Holiday for Rebels

img_1458

A Blue Ridge Mountain Present

I love this season.   A few tenacious colors still clinging to bare trees, the flurry of feathered flight, the calm hours between storms, the energetic storms themselves, the bright crescent moon in a clear night’s sky, tipping toward planets and stars, a quiet forest walk with bubbling waterfalls.

A season of light–a different kind of light, tinted, shaded, filtered light.  You’re not always sure what you’re seeing, or sensing. I like that, usually.

For most American folk, this season is all about an Event:  Opening Presents.

For traditional folk, this season is all about One Present:  Baby Jesus.

For Nature-loving folk like me, this season is simply about Being Present to delight in the Natural Presents the earth has to give away right now.

Natural freethought is also giving out peculiar presents now.  You never can guess where the wise words will come from and how their meanings can change, evolve, and stir to reflection or decisive action.

My wife urged me to read her copy of The American Revolution, published by the National Park Service.  An excellent presentation of the hard truths underlying our National Myths.

(compare this to how we conveniently cover the uncomfortable truths hidden beneath the ornaments, packaging and sweetness of our Religious Myths)

Here’s one odd bit of truth-telling from none other than President Dwight Eisenhower who spoke these words during the McCarthy hearings in 1954 (the same year the Supreme Court desegregated public schools in Brown vs. Board of Education).  You might ask yourself how his words apply to today, to America, to faith, to Christmas and to our lives.

“Here in America, we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels–men and women who dared to dissent from accepted doctrine.  As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.  Without exhaustive debate–even heated debate–of ideas and programs, free government would weaken and wither.  But if we allow ourselves to be persuaded that every individual, or party, that takes issue with our own convictions is necessarily wicked or treasonous–then indeed we are approaching the end of freedom’s road.  We must unitedly and intelligently support the principles of Americanism.”

I keep returning to this quote lately.  It makes me think the principles of Americanism are very similar to the principles of Humanism.  And, it makes me think that this is also a Season for Infidels, Revolutionaries and Rebels (you know, like the poor baby in the cow dish?).  A natural birth of ideas crying for. . . .

 

Advertisements

Climbing the Christmas Tree

Continuing my tradition, on my 60th!

Part of this tradition is a good, exhilarating walk in the natural beauty that’s so much more refreshing and renewing and relaxing than all the “stuff” that people say we “have” to do to celebrate the season.

(photos of the Christmas Baby in the tree by my wife, the Christmas Carol)

New Seasons and New Reasons

DSCF5823

My old cabin on the island

“Nature looks ahead, and makes ready for the new season in the midst of the old. . .  The present season is always the mother of the next.”

~John Burroughs, Ways of Nature

The wonderful refreshing rains have returned to our thirsty land.  The pasturelands are greening; the streams are flowing and lakes are filling.  Snow is falling in the mountains that await the February cabin trip by the icy rivers.

DSCF8904

Snowshoe paradise

I am always grateful for the change of seasons, when the months of contrasts arrive in their annual visit colorfully clothed in dark and light, cold and warm, silence and song, death and life.

When the first sky-waterfalls begin, the sound holds my attention, even when it’s mostly the water pouring down the spouts at night.  There’s a calming and a reassuring sense that the birds, the coyotes, the insects and the land are breathing relief at the taste of liquid life.

Watershedding

Watershedding

My Christmas birthday has changed over the years.  More accurately, it changes every year.  Last year Carol and I surprised our friends Todd and Judy in the City, arriving at their annual morning brunch to a houseful of hugs and good cheer.

Christmas kisses

Christmas kisses

Leaving the festivities we got stuck in terrible touristy traffic.  I was missing my treeclimb, so we got out of the holiday headache and walked Golden Gate Park for a bit where I found a short olive to “climb.”

photo-49

A few days later I was able to go just a few feet higher in an oak in a local state park.

photo-39

This year we’ll be in the coastal hills for “the day,” among the redwoods and fir.  Between now and then I’ll find a “climber” to be my Christmas Tree.

I’m climbing around some new reasons to enjoy the season this year.  The family seems to be smiling more; good people are connecting; my classes are really very fun to teach; I’m re-reading some good books (Steinbeck, Thomas Paine, Burroughs) and many more birds and species are gathering in the fields and ponds.

Home for the holidays

Home for the holidays

I hope this season of natural beauty gives you many presents.  One gift is good enough.  Life itself.


*This little reflection was just published on Patheos:  Climbing (not cutting) a Christmas Tree