Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Nature Breathes

After I had been to Bryce, on our drive home, I felt this intense sense of the aliveness of nature, of how Bryce had a real, physical personality, that the rocks, the trees, the animals, all were as spirit filled as we are. I have thought such things before, read how Native Americans see it, but never experienced it with so much inner knowing and awareness. This isn't about a god occupying us all although who knows why it is as it is; but it's that nature is not inanimate and the rocks, the rivers, all the things we usually think of as being less alive than us,  they aren't.

Quite simply, I breathed it into me and it breathed me into it. And I don't mean with lungs for either of us.

What makes Bryce such an example of this is that it's in process. The ground you stand on while you look out over the expanse of red rock, formed in a vast, creative array of shapes, that very ground is only awaiting its turn. Under the sand and trees are the same formations that will someday be exposed by time. While that beyond will be beaten down by the same time. Bryce is growing and shifting before our eyes.

To me, there is no explaining, though Farm Boss tried to put it in scientific terms, why places like Bryce exist one place but not another. Why the red rock is so unique in that corner of the world. Yes, rock formations are many places, but you don't see the same thing even two hundred miles from it and won't see it again the same anywhere in the United States. Similar maybe but not like Bryce, Canyonlands, Arches, Zion, Escalante, and the Grand Canyon. It's an embarrassment of riches all in one place.

So I was thinking about that sensation that I had visited a place with personality, a place that recognized I had been there, that had welcomed me, when we were driving though Redmond, Oregon, almost to Sisters (where we planned to spend the night). I watched the mountains as I always do when the Cascades come into view and noticed that on one of the snow covered peaks (dormant volcano), there appeared to be a pattern, a shape, a drawing. It was shockingly like the outline of a figure. I started photographing it as best I could from the moving vehicle. I had never seen anything like it.
When Farm Boss finally saw it (he was after all driving), he said it was like the drawing of a Kachina dancer. And he was right. That's exactly what it looked like. As the cloud shifted down over the mountain, it covered the head and became more like an eagle dancer with head down and wings out.

I thought it was an odd phenomena but figured it had to be the rugged rocky cliffs showing through the snow due to the lateness of the season. The next morning, with no clouds, I saw that it wasn't just the mountain that had formed that figure but the clouds as they lay in such a way as to make the drawing so strong that it could not be missed. In the morning the illusion was gone.

I think it came to tell me something that yes, it was and is real. The earth is real and it has personality. It has being. We should not only respect it but protect it. You can tell me it's nuts to think the earth has personality and spirit; but I know what I know and more than ever before in my life, I do know it.

Earth in all ways is alive and it is proud of itself. It likes it when we recognize its gift. I have never felt its reality so strongly as I did then and do today. Places like Bryce, if we let them, they can enrich our own spirit-- even on a trip as short as ours had to be.

For those who think this relates to a metaphysical religion or paganism, it really doesn't. It's an awareness of connection. Jesus said if people didn't say who he was, the rocks would. Some think we can ignore nature, ignore the earth and somehow go on as we have been. I believe the connection between us means that when things happen like in the Gulf, they impact us all. We may not recognize it immediately but eventually everyone will see the result.
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player. Albert Einstein

I could have enhanced this photo just a bit, tweaked it a little but it wasn't necessary.


Paul said...

Nature's beauty can revive a person !

Annotated Margins said...

The Earth is filled all kinds of sacred spaces that science will never be able to explain... until the last experiment. Art will reveal our wonder, but won't be accurate until we put down the brush one last time... and become the paint.

Ingineer66 said...

That is really wonderful photography. And for Farm Boss to recogonize that it was a Kachina dancer while driving is a pretty good trick. It does look like one.

ps my comment on the earlier post did not stick for some reason. Must be gremlins in the internet.

robin andrea said...

Wonderful thoughts about the earth. Yes, I agree that it is a living, breathing entity that must be respected and protected. Beautiful photographs of that image on the mountain.

Dick said...

That does indeed look like a Kochina dancer. It also almost looks more like clouds than a mountain top.

Ours here in northern Washington State had gotten pretty short on snow with many rocks showing through but the last month or two has brought snow that should have come during the winter, so they are now all pristine white. The North Cascades Highway that was re-opened in May after its normal winter closure has had times when it has been closed due to snow slides caused from the late spring snows. Different weather!

Ingineer66 said...

Dick that is why it is called climate change now instead of global warming. :-)

Rain said...

Global warming has always been hard for people to grasp as it doesn't mean warmer everywhere but maybe mini-ice ages some places due to ocean current changes with the melting ice (as has happened before), but I suspect this might relate more to the volcano. Such volcanoes have led to cold summers around the world in the past. A big volcano going off (and there is a larger one that yet could go) has a big impact on climate.

mandt said...

"It's an awareness of connection" Absolutely so. I had that experience in Bryce also....

Kay Dennison said...

You just reminded me that I need a good dose of nature -- city living is dragging me down. I'll be taking the back roads on my journey so that will help and I'll be in the country where my grandpa and roamed.

Your photos, as always, are magnificent.

20th Century Woman said...

We are part of the earth, in the earth and it is us. I just finished a wonderful DVD geology course that emphasized how completely part of our planet we are. And I learned how such beautiful things as you show in your pictures have come to be and will eventually go, to be replaced by other wonders.

Ashleigh Burroughs said...

There are times when the heavens speak to us - how lucky that you were there to capture it for us.