Feb 6, 2022
Happy New Year. Welcome to the Poetry of Nature. Geoff and I are so glad you said, “Yes!” to this Year of Poetic Medicine. Many thanks to those of you who are joining us for a second, or third year of Poetry of Nature! May this letter find you all well, safe, and strong. If this is not the case for you and yours, please know that all of us at The Institute for Poetic Medicine extend our love and care.
This year we invite you to honor your turn around the sun by being in relationship with Nature. We do this through attunement, and by practicing openness, receptivity, curiosity, and deep listening - to ourselves, and to our “neck of the woods”.
Dear Poetry of Nature Friends,
Happy New Year. Welcome to the Poetry of Nature. Geoff and I are so glad you said, “Yes!” to this Year of Poetic Medicine. Many thanks to those of you who are joining us for a second, or third year of Poetry of Nature! May this letter find you all well, safe, and strong. If this is not the case for you and yours, please know that all of us at The Institute for Poetic Medicine extend our love and care. This year we invite you to honor your turn around the sun by being in relationship with Nature. We do this through attunement, and by practicing openness, receptivity, curiosity, and deep listening - to ourselves, and to our “neck of the woods”. Throughout the year, I’ll invite and encourage you to journal about your inner and outer landscapes. A journal is handy space for your poems to land. When we read, write, and share poems about our Nature journey, we lift up our sacred relationship to the land and each other. We create and hold space for heart, mind, body, and soul – the Nature we are. When we look reverently at Nature and our locality, solutions present themselves, solutions which benefit us all. When we share this with like hearted folks, we discover we are not alone. Earth is asking this of us! Welcome, welcome, welcome to Poetry of Nature. In the spirit of welcome and new beginnings, I offer you this piece of poetography (a fusion of one my photos with one of my poems) and “Welcome” acrostic. In the next section I’ll talk more about how to create an acrostic poem. May this year of Poetry of Nature embrace and bless you.
It is our quiet time. We do not speak because the voices are within us. It is our quiet time. We do not walk, because the earth is all within us. It is our quiet time. We do not dance, because the music has lifted us to a place the spirit is. We rest in all of nature. We wake when the *seven sisters wake. We greet them in the sky over the opening of the kiva. ~Nancy Wood
As I muse on mid-winter and where to begin this year of Poetry of Nature, (fondly known as PON), what comes to heart and mind, is Nancy Wood’s untitled reflection on quiet time. I love her poem for how it so neatly honors winter, a time of stillness and deep rest “in all of nature”. There is deep beauty and balance to be found here. Wood’s poem feels like permission to honor Winter’s spirit in myself. There is plenty of time and space to rest, reflect, and balance. Indeed, without this stillness, the seasons could not be. It’s important we cultivate quiet, if we are to spring forth when the seven sisters (*the Pleaides) appear in the kiva’s opening.
For your first invitation this year, I invite you to a radical act, an act of Love that lets you be in relationship with Nature. There is no right or wrong way to do this. I invite you to trust, and follow your energy, wherever it leads.
In our neck of the woods, let us begin by creating our winter quiet time. I realize that this might feel counterintuitive, it could feel daring in this 24/7 time, especially in our changing climate and with Omicron guiding the pandemic. Throughout your year, whenever you need it, use this simple meditation to cultivate quiet time, to commune with the quiet part of you that endures.
Please bring Nancy Wood’s poem, along with your journal, and pay a visit to your favorite Nature spot, or choose a new one. If you are unable to visit your Nature spot, please just step outside. If unable to do that, use your beautiful imagination to visualize yourself outside.
Once settled, begin by inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose. Notice the air as it passes through your nostrils and your throat. Notice how your breath is a wave that fills and moves your lungs, diaphragm and belly.
Next, exhale slowly through your mouth. Notice the give and take of your breath. Take your time through four of these breaths. Notice where you where you’ve landed. Notice how the quiet wraps you in itself. Linger here.
When you feel moved, please read “Quiet Time” to your neck of the woods, however that shows up for you. I invite you to take your time as you read it aloud. Please read it twice. Your offering will be appreciated. I promise.
Spend some time listening. Listen, not just with your ears, but with your mouth and nose. With your tongue and skin. Through your five senses, what is speaking to you? Notice your intuition. In your journal write down words and phrases that describe what your senses are saying to you about quiet time. I invite your shape your own poem about quiet time.
In the spirit of new beginnings, I'm moved to offer you a variety of prompts. Feel free to try one or all. If there’s energy tugging you in a different direction, trust and honor that!
I offer you these sentence stems. You could let Nancy Wood’s poem or metaphor, inspire you. By using “is” and directly relating Quiet to some thing else, you are creating metaphor. It is our quiet time… Quiet time is…
You could also try personifying Quiet, describing Her qualities. Bring Quiet off the page. Write your own poem that connects and fills you with Quiet’s essence.
And finally, you can try creating an acrostic poem. An acrostic poem is one where you write a word vertically and let each letter of that word inform your poem. It’s an easy way to create a poem, and I invite you to try this. Here is my “Quiet” acrostic:
I return to center
“Within you, there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”
* * *
In Relation with Nature
But for a woodpecker tapping at a post, no sound at all in the house ~ Basho
Throughout this year of PON, as I invite you to be in relationship with Nature, please know I’m walking alongside you. I will share my witnessing and reflections about my neck of the woods, and I invite you to do the same. An easy way to be in relationship with nature is to provide food and water sources for birds. You could check your local Audubon Society to find out who is native to your area, and the nutrition they need. Prepare to be surprised in ways you could never imagine by other animals and insects that relish your offerings! Year-round, I offer fresh water and seed, and suet during the colder months. I offer nectar bars for the Anna’s Hummingbirds that overwinter in my neck of the woods. I keep our surroundings as natural as possible by nurturing the dance of plants and trees around my home. Over the years I’ve left a snag in hopes that it would become a food source for woodpeckers. It felt like a way to bring them close in. Lately, I’ve seem Red Shafted Flickers patrolling the silvery bark. The snag has also become the neighborhood lookout for many bird species, squirrels, and chipmunks. As I write to you, my quiet unexpectedly resonates. Tock tock tock knocking my consciousness. A male Pileated Woodpecker chisels the snag, wood chips are flying. He hunts for carpenter ants and grubs. His excavation exposes the Douglas fir heartwood. Despite two panes of glass, I can actually feel his beak in my heart space. This is extraordinary.
Pileated’s are elusive. They’re more often heard through their robust drumming in spring, and their strident kuk kuk kuk kuk kuk kuk. For me, Pileated woodpeckers are one of the most regal birds. They are now also largest of the woodpeckers, because climate change has eliminated the Ivory Billed Woodpecker’s habitat. Audubon climate change models predict that Pileated Woodpeckers will shift north. And, after last year’s extreme heat waves in June and August in the Pacific Northwest, I feel especially privileged that this Pileated finding sustenance here. It is also and honor to be present to the cycle of life and death. As he hunts for ants and grubs, the mulch beneath the snag is littered with fresh wood chips. In his hunt for sustenance, he is also recycling nutrients by returning the dead Doug fir to Earth, where it will nourish soil, fungus, and insects. Today, it feels like Nature is co-creating with me, that she has heard and answered my snag prayer. I am delighted I could share this rare sighting with you!
Close up - his powerful beak!
The Woodpecker The wizard of the woods is he; For in his daily round, Where'er he finds a rotting tree, He makes the timber sound. ~ John B. Tabb
Blessings like these allow me to step out of time. It definitely feels like I am co-creating, and that I stand in good relation with Nature.Good medicine! As we begin our year of Poetry of Nature, is there a bird, an animal, a plant, or tree that is tapping at your consciousness? What qualities of this Being stand out for you? What can this Being tell you about yourself? What does it say about your relationship with your neck of the woods? I invite you to take your time with these questions. May they inspire your poem making. As we journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out, if you have any questions. I'd love to see your poems! You can respond to this email, or reach me directly at email@example.com Resting in quiet with you, NanLeah
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” ~Gary Snyder
Male Anna's Hummingbird