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Taking It Home, Workshop 3: Keenly Observing Nature

In "Exploring Our Values Through Poetry," a Tapestry of Faith program

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

— Rachel Carson

DURING TODAY'S WORKSHOP...

We read the poem "A Nature-Lover Passes" and discussed some of our connections to nature. We used our thoughts from a sensory meditation as the foundation for a poem about nature.

REFLECTION QUESTION:

Where in nature do you feel most spiritually connected and why?

EXPLORE THE TOPICS FURTHER WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS...

  • Compile a "nature CD" of songs and share it with your family, friends, and/or the workshop group.
  • The Chinese solar calendar is a useful tool for farmers, but you could also use it as a helpful reminder to be a keen observer of the seasons. The calendar is composed of twenty-four solar terms that last between fifteen and sixteen days and have rather poetic names (names vary by translations). Here are the solar terms, including the Chinese names (in Western alphabet), each with one possible translation and the approximate date (which may vary by twenty-four hours):

Li chun Spring Begins February 5

Yu shui The Rains February 19

Jing zhe Insects Awaken March 5

Chun fen Vernal Equinox March 20

Ch'ing ming Clear and Bright April 5

Gu yu Grain Rains April 20

Li xia Summer Begins May 5

Xiao man Grain in Bud May 21

Mang zhong Grain in Ear June 6

Xia zhu Summer Solstice June 21

Xiao shu Small Heat July 7

Da shu Great Heat July 23

Li qiu Autumn Begins August 7

Chu shu Heat Ebbs August 23

Bai lu White Dew September 8

Qiu fen Autumnal Equinox September 23

Han lu Cold Dew October 8

Shuang jiang Frost Descends October 23

Li dong Winter Begins November 7

Xiao xue Small Snow November 22

Da xue Great Snow December 7

Dong zhi Winter Solstice December 21

Xiao han Small Cold January 6

Da han Great Cold January 26

Source of translations: Barnett, Raymond, Ph.D. Relax, You're Already at Home: Everyday Taoist Habits for a Richer Life (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin Books, 2004).

  • Keep a family nature journey journal (say that three times fast!). Purchase one notebook or journal for the entire family. Ask family members to take the journal with them when they spend time outside, either walking the dog, walking to the store, hiking, or just playing in the yard. Ask everyone to try to make at least one observation per journey. Alternatively, choose an area commonly visited by your family and observe it through the seasons. Members can make their entry unique: it could be a drawing, a poem, or prose. You could paste an item you collected during your journey into the journal. However, do not pick live leaves or blossoms; use only what has fallen onto the ground.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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