The Song of the Land

Dear family,

During this Advent season as we approach the coming Christmas season I have been drawn to thinking about and contemplating land, Mother Earth, nature, my cat Mowgli. Especially the song they sing to me and the words of wisdom they speak to me. It's a song of life, of going on, of new things to explore and discover, a song of sameness, calmness and yet changes. It's about being malleable, pliable, able to change and be shaped to be something beautiful, strong and firm so I can't be blown over.

This song has many voices, many who sing it to me, never ending always leading onward. There is the song of Mowgli with its one word meow which I as his daddy get to try and interpret is he hungry, does he want attention, does he want to be petted or have his back rubbed? Maybe it is a dirty litter box he wants cleaned and is staging a protest about? Perhaps it's his "girlfriend" Ripley the neighbor cat who he thinks he is madly in love with that he is pining for. The meow of hope that she will appear, then an excitement as he calls to her to come talk with him, and total dejection when she usually ignores and he goes wild with despair until he finally lets daddy comfort him, pet him, hold him and tell its all ok before he takes off to a place to relax and nap. However the song of Mowgli is not that really. Instead it's a song of calmness that no matters what's going on I don't have to react. If I do then have my meltdowns then forget about it and move on. He, like myself, likes to lie and look at nature as I do.

When I do that another song of the Land sings out to me. The trees sing of steadfastness, staying where planted, of joy and dancing before the Lord as the wind plays the music for it and directs it. It speaks of flexibility and though sometimes almost blown to the ground ot springing back still standing firmly and proudly as ever. It speaks of compassion and generosity where birds can come sit on its branches and sing their praises to God, build their nests, lay their eggs and raise their families. Where squirrels can run up the tree to find places to hide their nuts for the coming winter and cats can climb to escape danger on the ground. It calls me to be like that a place of refuge for the hurting and marginalized. A place where call can come find food, water and healing and learn to get in and live and flow in the river listening to the song of the Land singing to them and leading them on. The song of the sunrise that I can watch many mornings and see its beauty sings of a new day as it spreads it's warmth over the land. It speaks of a new dawning, new hope and though it may be cloudy and overcast now, raining, stormy, snowing and blizzard's rage around us, yet the sun will shine again and all will be well. The nature outside my window speaks peace and comfort to me. It calls me to stay focused and if I do I cannot be beat I will succeed. It's only when I lose focus that the panic attacks etc. it seems happen. It also speaks to me of Mother Earth who nourishes me, produces food for me to eat, water for me to drink. This carries me along giving me life, excitement, healing and strength to go on. It is realizing that this water of life which comes from mother earth can only sustain me not destroy me. It can only cleanse and purify me not hurt me.

There is also the Song of Maine and New England that I hear. Maine is where I was born and the first seven years of my life were in New England. It's a song of beauty of forests, lakes, streams where beauty and nature seem to scream at you at every turn. It is the song of my ancestors that started when they first arrived here 300 years ago and still sings today. I can hear it when I visit or see old family homesteads, graves where they are buried and places that were dear to them. It is a place that can send me soaring like an eagle, get me all excited, give me goosebumps, set me free, leaving me feeling like I can do anything and feeling like I could stay forever. On the other hand it is a place that can hurt me and leave my crying, hurting and in pain. It is a place of independence, self reliance whose people can be stubborn, immovable and suspicious of strangers. It can also be a place of hospitality where you can be invited in for some cookies or homemade fudge or fresh hot homemade bread fresh out of the oven, to have a cup of tea or coffee or even a glass of milk. It can be a fun way to pass an afternoon visiting and enjoying each other's company. I can still get choked up seeing pictures of Maine especially of areas special to my family. I can still cry when someone sent me a tape of the waterfalls at Machias Maine and I remember walking down the hill from my great grandparents home about 2 years of age stopping on the bridge by what is now the University of Maine in Machias listening to the falls before proceeding across the bridge to my grandparents drug store and ice cream. It is to be reminded that Machias is an Algonquin Indian word meaning little bad falls. How true of my life that has been. There have been many falls that could have destroyed me but instead they became stepping stones to the man I am now as I have learned to conquer and overcome. Yes I can be stubborn but I like a good Yankee I never give up I quit is not in my vocabulary. If a way is blocked then just find a new way around it, or over it or come up with a new plan that will accomplish my goals. Always moving forward, come what may. It is a place of many unanswered questions most of which will probably never be answered in this life. However in the end does it matter? I think it is right to stay calm, take life as it comes, don't sweat the small stuff just go with the flow and be happy.

There is also the Song of Scotland that sings to me. It is the place from which my ancestors came from 300 years ago (1686 on my mother's side and 1702 on my father's side). I have never been there and will probably never go there. Yet it calls. I love reading its history, its people, its geography and so on. I love the wail of the bagpipes and its kilts. It calls leaving me in wonderment.

There is too the Song of California which also sings loud and clear. I have left the state several times vowing never to return. Yet soon I hear it singing to me and next thing you know I am singing "California here I come right back I started from". I have learned to love the Redwoods of the North Coast/Eureka, the trees of the Sierra Nevada's as well as the quietness and peacefulness of the desert found in Barstow, Daggett and San Jacinto/Hemet. I also love the coast and the beaches of San Clemente and San Diego. It is a land where people come dreaming of making it big here and then when those dreams are crushed by the reality of life here people turn to cults and drugs to drown out the pain or seek a new experience. Many end up on the streets without hope and anyone to care about them. Many have come to see us as a land of losers and yet many survive and prosper here getting new visions and dreams leading to success. There is the Song of San Diego a town that once represented nothing but failure to me. I said I would never come back but yet it seemed vacations were always spent in San Diego and then I began to attend monthly meetings here and before I know it I'm back living here and loving it. 15 years in April and I have no plans for ever leaving. Here I have been planted and here I have grown and matured into the man I currently am. I live in Chula Vista a suburb of San Diego. It means beautiful view and tells me that life is what I make it and if I look for the positive and good then indeed life is a beautiful view and a joy to behold and a part of.

Finally there is the Song of the Monastic playing its tune. It calls me to solitude, prayer, meditation, writing, and seeking God. It also calls me to be alone with God waiting patiently for him and whatever food, delicacies, and tidbits he may wish to share with me. It is a call seemingly made easier by the pandemic shutdown but also a call to embrace something, to be with my fellow monastics in my community, brethren from the church and other groups I belong too, all singing out to me all wanting my attention.

To understand the way to balance all these songs and many others which may call to us and try to get our attention is to begin at Eden. In Eden humans had everything they could possibly want provided for them freely. Instead they chose independence, to be their own boss, to go their own way to find happiness by the works of their own hands. The call since then I believe from God, nature, Mother Earth is a call back to what we once had and lost. Man stepped out of the river I believe that gave life and prosperity. God is calling us to get back in to the river and live. Jesus is the door which leads to this river and the conduit for it to be passed on to us. It is as we receive and walk in Christ that we have access to the Spirit and river of life which can give us life, cleanse us as well as purify us making us more like Christ and have something to give to the world. For the Spirit starts from God passing through his son Jesus who is the pipe to us, then fills us and then goes through us out to others and the world. Then as we lift our voices in praise to God it returns back to God. Thus it is continuing an unbroken circle that can only expand to include everyone and never be broken. Will the song ever end? I sincerely pray not. Instead I pray we can all hear the song however it may sing to us. Let the song be heard loud and clear until all hear and can sing it back to God. May this song draw us to interconnectedness to the realization we are all one and what we have in common is more than what divides us. The song is the song of all creation past and present singing to us their cheers, encouragement, their victory letting us know they have made and we can too. That I believe is the true call of the land embracing and taking us forward to new horizons, new views, new discoveries new understanding and appreciation of God. It is ever leading us on to bigger and better things until we pass over to the other side and then perhaps still leading us even further into many things. It is to realize as a 1960's song I believe says "The beat goes on, the beat goes on". Nothing can stop it. The pure water of life spoken of in Revelation will come and pour forth in us purifying us to be the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ that will descend and return here in the new kingdom. So join with me in hearing the song, singing it and then one day we will all stand before God to sing it back to him.

Pray this has made sense and spoken to your hearts, comments always welcomed