Forest as Nourishing Presence

The groves were God’s first temples.
~ William Cullen Bryant, A Forest Hymn
November 15, 2009
There is nothing quite like the experience of walking in a lush forest, of being surrounded by a rich array of green and flowers, of ancient redwoods and fecund red soil wherever your eyes can see. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get the opportunity often enough to spend time taking in the nourishing presence of a forest, which is why I always appreciate a written passage that takes me into the experience…..
“As I headed farther into the forest, I could no longer hear the sounds of the cars or smell their fumes. I breathed in the pure wonderful air. It tasted sweet on my tongue. Everywhere I turned, there was life whether I could see, smell, hear, taste, or touch it or not. For the first time, I really felt what it was like to be alive, to feel the connection of all life and its inherent truth – not the truth that is taught to us by so-called scientists or politicians or other human beings, but the truth that exists within Creation.
The energy hit me in a wave. Gripped by the spirit of the forest, I dropped to my knees and began to sob. I sank my fingers into the layer of duff, which smelled so sweet and so rich and so full of life, then lay my face down and breathed it in. Surrounded by these huge ancient giants, I felt the film covering my senses from the imbalance of our fast-paced, technologically dependent society melt away. I could feel my whole being bursting forth into new life in this majestic cathedral. I sat and cried for a long time. Finally, the tears turned into joy and the joy turned to mirth, and I sat and laughed at the beauty of it all.”

 

~ Julian Butterfly Hill
I am just now realizing that I have chosen this forest theme today out of a deep yearning, because I simply MUST head up the coast within the next week or so for some solitary, enriching time in the forest groves and streams that fill the Big Sur coastline. I’ve been so busy of late with a convergence of serving many clients’ needs mixed with the launch of the new Sacred Life Leadership program. I need to give myself the restorative gift of surrendering to the exquisite nourishment that the land always provides…….
FOREST PATH
by John Millar
Walk slowly
Along the path
In the forest
By the lake
Listen
To the world
As you tread
On bare earth
Along the forest path
Let your body breathe
Into its own
Sunrise of joy
Knowing that
It’s not alone
Feel the crickets’ ratchet
Your footsteps closer
And then fall silent
As they quietly drift by
A pileated woodpecker
Hammers and shrieks
From a big-leaf maple
While prickly sculpin
Swim silently across
The deaf lake bottom
The world is real inside
And joins the forest
That surrounds me
Inside and outside
Never were separate
Everything here belongs
The land listens
Patiently waiting
To dance with us
To join us in laughter
And to carry us through tears
But it can also let us pass
In silence
Blind to its miracle
May you be blessed in opening to your own receiving and nourishment as you traverse your very full life,
Gavin

1109 Forest Path

The groves were God’s first temples.

~ William Cullen Bryant, A Forest Hymn

There is nothing quite like the experience of walking in a lush forest, of being surrounded by a rich array of green and flowers, of ancient redwoods and fecund red soil wherever your eyes can see. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get the opportunity often enough to spend time taking in the nourishing presence of a forest, which is why I always appreciate a written passage that takes me into the experience…..

“As I headed farther into the forest, I could no longer hear the sounds of the cars or smell their fumes. I breathed in the pure wonderful air. It tasted sweet on my tongue. Everywhere I turned, there was life whether I could see, smell, hear, taste, or touch it or not. For the first time, I really felt what it was like to be alive, to feel the connection of all life and its inherent truth – not the truth that is taught to us by so-called scientists or politicians or other human beings, but the truth that exists within Creation.

The energy hit me in a wave. Gripped by the spirit of the forest, I dropped to my knees and began to sob. I sank my fingers into the layer of duff, which smelled so sweet and so rich and so full of life, then lay my face down and breathed it in. Surrounded by these huge ancient giants, I felt the film covering my senses from the imbalance of our fast-paced, technologically dependent society melt away. I could feel my whole being bursting forth into new life in this majestic cathedral. I sat and cried for a long time. Finally, the tears turned into joy and the joy turned to mirth, and I sat and laughed at the beauty of it all.”

~ Julian Butterfly Hill

I am just now realizing that I have chosen this forest theme today out of a deep yearning, because I simply MUST head up the coast within the next week or so for some solitary, enriching time in the forest groves and streams that fill the Big Sur coastline. I’ve been so busy of late with a convergence of serving many clients’ needs mixed with the launch of the new Sacred Life Leadership program. I need to give myself the restorative gift of surrendering to the exquisite nourishment that the land always provides…….

FOREST PATH

by John Millar


Walk slowly

Along the path

In the forest

By the lake


Listen

To the world

As you tread

On bare earth

Along the forest path


Let your body breathe

Into its own

Sunrise of joy

Knowing that

It’s not alone


Feel the crickets’ ratchet

Your footsteps closer

And then fall silent

As they quietly drift by


A pileated woodpecker

Hammers and shrieks

From a big-leaf maple

While prickly sculpin

Swim silently across

The deaf lake bottom


The world is real inside

And joins the forest

That surrounds me

Inside and outside

Never were separate

Everything here belongs


The land listens

Patiently waiting

To dance with us

To join us in laughter

And to carry us through tears

But it can also let us pass

In silence

Blind to its miracle

May you be blessed in opening to your own receiving and nourishment as you traverse your very full life,

Gavin

Launch! 2010 Sacred Life Leadership Program

AS MANY OF YOU HAVE ALREADY HEARD……
Building upon the success of the Sacred Passages workshop series begun two years ago, it is with great joy that I am writing to announce that a new labor of love is being launched:

 

SACRED LIFE LEADERSHIP
An 11-month Soul-Centered Program
Designed to Inspire Courageous Living
and Manifest Your Gifts & Calling
This once-a-month program will begin in Malibu, CA in late January through November, 2010, and is being co-designed and co-facilitated with my dear friend and colleague, James Price. The January start date will allow taking full advantage of the re-dedicational energies that come present with the new year. Only 30 spaces will be available for this annual offering, and the program is now beginning to fill.
I would greatly appreciate your assistance with this initiative in the following ways:
– click on the brochure link below to learn more about this extraordinary program and the profound benefits it will provide to those who participate
– consider whether you or anyone you care about might find this program a perfect fit for embracing the next season of your lives, and pass the word along as you are called. I also welcome you forwarding this e-mail along to any groups.
– consider RSVP’ing and attending the program’s first Open House gathering in Malibu on Sunday, November 22nd from 2:00 – 4:30 to get a first-hand, rich taste of the program and learn more about it. You can, of course, attend along with any guests you would like to bring. (That day also happens to be my birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate life than to enjoy a day of soul-full sharing with all who are called to attend this event.)
– extend your prayers and blessings to this launch and outreach, as well as to those who are looking for a powerfully healing and awakening program like this in their lives.
Here’s the link to the new Sacred Life Leadership Program brochure…..enjoy!
www.sacredpassages.com/sacredlifeleadership
Thanks so much for your love and blessed support, Brenda!
With heartfelt gratitude,  Gavin

1109 Heart Lupines

As many of you may have already heard……

Building upon the success of the Sacred Passages workshop series begun two years ago, it is with great joy that I am writing to announce that a new labor of love is being launched:

SACRED LIFE LEADERSHIP

An 11-month Soul-Centered Program

Designed to Inspire Courageous Living

and Manifest Your Gifts & Calling

This once-a-month program will begin in Malibu, CA in late January through November, 2010, and is being co-designed and co-facilitated with my dear friend and colleague, James Price. The January start date will allow taking full advantage of the re-dedicational energies that come present with the new year. Only 30 spaces will be available for this annual offering, and the program is now beginning to fill.

I would greatly appreciate your assistance with this initiative in the following ways:

– click on the brochure link below to learn more about this extraordinary program and the profound benefits it will provide to those who participate

– consider whether you or anyone you care about might find this program a perfect fit for embracing the next season of your lives, and pass the word along as you are called. I also welcome you forwarding this e-mail along to any groups.

– consider RSVP’ing and attending the program’s first Open House gathering in Malibu on Sunday, November 22nd from 2:00 – 4:30 to get a first-hand, rich taste of the program and learn more about it. You can, of course, attend along with any guests you would like to bring. (That day also happens to be my birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate life than to enjoy a day of soul-full sharing with all who are called to attend this event.)

– extend your prayers and blessings to this launch and outreach, as well as to those who are looking for a powerfully healing and awakening program like this in their lives.

Here’s the link to the new Sacred Life Leadership Program brochure…..enjoy!

www.sacredpassages.com/sacredlifeleadership

With heartfelt gratitude, Gavin

Being Blessed by Trees

10-blessed-by-tree

The whole life of these trees is to serve.

With their leaves, flowers, fruits, branches,

roots, shade, fragrance, sap, bark, wood,

and finally even their ashes and coal,

they exist for the purpose of others.

~ Srimad Bhagavatam

One of my favorite memories growing up occurred when I was about 8 years old. I had just climbed up to the very top of the tall tree in our front yard one day — when a storm front began sweeping across our neighborhood. It began raining very hard and a strong, warm wind was also blowing. I was in heaven at the top of that tree as it gently swayed 5-10 feet back and forth high in the air for well over an hour. I can still connect with the exquisite oneness I experienced that day as time disappeared. Of course, from that day forward that tree became a dear friend of mine.

[Read more…]

Following Love’s Lead

10-following-loves-lead

Greetings! I know I’ve been on a sabbatical for a few weeks, and its time to get back in the saddle. There have been such huge changes taking place in our family these last few weeks that it’s been hard to keep up with it all. A brief summary:

[Read more…]

Life as an On-Going Experiment

08-life-as

Let’s face it. Raccoons are curious and mischievous characters that can be rather delightful. When I saw this photograph, it reminded me of how important it is to not take ourselves and our lives too seriously. (Sincerely, yes, but not seriously.)
[Read more…]

The Blessings of Presence

08-blessing-of

A couple of years ago, while traveling in western Ireland with David Whyte, I was blessed to spend three luscious hours with the Irish poet and mystic, John O’Donohue. I’ll never forget the very first words that flowed from his mouth: “Life is all about presence. Presence is what we are all looking for, and it’s really all we have to give each other.”
[Read more…]

Yearning for Community

08-yearning-for

When I saw this photograph of dolphins communing with each other, it reminded me of a groundbreaking memory in my life. It took place almost 30 years ago when I was invited to a party at someone’s home — a gathering of folks whom I had never met before. I’ll never forget walking into the party and being struck by how the people were actually looking into each other’s eyes and care-fully listening to each other. I had honestly never encountered such loving and conscious people relating with each other in such a real way.
[Read more…]

Drinking in Nature’s Presence

07-drinking-in

Years ago someone shared with me that the reason we as humans are so drawn to and nourished by nature is because it is authentic — it can’t help but to be true to its own deeper presence. Thus, when we allow ourselves to be touched by and resonate with its genuine expression, it powerfully realigns us with our own deeper nature. This sure matches my experience, as nature in all its wondrous forms serves as one of my most revered teachers more and more with each passing year.

[Read more…]

Dancing into Life

07-dancing-into

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass,
its about learning to dance in the rain.”
~ Anonymous

[Read more…]

Sharing the Joy

07-sharing-the
“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has

been running through the streets trying to find you.”

~ Hafiz


Given today is Independence Day, it seems all too appropriate to capture a few reflections on a unique experience that liberates us in powerful ways: shared joy.

In my counseling practice, I often find myself apologizing for spontaneously laughing while someone is sharing something challenging they are going through. Amazingly, they often tell me to keep laughing and say something like, “Somebody’s got to laugh at this — please don’t stop.” I continually discover that the expansiveness of playfulness and joy can dissolve the energies of tragedy and suffering so magically.


“If you think you’re too small to make a difference,

try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”

~ African proverb


There was a time in my life when I was not laughing much, when a sense of unworthiness and painful separation from others was my primary experience. Over the years, as I’ve opened more and more to my own joy & freedom, people often tell me how much they appreciate the unbridled fullness of my laughter. Like the playful cat in the photo above, the healing presence of each other’s joy is a contagious gift that makes all the difference as we walk through our very-often-absurd life on this planet.

Whenever I give myself the gift of a retreat in the beauty of nature, I am astonished how easily I open to the flow of joy inside my heart — it simply wells up naturally and takes its rightful place in my inner landscape.


“As I headed farther into the forest, I could no longer hear the sounds of the cars or smell their fumes. I breathed in the pure wonderful air. It tasted sweet on my tongue. Everywhere I turned, there was life. The energy hit me in a wave. Gripped by the spirit of the forest, I dropped to my knees and began to sob. I sank my fingers into the layer of duff, which smelled so sweet and so rich and so full of life, then lay my face down and breathed it in. Surrounded by these huge ancient giants, I could feel my whole being bursting forth into new life in this majestic cathedral. I sat and cried for a long time. Finally, the tears turned into joy and the joy turned to mirth, and I sat and laughed at the beauty of it all.”

~ Julia Butterfly Hill


Lastly, by way of praising the flow of joy we all have within:


WELCOME MORNING

by Anne Sexton

There is a joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning.
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
thought often forget,
to give thanks
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoining
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.

All my best shining your way throughout this week, Gavin