6 Love Letters to Nature.

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

The heady first moments of love are a vortex. They cause swirls of emotion, the forgetting of time…and the writing of gushy letters to the object of our love.

Once we step off the perches of this dizzying elixir, we see that our relationships with others and the love that emerges must be founded on our relationship with (and love for) ourselves, and who are we, if not creatures intimately bound up with the Earth, as a geographic, environmental and spiritual space?

Throughout our lives, we are moving with the tides of our primary relationships. We have these with our parents and siblings, certainly, as well as other key, early influences. We also have this, essentially and always, with nature.

It’s no wonder writers have long expressed, through their poetry, letters and other form of writing, their wonder—rapture, really—at the bounty of Earth’s offerings. Earth is where we can be nourished, sustained, reclaimed.

Sometimes, in my own writing, I struggle to find the words to express the magnitude of what bubbles up inside of me—the muse is a fickle, if brilliant and cathartic one!

I love turning to the inspired writings of others, who capture in so many different voices and so beautifully, what it means to live among the elements that shape and define us and accompany us on our life journey.

I hope you enjoy these stunning expressions of love for the nature that permeates our lives.

1. A Letter to Nature by Sue Monk Kidd

Dear God,

I love this tree.

I love the light filtering through the moss and the leaves.

I love all your earth songs — the breeze rustling through the grass, the rhythm of the crickets, the beating of the wings.

Here, surrounded and permeated by your creation, I feel you. I feel life. I know myself, connected.

O God, is there anything you’ve made that can’t pour life and healing into me?

When I think of the simplicity and extravagance of creation, I want to bend down and write the word “yes” across the earth so you can see it.

2. Excerpt from his book, Love Letter to the Earth, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

We can be like the Buddha, and in difficult moments touch the Earth as our witness. We can take refuge in the Earth as our original mother. We can say, “I touch the pure and refreshing Earth.” Whatever nationality or culture we belong to, whatever religion we follow, whether we’re Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, or atheists, we can all see that Mother Earth is a great bodhisattva. When we see her in this way, with all her many virtues, we will walk more gently on her and treat her and all her children more gently. We will want to protect her and not harm her or any of the myriad forms of life she has given birth to. We will stop wreaking destruction and violence on Mother Earth. We will resolve the question of what we mistakenly call “the environmental problem.” The Earth is not just the environment. The Earth is us. Everything depends on whether we have this insight or not.

When you’re able to see the Earth for the bodhisattva that she is, you will want to bow down and touch the Earth with reverence and respect. Then love and care will be born in your heart. This awakening is enlightenment. Don’t look for enlightenment elsewhere. This awakening, this enlightenment, will bring about a great transformation in you, and you’ll have more happiness, more love, and more understanding than from any other practice. Enlightenment, liberation, peace, and joy aren’t dreams for the future; they’re a reality available to us in the present moment.

3. Excerpt from her poem, God the Artist, by Angela Morgan.

God, when you chiseled a raindrop,
How did you think of a stem,
Bearing a lovely satin leaf
To hold the tiny gem?
How did you know a million drops
Would deck the morning’s hem?

Why did you mate the moonlit night
With the honeysuckle vines?
How did you know Madeira bloom
Distilled ecstatic wines?
How did you weave the velvet disk
Where tangled perfumes are?
God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?

4. Morning Rain, by Tu Fu.

A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light.
I hear it among treetop leaves before mist
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and,
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened

Colors grace thatch homes for a moment.
Flocks and herds of things wild glisten
Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across
Half a mountain—and lingers on past noon.

5. “Nature” is what we see, by Emily Dickinson.

“Nature” is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse—the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

6. The Endearing Sea, by Dobashi Jiju.

As I lived far away from the sea,
it gradually passed more out of my mind every day,
like its distance.
After days and days,
it became like a dot, no longer looking like a sea.
I felt compelled to go the movies
to see the sea
on the screen.
*
But when I slept at night,
the sea came to me, pushing down my chest
and raising clear blue waves.
I just slept, even in the daytime,
freely.
Then
the sea kept mounting big waves
on my chest,
covering me with spray from a storm.
And sometimes it washed up beautiful white bones,
which had sunk to its bottom,
up around my ribs.

Bonus: How can I resist including a Kerouac quote here?

Maybe that’s what life is … a wink of the eye and winking stars.”

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Dear Jack Kerouac, on the 45 Anniversary of your Death

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Jack Kerouac is my James Dean, my George Harrison, my Tom Cruise (honesty is everything), and every boy I used to stare at on the cover of Tiger Beat all rolled into one.

With a dash of mandatory literary genius and lone soul-seeking wanderer on the side.

He was the fantasy of my bookish-angst-addled youth and is still my co-conspirator in nostalgia, myth-making and spiritual searching as I reread some his books as an adult.

Allen Ginsberg also kept me up many a night, wondering how it was humanly possible to write a poem about one’s mother that poured forth sacred secrets with such insane grace and searing candidness.

And the others:  William Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti … I would have given anything to sit with them in smoky bars, trying not to get so drunk that I could no longer read my words out loud or hear others belt out a stream of word-songs while scanning lustily around the room.

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and lord knows I’ve tried to imitate them—especially Ginsberg. I spent the better part of a semester on this attempt way back when I was a young, fatalistic student temporarily dabbling in poetry. The results were mixed but I was happy.

Suddenly, Kerouac et al have popped back into my head with a vengeance. What to do? Reading them has always made we want to write even more than I already do. And they make me feel like my attempts at being concise and succinct are overrated (though I know this isn’t true—a girl can dream).

This time I wanted to try something slightly different than imitation, and ‘write’ using their own words. Yup, a remix!

The beauty of the Beats is that to do a remix of their words requires no effort do a long search for the ‘best’ or ‘most poetic’ work. In a way, the Beats as a whole are already one enmeshed entanglement of thoughts, feelings and word orgies. Their words to each other in letters, about their craft and personal lives, and in their published works can, in a sense, be read as one long homage to a lovely, bizarre, entirely mesmerizing Truth.

I borrow here from all the authors I listed above. My method was more or less this: choose quotes at will, relatively quickly. Remove reference to specific authors, cut and paste to my heart’s content, use no words of my own, and see what I end up with. No cheating, no over-thinking, no last-minute grasping at new quotes to fill in the blanks.

Oh, and I changed all the hims to hers, and left the few ‘hers’ I found untouched.

It was amazing to see how quickly a story emerged that I didn’t plan or construct in advance, and how emotionally involved I became with what I realized was a story from my heart.

Maybe this is the point: sometimes we get tired of our own words and the thoughts that inspired them. Using a gift pack of words that came before us can be a really refreshing tool to help us out of a rut, to see ourselves better – and engage in delicious flights of fancy at the same time.

I hope you enjoy!

 

Here Lies Life

Standing on a street corner one fine day I am awaiting. I want to be a saint. I’m running out of everything now. I want to create wilderness out of empire.

I experienced and loved and lost, and she would smile and look away, sigh and rise to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human anatomy, starving hysterical naked –

Oh, smell the people! yelled The Mover, compulsive, dedicated.

Her passing thoughts were extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul and

I am beginning to think she is a great saint, a girl who was going the opposite direction, sniffling, the first person on earth moving from one place to another to sacrifice all these strange ghosts rooted to the silly little adventure of earth.

I feel there is an angel in me, she told me once, lying back languidly.

Who are with me? she’d say and stretch. There is no such thing as writing for yourself.

I went with her for no reason. Out of veins, out of money.

At that instant there was a kind of celestial cold fire that crept over us and blazed up and illuminated her sorrows and desires and made it an eternal place.

If you believe you’re a poet, she’d say, then you’re saved.

This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.

Ah, God!

We think differently at night, humbly and sincerely, for there is so much work to do.

So here lies life, love,

Two piercing eyes glancing into two piercing eyes in an instant and

I miss you so much your absence causes me, at times, acute pain.

I like too many things and get all confused, her face out the window, family, friends, little short stories for children.

I touch your book and dream of our odyssey and feel absurd. Holy!

I am going to marry you.

Even my too-big world, trapped between 2 visual images, third coming, perpetually and forever, a renaissance of wonder.

Don’t you remember how you made me stop trembling in shame and drew me to you as the sharer?

It was a face which darkness could kill by laughter or light. And dash of consciousness, together.

Here lies love in lyrical delight, between incomprehensible and incoherent, and with one grand, beautiful dawn.

I don’t know if I can do it again.

We look into each other’s eyes, one grand boulevard with trees, the only people, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

Death hovers over me, a face as easily hurt, whom I am constantly shocking.

A pain stabs my heart. For me the mad ones are who love you, floating across the tops of cities,

who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space

and hung-up running from one falling star to another.

I stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame.

I am not mad. I am young, sorrowful, not necessarily man or woman, and have my generation dragging themselves till joined, elemental, jumping with sensation.

The best minds, she’d say, stand by the madhouse for one very beautiful, shining Revelation.

* original article published on elephant journal.