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Exquisite Peony,
my mouth gapes
at the sight
of your beautiful
fragrant
simple
miraculous
life.

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Our May Newsletter:
Springtime at Turtle Rock Farm

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And so I would like to be as plain as possible. What I am against—and without a minute’s hesitation or apology—is our slovenly willingness to allow machines and the idea of the machine to prescribe the terms and conditions of the lives of creatures, which we have allowed increasingly for the last two centuries, and are still allowing, at an incalculable cost to other creatures and to ourselves. If we state the problem that way, then we can see that the way to correct our error, and so deliver ourselves from our own destructiveness, is to quit using our technological capability as the reference point and standard of our economic life. We will instead have to measure our economy by the health of the ecosystems and human communities where we do our work.

— Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle

Here,
a few of the books this year
that inspire,
transform,
inform,
teach,
entertain—
keep us doing what we do
at Turtle Rock Farm:
A Center for Sustainability, Spiritualityand Healing.

Active Hope. How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy
by Joanna Macy and Christ Johnston

So Far From Home. Lost and Found in Our Brave New World
by Margaret Wheatley

Collapsing Consciously. Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times
by Carolyn Baker

Living Beautifully with uncertainty and change
by Pema Chodron

Field of Compassion. How the New Cosmology is Transforming Spiritual Life
by Judy Cannato

Immortal Diamond. The Search for Our True Self
by Richard Rohr

Living Presence: A Sufi Way to Mindfulness and the Essential Self
Kabir Edmund Helminski

Poetry by Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry

The Illuminated Rumi
Coleman Banks and Michael Green

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings. A 21st Century Bestiaryby Caspar Henderson

Clear Water. A Haiku Invitation into our Luminous, Sacred World
by Jeannie Martin

Margaret Wheatley:

Hope is not a feeling that comes and goes with external circumstances. Hope is who we are independent of outcomes. Hope is as basic to humans as compassion and intelligence. It is always present, it never leaves us. It is not dependent on success and not afflicted by failure. Thus, it is free from fear. And without fear, we can see clearly. We see what our work is, we have the strength to persevere, we do what we feel is right work and, as poet T.S. Eliot wrote, ‘the rest is not our business.’

Richard Rohr:

Love, which is nothing more than endless life, is luring us forward, because love is what we also and already are and we are drawn to the fullness of our own being.

Judy Cannato:

…life emerges from what physicist David Bohm called the quantum vacuum. Bohm said, ‘There is one energy that is the basis of all reality.’ According to Bohm, the quantum vacuum is the fundamental underlying reality of which everything int he universe is an expression—everything—including ourselves…Emerging from the single quantum vacuum, it seems that we remain connected throughout our lives, bound together by a mysterious energy that makes all creation a single whole…Our exploration together is concerned with living with the awareness of our connectedness and making choices that are life-giving for all.

Jeannie Martin:

Can we also, in this modern culture, accept and welcome all living things with reverence and gratitude? We might, for example, spend time looking at the stars, or one star, and breathing in the peace and quiet of a winter night. We might wonder at the magnitude of the Milky Way and what might be beyond our universe. It is easy with all of our machinery to miss this wonder, but Nature is always pressing in, reminding us of who we are in the family of creation.

somewhere
in the Milky Way
first starlight

Caspar Henderson:

Not many living things leave a beautiful corpse. Among those that do are the ancient oak trees still found in a few pockets of woodland in the British isles, and the Nautilus, a distant cousin of squid and octopus that lives in tropical waters. In the case of an old oak, the folds and twists in its trunk and boughs continue to express, suspended as in a sculpture, forces that shaped the tree during its five hundred years of life. Int he case of the Nautilus, the animal that accreted the shell had a relatively brief existence, typically less than ten years, but what remains — in cross section a logarithmic spiral — manifests perfect symmetry. The oak is a like a massive, turbulent musical score; the Nautilus shell is like a chord resolved.

 

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Work Song, Part 2: A Vision

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides…
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it…
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields…
Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.

– Wendell Berry

1979
I

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
what it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

 

—Wendell Berry
A Timbered Choir. The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

I’ve been fighting hopelessness
for a couple of years.
It’s depressing
to consider the state of the planet.
And it’s overwhelming to consider
how to make enough effectively radical changes
in time.
Grieving is a natural part of the process
of seeing and facing
the truth about what human beings
have done to the planet
and themselves.
We need to see
and accept the painful facts so that
we can make changes.
Once we muster the courage to look,
and grieve,
we can begin to move away
from the paralysis of overwhelmedness
and into life-giving action.
I’ve found a new kind of hope
that is allowing me to move ahead.
It’s not the hope that,
magically, all will be well;
it’s not the hope that
God will rescue us.
At a conference I attended last weekend,
Mary Elizabeth Moore spoke of
“the Bigness that holds us all together.”
It’s that hope, that
with the guidance and compassion
of the Bigness,
the Love-that-undergirds-all-being,
the human species is evolving;
and that, because I’m here,
part of that evolutionary process,
my part is necessary
to contribute to the evolvement of the species
and the health of the cosmos that is our home.
I may not get to see planetary health, wholeness and harmony
in my lifetime.
But if I don’t continue to do
everything I can,
I can’t hold hope for future generations
of humans
and all life in Love’s cosmic home.

Others too have recently
given me what I need to continue
to work toward a healthy planet
in spite of the fact that
it’s possible we may not do enough
quickly enough.
Wendell Berry said: “You know what
you have to do to conserve. Keep doing
what you know to do.”
Scott Pittman said: “The problem
is the solution.”

I finally got a rain barrel hooked up
on the corner of my house.
Rain can now drip from the downspout
into a blue barrel that once
stored soda pop syrup.
Last week, rain came;
we got three-quarters of an inch.
I captured a mere 55 gallons.
I will get bigger rain barrels
because it was such a joy
last night,
after I planted tiny lettuce seeds,
to be able to water them with
the nourishing water
that fell from the sky a few days ago.
“You know what to do;” (capture rainwater)
“do what you know:” (Simply, capture rainwater.)
“The problem” (water shortage, for instance)
“is the solution” (to stopping waste.)

I may never know my son’s children’s children;
I will never know the creatures that call the prairie home
fifty years from now.
But as a recipient of the gift of life,
as a citizen of the cosmos,
as a member of the human species,
it is incumbent on me—
and a source of joy
and hope—
to do everything I know to do now
so that these beloved ones have the chance
for this glorious life.