, the sight of beauty, the sound of music or laughter, the smell of flowers, the security of home.  When there is synchrony - then there is a contentment, a satisfaction, and a joy - because as the spirit and the body develop a working, sharing interaction, so much more of life seems to go smoothly.  Difficulties are less troublesome, problems can be seen in perspective, and each day is an opportunity taken for development.  The body grows healthier, the mind expands through learning, and life itself becomes a creative act on the part of each harmonized individual.
(More to follow.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spirit (2)



























COLOR
How drab the world would be in black and white.  How rich, the color of every bloom, the green of trees and foliage, the blue of the sky, the reds and oranges of a sunset.  One could walk along a deserted highway, an endless stretch of black pavement bounded by dry, empty fields.  No color, nothing to see.  Not to be chosen.  Better to have a path that meanders through garden and woodland, infused with color and verdant lushness, the air filled with birdsong, the rush of a cascading waterfall, the murmur of a bubbling brook.  Slow down, and the world around you will come into focus.  Leave the barren road and stroll the verdant path.






















FLIGHT
("Flight" took three pages in the little book, so I'll insert the other two pictures as I go along.)
The ocean is a special place.  It is foreign to most people.  It lacks the security - the "firmness" of land.  If one were to fly, by oneself, it would be hard to let go, to fall freely through the sky, till one's faith and wings take hold and bear one up.
There is a similar difficulty in letting go when one goes to sea in a small boat.  It is difficult to believe that there is any safety in this strange environment.  One clings, and fights the motion of the boat.  Knuckles whiten, teeth clench, and muscles begin to ache.  Needless to say, you begin to wonder why you have once more agreed to an ocean passage.  You think thoughts of freedom - of being removed from this situation and of being safely on land.
But you seek the wrong freedom.  It would be far more beneficial to wish for a freedom from the fears that are causing you your unhappiness.  It is like letting go when you are ready to jump from an airplane with your parachute.  There is a large element of trust involved.  Trust that you folded your parachute correctly.  That the parachute will open when you pull on the cord.  That you won't be so frightened that you'll freeze and be unable to pull that cord.  But there is also an element of trust beyond the basic mechanics of the situation.  Perhaps you whisper a prayer or rub a lucky rabbit's foot.  Perhaps it is just a matter of taking a few deep breaths and acknowledging your belief in your own inherent abilities.  Whatever, there is something that you must draw or call on to make a successful jump.





















One might view a jump as successful in two ways.  The first could be that you left the plane, pulled on the cord at the appropriate time, and executed a safe landing.  But think of why you were up in that plane in the first place.  Was it not because you wished to fly?  To experience the pure joy of "letting go" and falling freely through the air, arms and legs spread from the body, wind rushing by, sun highlighting your bird's-eye-view of the earth below?  Therefore, the jump will be truly successful when you let go of the fear and relish the freedom of this unusual act, the joy and the trust that is there for you to experience.
Different on a sailboat?  Not really.  Though it certainly takes considerably longer for the "jump" (from shore to shore) to be completed, let go of the tension, accept what fear there may be, loosen your hand from where it is clutching some part of the boat, loosen your mind from where it is mentally clutching handholds, and sway with the motion of the sea.  Say a prayer, rub a soggy, salt-sprayed rabbit's foot, or look inward with trust in your own abilities.  Your ability to not only complete the passage, but to do so with a wonder and appreciation for your "unusual" surroundings, a belief in your own safety, and a trust in your inner spirit.  Give it a chance.  You, too, wish to fly.





















(More to follow.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Spirit






















These are pages from a book I put together that I call "Spirit."  The stories are told from a spirit guide's point of view.  One of my photographs goes with each of the stories.

HOME
It doesn't matter where you are in the world.  Enjoy each place, as they are interchangeable, because the place where you will live is inside of you.  A sailboat teaches you this lesson.  Wherever you sail, you have your home with you.  But even a boat is superfluous, for your home is within you.  There is no place that is not your home - a room, a boat, a mansion, all of the out-of-doors, the universe, the galaxies.  Every place is your home, and you can expand to fill all of these places - these spaces - without losing any of your essential self.  Your boundaries are secure.  You are secure.  You are connected.  You are in tune with the rhythms of the cosmos.  It is something to aim for - this tunefulness.  Live it like a melody.  Sing it like a chant.  Know it as the basic chords which reverberate through your life - into and out of your soul.  Your God exists at the very center of it all.  Reach out- reach inward - and touch your God.

BIRDS
A bird is the ultimate free spirit.  He can travel on land, on water, or fly through the air.  Let's take the common seagull.  He wanders the sands of the beach, looking at the mundane details of shore life; he floats on ocean swells without a care in the world; and he soars high above the earth for a bird's-eye view.  Humans mimic the gull.  They walk the shores gazind seaward; they take to the waters in small boats; and they soar through the air on hang gliders.  But the true freedom of the gull eludes them, for the gull neither dwells on the past nor worries about the future of his tomorrows.

CLOUDS
Clouds sail by on their way to nowhere, malleable, constantly changing their shapes, sky-borne will-o'-the-wisps.  Losing themselves in sprinkles or downpours, then growing again, taking up moisture, fattening themselves, puffing up with the pride of being.  And always, always, moving onward through their journey - not seeking, not wanting, complete in their very existence.

(More to follow)


Friday, October 29, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tropic Moon - Part 6

The dangers of navigating in Maine!  Please click on images to enlarge to read text.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tropic Moon - Part 5

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Please click on images to enlarge to read the text.

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In case you're curious, we never did any chartering!  The flyer at the top of this post was a part of the paperwork we received when we were looking into buying Tropic Moon.  She had been a charter boat for 17 years.