I woke trembling with joy this morning, enjoying the morning dark and extra crispness in the air, and then, there is the news and the government shutdown and the closing of parks. How to lift off, up, and away from the antics of cruelty, tiny-mindedness and division?
I finished Sylvain Tesson's wonderful book, The Consolations of the Forest, Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga. If there was ever a week to read this book, this is it. Maybe we can't all spend six months in a tiny cabin having minimal impact on the world, but we can taste through his experience, and we won't lose the love of our life, as he did, while doing it. He takes about seventy books with him, and lists them if you're looking for a winter reading list.
I take some quotes from the Journal, vol. 1, 1965-1970 of Ernst Junger. On P. 266, Junger writes: "The less we cling to differences, the more intuition comes to our aid; we no longer hear the rustling of the tree but the whole forest's answer to the wind." P. 366: "Increasing haste is a symptom of the transmutation of the world into numbers." P. 519: "And one day, bees discovered flowers and molded them to their caresses. Ever since, beauty has filled more space in the world."
My understanding is that insects and flowers evolved together, but I love knowing that flowers molded to the caresses of bees and I appreciate that the creative license of poetic interpretation heightens and deepens our view.
Tesson writes that "There is a Chinese tradition in which old men would retire to a cabin to die." Tesson is young, so is not there for death, though perhaps he cultivates death to an old way of living, death to a life of haste, impatience, and lack of reception and appreciation.
But to continue with Tesson:
"After having wanted to act upon the world, these men retrenched, determined to let the world act upon them. Life is an oscillation between two temptations.
But please note! Chinese non-action is not acedia. Non-action sharpens all perception. The hermit absorbs the universe, paying acute attention to its smallest manifestation. Sitting cross-legged beneath an almond tree, he hears the shock of a petal striking the surface of a pond. He sees the edge of a feather vibrate as a crane flies overhead. He feels the perfume of a happy flower rise from the blossom to envelop the evening."
My weekend was filled with people and talk. When I mentioned the silent retreat, people were shocked. I said I watched four leaves fall in an hour. People stepped back. Yesterday I thought I heard deer tromping through my yard, but when I looked it was the sound of falling leaves touching the ground. My ears are opened outward like the wings of butterflies and birds. Welcome to October, a time of birth and return to the Earth.