Before I tell you about my visit to the Land Institute and my brief meeting with Wendell Berry there, let’s go directly to a poem by that great Kentucky farmer-poet-novelist-essayist-and untiring champion of the Common Good:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

My God.  Folks, if I ever receive and write a poem of that quality, I will be SO grateful.

My old bud Dan Vega and I just got back from hearing Wendell and his daughter Mary speak at the annual Prairie Festival at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, about 6 and 1/2 hours from where we live in Fayetteville in NW Arkansas.  He was joined by other speakers at the event, including Land Institute founder Wes Jackson.  Long story short, Wes and the other visionary agronomists, environmentalists, eco-activists, philosophers, historians, and uncategorizable geniuses he’s working with over the past 4 decades have collaborated on a massive research-demonstration project, the central practical focus of which is the gradual development of hardy, drought and insect resistant, soil-enhancing, erosion-preventive, high-yield perennial grains to replace more labor intensive, less soil-protective annual crops.  This is not being done by the same kind of genetic modification that Monsanto and other eco-thieves are so recklessly pursing, but by slow, patient observation of the growth patterns and productivity of many, many generations of carefully interbred varieties of naturally occuring grains. If you’d like to know about the Land Institute and its essential work, you can go to http://www.landinstitute.org

Now then [what a peculiar phrase, mingling timelessness and time!] about Mr. Berry…his writings are profound, beautiful, and crucial to the nth degree, if you believe like I do that we MUST ALL find healthy ways to further conform our daily lives, and our agriculture, and our means of energy production, to the changing reality of our natural ecosystems.  Now, to my meeting with the great man: In his A Place on Earth, a novel originally published in 1967, Berry included a brief poem which one of the novel’s characters recites over the grave of a fellow citizen in the close-knit farming community in Kentucky that has written about again and again in his semi-autobiographical fiction.  A few years back, I put that poem to music and have played it a few times at gigs on harmonium, and have PRAYED it a few times silently, or rather quietly and privately, after funerals.

So, as I considered what I might like to say to Wendell if I got an opportunity to meet him, I decided that I’d sing him my setting of his poem, as well as of course thanking him for his irreplaceable work.  All of which I did, and I can yet see his eyes so alive and close to mine as I ululated the tune to him there on the dusky prairie at the end of his long day as a speaker and honored participant at the Land Institute gathering.  When I finished the short song, Wendell said, “You didn’t sing that while they were hauling somebody’s  ass to the graveyard, did you?”

A bit taken aback by his question, swiftly brought back down to my own little “place on earth,” and feeling more than a little pretentious for approaching Wendell so abruptly in such an offbeat way, yet I was also well aware of the humor of the situation and the American Zen disposition of the interchange. So I responded to him “Not…right…then.”   Then we shook hands, I offered Wendell  another heartfelt “thank you,” and we went on our separate ways.

I walked away feeling a little hurt and irritated at having wanted to give Mr. Berry an artistic gift in return for all his work has given me,  and not feeling that it had been totally received.  Yeah…I felt humbled, but over the next hour or so, along with the hurt and humbling there arose a strong sense that  I had indeed received something important in that interaction,  which certainly included the little hurt and the humbling and what they may have “learned” me about myself,  but also…something else.  In a small and playful way, Wendell stuck it to me.  Sure, I was a tad deflated and irritated, but also, as a result of our brief connection , SOMETHING of Wendell’s own energy and sensibility penetrated me in way that will stick with me and continue to in-form me over time.  I don’t have words for what that SOMETHING was, or a tune for it, for that matter.  I only sense that it broke some new ground and will work inside me productively for a long time to come.  Our little “dokusan” (an encounter of student with Zen master) planted a seed in me, and I am willing to let it grow.

The I Ching says, “It furthers one to meet the great man.”  I don’t feel less great myself, just taken by surprise, informed, and inspired in a way I hadn’t expected to be, as a result of meeting Wendell Berry.

If you’d like to learn more about Mr. Berry and his deeply down-to-earth, highly spiritual  work, you can go to http://www.wendellberrybooks.com

As far as I’m aware, there’s no writer with more moral force and compassionate clarity working in America today.

 

Triplets

(3 line poems written at Walnut Valley Bluegrass Music Festival, Winfield, KS, 9/13-17/00)

 

9/13 (Daybreak on the midway)

 

Farm boy trudges

dusty midway, eyes hidden

under yellow hat-brim.

 

8 A.M–

the Colorado bluegrass boys

pick each note alert to earth-heart.

 

Wind wafts whiffs

of hot coffee, and bacon

frying off fat.

 

The human brood is here full range–

from consummate, accomplished

souls to the totally shit-faced.

 

Hammer dulcimer plays:

silver filaments

glide on the breeze.

 

All is one lucid substance.

Each unique person is that

walking through that.

 

We’ve known

each other

forever…

 

festivals give us

permission to stop

pretending it’s not so.

 

9/15 ( Pre-dawn on the midway)

 

Light eggshell blue–

night fades,

walkers reappear.

 

Cool puffs touch

eyelids; lift them.

Welcome in, little wind.

 

All my life…

this pointillistic light

strongest before dawn.

 

Air bares

blessings as

Sun-barge nears.

 

Almost-almond moon

lowers over empty fairgrounds.

no echoes of last night’s applause.

 

Thin light-pole shadows

are half as dark as dawn advances.

I drink my coffee black and watch.

 

 

9/16 (At the campground, early)

 

Moon’s melting eucharist

baptizes every soul

camped by this river.

 

Meditation by the moon-

drenched river…this body

an abandoned breathing hut.

 

*

 

(Pre-dawn at the fairgrounds)

 

One bird chirps

above the empty grandstand

at Stage 1.

 

Sky brightens, blues.

Yellow, pink, and rose tints

seep up through the trees.

 

All-night lights on tilted poles:

electric wires sag against

the dawn.

 

Frisky old farmers

tanked on coffee and all-night

vibes, at sunrise.

 

One woman’s voice enters

the chatter of concession guys;

gentles the men.

 

Looked up from writing that

and sky was two hues lighter,

shedding darkness

 

*

(4 for the young man with night-furrowed brow,

and for my son Adam, about to leave home for college)

 

Young men, maybe still tripping,

pass by me with, “Hello, dude. Hey, big man.”

One nears to shake my hand…

 

and I say, “Hey, let’s make it real.”

He straightens up and gives me his best

“Good morning,” and the gentlest open hand.

 

Bless you, youth.

How could I ever

love You enough?

 

I’ll just have to

keep on

waking up.

 

*

 

First true greens

seen as sun unveils

the trees above the tracks.

 

“There’s a big show

in the East right now,”

I say to lady…

 

and run up the grandstand steps,

in time to catch

sunrise.

 

Molten horses

of the sun charge

96,000,000 miles to our eyes.

 

Soul cries out

as sun-disk sears

the dark tree crowns.

 

Sun pulses reddish

rainbows; pink

after-glows.

 

 

 

 

 

9/17 (After triple cappuccino on the pre-dawn midway)

 

Happy childrens’ voices

intermingle. Grownups’ voices don’t

entwine so close.

 

Green corn oven glazed

with streetlight gleam.

No embers left inside.

 

Lone walker steps on

shadows; echoes through

the midway gate.

 

He swings the red gate open–

metal rasps on concrete,

making first morning music.

 

She isn’t singing,

but I hear song

as she speaks.

 

Whoever might walk past me now

will pass through an enlarging sphere

of attention and affection.

 

Revising as I write,

effortlessly struggling,

serenely worrying at verse…

 

 

Lifelong compassion

for pebbles on pavement and old wads

of paper– I’m unsane.

 

Alone in the vast

grandstand, writing lines

in praise of lifting light.

 

I raise my eyes

from every poem

as Eastern sky’s page brightens.

 

Jesus must live up there,

between black sky

and widening dawn.

 

He must subsist on prayers

of “early morning grievers,”

no less than on the songs of those who praise.

 

I’ve been that griever,

though at this turn of Fate’s wheel

now I sing.

 

Dear Lord in whom I sing,

tune, turn your key in me

as dawn’s door opens slowly on this plain.

 

Great Light, thank you

for this deception whereby the Sun

appears to dawn by slow degrees.

 

Thank you for this light blue

fool devotion that makes us say,

“I…You,” “Dear Lord,” “Great Light.”

 

Sky’s silo fills

with subtle grain

before sun lifts.

 

Dark flecks,

light sparks–

both pervade dawn’s granary.

 

Footsteps in the bleachers,

though no one passes–

Friend?

 

Let anyone who needs such joy

receive it, like a breadcrumb course

that traces back to Source.

 

Thin wings melt

into coming day,

noiseless yet somehow heard.

 

 

Hi there, bloggalites.  Today, a little excerpt from my recent book that may remind you of an experience of your own. Have you ever felt, or even seen, subtle presences in the wilderness?  Here’s an account of a fairly dramatic experience of that.  Why do I share it?  To ’seed’ the notion that connecting with the subtle energies (or entities) of nature is not only possible, but can be cultivated (as I believe my friend Jim, who you’ll read about in a moment did) to nurture and strengthen harmony with our environments, both wild and more populous, for the sake of the well-being of this beautiful planet that we humans are treating so very badly. Such connections with subtle natural energies can be developed– as they have at Findhorn Community in Scotland, and in many gardens around the world, for example–as forms of “subtle activism” that can complement our political work on behalf of the environment. So…here it comes..this excerpt is titled:

Spirit on the Water (1978)

 

At the edge of Oregon wilderness, we’re about to hit the trail to our campsite. Our friend Jim’s been here before–he’s a native Oregonian. As we stand near the trailhead at the edge of the forest, a large butterfly lights directly on Jim’s hand. I sense a welcoming presence, one Jim may have met up with before on previous visits

to this remote place. We pause for a timeless span of time, then forge ahead on down the trail.At a broad, gushing creek….a place of two forks meeting. I remember rapids and little ‘water stumbles’ less steep than waterfalls. Wonderful sounds accompany the creek as it skeedaddles over boulders, chilly current glugging ‘round their contours. There are other underwater sounds as well, like the grating of big rocks jostled by fast-flashing water, and the submerged burps of current in contact with certain boulders below the creek’s turbulent surface.Late afternoon: fantastic cold immersions; long leanings into the cold, cold stream. Letting go of urban energy, we relax together as day dims. Shadows lengthen as light recedes down the winding creek valley.

 

“The Valley Spirit Never Dies“

 

(line from chapter 6, the Tao te Ching)

 

Listen to wave curls holding

in the clear current.

This canyon where sound becomes voices.

Rite of suns

disappearing down the steep

creek valley. Birds attend.

Now a light blue orb hovers over a burbling little water-stumble. Jim and I see it and share our perceptions, which as I recall the three women with us do not share. We watch the blue orb float about 20 feet away from where we sit. It stays there for some time, then as daylight dies away altogether, it’s finally no longer visible.

But Jim and I feel met yet again.

I added a few verses to this old gospel number from John’s Island, SC,  then the drone of a shruti box from India, then dubbed in multiple harmonicas (thanks for recording me, Mr. Kelly Mulhollan!) and jazz drummer Andrew Sieff added drums, and Mark Warren drew from archival film footage to create this video, and now… for your listening pleasure

here it is:

A three hour workshop presented by Geoff Oelsner   www.geoffoelsner.com

at

the Ozark Research Institute (ORI) annual Power of Thought School, Sunday, September 9, beginning at 9 am at the Clarion Inn in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Simply google Ozark Research Institute for details about the upcoming Power of Thought School, beginning Friday, September 7, 2012…amazing, mind-bending (even spoon-bending!) experientially-oriented presentations

Geoff Oelsner has lived in Fayetteville since 1979, working as clinical social worker. Experiences at the Findhorn Community in Scotland oriented him to working cooperatively with the subtle energies of Nature. His 2012 memoir, “A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive” describes experiences of spiritual attunement to Nature.

Techniques you’ll learn in this Hands-on Class:

  1. As well as practicing Dorothy’s approach (see 2), students will gain a deeper appreciation and recognition of their own unique skills and innate capacities for quieting or focusing their minds, and for practicing attunement.
  2. “The Doorway Process” of attunement, first to Spirit and then to specific subtle energies and spirits of Nature, as developed and taught by Findhorn co-founder Dorothy Maclean . This will include preliminary pointers about time-honored ways of quieting our minds so they are more receptive during attunements.
  3. Thirdly, we’ll work with and discuss David Spangler’s teachings on subtle activism, particularly effective ways of  blessing the natural world and all beings, sometimes in cooperation with nonphysical beings of goodwill.  (Note: Dorothy Maclean is one of Geoff’s spiritual friends and teachers, along with David Spangler)

We will practice several different approaches to attunement (communion) with the subtle energies and spirits of Nature, drawing from teachings developed by Findhorn Community co-founder Dorothy Maclean, and from our own unique ways of perceiving and connecting with natural energies. After attuning to selected aspects of Nature, we will bless them, using practices taught by American spiritual teacher David Spangler, who is also closely associated with Findhorn. We’ll allow ample time to share the impressions we receive during our attunements, and will reflect on our experiences of blessing.

 Hi folks, 

 I don’t like to constantly blog n’ blurt words or email all the time, but those of you who’ve enjoyed my songs and poems may be interested in my recently published memoir, available at Amazon.com.  It’s titled: A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive, a Memoir of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature, and it was published by Lorian Press this February. 

Below are two poems which I included in the memoir, one in a slightly different format. I’m going to be reading these and/or other poems at the first event put together by poet Matt Henriksen’s BURNING CHAIR poetry series, which will feature a group of 8 poets each reading briefly at Nightbird Books, on August 18, starting at 8 pm.
A bit about the book: My experiences of working in communion with the forces of nature 4 decades ago at the Findhorn Community in Scotland, plus a lot of spontaneous paranormal events which began happening to me in my teens and which very often were witnessed by others, form the starting point for the stories in this book, which point toward the  positive possibility that we may be able to strengthen environmental well-being through such things as prayer, blessing, and conscious intention.  (In addition to political and grassroots activism, which I see as absolutely essential responses to the mounting climate crisis. ) I also share scientific evidence for the hopeful assertion above in the the book’s opening pages. It’s a mind-opening, empowering read. 

 

You can find excerpts and some appreciations of my book here at my www.geoffoelsner.com
website.  Now if you’ve hung in here for the above brief “commercial,”  here are those two poems I promised y’all:

First Ways Of Flight
 
I found a wakened way
to fly my slightest dream
across the prairie, wireless,
tree to tree. At times barbed wire
and taut black talk-lines
sliced my flight. They stung
and nettled my dream-body,
just as they overhung and netted
this country. Encroaching suburbs
sometimes held me from
full span. Clenched fists
of smoke from factories;
dense inner cities pulled
on me. Yet I was willingly
drawn down to certain altars,
shrines, archways, parks,
side roads, homes, and human
gatherings where primal silence
reasserts itself. Then I could begin
to glide once more on amber
waves of light East-West
above the land. My being
sought sanctuary in mountains
and rivers, at estuaries of Spirit.
I rested in slow-breathing meadows
far from men. Night after night,
these dreams moved me in vision-flight
beyond a life I had thought mine,
on through the gray where worlds meet,
into a country where all colors
are sacred and alive.
_______________________________________________
Birdwindmindstream Transmission
 
En route to attend a conference in Iowa, we stop in  at a  rural roadside diner.
As we file in toward the booths, an old farmer is leaving with a friend. 
He looks closely at me as we pass, exclaims something to or about me
under his breath, and the next thing I know, I get the overwhelming sense
of being part of his breath, which is part of a larger more powerful wind
which blows through both of us, streaming with birdsong.

The two of us share a tacit eye-to-eye, and mind-to-mind connection
which lifts me into an intense totemic experience of a unique and briefly bestowed
birdwindmindstream transmission, direct from the fields and fencerows
of his osmotic, hidden life.  It’s a birdy and benevolent kind of medicine.

Then the old farmer passes by me and out the diner door, and that moment passes with him.
***The above two poems both appear in Geoffrey Oelsner’s memoir in prose and poetry, A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive, a Memoir of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature, (2012, Lorian Press), available at Amazon

 

Firebird Woman’s Dream Song

For Karen

 

Rekindle now, and truly become

That ecstatic global dancer and dawnbreaker

Of your spiritual birthright;

Joyfully flashing through winter darkness

Whirling around the flame-tongued

Heart of this new Sacred Fire

Of reunion.

 

Be midwife to the dream of a people’s destiny

Spanning seven generations;

Rooted in the disputed soil and myriad coveted lakes,

Snow-fledged mountains and table mesas of Native America.

 

Arise and soar in the wake

Of those Grandmothers of red pine and cedar

Who will always protect these forest strongholds

Of sovereignty.

 

Teacher, ignite here your healing torch—

Scattering seeds of light and truth to each nation.

 

Pass it on to the eternal children of the night.

 

 

RIDDLE OF THE SEEING EYE

For Drew Cleland

My friend, see if you can unravel this mystery.

The stars and moon guide us in our night journey.
The sun faithfully follows us each morning
And all day long.

The golden eagle swoops down and reckons us—
While, in turn, the Twin Holy Messengers
Peer right through us.

It’s possible that even the small white pebble
Under the bridge of the Wild Rice River
Watches us when we’re not aware.

And if we only took a deeper look
Into that unplumbed, moss-entangled well of the true seeker,
Our own face might appear.

Yet, when the heart of our Beloved
Looks upon us, with such clairvoyant green eyes,
We are sometimes slow to gaze back.

For someone is always seeing us
And someone is being seen.

But we still don’t grasp the mystery of this New Day.

 

SHEEP HERDING IN THE CHUSKA MOUNTAINS

for the Baha’i friends in Navajoland

& diverse seekers in all regions

It’s at such an early hour when you arise to go
And gather all the sheep, alone at dawn,
Climbing up grassy hillocks, to sing and call
Out across the mist-torn red rock canyon below.

Humbled before the vast sky, you sing and pray,
Mingling your voice amidst the ringing sheep bells—
Echoing loudly: hoozhoo na’aash glee
Far, far across the valley of this gleaming Day Star.

STORY OF THE STONE GIRL

Coke Town, Summer of 1968

One day there was a girl,
Standing before a dilapidated noon depot
On the edge of the Rainbow Housing Project,
Waiting for a bus.

Soon, ghetto rats crept up out of a blind alley.
They started slinging mean taunts at her back
And calling her dirty names.
But she didn’t see them or hear them.

They didn’t see her either. They flung
More words. Their words seared right through her.
So she decided to hide her reeling head
In the cage of her hands, and became a dove.

Next, they began pelting her with mud balls,
Garbage, shards of glass, and angry missiles.
But she just kept on pretending
To feel nothing, like a stone girl.

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty years later,
She’s still there on that same street corner,
Waiting for the headlights of that belated Greyhound,
And wondering why she’s been frozen so long.

Jeff Jentz, 2012

You are invited to a book release party at Nightbird Books
On Saturday May 5th 7pm
 
Dear Friends,
 
 Please join me at Nightbird Books to celebrate the release of my new book, A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive (A Memoir of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature).
 
 Many of us have experiences that point toward a more interconnected Reality than we normally perceive. Episodes of telepathy, spontaneous healings, confirmed intuitions, precognition, attunement to nonphysical beings, nonlocal awareness, or communion with the natural world–all these can expand our understanding of what is possible for us and remind us of an undivided spiritual dimension of ourselves.
 
This memoir in prose and poetry is an account of my surprising and wonderful continuing education in such experiences, which can make us more aware of that dimension of oneness.
 

I’ll read some true stories from the book, some of which describe events that happened here in NW Arkansas. And, I’ll invite you to share related experiences of your own.

I hope you’ll be able to attend this fun and empowering event!
For the Earth,
 
Geoff Oelsner

Toward the Marriage of Science and Intuition

Hello, friends. The Monroe Institute is a most unusual

place in Faber, Virginia, where I and many others have pursued the development of out-of-body travel, remote viewing, and other paranormal capacities. In 1998, I had an important experience there that confirmed for me the actuality of remote viewing, and brought me into contact with perhaps the single best-documented and scientifically-tested remote viewer in the world.

This experience led to my contacting that remarkable gentleman again in 2011, when I initiated a project which I call the Psi-Sci Alliance, to bring climate change scientists together with extraordinarily gifted
intuitives in the service of refining present research and generating new approaches which might contribute to the mitigation of climate change.

I tell the story of all this in my book, A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive, a Memoir of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature, and it’s been excerpted in an article in the Monroe Insititute’s latest newsletter, the Hub, which you can find at this link: http://monroeinstitute.org/thehub/

I’m going to begin excerpting some little bite-sized passages from my new book, A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive (available from my publisher Lorian Press, from Amazon.com, and in Fayetteville at Nightbird books). This won’t be a serialization, but a gradual collaging of various accounts of non-ordinary experiences, including some that relate to attunement and collaboration with the subtle, sentient forces of Nature. In this time of climate change, many people are now contemplating how to contribute to environmental harmony. My book offers some simple pointers for doing so in ways which can complement, though in no way replace, environmental activism. These ways, which involve blessing, prayer, and other inner Work, first came to my attention when I spent time at the Findhorn Community in Scotland in 1969-70. So I will commence my collaging here with a few passages from my book on the Findhorn Community. Here we go:

Writing this book has heightened my interest in the constructive possibilities of what David Spangler and Dorothy Maclean (an original founder of the Findhorn Community in Morayshire, Scotland) call “attunement” with Nature and its subtle sentient energies. You’ll come upon descriptions of some of my own attunements in these pages.

When she visited us and taught in Arkansas in 1980, Dorothy explained attunement as a simple process of going within to a relatively quiet, meditative space; getting in touch with a sense of what she calls “the living silence,” or the Sacred; then briefly holding a clear intention to commune with whatever one wishes. This may be as all-inclusive as the Sacred itself, or as particularized as a being of any kind. Next, one lets go of one’s intention, rather like one needs to drop a letter in the mailbox in order for the message in it to reach its destination. Finally, one rests in receptivity and notes whatever response may come by way of insights, impressions, images, words, the felt sense of a particular presence, energetic sensations, or physical effects like goose bumps.

The above process bears some similarity to the practice of Samyama described by the ancient Indian sage Patanjali in the third book of his Yoga Sutras. It also features some parallels to Eugene Gendlin’s practice of Focusing. There are many different ways to attune, but they all involve receptivity. Dorothy has written about her experiences with attunement in the collectively authored book The Findhorn Garden, and in her own books To Hear the Angels Sing, Choices of Love, and Seeds of Inspiration.

You can find a transcript of “The Doorway Process,” and another foundational exercise for attuning to the Divinity within, in Appendix One of Dorothy’s autobiography, Memoirs of an Ordinary Mystic (2010). Dorothy has found it possible to attune to any being after making a conscious connection with the Source of all beings. She writes, “Since most of us think of God as the highest spiritual reality, it might sound strange to ‘start at the top.’ You could think of it instead as beginning at the beginning: whatever has been made by God can be met through God.” I highly recommend this inspiring book about the not at all ordinary life of a blessed and beautiful soul. A voice recording of Dorothy leading “The Doorway Process” is also available, through the Lorian Association. The first part of this recording provides a fine guided introduction to her way of attunement.

Freya Secrest of the Lorian Association taught and traveled with Dorothy for ten years. In a communication to me, she wrote:

“Her whole approach is about connecting to the God within first. From there the contact with the nature world flows. Her links are through beauty, wonder, awe, and love. This is the first part of The Doorway Process and it illustrates her approach to attunement: get oneself resonating with the energies of love, wonder and beauty, all core generative energies of life, and one is able to be in tune with the life force at the heart of everything in the universe.”

Love and blessing open us. They allow us access to life force, and thus to all life forms. Have you read The Secret Life of Plants? It came out in 1973, and in it authors Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird described interactions and experiments with plants conducted by Luther Burbank and George Washington Carver, and later, people like Cleve Backster and Marcel Vogel. In a number of these pioneering experiments, plants showered with love grew faster, larger, and hardier than those in control groups which received no love (or worse, were bombarded with feelings of hate or violence). I know a few of the many people who successfully replicated these experiments after reading The Secret Life of Plants.

Actually, before I saw the book , I was already among the converted due to the time I’d spent living at the Findhorn Community. There in 1965, a garden planted on sandy soil with organic additives of little more than cow manure, grass clippings, and seaweed tested out completely satisfactorily for all nutrients, including rare trace elements, though the Morayshire County Agricultural Advisor considered this impossible at that time.

While at Findhorn, I participated in making the first batch of compost there, based on a recipe of specific organic materials that Dorothy received in an attunement. During my stays at the community in 1969 and 1970, I witnessed the amazing size and quality of vegetables that grew in the ambient field of love and cooperation which we co-created with the devas and spirits of Nature.

Joanna Harcourt-Smith interviewed me this week around the time of the publication of my new memoir, A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive.

Here’s the link, and below it, I’ve included a brief synopsis of the book’s contents:

http://www.futureprimitive.org/2012/01/geoff-oelsner-a-country-where-all-colors-are-sacred-and-alive/

Of course, even simpler would just be to google
www.futureprimitive.com and find my podcast, dated
January 28,2012 Mazeltov! G.O.

Synopsis of

A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive, A Memoir
of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature

by Geoffrey Oelsner, Lorian Press, 2012

Many of us have experiences that point toward a more holistic, interconnected Reality than we normally perceive. Episodes of telepathy, spontaneous healings, confirmed intuions, precognition, profound communion with the natural world, attunement to nonphysical beings, or nonlocal awareness of a distant place which proves to be accurate–all these can expand our understanding of what is possible for us and remind us of an undivided spiritual dimension of ourselves.

This memoir in prose and poetry is an account of my continuing education in such experiences, which can make us more aware of that dimension of oneness, and empower us to step forward into more conscious, collaborative relationships with the sentient energies of Nature. These sacred relationships can contribute to environmental harmony right now, and may help downscale our climatic predicament in days to come.

Lorian Press has just published my new book,

A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive, A Memoir of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature

I’d like to share with you some appreciations by some leading authors and spiritual teachers from 4 distinctly different circles of people that I’m very much a part of, then a brief synopsis of its contents with you.
So, here goes:

Appreciations of

A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive, A Memoir
of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collboration with Nature

by Geoffrey Oelsner, Lorian Press, 2012

“”One of the challenges of our time is to discover how to
recognize in new ways the spiritual worlds that are all around us that we might have a co-creative partnership with the beings who inhabit them. Geoff Oelsner is one who has met this challenge and writt en this excellent book as a record of his discoveries. His stories take us into the heart of the world and help us open our eyes that we, too, may fi nd the country where all colors are sacred and alive. I heartily recommend it.”
— David Spangler, author of Apprenticed to Spirit and Subtle Worlds: An Explorer’s Field Guide

“No ordinary memoir, this is a chronicle of how one man’s
life and growth are propelled by his openness to and welcoming of anomalous experiences. A deceptively simple compilation, this book touches very deep places in the reader because of Oelsner’s humility, eloquence and willingness to share from his vast reservoir of spiritual experiences. Oelsner is a quiet mystic whose book will hopefully find a wide audience.“
— Eric Leskowitz, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard
Medical School; Editor, Transpersonal Hypnosis

“What a marvel of a book! Geoff Oelsner is himself such
an empathic embodiment of the ‘ordinary mysteries’ he sings
praises to throughout this remarkable … I don’t know what to call it…A shamanic memoir? A poetic ‘Starry Night,’ its electric golden energies shimmering through words instead of colors? An ancient mystic physician’s bag of healing unguents, wrapped in straightforward recollections of his everyday life of serene, deep amazements? Thank you, Geoff, for this simple, sweet American Gaia Sutra.”
– Saniel Bonder, founder of Waking Down in Mutuality, cofounder of Human Sun Institute, author, Ultimaya 1.0 and Healing the Spirit/Matter Split

“Everyone has times of transcendent and sacred experience, but most of us do not fully notice them. It is noticing and honoring that allows us to live the sacred as we journey through our lives. Geoff Oelsner takes us along on his kaleidescopic travels in a way that heightens our awareness so that we may better perceive our own such experiences. A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive is a delightful vehicle of sacred wisdom of
remarkable depth.”
– Anna Cox, Founder of Compassion Works for All, which offers Dharma Friends newsletter for prisoners. Author of Just As The Breeze Blows Through Moonlight, and Dharma Friends: No One Forgotten, No One Abandoned, No One Discarded

Synopsis of

A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive, A Memoir
of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature

by Geoffrey Oelsner, Lorian Press, 2012

Many of us have experiences that point toward a more holistic, interconnected Reality than we normally perceive. Episodes of telepathy, spontaneous healings, receiving an intuition which is then objectively confirmed, precognition, profound communion with the natural world, attunement to nonphysical beings, or nonlocal awareness of a distant place which proves to be accurate–all these can
expand our understanding of what is possible for us and remind us of an undivided spiritual dimension of ourselves.

This memoir in prose and poetry is an account of my continuing education in such experiences, which can make us more aware of that dimension of oneness, and empower us to step forward into more conscious, collaborative relationships with the sentient energies of Nature. These sacred relationships can contribute to environmental harmony right now, and may help downscale our
climatic predicament in days to come.

Ox Cart Productions and the Music on the Mountain singer/songwriter series presents:

A Free December 6 concert by Geoff Oelsner and Harmonia.

There’s a lot to listen to and like as Geoff takes the stage with original songs, singalongs, and covers. As a special musical bonus, he’ll be accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Kelly Mulhollan and bassist John Johnston.

In addition to singing with Geoff, Leslie Oelsner and the much-loved women’s vocal group

Harmonia will perform some songs of their own.

Geoff will also share a short story or two from his new book, A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive.

The concert will be presented in Parker Hall at the Mount Sequoyah Conference and Retreat Center

Tuesday, December 6, 7-9 pm.

CHANGING HANDS

Heading past Green Giant corn mills on Hwy 13
Toward Wahpeton, he squints at the sun and says:

Nope, I don’t think they do anything these days
With hogs or cattle. No prize pheasants either.

The big barn with its ribbed roof and steel braces
Slouches now beside the silo that has a rusted cap—

One summer night I climbed halfway up and fell off,
Landing right smack on top of a manure wagon!

Long hours, days into night, combining corn and wheat
To fill dust-cloudy bins and put food on the table;

Year after year, grappling with rain-soaked bales
To bed down heifers and raise a fortress against winter;

Acres of electric fences, feeders, and grain augurs—
Uncle Kenny and I built all that up over forty years

And now it sets there empty and neglected.
Son, it’s hard sometimes to have to change hands.

Jeff Jentz, Jan 2011

WISHBONE FOR THOMAS MCGRATH

Tom, windy-eyed Thoreau boy,
Sitting alone tonight in your Minneapolis apartment.

Build a log cabin in your head.

Or else a farm! More places to discover
Beyond the power lines and dark smoky sugar beet mills
And those missile silos dreaming under the frozen prairie sod.

Better yet, invoke an army of savvy organic farmers
With their boots firmly planted in the humus of the future—
Seizing the hour at such a time
To raise aloft the green standard of Universal Peace and Justice.

Meanwhile, your resistless spirit haunts Dakota.
And the streetlamps of Fargo keep vigil in the starry night
Where your breath is blowing still. Words you sowed
Await now, like winter wheat, to leaven the souls of artists.

Poet, go on furiously scribbling your vision into the dawn,
Seeking to reclaim both worlds,

in your writing shack
out along
the Red River…

Jeff Jentz 12/15/10
CANDLE PRAYER

Our smoky errands here are like the candle
Glow of a child’s beside prayer.

Precarious angels and demons are whipped
Around the room by the chilly breeze
Coming through the fluttering curtains.

The flame, too, feels strong on its wick
Until the bright saber cools
And cannot cut what is only fear.

We give off the same wax, vapors, oily clouds
That stain the roses on the wallpaper.
Our shadows climb the walls
Or embrace the blazing log on the hearth.

The night table spins farther away into the dark
As we trace the mist on the windowpane,
Wrapped in midnight questions and doubts . . .

And the stars drifting above and beyond,
Always just out of reach in the blue,
Elude the halo of our fitful lights,
Here sending a signal so ardently upward.

“Conserve on all except light,” He said.

Only tilt the candle, Abdu’l-Baha, closer.
Closer, Abdu’l-Baha, closer!
Jeff Jentz

Note: Originally I wrote this poem in fall 1973 after I discovered the Baha’i Faith at a fireside through the words and teachings of Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the Prophet-Founder.

Ox Cart productions and the Music on the Mountain monthly singer/songwriter series rolls into December with a concert by Geoff Oelsner and Friends

in Parker Hall at the Mount Sequoyah Conference and Retreat Center, on Tuesday, December 6, 7-9 pm.

This event is free of charge. Parking’s also free.

There’s a lot to listen to & like as Geoff takes the stage with original songs, singalongs, & covers. He’ll also perform a few poems and it is possible that he’ll tell a story or two from his new book, What is Possible.

Geoff will be accompanied by LESLIE BERMAN OELSNER
AND the women of HARMONIA (who will also treat us to some tunes of their own)

Along with special guest, that multi-instrumental musical maestro, KELLY MULHOLLAN

Hi friends. I’ve been reading a wonderful recent book by Rob Young, Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music. Singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega described it as being “about the mythic roots of folk music originating in the UK.” Anyway, reading in Young’s book about well-known and loved artists like the Incredible String Band, and about musicians I hadn’t heard of before like Vashti Bunyan, has gotten me remembering some of my own visionary moments while living and traveling in the UK. Here’s one such memory:
1975. I fall into a heavy, buzzy afternoon slumber in the spiritually-charged realm of Glastonbury, England, after Leslie and I visit the Chalice Well, the lofty Tor, and the ancient abbey (itself purportedly re-discovered and excavated in part thanks to information mediumistically provided by a long-deceased monk attendant upon the place). I find myself witness to a lucid dream-vision of reverent, venerable hands pausing and passing over rectangular shapes draped by white linens fringed with intricate lacework. This vision is completely enigmatic to me, but it carries the felt sense of some archaic, repetitive, numinous activity. Something sacred has been inscribed on silence in this place.

Less than a month later, we land on the holy Isle of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. While Leslie rests at our bed and breakfast there, I attend a Communion at the Iona Abbey.
I’m curious to witness what is described in a brochure as an old-fashioned, historically authentic traditional Communion.
Expecting a tray of thin eucharistic wafers to be brought in, I am surprised to see rectangular loaves of fresh-baked bread draped by white linens with fine lace fringe borne in and placed upon the altar. The priest’s hands lift the lacey linens, and my puzzling Glastonbury vision makes intense sense as we break the body of the fragrant loaf, and taste.

This kind of visionary window seems to open on the collective soul-life of the country as we continue along our way. I try to write about what I see, albeit uncertain of the degree to which true vision is alloyed by the workings of my lively imagination:

There’s More “When” Here

They lovingly maintain their thatched and oak-beamed cottages, where the dense energy of generations amasses.

The fields here are often very seen. In certain valleys even shadows seem more deeply sentient, somehow wakened under the gaze of ages of eyes from those of Pict to Celt to
centurion to Saxon to those of the village lout or poet.

The country fairly froths with contemplation and plumes of Being that rise from churchyards with their giant yews and gray, lichened graves.

Astral temples stand in many groves and glens, tall bastions of Druidic attention and intention reinforced by later prayers and workings of the rural faithful and their elemental and angelic
co-workers.

Telluric currents of elven, gnomish, and faerie consciousness run under the earth, gathering in reservoirs or vortices in subterranean caves; emerging on moors, near barrows and
megalithic stones.

Communion with the countryside looms up like an aesthetic cumulous from the otherwise rather flat, repressed English sensibility, arising tumescent in the form of rowdy festivals and
rustic fairs, gnarly balladry, wild convoluted poems and plays and dances, and the sublime viney curvilinear meanderings of Celtic art and instrumental music.

The tangled profusion of Celtic design: lines fold back on themselves in interknit geometries wherein nest birds and bears and men. Our eyes exhaust themselves, after trying to
attend to these unwinding lines. Then the Mind’s Eye opens.

The landscape’s stacked and stratified with layers of history
and ancient heartfelt awareness striates the “inscape” with enduring ley lines that link sacred sites. There’s more “when” here.

More true stories of experiences which point toward the possibilities of Spirit and connectedness…(from a book-in-progress)

“Christic Cup” (2010)

I visit my devout Christian friend Gloria Okes Perkins in Springdale to discuss and appreciate poems from her new book After Eden, and also to request her to pray with me that I might receive the spirit of Christ more deeply.

During our period of silent prayer, Gloria “hears” a message she feels is meant for me, ” Take of this cup and drink to your heart’s content” or similar Biblical words.

Without knowing this yet, I see a tall grail cup overflowing with white light, which is also Christ’s body of Light, its arms outstretched downward in blessing. I take the cup and drink its contents down, and prayer light shines inside me.

“Button, Button” (2011)

I’m home, cleaning feverishly, after finally getting over a hell of a fever, which turned into a systemic infection and got me hospitalized for five days.

Now, as I scour out a drawer in our bathroom, I automatically toss a little black button into the already burgeoning waste basket, immediately after doing which I remember the way the Irish offer coins and buttons to the faery folk in wild places, or at sacred sites or springs.

I regret letting that button go, and think to begin a reconnaisance mission to pick through all the stuff in the stuffed waste basket and find it. But the task looks daunting, and results uncertain, so I abandon the search and forge ahead with my drawer-clearing project.

Several days later, Kathleen comes on her weekly visit to clean our house. After she’s left, having emptied the waste baskets and swept and mopped, I walk back into our bathroom and spy the same black button sitting solo on the tile floor a few feet from that very drawer.

No other item of the hundreds of small scraps and bits of trash from my fast cleaning foray remain, but somehow, the button has turned up again, and I take it outside right away and offer it to the fay folk of this part of Fayetteville in a part of our garden devoted to their presence and pleasure, shaking my head in wonder and wondering, “Now what were the chances of that happening?”

“ Finding Rings” (1983 and 2011)

My golden wedding band ‘s been lost and found two times. First, at our old house, where I somehow lose it in the grass of the large yard. I can’t find it myself, and after a month or so,
I just give up the search. A short time later, after reading about ‘geopathic earth zones’ in Tompkins’ and Bird’s book Secrets of the Soil, I ask the master dowser and healer Harold
McCoy (featured prominently in Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer’s wonderful book Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind, 2007) to come over and check our home and land for any unhealthy or noxious subterranean influences.

Harold cruises the yard with his dowsing rods. First he passes a big cluster of bushes near our house, where a few years previously I had invited the local nature spirits to hang out. I don’t tell Harold of this prior invitation, but as he passes the bushes, he exclaims, “Oh, the nature spirits love it right here. They’re just sparkling in there.”

Next he dowses several veins of underground water, one or two of which flow under our home and which may be unsettling or less than optimal for our health, according to the findings of
dowsers and others experienced with this rather esoteric field of healing lore. Harold “treats” the underground streams like an acupuncturist would a human patient, inserting long copper
needles into two specific spots in the body of the earth close to our house. As he’s strolling from one of these insertion points to the next, he suddenly says, “What’s this?” in surprise, and I watch his hand plunge down into the tawny grass and grasp and pull something up. He hasn’t picked a flower; it’s my lost, wandering ring!

The ring wears well on my left hand from that moment to a day in 2011 when, having lost quite a bit of weight during a recent
illness, it fits so loosely on my finger that I inadvertantly fling it off while tossing clumps of autumn-fallen leaves from off the path outside the front door of our second home.

Again I search and search, to no avail. I ask the nature spirits of the area to help me, and envision them somehow returning the ring from wherever it lies hidden under leaves and greening
ground cover to an easy-to-see place on the concrete pad directly fronting our front steps.

No miracles occur at first, but about a week after this visualization-invitation for assistance, the gutter-screen replacement crew I’d hired comes to do its work, and Richard, the head guy on the crew, walks through a plant-tangled part of the yard to the side of the concrete pad. He sees a swift metallic blur, and hears a “ping,” then sees he’s somehow kicked a ring out from under the groundcover while walking, and there it lies, right on the spot where I’d recently envisioned it being magically returned!

Richard rings our doorbell, my ring in hand, and Leslie comes out the front door and receives it and the story of its sudden reappearance. She can hardly wait to show me, and when I come downstairs a few minutes later, she holds it in her closed
fist, says, “I have a surprise for you,” and then reveals my twice-found ring. I tell her about my request for assistance a week earlier, and we marvel together, “Now what
were the chances of that happening?”

“We Think Along the Same Green Lines” (2011)

One evening in early Spring, after planting kale and mixed mesclan greens seeds in our cold frame, I lie abed a-dreaming while awake of green vegetables– the look, the sleek new
greens, the taste of moist, rain-fattened leaves on my imaginal tongue.

I’m loving all this complex, conscious, beckoning, beautiful green soul-food, when Leslie enters the half-darkened, waking-dream-drenched room. I tell her I’ve been thinking of Spring greens, and she exclaims in amazement that she’s just been engaged in the same exact spontaneous contemplation. We feel that flash of deep connective joy that comes when
oneness suddenly reveals itself, and we feel held by what is always holding us, the seeds, the greens-to-be, the whole sweet seamless dreamlike scene.

It’s early April, and I drive up to Kansas City through the gathering greens to attend a family financial pow-wow. Before leaving, I go through my mail and leave just a very short stack of items to be given further attention on return. One of these items is an invitation to a Buddhist Dzogchen meditation retreat led by my old teacher, Lama Surya Das. I’d done a month of silent retreats with him over a four year period, ending in 2000, for the last two years of which I was also his massage therapist. We developed a fairly close connection, which I was very grateful for, and I had corresponded with him occasionally over the almost eleven years since I’d last seen him, but hadn’t actually been quite moved to sign up for another retreat. I saved the invitation to consider later, not sure yet whether I wanted to actually scratch that recurrent itch to do another retreat with Lama Surya Das.

So… I’m staying on the tenth floor of the Plaza Sheraton Hotel in Kansas City, right across the street from the Unity Temple. After two days of financial meetings, I wake one morning and stroll to the elevator to ride it down to the lobby prior to attending a last conference. The elevator doors slide open, and a tall man stands there alone – ohmygod it’s Lama Surya Das! I’m absolutely mind-boggled by the synchronicity! He recognizes me quickly, and during our our conversation, he invites me to attend a talk he’s going to give that night at the Unity Temple across the street, then to come as his guest to a daylong meditation retreat to be held there tomorrow.

As we walk through the hotel lobby together, and I exclaim to L.S.D., “This is deeply dreamlike.” It’s a real Buddhist situation
comedy, a joyful and improbable reconnection. I do attend both the lecture and the daylong retreat, and depart delighted with the peace and silence and the spiritual company of the
Lama , after touching foreheads in deep meeting with him in the wonderful old Tibetan fashion.

My wish for one more retreat with Lama Surya has been fulfilled; my persistent itch scratched!

Every so often, I have to find a way to laugh at/off some crap that’s stinking up the U.S. political environment…either that or cry. I was thinking about Bob Dylan’s magnificent love song “Sara” from his 17th studio LP, “Desire,” which came out early in 1976. Well, perhaps because of the nefarious influence of the great political and social satirist Roy Zimmerman who was just recently here for the hilariously inspiring “Banjos Not Bombs” concert organized by Kelly Mulhollan and Donna Stjerna, Bob’s song “Sara” brought to mind another Sara(h), who is polluting our country with her toxic turds…oops, I mean words. So…for you curious birds who have landed on this shaky cyber-branch, here is:
SARA(H)

1. I laid on a dune, I looked at the sky, the country was bushed, its morals were beached.

You came with McCain, we hated that guy, but if he got elected and later impeached, WE’D HAVE…

Sara(h), Sara(h), Alaskan czarina, snow-flakey ice queen
Sara(h), Sara(h), the thought of you leading us makes me turn green.

2. I can still hear them playing that old “Stars and Stripes,” see the posters and bunting all red, white, and blue

I can hear the crowd roar at your soccer mom hype; I can hear that pit bull growling inside of you.

Sara(h), Sara(h), since you left that convention you’ve roamed around rogue.
Sara(h), Sara(h), you’ve roved about outlying even Karl Christian Rove.

3. Yes I still hear the clang of those dang Baptist bells– you’re mistaken to think they’re not tolling for you.

Your God of love shoves all who sin into Hell– if Jesus returns, you’ll be totally screwed.

Sara(h), Sara(h), it’s all so clear I could never forget.
Sara(h), Sara(h), your political presence I’ll always regret.

4. Now the beach is deserted except for Michelle…Bachman and Boehner tea-partying hard.

You’re back in Alaska, trying to resell yourself…to the Republican party’s old guard.

Sara(h), Sara(h), grim grinning gramma with a license to kill.
Sara(h), Sara(h), you’re loaded for elk, oh your ilk makes me ill.

Geoff Oelsner 3/31/11
(After Bob Dylan’s “Sara.”)

On March 17 from 7-9 pm, Leslie and I will present a combined concert & workshop at the Fayetteville 2011 Goddess Festival, entitled “Sacred Exchanges with Nature” Mother Earth continually showers & snows us with Her grace & beauty; this participatory event is intended to empower us to offer nurturing love & blessings back to Her. We’ll perform original songs & singalongs to honor Gaia. I will share some miraculous true stories of Communion with Her. Together we will explore practices of group “Attunement” to natural aspects of the Ozarks, as taught by Findhorn Community co-founder Dorothy Maclean. Join us to celebrate our natural capacity to make “sacred exchanges with nature.” [The 2011 Goddess Festival will be held March 10-27, at 637 East Joyce Blvd.in Fayetteville, next to CiCi’s Pizza & in front of Home Depot. For the complete schedule of Festival events, go to www.goddessfestival.com]

Are you warm? Surrounded by snow-drifts? We here in NW AR are about to be hit by the blizzard that’s been plying its way through Oklahoma, sweeping east with 40 mile an hour winds and bone-numbing wind-chill factors. It’s a good time to settle back with your favorite music.

I’ve recently discovered a new favorite musician: Simone Dinnerstein is just the most amazing interpreter of J.S. Bach. A Julliard-trained pianist with a really democratic attitude toward sharing her music (she plays prisons, nursing homes, and lots of NYC public schools as a community service) she also plus burns it up in concert halls all over the world. She has a lot of fans, one of them Bob Dylan. Her new CD, “Bach, a Strange Beauty,” is worthy of the attention of anyone with big ears that like to be bathed in Bach-bliss.

It’s interesting…

Simone’s dad is a very noted realistic oil painter, Simon Dinnerstein. His images are easily found online, and they all have a lit-from-within quality– all objects and persons are rendered as events of living light and embodied energy. It’s easy to type out a few big-ass words like those just above, but the actual act of successfully conveying that sense of beingness in each unique object painted on canvas must take incredible dedication. Like father, like daughter: there’s huge fidelity and commitment in the artistic work of each.

Anyway, friends, I often think of Bach as a spiritual “world teacher” whose music endlessly inspires, but without all the unfortunate, potentially devisive superstructure of religious belief (some call it dogma)that has this nasty way of fomenting things like religious wars and persecution.

During the time that I’ve been blogsermonizing here, the rainy sleet or sleety rain has done grown feathers, and that cold cargo from the NW is now flocking and fleecing in on us here. Love to you all as we dive deeper into Winter. May music bring you comfort and heart-companionship. And, thanks for listening to the tunes of yours truly…it’s so fun to get your messages and to know that there’s intelligent life on other minds out there…yours… that I’m fortunate enough to connect with in this Online Way.

I’ve been a stranger to these pages. Am recuperating from the worst illness of my life. Am now finally in a joyous, feeling-new-inside phase, not without its own difficulties, but they’re greatly outweighed by a sense of fondness, freshness, and gratitude. So, the below…seen from my kitchen window 2 days ago:

Cardinals

sentinals

in

vestibules

of snow

Low branches

bow

as high boughs

bob–birds

flit & grip

Dawn abbots

down habits

white-flecked

with

flakes

Cardinals

red sentinals

sing plain

praise

in snow

In a similar but deeper vein, from a poet very dear to my heart, Henry Vaughan(1621-95) :

Walk with thy fellow-creatures; note the hush

And whispers amongst them. There’s not a spring

Or leaf but hath his morning hymn; each bush

And oak doth know I AM. Canst thou not sing?

O leave thy cares and follies! go this way,

And thou art sure to prosper all the day.

(from his poem “Rules and Lessons” Such great stuff.) Anyway, along with some new-to-me Bach recordings and some Appalachian tunes, such constitutes my food, not for ‘pie-hole’ but for soul.

My friend Jeff Jentz is a great North Dakota poet, now living with his wife Karen in Shiprock, New Mexico on Navaho land. His poems are deeply informed and inspired by his Baha’i faith and his visionary nature. Here are three:

The Bird Nest

1.

How each brilliant feather
intertwines down a robin’s breast.

The bird is so small. If it unfolds
its drooping wings, it will vanish
into the deep valleys of the box-elder trunk.

2.

The world seems so vast early
in the morning. The road tunnels
on, dominated by a web of grey branches.

Yet the ancient bark of trees
opens like doors. I trace my hand
across the braille pages of its history.

Soon it will be too light. Already
a white cat divides the long summer grasses.

3.

I began only with the discovery
of a bird nest hanging over the road.

But now it has all grown too fast.
I cannot turn back to find it again.

4.

The thread is missing. Clouds ran
so thick, so dark. They wove
a purple blanket of consolation overhead.

Something so precious I seek
the road the trees the sky the nest
______________________________________________________

When the Beggar Mounts the Horse

“When the beggar mounts the horse, the hard times hit fast behind.”
–Hungarian Saying

I am descended from a people who set onions
On the windowsill during certain seasons
To trap the stingy souls of landlords, when the first snows
Singed the mottled fur of weasels and of wild sheep.

His Hungarian aunt overheard Drindl muttering to the wind,
Absently carrying his empty bucket from the well
To help her scrub the caked-on vines from potatoes.
Aunt Zdenka still kept her long fingernails and agate necklace.

She gathered his mood, plucking at a skein of thoughts
As he told her a dream about a man in rags
Who made a roan stallion whirl through rainwebbed hills and gorges.
Could he recall a country he had never seen?

Here in North Dakota the ground turned anvil hard.
Drindl’s grandfather was only a drifting seedpod
In the midnight homeland of his mother’s womb,
When, in 1863, a steamship brought the family to the dock.

How should this youth know of tales and customs
That had all been swept away by a broom:
With the Magyar tongue and signs scattered in the dust
Like partridges drumming and etching their tails on the once-wild road?

The New World held a spirit without any compass East,
A spirit that wanted to claim all five directions
And that wanted to clutch the topsoil itself
Rather than roam around the sun-wheel of the seasons.

But the youth made Zdenka remember.
In her veins rose again that rootlessness she’d harbored
After her brother let loose the ways of the road
And settled down to homestead and grow red wheat.

[Break]
Now, Drindl’s brown eyes chased the horizon of matchstick wheat.
Once, she had caught him staring into his palm.
But when she grabbed his wrist and asked why,
He only walked away down a thinning harrow-scar.

The youth made her remember dim nightmares
Tasting her own sweat all day in the coppery field
That first summer: abed, she dreamt over and over
Of a disheveled willow tree stripped by a dust storm.

Her brother and his wife, imagining coins, saw nothing
Further than the furrow in front of them.
But she must help Drindl steal a horse and go.
It was too dry this year, and the potatoes were small.
__________________________________________________

In Quest of the Star-Shawled Woman

Her yellow-haired daughter stands before the procession.
She looks down, bent over the grave
Pitched upon crests and swells of leaden prairie.
And so, we had to use dynamite to open the ground.
The water rose up to about the depth of a hand mirror.
She steps back, reflected in pools
Left by old snow melting off the field.
Withered roots of a memory gleam in her Baltic eyes
Which do not blink.
Now we nine mourners in sheepskin coats ring around her—
Two of us bearing on our shoulders the body of her
Mother, in pasque-like form.
Wilted into the yawn of winter.
And when lowered, the casket
Will fit perfectly.
The daughter will sow tears to appease the land.
We mourners must seal the pit with dirges,
Then trail away, keeping silent, carrying our spades.
But even as she shuts her eyes, hovering
Above her shadow
A deep vein runs through wood pierced by the last nail
And she drifts with these designs in her mother’s shawl.

2004, (age 55) Precognitive Dream:
“Two Vehicles,  Bumper to Bumper,  Abandoned by Two Women Drivers”

I’m considering a trip to California, and as I usually do before making plane reservations and other actual plans,  I seek guidance about the rightness of the timing.  I fall asleep and dream I’m driving on a freeway in a big yellow school bus,  in the fast lane.  And I must stop quickly, and do, just in time to avert a collision with two cars,  abandoned bumper to bumper, which I somehow know were driven by two women who have left them there.  I wake and my interpretation of the dream is to take it easy on the trip- – i.e.,  to stay out of the fast lane.  I figure my anima will appreciate the slowed-down pace of a good vacation.  A few days pass, and a call comes from my Mother that my dear cousin Gerda is in the hospital, probably close to death.  I drive up to Kansas City and accompany my Mother to the hospital.  Gerda’s eyes are cloudy, but she sees that I’ve arrived, and a smile plays on her lips,  then she closes her eyes as I begin to slowly stroke her brow over and over again with great tenderness.  I am inviting her to rest, to let go.  My mother sits there as I stroke her brow like this for close to an hour. Gerda never opens her eyes again.  When Mom and I go out to get some lunch, she quietly dies.  Gerda–My Mother’s final human obligation– is gone – – but now my tired mother’s dreading all the work a funeral entails. I offer to say a brief 5 minute eulogy at Gerda’s funeral, but Mom intensely says, “No”!  At least 20 minutes!”  This will take a lot of work to pull together but I recall an interview with Gerda that I’d taped a few years back about her childhood in Posnen, Poland, and — back home again in Arkansas — I listen to the tape and craft a beautiful, true eulogy of at least 20 minutes duration.  I’m oddly agitated, nervous the whole week prior to the funeral services.  My Mother seems so stressed about all the little details of it , too.  The day arrives ( Friday the 13th)  and off we to to Beard’s Funeral Chapel ( where services were held for my Dad then my brother Eric and now for Gerda).  I get up and start to speak.  I appreciate my Mother’s care for Gerda in a few well-chosen sentences early in the talk, and speaking on, am just barely aware as my Mother leaves the room.  I’m so focused on carrying out her wishes, that I’m again only peripherally aware when later Leslie also leaves the room, and one other woman whose name I don’t know.  As I conclude the talk,  Leslie re-enters and says,  “Geoff, you’d better come in here, something’s happened to your Mother”.   I quickly walk back to a little side room where the unknown woman ( who turns out to be a nurse)  attends my Mom, who’s color is very pale.  Mom sees me, then ( just after that, just as with Gerda a week before)  she shuts her eyes, and pretty much never opens them again.  The ambulance arrives and takes her to the hospital emergency room,  where tests are taken and a kindly, honest Doctor tells us that she’s had a massive stroke and has about an hour to live.  We’re given a curtained-off area.  I’ve never pictured being with my relatives at any of their deaths,  except my Mom– I stroke her forehead, talk a little about the letting go she can now do,  ( I’m told she very probably can hear, though not respond),  and–  since this would be her last unmet concern– reassure that we’ll find a good home for Tenzy – her little Lhasa Apsa Terrier.  Phone calls aren’t supposed to be allowed in this quiet space, but suddenly a phone rings by my Mother’s bed, and a friend who Leslie’s briefly contacted calls to say a home’s been found for Tenzy.   We don’t know why or how the hospital let that call through, but we share the news with Mom — her very last obligation’s met!– and soon she passes,  the second woman to leave her earthly vehicle  – so soon, so close after the first, my cousin Gerda.  Almost bumper to bumper!    

(age 26) 1975:  On a bus from Oxford to London with my wife.  I’m feeling wretched because we’ve just fought.  She, quiet and forlorn.  Suddenly, I’m enveloped in glory and Light.  Nothing subtle, it is full-out beatitude, and I intuitively know it ‘s been activated in me by an outside source.  And I further know that source is sitting somewhere right behind me.  There’s an element of embarrassment in all this for me— to have behaved so badly and madly with Leslie, yet to now be held in such a state of grace, feels like a raw, vulnerable suspension in sheer transparency.  [Blake writes something like, “We are put on Earth a little while to learn to bear the beams of love.”]  The bus bears us toward London.  The love never lets up.  It fills me.  When we arrive and are about to disembark, I know I must wait  for the passengers behind me to file out, so I can finally see the person who’s held me in such vast, beatified awareness.  And sure enough, here she comes– a frail old grey-haired lady.  I simply know she’s the one.  She passes me without any kind of acknowledgement, and I quickly maneuver myself into line right behind her.  As she starts down the bus’s steep, brief stairway to the pavement,  I watch her waver slightly.  The climb down is a chore for her old body.  My body is still so charged from our mysterious encounter [a ” God – appointment” to be sure]  that it’s easy for me to project a ray of energy from my solar plexus down the stair to hold and steady her as she descends.  She stands for a moment on the station pavement, then turns around,  beams brightly up at me, says, “Thank you,” and is on her way.