Posts Tagged ‘walking in nature’

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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Wendell Berry’s stepping over stones in a stream shows us how he writes a poem and takes a stand

September 5, 2018

“What I stand for is what I stand on.” — Wendell Berry

I love the playful music in this brilliant little poem by Wendell Berry from Leavings: Poems. As if imitating the sounds and poetry of nature, Berry’s stepping over stones in a flowing stream demonstrates his own creative flow, the way he uses words to show us how he writes a poem, and takes a stand for nature and his place in it.

The Book of Camp Branch

How much delight I’ve known
in navigating down the flow
by stepping stones, by sounding
stones, by words that are
stepping and sounding stones.

Going down stone by stone,
the song of the water changes,
changing the way I walk
which changes my thought
as I go. Stone to stone
the stream flows. Stone to stone
the walker goes. The words
stand stone still until
the flow moves them, changing
the sound – a new word –
a new place to step or stand.

Here’s another of his poems I posted: Wendell Berry’s “No going back” is about the generosity of the evolving self through time.

For more on this environmental legend and writer, see Wendell Berry: Poet and Prophet. Produced by Bill Moyers, it aired on PBS 10/03/13.

Just added another poem: The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, with a link to On Being of him reading this poem and 5 others.

Being in Nature—a gift from a tree

October 20, 2010

We often hear about 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.

CRYSTAL MORNING was written in Fairfield, Iowa in the late 1980s.

Pine Cone Trees was written in Houston, Texas in the mid-1990s.

Willow Tree – a tanka – from a tree’s perspective followed by Friendship – another tree tanka were written in May and August 2010, years after I had returned 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.


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