We celebrated and hosted our annual Earth Day Retreat this past weekend. The weekend could not have been more beautiful! Our garden was alive with rhododendrons in full bloom, the last of the tulips and primroses, and the beginnings of some roses in bloom!
Brent Matsuda, our guest biologist, came for the event, as he does every year. The group of yogis and nature enthusiasts were truly wonderful. The weekend was filled with sunshine and long walks on the beach. We identified many birds, seen through Brent’s fabulous scope (see our list below). We also experienced long yoga sessions, both restorative and quite active. Everyone had plenty of chances to do inversions with the headstand bench and the outdoor sling. I seem to have had the theme of Italian food going and everyone was very happy with the meals.
And lucky us! We got to eat two meals outside in the garden!
Late one evening, Brent took us out to do owl calls! This was very late at night and we were pretty tired from a full day of activity and it was cold out (we wrapped ourselves in wool yoga blankets), so we didn’t stay out for more than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, we did not hear any owls respond to our owl calls or to the professional owl recordings. Brent was certain that, given more time, we would have heard the barred owls call out to us. We did, however, see the star-studded night sky and just that was breathtaking!
Here is the impressive list of birds we saw on just ONE walk on the beach at Protection Point on Saturday afternoon:
Lark or Bunting (we were not sure which one it was!)
Loons, two kinds: Common and Pacific
Western Grebe and Horned Grebe
Double Crested Cormorant and Pelagic Cormorant
Black Bellied Plover
We also saw a sea lion, a harbor seal, jumping salmon, and Brent identified the following:
brown millipede, amphipod, marine sow bug, and a bumblebee!
We asked everyone to bring along a poem or a reading/passage having to do with nature or Earth Day. We shared the readings I was quite impressed with the scope of shared readings for Earth Day Retreat 2015. Below you will see all the sources from our readings, three of which I have written out in full.
Beloved Mother of All Things by Thich Nhat Hahn
Excerpt from Love Letter to the Earth
“Dear Mother Earth,
“I bow my head before you as I look deeply and recognize that you are present in me and that I’m a part of you. I was born from you and you are always present, offering me everything I need for my nourishment and growth. My mother, my father, and all my ancestors are also your children. We breathe your fresh air. We drink your clear water. We eat your nourishing food. Your herbs heal us when we’re sick.
“You are the mother of all beings. I call you by the human name Mother and yet I know your mothering nature is more vast and ancient than humankind. We are just one young species of your many children. All the millions of other species who live — or have lived — on Earth are also your children. You aren’t a person, but I know you are not less than a person either. You are a living breathing being in the form of a planet.
“Each species has its own language, yet as our Mother you can understand us all. That is why you can hear me today as I open my heart to you and offer you my prayer.
“Dear Mother, wherever there is soil, water, rock or air, you are there, nourishing me and giving me life. You are present in every cell of my body. My physical body is your physical body, and just as the sun and stars are present in you, they are also present in me. You are not outside of me and I am not outside of you. You are more than just my environment. You are nothing less than myself.
“I promise to keep the awareness alive that you are always in me, and I am always in you. I promise to be aware that your health and well-being is my own health and well-being. I know I need to keep this awareness alive in me for us both to be peaceful, happy, healthy, and strong.
“Sometimes I forget. Lost in the confusions and worries of daily life, I forget that my body is your body, and sometimes even forget that I have a body at all. Unaware of the presence of my body and the beautiful planet around me and within me, I’m unable to cherish and celebrate the precious gift of life you have given me. Dear Mother, my deep wish is to wake up to the miracle of life. I promise to train myself to be present for myself, my life, and for you in every moment. I know that my true presence is the best gift I can offer to you, the one I love.”
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Song of the Thrush by Harry Martinson
EcoYoga by Henryk Skolimowski
Utterance and The New Song by W. S. Merwin
Mother Earth’s Gifts by Kelly Roper
Earth Day by Jane Yolen
I am the EarthAnd the Earth is me.Each blade of grass,Each honey tree,Each bit of mud,And stick and stoneIs blood and muscle,Skin and bone.And just as INeed every bitOf me to makeMy body fit,So Earth needsGrass and stone and treeAnd things that grow hereNaturally.That’s why weCelebrate this day.That’s why acrossThe world we say:As long as life,As dear, as free,I am the Earth