Living within nature’s rhythms

“I can soon begin to tell the time by how the light is slanting off our walls at sunrise and when the darkness falls — and I suppose back to a more essential human life.

~ Pico Iyer, The Urgency of Slowing Down. An Interview with Krista Tippett (Onbeing, November, 2018), quoted by Live & Learn.

Living within nature’s rhythms comes less naturally to us than it did for our ancestors. I say, “Let there be light,” flip a switch, and there is light. “The light was called ‘day’ and the darkness called ‘night’.” Not anymore. The darkness is as light to us. But not to dogs!

Barclay, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel shadow chaser.

Barclay, the canine companion who joins me for my daily afternoon nap, is what they call a shadow chaser. He lives by the movements of the sun, the hourly changes of light and shadow. Barclay aims to please. He’s very respectful of the napper. He lies very still . . . until it’s time . . . and he moves from the foot of the bed up to the pillow and licks my face to say “it’s time!”

The angle of the light from the bedroom window is his alarm clock. He knows the exact moment of the shift in the light’s angle that says it’s time to get up and head quickly to master suite bathroom where the light will be like the aurora borealis. Time to rise and shine. Time for me to open and shut the shower door. Over an over, to make the light move around the floor and walls so he can jump at it, pounce on it, eat it, or catch it with a paw. It’s playtime! Until the angle of the light shining through the small hexagonal window changes and the stream of light disappears until tomorrow about 3:10 PM . . . unless the clouds hide keep the light away, and it’s time to stay quiet at the foot of the bed for another day.

Morning sun on cabin wall.

The closest I get to nature’s rhythms here in Chaska is the end of nap time. At the cabin by the wetland, it’s altogether different. The light streams in everywhere, always from a different angle, luscious golden sunlight dancing on the rough-cut pine walls, or the blue light of the full moon that streams through once a month. And all without flipping a switch.

And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness God called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Gen. 1:3-5)

— Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, Minnesota, January 31, 2019.

6 thoughts on “Living within nature’s rhythms

  1. I certainly hope my 8 degrees here in Cincinnati and your -4 in Chaska makes us stronger. Does cold do the same as the heat of the Crucible: what would Nieztsche say to that??
    I think it does. Bob

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      • Something just hit me through your description of Barclay’s sense of passing time. What I’ve noticed in my own sense of time is that my 1st 27 years of life in Grand Forks, N.D. is made up of many more indelible memories while my 15 years in rural Redwood County, Mn. & the last 28 years in suburban Chaska are more fleeting with fewer indelible memories. Obviously the formative memories when one’s life is young take place in a time system that resembles Barclay’s more than what we experience as adults. It seems to be we are programed, after living as a species for a few million years in Barclay time, to function in that time. The “uprootedness” we experience in modern culture is not the way we were meant to live. I wager that our essence is much more like Barclay’s reality than the artificial experience of modern time & “uprootedness” that has become, for many, the normalized reality. In Heidegger’s analysis mobility has destroyed our folk societies where we were left to be with our tribe/extended families. That’s the way we were until many, if not most, left our roots for a so-called better life that was offered by our empire. We weren’t wise enough to be able to resist the attractiveness of “uprootedness” we ended up embracing as normal. My last 28 years in Chaska have rapidly passed with no where near as much meaning as those 1st 27 formative ones provided. To have been able to be organically tied to those first experiences & to build on them was to be the meaning of life while instead we are left with only the memories & not the actual face to face connections with the loved ones we left behind. Emails, texts & phone calls can never make up for those connections. Thanks Barclay, for finally helping provide some closure.

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      • Gary, Once again your reflection deepens the discussion. Who else in Chaska mentions Heidegger and Barclay in the same paragraph? I rest my case. My best friend of the last 55 years is at the final stage of “terminal restlessness” with pancreatic cancer. The good news is that he’s deeply rooted in the faith, and that his family stays with him singing the hymns and popular songs that bring him relief and joy even now.

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      • Thanks Gordon. I’m sorry to hear about your best friend’s last days. Did you meet him when you were about 18? Sounds again like that familial dimension surfaces to be what counts. The more we can get of it the better.

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