Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Scripture of the Landscape

The Pacific Ocean from Red Hill 2/6/11


Sarah and I have enjoyed several hikes recently. We're planning to go out into nature again today—this time out to the dunes by the Pacific.

Deng Ming-Dao wrote a wonderful book of contemplations called 365 Tao which I include in my daily morning activities. Here's the passage for Feb. 11—


Trail beside stream,
Fragrant pine.
Rocky red earth,
Steep mountain.

Walking may be a good metaphor for spiritual life, but there are times when simple hiking is literally the best activity. When one walks in the woods or climbs mountains, there is a wonderful unity of body, mind, and spirit.  Hiking strengthens the legs, increases stamina, invigorates the blood, and soothes the mind. Away from the madness of society, one is freed to observe nature’s lessons.

Erosion. Gnarled roots. The carcass of a dead deer. A flight of swallows. The high spirals of hawks. Bladed reflections of rushing water. Just budding bare branches. Gray rock, cracked, shattered, and worn. A fallen tree. A lone cloud. The laughter of plum branches. Even a little circle of rocks beside the trail—who put them there, or did any hand arrange them, and no matter which, what are the secrets of that circle?

There are a thousand meanings in every view, if only we open ourselves to see the scripture of the landscape.

9 comments:

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

A beautiful stroll here, Dan. Do you follow Robert of The Solitary Walker? I am sure the two of you would get on beautifully in such vigorous spiritual walks.

Short Poems said...

"Walking may be a good metaphor for spiritual life" True!
Loved your beautiful blog :)
All the best
Marinela x

steven said...

dan - i'm with you brother! walking, biking - they bring you to the speed of life. they allow the entirety of this place to become and then for the entirety of you to become. happy walks man! steven

Ruth said...

Just beautiful contemplations, Dan. I was going to ask you the same as Lorenzo about Robert, and whether you know him!

Paul C said...

Poetic prose. I like your focus on the hike and how it can bring an extra measure of exhilaration.

Dan Gurney said...

Lorenzo and Ruth. I think you're right about Robert. I've added him to my list to follow.

Dan Gurney said...

SP--thanks! There's something very deep about walking. Many of my best ideas seem to jump inside me, as if they went on a walk with me.

Dan Gurney said...

steven, if anyone knows this, you do. I'd be interested to hear you compare walking and biking. I used to do more cycling than walking, but in the past few years it's definitely more walking and less biking. Walking, for me, is more soulful.

Dan Gurney said...

Paul, thanks. Most of those words are from Ming-Dao. But I agree with him. So much richness is available to the walker.