Get out there!

I don’t like to tell people what to do.   In fact, except for my kids, who lack imagination where performing necessary tasks is concerned, I’ve come to  dislike it extremely.    Well, even then.   But I’ve been thinking lately that Mormons  appear to be  beeline people, traveling in more or less straight lines between this or that field of responsibility and the home hive.   Work, home, school, home, temple, home, ward house, home, stake house, home, temple, home, Walmart— home, thank goodness!    

Is  Mormonism  an indoor culture?    

Whether  it is  or not, Earth Day is coming up April 22, less than  one week away.   If at all possible, I hope folks try to get outside, day or night, and  have a good look around.   And  consider taking  the kids.   Even if it’s backyard exploration or a half-hour jaunt to the local park.   Do a little bird-watching— populations are migrating right now, you might see something surprising.   No need to step very far out of your comfort zone, and please, don’t take unnecessary risks.   Keep it simple and close, if that’s your speed.   It’s all call of the wild.

The world’s  extraordinary, even when strange,  even  where it isn’t as beautiful as it used to be,  and it stands in needs of us.    Mormons.   Not to save it, but to abide with it, to wind ourselves deeper into its braid.      To change simply by witnessing, to be changed.   It’s the nature of spirituality to rise to the surface at the least opportunity.

So try?   Even for a few minutes.   Stop between buildings.    Wind down the car window.   Think about God’s taffy pull with  light, stretching it into  being, shuffling land and sea, granting earth permission to  sprout grass,  sprinkling stars around the sun and moon, invoking the waters to bring forth life, shaping animals upon their bones, and seeing it all as good.

It is good.   Even the seemingly bad  reflects glints  of good.

Get out and see for yourself.    I’ll be reporting on  my Earth Day activities, so if something cool happens to you while you’re out,  you’ll be able to post  about it  in the comments.

Like I said, not to tell people what to do (shudder), but to suggest a possibility.      People can’t have too many possibilities.

Patricia and the beetle

November 2008, I sat in Sacrament Service  between my two ambulatory children, daughter aged eleven years, son aged eighteen.   As the program moved into the blessing and passing of the Sacrament, my mind began its shift from observation to meditation.

Movement atop the empty pew just ahead drew my eye.   A beetle about a quarter of an inch long followed the ridgeline of the pew’s wooden back, rear end waggling as its six legs paddled its body along.   It had a dark gray carapace and a rounded, yellowish head with black eyespots.   Two short antennae sifted the air questioningly. Continue reading “Patricia and the beetle”

Cool stargazing project

The Salt Lake Tribune reports an annual event to document magnitudes of light pollution across the planet.   This project  invites  public participation.  

Every year, Globe at Night asks teachers and students, parents and their  children, and stargazers located internationally  to observe the constellation Orion, specifically his belt.    The website linked above provides all the tools and information needed, although people will need to employ whatever means they have at their disposal to find their latitude and longitude (Globe provides instructions).

The project runs March 16-28.   Orion appears in the east about an hour after sunset and maintains stellar prominence for several hours until he  does a belly flop  into the western horizon  around midnight.    

When I lived in Payson, UT, Orion and the Big Dipper were the only constellations that had  the  umph to shine through the Utah Valley light pollution and  haze with any consistency.     Where I live now, the Milky Way runs in a flood of shimmer on moonless nights—a beautiful, mind-bending swath of other places, times, and events visible from our front and back yards.   Can’t wait to get out there with the kids and see how our drop-dead gorgeous night sky compares with Globe’s magnitude charts.

Ooo, yeah.    We’ve got dark skies here that go on forever.   Very aesthetically and spiritually exciting.     Anybody not having a similarly  clear  window onto the rest of the galaxy—I’m sorry, but  you’re losing the only view that goes on forever that you don’t have to pay for, the one everybody  got  for free up until the dawning of the last century’s light craze.   Now we’re paying for not having  that view.

My best advice:  Do what’s necessary to get  back what you can of the night sky as well as  reduce your electric bill and possibly even sleep better at night.   For good and workable  ideas about why and how, go here.

I’ve also written here  about light pollution and its effects.

The fetish

One of the reasons I moved from Utah County to San Juan County was to provide my oldest son and youngest daughter greater exposure to nature.   Household circumstances have resulted in their being confined to the house more than is natural for children in general but is even more unnatural for children of an outdoors-type like myself.   I wanted them to have a better  chance at the kind of  engagement in the natural world I  enjoyed growing up, a level of  deep  involvement that has provided for me all my life.  

 But it’s been difficult business breaking up their bonds with interior spaces and tempering their fascination with electronic frontiers.   Until recently, many of my attempts at getting them “out there” into the yard and surrounding countryside were met with grim doubtfulness. Continue reading “The fetish”