“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike”
(John Muir, 1912)
In the weeks between my first Covid jab in late April
and the first calendar days of the southern hemisphere winter and our Flu injections,
the 12 year young Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum) in our front garden,
(a seedling gift from a mate when we were leaving Canberra)
was undergoing a time of transition.
From the gentle chlorophyll green sea-of-life-filled foliage—a miracle of evolution,
to its chosen orange and burgundy seven-acutely pointed, lobe leaves…
Not an all-at-once process, but a gradual must-do life-saving transition
as its energy from photosynthesis is diverted to the roots, resulting in
autumn technicolored leaves pirouetting to the ground in a light wind—plop,
to become crisp brown litter and our garden’s spring fertiliser.
Nature approaching the cold of winter clad in a brilliant palette of colours.
Nature inviting us to appreciate daily experiences of wonder.
As Albert Camus wrote: ‘Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.’
The full text of this talk by the Rev. Rex A E Hunt can be found here.
Eric Stevenson says
My thanks go to Rex for his talk on beauty. I resonate with his reference to Muir’s natural theology of liberation, rather than redemption and to his account of Muir having rejected the earlier teaching that we are poor worms of the dust, conceived in sin. What Rex has written helps me to get the sacred feeling that I am a part of the natural world and not superior to it. I quote from Joyce Kilmer’s poem,”A tree”
“a tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
against the earth’s sweet flowering breast.
a tree that looks at god all day,
and lifts her leafy arms to pray.
a tree that may in summer wear
a nest of robins in her hair.
in whose branches snow has lain
who intimately lives with rain.
i think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree
I also like Rex’s reference to Atwood that god is the whirlwind and not his/her voice. regards, Eric
Paula Morelli says
Thank you, Rex, for this thoughtful and well researched talk. The Canberra and region UU Fellowship group enjoyed both the stories contained within – and the sentiment expressed. Mindfulness is a trendy word, but Muir’s approach to nature embodied the very idea. Lovely reminder of our ties to Nature inherent in the 7th Principle. Thank you. Paula
Elizabeth Mary Hinton says
I love Joyce Kilmer’s poem, ‘ A Tree’. Thank you, Eric. It expresses the wonder and beauty of the natural world.
Janice Tendys says
I have just read the 1978 introduction by Ernest Gellner to his 1950s book ‘Words and Things”. Although I think Gellner is right in saying that Wittgenstein and his followers did not advance philosophy, other than a reminder to pay close attention to the meanings of words, I actually agree with Wittgenstein regarding spirituality. If you have intimiations of the divine or the sacred, it is almost impossible to talk about them meaningfully to other people. The exception is through poetry, or it you can give a “sermon” that is poetry like Rex Hunt.