Tag Archives: environment

Another Baptism in Heaven

Looking Up at Water Coming Down

Looking Up at Water Coming Down

Splashing on me and the camera.

Waterfalls have never been something to simply see or hear. . .but to touch. . .to participate in.

Almost “spiritual”. . .like a “baptism”. . .like “heaven”. . .but why call it anything?

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John Muir’s Heaven

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

My wife and I just returned from 5 days by (and IN) Lake Tahoe.

Walking, biking, swimming. . .but mostly just looking at the beauty.  You can’t help yourself.  The view, the colors, the sound on the shore and in the pines.  You sense you are a part of this great piece of liquid art (unless you’re jetskiing or powerboating or cranking up the boombox on the beach with your barking dog. . .but that’s the OTHER stuff we’ll leave aside for a while).

“The Big Blue” as I call it.  You never tire of gazing over this 22-mile lake and all that comes from your mouth, if you care or dare to speak, is, “Beautiful.”  Yes, full of water, full of light, full of mountain particles and full of pure beauty.  It’s like the sky has poured into a mammoth canyon of the highlands waiting to be discovered, seducing discoverers. . .like John Muir.

Muir called Lake Tahoe “the queen of lakes” and the “water heaven” where all lakes eventually go.

From the John Muir Exhibit (Sierra Club) website:

-Muir first visited Lake Tahoe in October-November of 1873, calling it the “queen of lakes” and writing his friend Jeanne Carr that he had “sauntered through the piney woods, pausing countless times to absorb the blue glimpses of the lake, all so heavenly clean, so terrestrial yet so openly spiritual.” He wrote further, “The soul of Indian summer is brooding this blue water, and it enters one’s being as nothing else does. Tahoe is surely not one but many. As I curve around its heads and bays and look far out on its level sky fairly tinted and fading in pensive air, I am reminded of all the mountain lakes I ever knew, as if this were a kind of water heaven to which they all had come.” [Source: Letters to a Friend, 1915]
-Muir returned to Tahoe several other times in his life, enjoying its “delightful” beauty.

My mind is still up there in the alpine country breathing the fresh pine air.  Even with the unclean air, noise and nuisance of city living, there’s something refreshing that stays with you when you’re that close, that immersed, in Beauty (what some would call God, the Sacred, or Heaven).

As I am fond of saying, Why wish for, why imagine another world, a “heaven above,” when it’s all right here, right there, if we simply go look and wade in.  We’re all in Heaven, and it’s so much better than anything we’ve ever been told.


The Resurrection of Henry Thoreau

It’s always good to see more “Scriptures of Nature” being read around the world.

Live Simple


Burying Trees Under Beliefs

“Mother Tree” (buried under “offerings”)

Now that we’re in another season of shopping and chopping (trees, birds and animals) I came across two very different stories:

The Scientist Who Climbs Trees (Nalini Nadkarni). . .who brings plants to prison:

“A self-described “HinJew,” Nadkarni was one of five kids raised by a Hindu father and an Orthodox Jewish mother. Whenever she felt overwhelmed and needed refuge from her chaotic household, she’d climb a nearby maple tree.”

“I have to work harder to make new programs, to reach new audiences, and ultimately have every single person in the world connected to nature in a way that they will take better care of it.”

Very inspiring, thoughtful, wise, hopeful, practical, compassionate.

Then, there’s this troubling story (and photo, see above) in National Geographic about Shamans in Mongolia.  I have a great deal of respect for indigenous peoples, first nations folks and their folkways.  There is much wisdom to gain from people who live simply, who live near to the land, the earth.  But when their “spiritual practices” are so mystic-minded that they lose sight of the environmental (or mental) effects of their practices, someone has to speak up, speak out.

For this article the photo above was published in the magazine edition that showed a big pile of colorful cloths and other “offerings.”  It looks like a huge mess on the ground.  Here’s what the caption says:

“Symbol of eternity, this ‘mother tree,’ a pine in northern Mongolia, draws pilgrims from all over.  It gave out under the weight of cloth offerings, the blue ones representing everlasting heaven and peace.”  {emphasis mine}

The huge pile of “trash” in the forest turns out to be a tree, toppled by the offerings to the “Mother Tree!”

Here, in more “sophisticated” American Culture, we watched yesterday as herds of  “Black Friday” shoppers pushed and shoved and poured into stores to spend on “deals” at the beginning of the “holiday season.”  Millions of these folks will be chopping down trees and chopping off the heads of birds and other animals (most will pay someone else to do this killing ritual) to celebrate our own indigenous American Christmas and the birth of a baby god 2000 years ago.

Not a big difference really, East and West, Educated and Uneducated, Shamans and Priests, Holy Books and Sacred Traditions. . .there is a certain madness in the ways of religion.

{what makes the story from Mongolia all the more disturbing is the cover story in the December National Geo with the magnificent ancient sequoias. . .now there are the temples that have outlasted many a religious ritual}