Yesterday i ended up reclining on the deck for over an hour, listening to PD James' Death Comes to Pemberly
. I must confess to a not quite being able to dig into Jane Austen with ease, and am relying on the recent webseries The Lizzy Bennet Diaries
for my understanding of the Pride and Predjudice
. Many of the discussions in James' novel have the characters very formally discussing plans. I'm not sure if i am aware of this because it is a mystery, and i am hunting for clues, or if this is some counter commentary on witty innuendo.
Nonetheless, the characters all please me more than the dysfunctional brothers in The Baker Street Letters
Dozing in the sun and listening was quite restorative, and as the evening rolled around i perked up and started in on my personal to do list. I've joined the native grasslands society and native plant society, and signed up for a photographic workshop on environmental photography. That outlay was met with a wonder if i would be able to cover the expense with iPad app sales.
The native plant society chapter was meeting yesterday evening, so Christine and i bestirred ourselves to trundle off to attend. My what a packed room! I wonder if camera trapping is such a popular topic or if the society is just that large. Next month a botanist is speaking on the changing scientific names of some plants. I've been following her name through her plant sightings in the calflora data base.
I don't see any competition in the books the society puts out: they are preaching to the choir, as it were. Perhaps there will be support for our project.
I am mostly aware that this attendance is the beginning of networking, and ,unlike the dread i usually address to that word, i did not dread this.
The speaker's background was physics, and he now builds cameras to help with species surveys. It is the type work that would delight me, and i hope that this "solution" to my career is viable.
Last Sunday (perhaps the Sunday before?) i had clarity, finally, on the spiritual grounding of this direction. I've not doubted the leading: i can clearly recall the February morning where i felt a surprising and strong convincement that i should seek out and observe California native flowers. I spoke of regrets earlier this week: while i don't have a large collection of regrets, i do have a collection of moments of knowledge. Quakers call them leadings. There are natural and supernatural explanations for the origin: such awareness may arise from subconscious back-brain analysis suddenly cresting into consciousness as insight, or from a communication with the Divine. I have found that for me, the critical issue is not how leadings occur, but what one does in response. Practice is for me the key, and the practice of responding to leadings is what i enthusiastically endorse.
(Indeed, the leading i had to responding to the recent management issue was one i did not follow, much to my regret.)
I've been asking myself what spiritual gifts am i offering in the focus on plants. In as much as our relationship with the larger ecosystem is part of our spiritual life, i understood our current plans as a raising of awareness of diversity in relating to the green part of the natural world. Another leading i have had though, and that is the grounds for my involvement in Meeting, is that my unformed and unnurtured aspects of self are far more in the relationships with other human beings. The place where it is work for me to grow and change is there: so i do work at it.
It has been easy for me to articulate how management is a ministry, but how can i articulate this pedantic observation of plants as a ministry? In Meeting, i understood the work as a parable. Most people look at the green things around them and see tree, grass, shrub. They may be able to distinguish at sight a rose from a hydrangea, but if you asked someone detailed questions -- such as are the edges of the leaf smooth? Do the veins branch symmetrically or alternating? Even someone who lovingly cared for their hydrangea or rose might not be able answer. We see leaf, and stop there, and have just learned the over-all impression.
And i think that is often how we relate (or, i'm sure, i relate without work) to others. That is M, my neighbor. I recognize her walking her dog, i recognize her as she comes home: but do i really see her? So many of us have hurts because we have not been really seen. Admittedly, we want our inner selves to be seen, not so much someone observing whether we are right or left handed, near sighted or farsighted.
My experience of botanical observation has been one of realizing how much i have missed for decades in the details of the identity of plants. How much is there in the identity of other humans i have missed, that we miss? How often do we learn the name, that is our neighbor M, and then stop in observing, in seeing that person?
This may be mostly a spiritual teaching that i need to learn, that others may have learned, but having a frame for this practice of relating to plants that expands to inform my relationship with humans comforts me that i am on the right trail for this moment in my life.