Monday, April 1, 2013

Our lives are not a stage act, but a ritual performed in concert with Nature

Baseball at dusk: a Cape ritual 2010     CC  Jean Stimmell

In my last blog entry, I included this quote from Henry Beston , a quote I think very important:

A human life, so often likened to a spectacle upon a stage, is more justly a ritual. The ancient values of dignity, beauty, and poetry which sustain it are of Nature's inspiration; they are born of the mystery and beauty of the world.” *

How profound and so true! Our lives gain immeasurable substance and meaning when we view them as ritual – rather than just a stage act. But not any ritual will suffice, only meaningful ones reflecting the majestic rhythms of Mother Nature herself.  In the quote that follows, Beston poetically describes his feelings of gratitude and reverence for the gift nature bestows upon him, while immersed in her magnificent seasonal rituals during his year on the outer Cape:

“My year upon the beach had come full circle; it was time to close my door. Seeing the great suns, I thought of the last time I marked them in the spring, in the April west about the moors, dying into the light and sinking. I saw them of old about the iron waves of black December, sparkling afar. Now, once again, the Hunter rose to drive summer south before him, once again autumn followed on his steps. I had seen the ritual of the sun; I had shared the elemental world. Wraiths of memories began to take shape. I saw the sleet of the great storm slanting down again into the grass under the thin seepage of moon, the blue-white spill of an immense billow on the outer bar, the swans in the high October sky, the sunset madness and splendour of the year’s terns over the dunes, the clouds of beach birds arriving, the eagle solitary in the blue. And because I had known this outer and secret world, and been able to live as I had lived, reverence and gratitude greater and deeper than ever possessed me, sweeping every emotion else aside, and space and silence an instant closed together over life. (pp.215-6) *

Henry Beston was far ahead of his time, although writing almost 100 years ago, he could acutely feel the pain to the Earth for the wounds we had already inflected on Her – wounds now, of course, immeasurably worse, endangering most of the species on earth, including us two-legged ones.

In my next installment I will note how Henry Beston, along with another visionary, Carl Jung, writing in this same period of time, could appreciate the folly on the other side of the equation: about how we in the West, immersed in our individualistic, materialistic culture are in complete denial about the centrality of nature to our very existence; we have been impoverished by a collective loss of memory of anything more important and bigger than we are. 

As Bonnie Bright has written, “As a society, we have become dislocated in time and disconnected from place, leaving us rootless, transient, and opting for sensationalism instead of spirituality; superficiality instead of soul.”**

 The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod
Post a Comment