Monthly Archives: March 2016

Life intensified

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I have lived in rural New Zealand for nearly 14 years. Before that, my entire adult life had been spent living in cities: Auckland, Wellington, Hong Kong, London – although my childhood unfolded in sharply contrasting environments.

In the early years of living here I travelled a lot, both within New Zealand and overseas – the U.S., Asia, Europe… Then money became tight and companion animals who had become a vital part of my life after my husband’s death progressively reached the age and stage where they needed more care and attention than anyone else could be expected to give. So I stayed put.

It was foreign to my itinerant nature and at times felt frustratingly restrictive. But there were invisible benefits, things I didn’t really appreciate at the time. For the first time in my life I began to put down roots. A deep connection to the land began to develop in me. I had the time to notice things and reflect on them. And in a strange way, as I became more attuned to it, the environment began to interact with me in turn. Although I didn’t realise it at the time I was beginning to become part of the land, to integrate with the environment and, as I adapted to it, it began to adapt to me.

It has taken a long time to begin to penetrate my conscious awareness but I was beginning to live life more deeply. Most of my earlier life, although I didn’t know it at the time – would even have denied it vehemently – was lived on the surface, constantly reacting to a barrage of stimuli. (And this was before the development of social media!) My life was exciting, challenging, demanding, at times exhausting and demoralising, always full, yet all of this took part on the surface. I was so caught up in it all that it simply never occurred to me there was a much deeper richer part of life, the existence of which I barely suspected. This in spite of the fact that I meditated regularly and considered spirituality an important part of my life.

Much of my life is still spent on the surface but at least I know now that there is more. My challenge now is to find my way to this fullness of life more consistently and to become alert to what takes me in the opposite direction.

 

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Sunflower spirit

This morning, the sunflower that has been determinedly ascending out through the roof of my experimental home-made (fencing wire and bubblewrap) tunnel house – which the plant outgrew in short order – opened for the first time.

The bumblebees found the sunflower even before I did. A major bumblebee flight path had already been established and there was an urgent need for air traffic control developing when I caught sight of the flower.

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Why was the sunflower in the tunnel house in the first place? Caution on my part I guess. I’d never grown sunflowers before and the weather up here is unpredictable. We’ve been known to have snow in mid-summer. However, as things turned out, it has been a long frost and snow-free summer (the first I can remember in the years I’ve lived here).

It HAS been very windy at times though and I doubt the sunflower would have survived if it had been fully out in the open.  Surprisingly the tunnel house has survived too, although it has required a number of modifications. It’s a prototype for a larger one I hope to build in the garden.

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After I’d taken some photos I stood looking at the sunflower. It was facing the sun with such a focused and piercing intent that my breath caught. I had a strange sense of me looking at the sunflower which was looking at the sun. There was something deeply spiritual about the communion of the sunflower with the sun and I couldn’t help but be moved by it.

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Do plants have spirituality? They certainly have implacable focus and direction. I could learn a lot from sunflowers.