Peace Garden

A green peace

February 9, 2004

As one walks into the Peace Garden there is a sign that explains to the public various aspects of the sculptural elements around the pond. The top of the sign reads thus:Peace Garden sign

The third “peace” is concerned with how we humans interact and make a sustainable connection with the natural world around us. This could be called the “green peace”.

It was appropriate, therefore, that this weekend a small group of Greenpeace people spent time here at Windgrove as a sort of R&R retreat.

greenpeace 1How even more appropriate were Alanna and Kim reclining like temple guardians at the entrance to the “womb of the earth” and plant spiral totem of the garden. This area symbolises the future and these young people are the future.

And, wasn’t it encouraging for me to see that there are passionate, informed and committed young people willing and able to dedicate their present lives to defending the earth and informing the public of the work of Greenpeace.

Hearing their stories of being “front line” activists on city streets raising money and signing up memberships for Greenpeace, one realises that it takes a steady courage to face a not always generous or sympathetic populace.

My heart goes out to them. May they continue to dance and see the deep underlying goodness and joy that lies within all of us.

It was a pleasure being in their company.

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Reflections

October 16, 2003

Stationed between the Ancestral Midden and the Spiral of Hope, the Split Rock is a six ton hunk of stone sawn in two with each inside half polished.

sprial split rock

The symbolism of its initial concept was to make visual the dynamics behind the deep weathering of our personal character by the forces of life. When one is broken open repeatedly or when one’s heart is cracked, buffed and polished by life’s winds (whether through intense joy or sorrow) we can then age into maturity fully compassionate. And able to demonstrate, as James HIllman would attest, “the force of character”.

To seek to protect oneself from pain and to live in the emotional gated community of perpetual comfort zones might seem to be an easy escape through life, but like the personality of the 70 year old who has had one facelift too many, one sleeping pill too many and one shopping trip too many, the wrinkled, compassionate elder that should have emerged to guide the younger generations into a fuller wisdom has disappeared into a pitiful joke.

This morning as I walked past the Split Rock, the spiral symbol of perpetual hope and rebirth was reflected on the side of one of the two halves. In this dawn light, the penny dropped for me as I further realized that for any of us to perceive or grasp the future, it is imperative that we have allowed the winds of life to polish our hearts. In this way, the image of our future will be more clear and easier to foresee.

I also liked that the reflected spiral image pointed in the direction of the Ancestral Midden, an area dedicated to honoring the past. It seemed to suggest that our ability to embrace the concept of living in the Long Now (of holding the past, present and future simultaneously) would require being an active participant in the shaping agents of life.

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Styx lesson

July 1, 2003

Curled up in bed this morning — a morning of cold, wet and grey — I couldn’t help but feel slightly depressed about the ongoing destruction of Tasmania’s old growth forests. Especially now that the government has both lifted a moratorium against logging in the Tarkine, the world’s largest remaining tract of temperate rain forest, and commenced logging in the Styx Valley where some of Tasmania’s tallest trees live.

Wrapped in my warm doona, I reflected on how today is also the day that the Wilderness Society is beginning a thirteen day around the clock presence at the Styx Valley to coincide with the July 1 High Court decision 20 years ago that stopped the flooding of the Franklin River.

“Brrrrr”, I thought. “They are going to have a miserable time erecting their marquee and maintaining high spirits in this weather.”

With the thought of dedicating my morning prayers to the Styx Valley crew, I jumped out of my snug confines and made my way over to the Peace Garden in the light rain to greet the ancestors before making my way to the Peace Fire.

peace spiral rainbow

And what should happen…… The dawning sun breaks through a small opening in the clouds and throws a rainbow down.

It was as if to say:

“Listen, within the storm resides beauty and hope. What you witness as turmoil is an agent of change, out of which compassion and love for this earth will grow. Stay steadfast in your commitment.”

I went back into the warm house more than buoyed to carry on in my own small way to raise awareness of the reciprocal, reverential connection humans need to have for this earth.

Edward Abbey came to mind:

“We are obliged, therefore, to spread the news, painful and bitter though it may be for some to hear, that all living things on earth are kindred.”

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I like how the evening shadow of the Peace Garden’s Spiral acts like a large sideral sun dial as it casts itself over the pond towards either the Ancestral Midden or the Split Rock. There is a slow, six month journey of the shadow between the two sets of stones.

During the month of June the top most portion of the long evening shadow cast by the Spiral passes over the pond and stops just to the right of the Ancestral Midden. After the winter solstice (June 21) it begins to move back towards the Split rock and hovers there half a year later during the suimmer soltice period in December.

With the Spiral representing “the Future”, the Split Rock “the Present” and the Ancestral Midden “the Past”, the evenings sun dial effect of the Spiral’s Future’s shadow moving between the Present and Past, keeps the whole of the Peace Garden alive with its cyclic, clock work changes.

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What was a total surprise to me happened yesterday as I stood in front of the Ancestral midden while the Spiral and the setting sun were directly behind me on the far side of the pond.

The shadow I cast over the midden stones was a double shadow; one from the direct rays of the sun, another from the sunlight bouncing off the mirrored, still waters of the pond.

Almost eerie, yes?

If one wants to contemplate how the “Long Now” might be visualised, one need go no further than to look at this photo.

Rising up from the ancestral stones, the resultant shadow seems to be of an ancestral spirit wearing a chasuble or some other dark, sleeveless ecclesiastical vestment.

To the right, and in the raised hand of this chthonic figure, is the shadowy spiral staff of the future, held firmly.

I was tantalised and then became mesmerised by what I was seeing. Me, obviously the Present, being sermonised by the Past who is holding onto the Future.

Talk about lack of boundaries. Or, a visible representation of the “Long Now”.

Can you hear what I heard? Can your hear yourself being told to listen to the past to gain the wisdom in order to protect the future? Not the future of next week, but the “Long Now” future where your great, great, great, great grandchildren reside.

Can you, at least, hear the Hallelujah Chorus?

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Post Script…….. After writing the above, I happened to notice on top of the piano were these photos of my parents shown wearing the attire when my mother was the choir director of Detroit’s Serbian Orthodox church. Sleeveless vestments.

Celestial music, anyone?

I strongly believe that in imagination is the preservation of the world.

By calling upon those who have passed before us for help and guidance, we can create a future that is not only safe from terrorism, but full of reverential gaiety and fearless enjoyment.

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