The Garden of Earth's Intelligence

January 28, 2023

Quote of the Week

"Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; but only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay." -- Robert Frost

Rise Up Rooted Like Trees

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing—
each stone, blossom, child—
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.
If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left [God].

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

We invite you to enjoy this meditative poem as a family or for that matter any gathering of your choice. This poem packs themes of surrender, shedding of thoughts, norms and beliefs. It asks for placing our trust in nature's rhythms - from the gravitational pull to an ocean's currents to the heaviness that visits our heart. Learning to take root in these - temporary - instances helps us rise.  

Reading Corner

Title: Animal Architects: Amazing Animals Who Build Their Homes
Authors: Daniel Nassar & Julio Antonio Blasco
Ages: 7-11

Animals and birds (and so many other living beings) possess a vast diversity of talents, which is how they live in symbiosis with their fellow creatures. Fusing art with science, this tactile book helps children appreciate how non-persons build their homes. Equally so it brings a new worldview where humans aren't the sole or most intelligent species.

"...what do hummingbirds, chimpanzees, and termites have in common? Yes, they are animals, but they are also architects! Architect Daniel Nassar and illustrator Julio Antonio Blasco explore 14 amazing homes in their book Animal Architects: Amazing Animals Who Build Their Homes. Ever heard of a caddisfly? During its larval stage, the caddisfly lives underwater and builds a mobile home around its body using hard materials and sticky silk. Blasco’s illustrations are a fun mix of pencil sketches, photos, and mixed-media that highlight the differences in construction while maintaining a consistent organization throughout the book. Kids might particularly enjoy how each construction is compared to a human one, (for example, hummingbird nests are like a tiny apartment)..." -- Science Friday's Review

Be the Change

Invite your children or those around you to try this activity. It is inspired by Ruth Asawa's art and sculptors that draw from shapes she observes in nature. See the feature photo above. 

She notes, "...these forms come from observing plants, the spiral shell of a snail, seeing light through insect wings, watching spiders repair their webs in the early morning, and seeing the sun through the droplets of water suspended from the tips of pine needles while watering my garden...”

Asawa, a noted Japanese-American modern artist and an activist-educator, started San Francisco’s first public arts high school in 1982. She advocated that art makes a person broader. Even more so, we think artistic sensibilities draw us into the garden of nature's intelligence.