Tag: Nature’s Teachings

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

_TSL0997The clock proclaimed sunrise but heavy clouds hung close so dawn’s light was slow to brighten the day. Silently I slipped into the water, wrapped in my dry suit and holding my heavy, underwater camera equipment. With a slow and quiet frog kick I moved toward the narrow opening of the spring.

A manatee exiting the clear water paused in passing, watched me for a few moments and then moved forward in her glacial, flowing pace. Low light and particulate matter in the open water made a shot impossible but communion was exchanged and was sweet.

As I approached the spring, a manatee laid sleeping on the white, sandy bottom. I carefully avoided splashing and went around him and into the clear water of the freshwater spring.

_TSL1000Ten manatees of various sizes lay asleep on the bottom, huddled together in a common area. I glided away from them toward the back of the small spring and turned to face them from a distance. I took a few photographs as the light increased and then felt drawn into their meditation, into their group mind of stillness and dreaming warm, saltwater dreams.

_TSL1057In the quiet, peaceful water temple I closed my eyes and floated effortlessly with heart and mind open. The beauty of their being touched my core. No thoughts, just sensations enveloped me. Cool water on my face and neck; gravity-free except for the heavy camera rig in my hands; muscles relaxed; gentle floating….total surrender and release of all stress, tension…of everything except that moment of manatee mind.

_TSL1041One woman, ten sirens of the sea communing in perfect harmony caused time to disappear. We joined in that glorious, timeless dimension of stillness and quiet.

The moments of harmony with my sisters and brothers were some of the sweetest I have ever experienced.

_TSL1061After several minutes I opened my eyes and noticed my open heart and calm mind. I said a silent prayer of gratitude for the gift of this encounter then took several photographs, hoping to be able to translate, through art, the experience that so powerfully touched my core.

Slowly, quietly I moved around the side of the rock wall toward the exit. I turned before leaving to offer my thanks to the manatees and witnessed several slowly rise from their resting place on the bottom to the surface to take a deep, full breath. So in-tune in their sleep, their meditation they breathed in unison. Humans have much to learn from these gentle beings.

 

_TSL1092Throughout King’s Bay and Crystal River there are official sanctuaries or areas set aside where manatees can rest without human interference. Heavy fines and penalties are imposed on anyone entering these designated safe-zones. Today in the small, clear spring, I found my own place of peace, my own sanctuary.

Image of a juvenile taken yesterday in Three Sister's Springs
Image of a juvenile taken the day before in Three Sister’s Springs
Life’s Compass

Life’s Compass

SimoneLipscombWho Am I? Why am I here? These are common questions asked by those intent on discovering deeper meaning in life…those who search for a clearer reflection of the true self.

This time of stillness and listening during the past several weeks has produced many breadcrumbs that have led to a clearer vision for my path. Memories have surfaced, people have sent comments and reflections on my work and realizations during moments of openness and surrender during yoga classes have yielded much guidance. One memory in particular is working powerfully in my heart and mind.

_TSL7666My mom and I were in a grocery store when I was very young. One of her friends greeted her and commented on what a beautiful child I was. Wow, I thought. I am beautiful. After the woman walked away I asked my mom what that meant. I cannot remember exactly what my mother said but it was an encouragement to not take the woman’s comment to heart. She didn’t want me to be conceited or stuck on outer expressions of beauty. That’s the take-away now but then I remember being confused about this word: Beauty. It was a defining moment in my life.

_TSL7676I never thought of myself as beautiful through childhood, teenage, young adult years and even now….I didn’t want to be stuck-up or conceited..still don’t. But mostly, I didn’t want Beauty to be defined by something outside of myself. I wanted people to see me and love me for what was/is inside my heart. I always wanted boys, men, to see the real me, not the outer package….. so…..there wasn’t much dating. I didn’t focus on the outer expression of beauty…didn’t care about make-up or cosmetics or fashion because that seemed a pale expression of the beauty I found by turning inward and experiencing the fire of my heart that is pure and loving and kind or by connecting with the nature, especially animals.

DSC_8937That meeting, over 50 years ago, brought forth my life’s quest to explore the concept of beauty. What is it? Where is it? Is it in me? Is it in Nature?  I deeply remember the encounter yet my memory might be different from the actual event. What is significant is how it affected my life.

Isn’t it amazing how one seemingly insignificant event can be a turning point in our life’s path. It was as if that moment was the cue needed to lead me on my quest, my path, for this lifetime. And I didn’t realize it until recently as I paused in stillness for weeks and simply allowed my path to unwind to the point where I could be clear before moving forward.

_TSL0484A few days ago I attended and photographed a workshop by Ibiyinka Alao.* In his presentation on art he said this: “An artist is a person with a hole in their heart that’s equal in size to the universe outside of them. Every time I paint a picture, I am filling this hole.” I paused and lowered my camera when he said this. It is exactly how I feel when I am hovering underwater with humpback whale mothers and babes or am nose-to-nose with a curious manatee….or standing in the warm sand at sunset experiencing the transcendental moment where my open heart meets the heart of the Ocean. If I can capture the emotions I feel during these moments and translate them, with images and writing, to others I am totally at one with my Path. When I create these translations, I feel my heart filling and reaching out to the Universe with openness and love. That is Beauty…to me.

SimoneLipscomb (3)My passion for experiencing and documenting Beauty is my life’s work. My life’s compass was set from that encounter so long ago. Gratitude for that defining moment is strong and I thank my mother for prompting me to go on the search for beauty.

_TSL6508What is your life’s compass? What is the ‘thing’ that brings you back to sanity amidst chaos and fear? What is it that you yearn for more than anything?

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Night Before Christmas….From the Reef

Night Before Christmas….From the Reef

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Night Before Christmas…Turtle Island Style

Adapted by Simone Lipscomb

From Clement Clarke Moore’s Poem

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Coral Park

Not a fish was stirring, not even a shark.

The stockings were hung on the brain coral with care,

In hopes that Santa Loggerhead soon would be there;

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The Parrotfish were nestled in cocoon beds,

While visions of candied algae swam in their heads;

And daddy under his coral ledge, and I in my gap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out from the deep there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the reef to see what was the matter.

_TSL6508Away to the drop-off I swam a fast clip,

Right through Tube Sponges and over Sea Whips.

The moon on the breast of sand, white like snow,

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below,

When, what my wondering eyes saw from the dark,

A Giant Clam and eight big Bull Sharks,

With an ancient old driver, who looked well-fed,

I knew for certain, it was Santa Loggerhead.

More rapid than Barracuda’s his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

_TSL1657“Now Billy! Now Bruzer! Now, Bobby and Barry!

On Betty! On Beatrice! On Emily and Mary!

To the top of the reef! To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away Dash away all.”

As palm leaves that before the wild hurricanes fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the reef-top the bully’s did tow,

A clam full of goodies and Santa Loggerhead, Oh!

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the reef

The gnashing and gnawing of all those shark’s teeth.

_TSL7226As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the reef Santa Loggerhead swam with a bound.

He was old and wrinkled from head to flipper,

His shell full of barnacles, but he couldn’t look hipper.

A bundle of goodies he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a diver just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled, so ancient and wise!

His head was enormous, his shell a huge size!

His beaked mouth was strong, I’m here to tell,

His overall look was really quite swell.

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The stump of a Tube Sponge he held in his beak,

And Blue Chromis encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad shell and quite a round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a Cannonball Jelly.

SimoneLipscomb (25)He was ancient and huge, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a turn of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying a flipper aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, off the reef he rose;

SimoneLipscomb (1)He sprang to his clam sleigh, to his team said, “GO!”

And away they all swam like a five knot flow.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he swam out of sight,

“Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night.”

 

 

Harmony

Harmony

SimoneLipscomb (5)There’s an old joke that goes: How can you tell a happy motorcycle rider? She’s the one with bugs in her teeth. As I was cycling in the pre-dawn darkness I remembered the joke. I was laughing, smiling and rejoicing in the dark, quiet stillness and wondered if I had a collection of bugs in my teeth.

Birds were just awakening and were surprised by my whirling by in a blur of neon green, headlamp and red-flashing taillight. There was pure magic in the swampy woods and live oak forests before the sun arose and dissipated the gentle energy of the inky night. How could I not smile…or laugh out loud at the depth of beauty?

Deeper into the woods, deeper inside myself I went until there seemed to be no separation. At one point it was as if I took off dark glasses, so clearly did I see and connect with the energy of the backcountry. I thought of  a verse of scripture that goes something like…Now we see through a glass, darkly; someday we shall see clearly. For a brief moment I saw the Oneness, the lack of separation of this body, my consciousness, my energy field and that of the forest. I felt the deep joy that comes with the experience.

_TSL7676Through the marsh I pedaled with its beautiful openness barely illuminated by the rosy-orange sky. Breathing in….breathing out…the beauty filling me, my love and gratitude going into the marsh…the tall grass, flowers, water, creatures.

Then a turn to the left and a bird flew across the trail and I saw the bird as a musical note.  All of creation is part of one harmonious chord. How lovely this planetary song, I thought.

DSC_8937Onward I moved and the realization came: When a species is threatened or in danger of extinction, the musical note it holds in the whole dims and fades and if that species disappears, there is a minor tone instead of a clear tone and the planetary music sounds mournful. The more species that die off, the more minor the key, the sadder the music of our ocean-planet home.

IMG_1705Likewise if a place is destroyed the particular note it vibrated in the whole chord is gone and the music is more distorted. Imagine the planetary vibration, once in perfect harmonious accord, changed with each act of violence, each act of destruction. Eventually the chord, the vibration can dissemble into distorted chaos.

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Brent Durand took this image of me diving in the Sea of Cortez. My deepest meditations are underwater while diving. Harmony…ah!


The resolution to this disharmony, this destruction, is to vibrate our hearts with love and to act from a place of compassion. As the vibration of the planet changes, humans can restore balance and harmony with the intention of love and by concrete, daily practices of recycling, using less fossil fuel, buying less ‘stuff,’ supporting organic farming, re-purposing articles, helping neighbors, helping animals, meditation, self-healing…..

_TSL3873Light of the rising sun began to illuminate tree branches, spanish moss, and autumn flowers. Palmetto fronds reached toward the light, palms wide open to receive, ‘fingers’ releasing gratitude skyward. They are an example for us. Hearts open to receive, hands giving love back to the whole by our actions, thoughts and the daily intentions we hold. Planetary harmony is in our hands.

Two white-tailed deer stood alongside the trail as I neared the end of my ride. They peacefully watched me approach and moved off as I quietly pedaled past. Such beauty. Such harmony. Such gratitude.

 

Awakening

Awakening

MagnoliaSophiaElders, sages and mystics say that now is the time to awaken. The stars are in alignment, the planets are dancing in just the right rhythm and the window of opportunity is upon us.

SimoneLipscomb (14)What does it mean to awaken? Is it a one-time, light-filled moment of blissful awareness? Or is it small moments where instead of screaming at the droning leaf blower next door you turn on music to drown out the mind-numbing sound and smile? “Let’s just breathe….” sings Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Or choosing to take a deep breath after beeping your horn when a driver swerves into your lanerather than yell obscenities.

SimoneLipscomb (12)Awakening…maybe it’s just awareness. Awareness of what’s going on in body-mind-spirit. Yes, even Eddie Vedder on repeat can create angst….did I put iTunes on repeat? 

Brazalian Bossanova…that’s better. Maybe awakening is as simple as knowing what we need to stay balanced. No leaf blowers today. No songs on repeat. Meditation please. Yoga please. Ten emails demanding action immediately…no, not now.

Me and the Sea...the Sea of Cortez

More time outdoors.

SimoneLipscomb (23)More time underwater with my camera gear.

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Perhaps awakening is learning to be in neutral rather than speeding or going in reverse. Maybe awakening is simply learning to be still and quiet…there seems to be a wealth of wisdom in that neutral place of stillness.

_TSL7226Could be that awakening is simply learning to dance with our own energies….active, receptive and neutral. Balance.

_TSL5004Maybe we leave clues for ourselves in our self-expression….

“These stones and dust fade into wrinkles and colors of earth, sacred earth whose face is marked with smile lines from laughing at wind and sea lions frolicking in tides that kissed Her beautiful Self. Lay bare these bones to bake in the sun and cleanse me in Her reflective glow. These white-chalk, pock-marked bones whiter still from nesting shore birds…red, pink, salmon, rust, orange roughened, weathered, ragged by forces beyond control…lay bare these bones. Layers and layers of color and texture open to elemental forces so powerful only mountains such as these could behold them and survive the beauty. Around me stretches the vast, ragged peaks of Guardian Angel Island. Its massive face affects me deeply. I am struck with awe to my core and I find myself unable to turn away from the massive rock that lies before me, unable to hide from Her gaze.”

_TSL3955Perhaps little-by-little light fills our minds and hearts and we simply become more awake, less unaware, of what’s happening in the microcosm that is the individual, human experience.