Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Being in Nature—a gift from a tree

December 6, 2020

We often hear about the the benefits of being in nature. I remembered an experience I had with a tree when I went for a winter walk with a friend on the University Endowment Lands in Vancouver during the mid-1990s. I’ve now updated that blog post with what had happened and how a poem came to be written around 25 years ago. The post contains links to other poems written about trees, and advice from Mary Oliver.

The Uncarved Blog

We often hear about the the benefits of being in nature. I remembered an experience I had with a tree when I went for a winter walk with a friend on the University Endowment Lands in Vancouver during the mid-1990s.

I stopped in front of a particular tree to admire its intricate bark structure up close. I felt a ray of loving attention come from the tree into my heart-mind with these words: “the realness of natural things, the nearness of you.” It was an unexpected intimate experience and I quickly wrote the words down for further exploration. The next morning, I rewrote them as a two-line stanza, and then sequential stanzas naturally unfolded sharing its wisdom. It was as if I had been given a creative seed and it sprouted into a poem.

This gift from the tree was much appreciated. The experience reiterated what Mary Oliver described in…

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Growth Haiku written by @kenchawkin and his son Nathanael Chawkin @integralsensei

November 26, 2017

The vegetation in Santa Barbara is varied and lush, with many exotic succulent plants, beautiful flowering bushes, and tall trees. I share my admiration for them as we drive through the city. Nathanael comments: “A tree can only grow as high as its roots go deep.” I write it down and start converting the idea into the first two lines of a haiku. I tell him we need a third line to complete it. After pondering the question for a moment, he recalls a universal phrase from the somatic arts (yoga, dance, martial arts) that his friend and coaching colleague LeeAnn Mallory had shared with him: “Root to rise.” I turn it into the last line to complete this short poem on a basic principle of growth.

Trees for Growth Haiku

Growth Haiku

Trees can only grow
as high as their roots go deep
Root yourself to rise

© Ken and Nathanael Chawkin
Santa Barbara, California
Thanksgiving Day
November 23, 2017

Maharishi always talked about developing 200% of life—100% inner spiritual development and 100% outer material accomplishments. We both say, “Water the root to enjoy the fruit.” Nathanael quotes the SCI Principle, “Outer depends on Inner.” I remember an early analogy: To erect a tall building you have to first dig a deep foundation. It’s similar to: First pull the arrow back on the bow to hit the target. Meditate then act. Established in Being, perform action.

Nathanael does more than just meditate to develop his inner life and establish it on a firmer foundation for living mindfully. Self-inquiry with The Work, various martial arts, and playing classical piano are ways he better understands and integrates himself as a person. He uses an integral approach to inform his work as a martial arts instructor (Integral Martial Arts) and a leadership coach and organizational development consultant (Palæstra).

NB: Nathanael also helped edit this post—a father and son collaboration.

Related: Growth, a spontaneous haiku/tanka @kenchawkin.

Canadian artist Greg Thatcher goes to Painswick every summer to paint its famous yew trees

August 23, 2012

Stroud News and Journal, 4:00pm Tuesday 7th August 2012 in News Canadian artist travels to Painswick every year to paint its famous yew trees by Hayley Mortimer, Reporter. Includes a galley of 5 photos.

A CANADIAN artist has travelled to Painswick to paint its famous yew trees.

Greg Thatcher, 63, who lives in Iowa, has been painting the trees at St Mary’s Church for more than 20 years and works on location from June to August every year.

The yew trees were planted in the Middle Ages and Mr Thatcher says they form the most beautiful yew tree avenues in the world.

He first saw them in a travel brochure while working in Lancashire in 1991.

At first, he worked from photographs but after visiting the churchyard he was inspired by the different shapes and intricate details.

Mr Thatcher said: “I have been drawn to them. I just keep seeing deeper and deeper levels of where I can start. It is an ongoing relationship.

“The process is very stimulating and nourishing to my creativity and imagination.

“Even after 20 years I am still finding more angles and more information to work with.

“I love Painswick and enjoy coming back each year. My trips have been pivotal to my career. It has given me access to a unique and inspiring landscape.”

Mr Thatcher spends between six and eight hours a day working on the drawings and many take more than 350 hours to complete.

He and his wife stay a mile away from the churchyard so Mr Thatcher can cycle to and from the site every day.

Mr Thatcher teaches art and art history to children aged 13 to 17 in a small school in Iowa.

He has a bachelor of fine art from the University of Victoria and a masters in painting and drawing from the University of Saskatchewan.

A series of drawings of the yew trees has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, England and France and his work hangs in corporate and private collections across the world.

For more information go to www.gregthatchergallery.com.

You can see photos of Greg, the trees, and his drawings in the online article bit.ly/Rg2k25, and in a pdf of Inspiration found under the boughs.

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Later Additions

Canadian artist returns to Painswick.

Artist inspired by Painswick yew trees will share his skills at class.

February 25, 2020: Iowa Public Radio News: New Exhibit Explores The “Sacred” Beauty Of Yew Trees. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by Fairfield-based artist Greg Thatcher, who has been making art inspired by yew trees for more than 30 years. Thatcher talks about his “Sacred Yew” exhibit at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and his multi-decade relationship with a single grove of yew trees in a small English town. (Listen: 17 minutes)

Being in Nature—a gift from a tree

October 20, 2010

We often hear about the the benefits of being in nature. I remembered an experience I had with a tree when I went for a winter walk with a friend on the University Endowment Lands in Vancouver during the mid-1990s.

I stopped in front of a particular tree to admire its intricate bark structure up close. I felt a ray of loving attention come from the tree into my heart-mind with these words: “the realness of natural things, the nearness of you.” It was an unexpected intimate experience and I quickly wrote the words down for further exploration. The next morning, I rewrote them as a two-line stanza, and then sequential stanzas naturally unfolded sharing its wisdom. It was as if I had been given a creative seed and it sprouted into a poem.

This gift from the tree was much appreciated. The experience reiterated what Mary Oliver described in her poem, Praying. It was a “doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.” It also reminded me of what Mary Oliver told Krista Tippett in an interview, that attention is the beginning of devotion.

I later titled the poem Being in Nature, implying a double meaning for the word, being, from both sides of the experience. Its sequel, trees, was about the nature of trees, and what we can learn from them.

Being in Nature
a gift from a tree

The Realness of Natural Things
The nearness of you

The Beauty that Nature Brings
When seeing is true

The Silence that Inward Sings
When hearing is clear

The Harmony Between all Beings
It exists right here!

© Ken Chawkin

More poems about trees

See trees—a poem about the nature of trees, a sequel to Being in Nature—a gift from a tree. Both written mid-1990′s during winter in Vancouver, BC. What Do Trees Do? Something to think about was written when I was living in North Vancouver.

Pine Cone Trees was written earlier while staying in Houston, Texas.

Willow Tree – a tanka – from a tree’s perspective followed by Friendship – another tree tanka were written much later after I had returned again to Fairfield, Iowa.

See Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, is a lesson on attention, receptivity, listening and writing.

An early encounter with nature inspired my creativity. It turned into my first published poem, which won an award: ODE TO THE ARTIST, Sketching Lotus Pads at Round Prairie Park.

UPDATE: Reading “Being in Nature” on Let Your Heart Sing

I read ‘Being in Nature: A Gift from a Tree’ on ‘Let Your Heart Sing’ radio show #93: “John Stein’s Interview + Environmental Songs.” The poem completed that show, which first aired during the last week of May 2019.

Sheila Moschen created and hosted a series of 108 shows for KHOE World Radio, 90.5 FM, which air Wednesdays at 1 & 7 PM. The station broadcasts and streams from the campus of Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa.

Sheila said 90 of her “Let Your Heart Sing” shows are on YouTube, and 68 of them include photos of the singers. You can hear me read my poem, with visuals, starting at 30:53.

What Do Trees Do? Something to think about

August 2, 2010

Since we’re on the subject of trees, and comments about them, here’s something I wrote about 15 years ago when I was living in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I was renting an upstairs room in a boarding house. Looking outside my window onto the backyard I saw the tops of large evergreen trees. I remembered reading about the special qualities of trees, and with the destruction of forests, decided to tell their story in the form of a childlike rhyme—a nursery rhyme for adults. Something to think about……

What Do Trees Do?

What do trees do?
I wonder? Do you?

We purify water. We purify air.
We take all the stress out of the atmosphere.
We store up the knowledge of all of the ages.
We acknowledge the gifts of all of the sages.
They kept cool and rested under our arms.
We were their shelter from all of life’s harms.

We hold up your children as they swing on our boughs.
When it rains, we keep animals dry, especially cows.
We give you our wood to build for your homes.
We make room for squirrels, birds, elves, and gnomes.
We give you sweet fruits and nuts to eat
And rock your babies gently to sleep.
We communicate with stars and bring down their light
And make sure you’re sleeping safely all through the night.

So the next time you’re planning to cut us all down,
Just think; all the good things we do, won’t be around.

And eventually neither will you.
I added this ‘cuz it’s true!

—Ken Chawkin

You can hear me read this poem on Let Your Heart Sing Radio Show #70.

Also see: Willow Tree a tanka – from a tree’s perspective

And: Friendshipanother tree tanka


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