Cherry Blossoms Welcome April

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“Between our two lives
there is also the life of
the cherry blossom.”
Matsuo Bashō

The cherry blossoms grace our lane ways and gardens, welcoming April, the month that was, in ancient Rome, sacred to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. April is the month that gave us Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth and, more recently, Wangari Maathai, Maya Angelou and Ella Fitzgerald.  There is a warmth in the chill of an April evening, perfect for the beginning of journeys as immortalized in Geoffrey Chaucer’s, The Canterbury Tales.

What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
Kobayashi Issa

For me, April has always been about cherry blossoms.  Vancouver is renowned for our approximately 50,000 cherry trees, which flower in varying shades of pink and white.  Every year, we hold a Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.

“In the cherry blossom’s shade
there’s no such thing
as a stranger.”
Kobayashi Issa

The cherry blossom is Japan’s national flower that has given birth to hanami, a century-old custom that is said to have its origins in the Nara period (710-794) which simply means flower viewing.  Families and friends gather under the canopy of flowering cherry trees to share a meal and gaze up at the delicate white and pink against a pristine sky of blue. Nighttime brings out the paper lanterns that people carefully place in the trees to add a spectacular illumination, which highlights the profound idea of the ephemeral nature of life. The blossoms come for a moment to bestow a graceful elegance,  covering pathways with petals, then, slipping away with the silent promise to return the next year.

So, my dear friends, I invite you to join me under the canopy of a Vancouver cherry tree.

Cherry Blossoms from Rebecca Budd aka Clanmother on Vimeo.

 

“Cherry blossoms – lights of years past.”
Matsuo Bashō

World Water Day – Leaving No One Behind

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March 22, 2019 celebrated World Water Day, which is the annual UN observance day that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.  I am writing this on March 23, 2019 to reaffirm my commitment to participate in this important dialogue.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right.

Water Day 2019 – This year’s call to action is to leave no one behind:

Sustainable Development Goal 6 is crystal clear: water for all by 2030. By definition, this means leaving no one behind. But today, billions of people are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive.

Living Water Smart provides the B.C. Government’s vision for sustainable water stewardship and sets the direction for changes to water management and water use. These changes are crucial for adapting to climate change impacts and the pressures placed on water resources from a growing population and economy.

Water from Rebecca Budd aka ClanmotherA

The Journey into Silence

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“Silence is a source of great strength.” Lao Tzu

 

This month, I am following my dear friends, The World According to Dina, Leaping Tracks and Silkannthreades into silence. For most of us, this is entering unfamiliar territory. We have become accustomed to sound, whether it be the soothing lilt of music, the white noise of traffic, urgent text message notifications, or the inevitable clamour of an alarm clock. At the same time, our affinity with silence has lessened to the point that we are uneasy in what seems to be a “void.” Consider how we rush to fill a conversation when there is a lapse into silence.

Silence is a complete absence of sound, something which very few of us will ever experience. City dwellers will always have the company of noise.  Nature offers the echoes of ocean waves crashing along a shoreline, wind rattling the trees, rain pelting the ground, voices of animals and the songs of birds. And the universe – even interstellar space is filled with noise.

I am discovering that silence can be reached when we allow the noise to drift away, when we relinquish the message conveyed by the incoming signal. In so doing, we open ourselves to new possibilities and outcomes.

In the end, silence is a personal journey, an inner conversation, an open invitation to explore and celebrate.

“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.” Chaim Potok

 

Finding Silence within a City Garden from Rebecca Budd aka Clanmother on Vimeo.

Conversations in the Sky

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“There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.”
Michel de MontaigneA GatheringThere is a stretch along the Vancouver Seawall where great conversations are held.  The voices, loud and impetuous, are heard from great distances.  But it is only in the winter that we are able to see the participants.  Every day, they gather to discuss the events of the day, their animated caws reverberating across the bare branches.  They are a community that allows for forthright discussions.  And then, in unison, they stretch out their wings and make their way home.

A Conversation

The Eloquence of Silence

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The Eloquence of Silence

I have been away from blogging for a few months but my research into mythology continued over the summer.  I have been listening to Professor Grant L Voth’s lectures on Myth in Human History, obtained through that marvelous institution, the Vancouver Public Library.   It is wonderful to be back connecting with fellow bloggers.

Christ Church

A few months ago, I stopped by Christ Church Cathedral, in downtown Vancouver.   It was an impulse visit, prompted by curiosity and the need to leave a busy street behind.  An open door welcomed me to the quiet solitude inside.  There are moments when you stop, breathe and listen to the eloquence of silence.

We live in a finite existence that limits us to time and location.  Perhaps that is how we come to understand the nature of sacred spaces, whether they are found in natural surroundings, or by way of human creativity and ingenuity.

Sacred spaces are those places that give meaning to a profound longing, a shared understanding.  It is recognizing the story of humanity, of embracing all of creation.  For if you look closely, you will see in the corner of the Tree of Life Windows, the image of the parishioner’s beloved pet.

Tree of Life Windows

Gift to the Cathedral by long-time parishioner Jean MacMillan Southam. The window was designed by Susan A. Point, CM a Coast Salish artist born in Alert Bay who lives on the Musqueam First Nation Reservation in Vancouver, B.C.

“No idea of any single culture will ever capture the entire human sense of god, or creation, or the hero; and to get a more complete human picture, we have to look at the myths of many cultures.”  Professor Grant L. Voth

 

A Global Voice

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Pathway

This year, marks the 100th anniversary of Pauline Johnson’s passing.  She died on March 7, 1913 of breast cancer, three days short of her 52nd birthday. In the end, she called Vancouver home. Her last wish was to be buried in her beloved Stanley Park.  The city of Vancouver granted her request with the proviso that she be cremated. Pauline Johnson’s ashes were held in an urn encased within a small concrete vault that was gently placed in the ground.  A granite boulder, which boasted a carving of double hearts, the tribal badge of the Mohawk, marked her grave.  Today, what remains is a stone monument, established by the Women’s Club of Vancouver, as a final tribute.

Monument

Pauline Johnson was a global voice that embraced universal themes of tradition, nature and compassion.  These are dialogues that cannot be limited by time, space or culture.   She honoured the customs of the past by preserving and sharing the stories; she paved the way for women and First Nation writers and performers to boldly pursue an artist’s path; most of all, she believed that what she wrote and spoke about was important. A woman of Mohawk and English parentage, living at the turn of a new century spoke for all of humanity.  May we have the courage to do the same.

A Toast

There’s wine in the cup, Vancouver,
And there’s warmth in my heart for you,
While I drink to your health, your youth, and your wealth,
And the things that you yet will do.
In a vintage rare and olden,
With a flavour fine and keen,
Fill the glass to the edge, while I stand up to pledge
My faith to my western queen.  Continue reading