Give the world a week of wonder
“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep!
Every year, April 22 is designated as Earth Day… As though every day isn’t earth day? What do we think our lives depend on the other 364 days of the year? Of course every day is earth day, but like many other humans, I can get distracted and take all this life support for granted.
I am fortunate enough to live in a place where Nature is very much my neighbor; where tending yard and garden very much part of my daily life and the dog gets me out morning-noon-evening in every weather offered up. I write with a desk that faces a view of mountains and sea that after a quarter century still thrills me morning by morning. It is easy in this environment for me to stay attached to Earth. But I have not always lived here.
I was born in west central Montana, a landscape of boxy buttes, rolling prairie and cultivated wheat fields. I remember asking my grandfather on one summer visit, “Why didn’t you keep going until there were more trees?”
We lived in New Jersey and Illinois (remembered only through a few remaining black and white photos) and then when I was five, moved to Indianapolis, living first downtown with grass in cracked sidewalks. When I was six, my parents bought a tiny house on the edge of the city (then) inside a flood plain, across the street from a sycamore tree I loved to climb, and a bike ride from a creek full of crawdads and polliwogs we carted home in mason jars.
When I was nine, we moved to the edge of Minneapolis, a half-acre yard with 23 oak trees—too many leaves for even four Baldwin children to rake!
After college, I lived in San Francisco in a communal Victorian tucked under the elevated freeway, with no outdoors tolerable at all. And over the decades, I’ve traveled and lived many places—a list fascinating to me, but probably not to anyone else. And every place I go: there is nature.
Nature is present: it is to me to look for it, notice it, nurture it, and humble myself before this huge gift of which I am one miniscule breathing participant. So here comes Earth Day, and the question of how to honor the gorgeous complexity that is life surrounding.
For the week of April 18-24, I am going to start each day sitting on the front porch of our house—at the edge of whatever weather the spring wants to offer up—watching the mornings rise and writing in my journal. I may ramble off on stories that reside behind the above sentences; I may ruminate on the scene before me; I may enter a territory of meditative surprise. I invite you to join me.
This April, some people are emerging from pandemic isolation and some are going back into isolation in response to viral surges. Whether opening or closing the doors and windows of our lives, we are living at the beginning of the “Next Now.” We should not go back to sleep. There are so many variables and unknowns in our situations, but our one shared constant is that we are all living embedded in Nature. And we need to find ways of more respectful living forward.
I know some things that I can do to make my lifestyle more sustainable… but I am not the authority: I dedicate this week to listening, to reflective inquiry, to translating the breezes of dawn into messages that help me live more honorably connected to the planet.
The page is blank and waiting.
My cup of tea is brewing.
The new day dawns.
I have fully embraced the habit of welcoming the day at civil twilight. I will join you in this week of mindful observance. Some days my “front porch” might be the trail or the boardwalk or the top of the highest hill, but I will be with you and all others who join you, in spirit. My Yoda gets his three daily walks too, rain or shine. It has made me feel infinitely more connected to my neighborhood, and by extension, my world. Thanks for sharing your practice.
I will breathe easier knowing you are also up and writing.
Im ‘in’ thanks, Christina, see you on the porch
Always glad to have you scouting the dawn with me!
Anytime now (when it’s a tad warmer that early), I will start getting up at first light and going for a walk. Rumi was right. That early, the air is clean, the world still belongs to nature, and the secrets can be felt. When I get home, I make a pot of tea and write in my journal for about an hour – something I’ve done (with some gaps) since I was seven years old. Yes, I read “Life’s Companion”, which is how I found you, and it’s a wonderful book. Now I’m 82, both the walk and the journaling are maintaining body and soul and keeping them together.
Ah Anne, coast to coast journal writing, I love thinking of you rising before me when the light reaches you…. thank you for checking-in. I’ll be 75 next week.. still feeling quite capable of most, but not all, things. hugs on the page, C
I can see you nestled in and open to what dawns. For me, today I bought a Tesla figuring if I can afford an electric car I should get one. I hope it’s helpful for Mother Earth in the long run.
Wow and yeah and are you driving it home when you come? Hope you have a lovely road trip up the coast ahead of you in the not too far future.
OOOOh lovely. I see so many of them around Seattle area and on island now… I hope this means a leisurely roadtrip home to Whidbey sometime soon.
I love this, Christina. And I love your coming practice. The third anniversary of my mother’s death is right in the middle of that time; she left the day before Earth Day. But everyday was earth day to her too. I will join you each morning at sunrise with coffee on my deck, and thank the earth for its precious gifts, as she did. 💜
I am so glad to be reminded of your mother’s departure date. Will hold you/her close that day… and the book is coming out!
I have been writing every morning since the beginning of COVID. That week I will call you in and focus on prompts from nature that draw me each morning. No porch – but a chair under a large cedar tree.
I will join you Christina. The first chapter of See No Stranger by Valarie Kour is titled: Wonder. I will join you with this theme, wondering what the trees and breeze and sky want to say. What writing prompts they offer… Will be thinking of you.
I’ll gladly take you up on that lovely invitation. Just wish I were there with you all. Much love.
A friend is starting a Creative Collaborative in advance of releasing her first CD, and she asked that we each choose an emotion, meditate on it for a half hour and express it through whatever medium we choose. Yesterday, I chose “wonder” as my emotion for a number of reasons, one being observing nature. Reading this today is so inspiring. I’m a musician (harp) and look forward to expressing this “wonder” through my music. I will join you from my home in the Vermont woods! Thank you!
After a relatively dry winter in the Northeast (little snow or rain), we begin spring with a low water table. That means making hard decisions about whether we can water our gardens with the frequency they need under the often too-hot summer sun. Yesterday, I spent time giving our perennial gardens a deep drink, greeting the old friends that have already lifted their heads above the soil and preparing for the latecomers to follow. Birds sang while I worked. Butterflies will come soon. The nesting boxes have already been re-inhabited by several pairs of bluebirds. I’m 74 now, and this work doesn’t come as easily as it once did, but it is my connection to the Great Mystery, and I’ll be there with you in practice. Much love to you both, as always!
Hello Christina – I really like your idea of dedicating a whole week to just being present to nature and seeing what story it has to tell us. I am in and even put it on the calendar! After 11 amazing years in Oregon I moved back to Michigan basically so my retirement fund would be able to support me. I have created a garden everywhere possible. Dug up the back yard last year so I could have more space to plant native trees, bushes and flowers. It was hard work but well worth it as things are coming up and blooming. I knit every morning along with writing. My intention will be to send out healing compassion…
Love, love, love. I’m in too. Coffee and journal on the porch, birdsong symphony, and newly replanted, tiny little garden.
Awwww… Just what I needed to hear and where I often need to be. Nature. I’ve been walking through pines and along rivers and lakeshores with loons and more reuniting, graceful swans landing before me, owls calling, all this well before the bugs and boats reappear. It’s good to be in northern Minnesota right now for these reasons. And also good to know I’ll be back home soon.
I’M IN, CHRISTINA!
Thanks for the invitation and with the call to listen.
And you will have Frances by your side…
I would like to join in, too! Having read the blog on Saturday, digested yesterday and even got up early (for me) this morning to pace it out: prepare. Because I am like someone else who commented + doesn’t have a porch, I will be like Goldilocks and sus out a perfect spot for next week and hopefully beyond. Thank you Christina + others for buoying me along.
I loved how you renamed Vonnegut’s Karasses as “Caresses” the other day at the Parker Palmer program. Thanks for all your inspiration, you and Ann and PeerSpirit.
I just didn’t know how to spell it and thought this was a better idea anyway. I love seeing you online in these ways. Take care, keep writing.
You’ve inspired me to sketch whatever the morning brings me for that week. I’ll know you are making word pictures. I’ll be there.
I love this idea… maybe I’ll sketch too…
I will join you, too, Christina – writing from under my favorite tree and walking River three or four times each day. Sending you blessings for your 75th birthday and hoping that this next year is filled with good news!
Thank you, Jude… I’m just in from the front porch and day one.
I join the many who have accepted your invitation to sit at dawn, notice what is rising both inside and outside, and write. Too cool yet to sit on the deck…but soon. Much love.
Thank you, Katharine… may spring burst around you this week as you write inside and out.