Tuesday, March 17, 2015

here.

I have just returned from my adventuring home trip, five weeks in the lush Pacific Northwest; fully loosing myself in the serene wilderness that I unknowingly took for granted in my youth.  Mountains dressed in green shelter the horizon, making a myth of its expanse.  I set my senses free, hoping they would return to me having absorbed enough of these wilds to keep me brimming long after I departed from them.



I cried during our final decent into Chicago; looking out over the flat upon flat expanse of flat land.  Where were my brimming buckets of natural beauty, the ones I stowed and stashed in suitcase and heart, mind, body and soul; how could I lose my fullness so quickly? 


About three days after returning, I found, while raking the planting beds at the front of my house, the first evidence of spring’s new green; the tiny clustered heads of Sedum pushing up through still defrosting ground.  So recently was this landscape frozen that a patch of ice accompanied them. 


It was in this moment that my buckets began rushing over again.  All of the mountainous beauty in the world could not compare with the wondrous bravery of this new growth, a tiny microcosm of the universe brimming with as much life as any lush enveloping forest of endless green.



And then I knew.  It was not the mountains that made me whole, but my seeing of them.  It was not the flatlands that made me cry but my fear, fear that I would lose the wholeness that I had found.  But alas, it is here, the here that is everyplace we stand, if only we allow ourselves to be there.  


With gratitude,
Joanna



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

sublime {words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow}

Photograph: A single inscribed page in a small ringed binder, holding two stanzas from Longfellow's poem A Psalm of Life; handwritten by my great-grandmother, Elinor Hazel Will Voorhees, 1888-1965. I discovered this page last night while looking through a trunk that holds her belongings.  Last week, while going through boxes of my own belongings long in storage, I came upon a book of Longfellow's poetry given to me by the dearest of friends.  A Psalm of life was one of the pieces I immediately savored.  I did not know Eleanor in her lifetime, but this is not the first time that her life has touched mine, and I am honored by  her footprints in time that do indeed spur me on.

   
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Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait.

~ A Psalm of Life, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

With gratitude,
Joanna

Monday, March 2, 2015

welcome home {words by John Muir}



Photograph: Wonder Lane in Wornder, Oregon, located in far southern Josephine County.  Down this dirt road and left turn up another is where my sister and I moved with our parents from Seattle, Washington in 1984.  We camped for the summer in two tents and a Volkswagen van while our father built a modest frame house with the help of a local contractor.  Wonder was founded in 1902 and consists merely of a number of houses and a small general store.  It is located along the famed Redwood Highway, US HWY 199, which connects the communities of southern Oregon with the Pacific coastline; and lies with in the Siskiyou National Forest.


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The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness ~ John Muir


                                                                   


With gratitude,
Joanna