I read something this morning which really resonated with me. It was about how we treat our world. Each day we see more disasters occurring, not just in war zones but in our countryside where rivers are polluted, pipelines leak or explode, lakes are polluted and so on. Just this week in my area fish died because of river pollution. We see greedy companies wishing to destroy the landscape for new pipe lines, new railway lines which go through ancient forests and destroy natural habitats which have built up over the years for various species.
And do we just watch and think it won’t be long before the human race disappears or do we do something? If we do something then what do we do? Working together is important as can be seen when the Native American tribes came together to stop a pipeline being built across their sacred burial grounds. I am not going to write any more here because I would like you to read the words I read this morning so that you are aware, if not already aware, of just what is happening to our planet.
‘Whatever your path may you have peace, may you have compassion for others, may you have joy and love, may you be thankful for what you have and may you bring love and peace into the world for others to share.’
Looking around at the UK this week and earlier this month I see that compassion is greatly needed for those affected by the floods. The amount of rain falling is unprecedented in many places and after soaking into the already saturated ground there is nowhere left for it to go. Streams that flood also drain into larger rivers and so on until there is nowhere left for water to go. However much you put up flood barriers, water will find the weakest point and those further downstream will be the ones to flood. So what is the answer?
You can’t argue with nature you have to work with it is the first thing to realise. But you have to look at the wider picture and think that if this is the weather we are going to have in the future then maybe we have to rethink everything we know. But at this moment in time practical help is what is needed. Many will have lost everything unless they managed to save things precious to them. But what is transpiring is that people are working together to help each other; communities whatever their faith are pulling together to help each other and those worse affected. It seems that it is only disasters that inspire us to work together. We need to learn to work together all the time, to help each other and to look for a better future.
The world of today is chaotic, rushed and with never ending problems for us all. How do you find your inner peace?
I am lucky that I am now retired and do not have to go out to work every day so perhaps finding inner peace should be easy. However I find that this is not so. I have a degenerative health problem which means I am not very mobile so every day life can be frustrating and full of little problems.
But each week I try to go with a friend to our local country park. She walks her dog and I stroll slowly along the path towards the river. This week the cygnets, now almost fully grown were on the lake, swimming with their wings half open to catch the breeze. There were Canada Geese here this week too. Looking back from the lake towards the car park, I noticed the stripes that had been cut into the field were now filled with wild flowers. These formed colourful stripes of yellow and pink. I started to walk back towards the car park. Here the trees formed an arch over the path. No one else was around and I stopped. Listening I could hear the birds, the leaves moving in the breeze and a great sense of peace overwhelmed me. I stood there for some minutes communing with Mother Earth and the natural things around me. The benefit of these few minutes of inner peace stayed with me for some time. I can’t wait to go again, hopefully next week.
At the time of writing the sky is grey and it looks like rain. The wind is also blowing hard. Our land is devastated in many places. The floods will have killed small animals especially those insect larvae which live in rivers and streams. There is no food for others and no nesting places. I used to have around 20 starlings visit my bird food hangers but now there has only been one lone starling after days of no birds at all. Where have they gone? Are they finding food elsewhere? The local stream has been extremely high and very muddy in colour and in places the fields are flooded. There is a wildfowl reserve close by and I wonder how high the water is there and how polluted it is.
As a druid I find this whole scenario very distressing and wish that people would learn to understand that we are all part of our landscape and that we cannot control nature but have to work with it. Without the insects, especially the bees, where would we be? We need to understand that we depend on the activities of all the animals on our planet. They are all a part of a wonderful natural chain of existence. But nature is far more powerful than we are. She will fight back as the daffodils in my garden which are struggling in the wind and rain. Let us keep hope alive and work together to save our world.
This week there have been some cold days with sunshine and clear blue skies. These are wonderful days and I managed to go for a walk with a friend on one of these days. We walked to the local river and stood looking at the reflections in the water. The reflections were so clear and beautiful. It made me reflect on my own life at this current time. Around us there is often turmoil and chaos but this small part of our landscape brought peace. When things get tough, it is good to take the time, however short, to find a place where there is peace. Often this can mean a walk in the park or as in my case, a walk down to the local river.
But what if you can’t do this? You can close your eyes and imagine such a place, maybe one that you know or one that you would like to visit. A few minutes of just doing nothing but seeing a peaceful place can re-energise you.
Do you take the time to stop at least once every day?
Do you use that time to reflect on your day and your life?
Here is a photo of that small river and the reflections in it.
A walk along the side of the river was wonderful. The river has so many moods, quiet and rippling gently, or rushing around stones and rocks, or tumbling over small ledges and rushing madly along. It reminds me of how our lives are, or at least how mine is.
There are times when everything flows smoothly and times when there are obstacles in the way. Do I flow around them or over them? The river generally flows around them unless in flood. Do I take the quiet times as times of rest and times to replenish myself or do I push harder to get things done.
How does your life resemble the flow of the river? How do you deal with the quiet times? Do you rest or push harder to do things? Do you go around obstacles finding the easy way like the river or do you go over the top?
The river today gave me a lot of food for thought as well as a lot of pleasure. Here is a photo of this river.
It has been a traumatic month. At the beginning of the month my landlord decided he wanted his house back so I had to move out. I had two months notice. Finding somewhere suitable for me is quite hard as I have a small cat and I don’t have a lot of money. I have been on the council waiting list for some time for a small bungalow and last week I was able to bid for one of these. Because of my new circumstances I was successful in my bid and now look forward to have a safe and secure home. So out of the chaos and worry has come a gift, a long awaited and unexpected gift.
Have your circumstances ever given you an unexpected gift? Out of the darkness and despair there is often a gift of some kind but you have to look for it or at least realise that this is what it is. My gift means I can stay in the village where I live now and enjoy all its amenities including the walk by the river. I give thanks for my gift of the bungalow and what it means to my life. Give thanks for your gifts too.
Just about half a mile from my home is a lovely short walk along a public footpath much used by dog walkers. The path runs alongside the river through small woods and open fields. It is only perhaps half a mile long as well. But it is such an amazing place to be.This last week I went with a friend and as we entered the first bit of woodland it seemed that magic was at play. The sun shone through the branches and changed the way everything looked. As the trees seemed to join overhead it was like walking through an archway of trees. In the open field part, the path still runs along the side of the river. There were so many tiny snails on dying nettle plants and different types of ladybirds on the cow parsley that I stopped to take lots of photos. Then entering the second tiny wood was even more magical. The sun illuminated the path and drew you in.
I felt totally at One with the landscape, as if I was not just standing on the earth and watching but as if I was actually a part of it. This feeling is very hard to describe. If you have felt this then do let me know how you describe it. I wondered about those walking their dogs. Did they just enjoy the walk or did they see more of the natural world? And what did they feel?
It is so easy to just walk along a path or field and not ‘see’ any of the wonderful things that the natural world has to offer us. The birds were singing and every so often the call of the moorhen could be heard. My friend started to hum in tune with our Mother Earth while I wanted to chant and sing. It was such a wonderful feeling and I am sure my heartbeat was the same as that of Mother Earth. Have you ever experienced this feeling? If so do let me know about it. Sharing is good for us all. If you have not yet had this experience then do try to find the time to explore any local patch of nature. You will be amazed at what you can find and feel.
This week has been a week of hot sunny weather with several storms, some of which have lasted for many hours. Usually storms clear the air but this does not seem to have happened so far and we still have hot, humid weather.
I was thinking how all the elements are involved in a storm; earth, air, fire and water. There have been lightning strikes and flash floods, showing us the power of nature. A walk by the swollen river last week brought the amazing smell of damp woodland and swirling water over the weir. It is such a distinctive smell but difficult to describe.
But I wonder if our planet is giving us a message. Is she trying to show us what can happen if we have no respect for her? I am lucky to have a garden at the front of my house. Some of my neighbours have tarmac or fancy paving stones leaving nowhere for the rain to go then get angry over the large puddles that form. Houses are built on flood plains, rivers and streams are filled with rubbish. Is this the way to treat our planet? People cut down trees because (I quote)’ they don’t like cleaning up the leaves or cleaning out their guttering.’ But how good for soaking up the rain are our trees?
Have we lost our connection with nature? How can we teach or show others how important our gardens and trees are to your future? What can you do?
I was talking to my uncle one day last week. He is 93 and when the talk turned to the floods, this was his response. ‘During the war, we had to grow more food, so farmers were told to dig up the hedges and fill the ditches. The hedges never got put back and now there is nowhere for the water to go so we only have ourselves to blame.’ Part of this is true but there are other factors too. We build houses on flood plains and right by the side of streams and rivers as well as on top of cliffs and under them. We ‘make’ the railway take the shortest route even though it may not be the best route but time is precious or so we think. I am sure you can think of other examples where we stop the rain from going into the ground. How many of you have laid tarmac or concrete on your driveway so you can park your car better? Where does your rainwater go?
As druids should we be more aware of what we do and how what we do affects the land around us? I think we should be very aware of the results of our actions and take the time to think about these actions and whether they are right for our environment. This week we have seen the power of the water and we have been given a strong message about the way we build homes and transport systems. Also there have been many other results of the floods where the animal world is concerned. Some species have not been able to reproduce this year as their homes were swept away by the water. The slug has done well though.
So what can we do to ensure that these things don’t happen in the future? Is it too late to change the way we live? The Woodland Trust has gifts that include the sponsorship of the planting of a hedge as well as preserving old fallen trees for the insects.
To cheer us all up, here is a photo taken earlier this year on Woodland Trust property.