A Spiritual Almanac: “Walk Away Quietly”

A Spiritual Almanac: “Walk Away Quietly”

John Muir’s passion for nature started as an act of rebellion against his father. His father was a strict religious man and he believed anything that distracted the young Muir from his Bible studies deserved a whipping. But Muir had a restless spirit, so it’s said he was “prone to lashings.”

John Muir was born in Scotland in 1838, but his family emigrated to the United States when he was 11 to join the Campbellite Restoration Movement. His father really did force Muir to memorize most of the Bible under threat of physical punishment and while he remained spiritual his entire life, he abandoned religious orthodoxy as soon as he could.

He eventually made his way to San Francisco where he discovered Yosemite. His biographer, Frederick Turner, later wrote that Muir’s journal entry describing his first visit to the valley, “blazes from the page with the authentic force of a conversion experience.”

Muir went on to found the Sierra Club and played an instrumental role in the creation of the national park system. He’s been described as the patron saint of the American wilderness and his writings bear a prophetic quality that stirs our environmental consciousness and inspires the return to nature.

For today’s inspiration, we’re looking at a piece of Muir’s writing that invites us to find spiritual nourishment from the natural world. It’s a passage from his book Our National Parks that we’re calling, “Walk Away Quietly.”

 

WALK AWAY QUIETLY

(Excerpt from OUR NATIONAL PARKS)

By John Muir

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer.

Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.

The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail. 

 

More nuggets for today:

As we’ve struggled to control the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of a federal quarantine has been controversial. But on this day in 1799, the U.S. Congress passed the first federal quarantine legislation.

Three years earlier, Congress authorized the president to take action in support of state health laws as a response to the yellow fever epidemic. The 1799 legislation was a more expansive piece of legislation that increased federal agencies ability to assist states in enforcing “quarantines and other restraints.” The act also empowered the president to direct and remove federal employees and prisoners in the event of an epidemic.

And on this day in 1862, Congress passed the First Legal Tender Act.

The act introduced flat paper money called “greenbacks” as legal currency. It was passed to help the nation finance the Civil War and allowed the government to print paper money that was not backed by an equal amount of gold or silver.

The introduction of the words “In God We Trust” on paper currency didn’t happen until much later, in 1957. It was passed by Congress and signed into law by Eisenhower a year earlier. Historically, it’s been a source of controversy — opponents argue that the inclusion of religious terminology on government-produced currency violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

But apparently most Americans don’t have a problem with it. When surveyed, a whopping 90% of Americans indicated support for the “In God We Trust” inscription on American currency.

Finally, today’s word of wisdom comes to us from the great American novelist, John Steinbeck. He said:

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

 And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac. For additional reading, see A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir.

Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard today, do me a favor and tell a friend. Until tomorrow, be kind and take good care of yourself.

“Walk Away Quietly” excerpted from Our National Parks by John Muir. Public domain.

Download episodes of “A Spiritual Almanac” podcast at https://spiritualalmanac.buzzsprout.com.

For additional video content, visit https://www.youtube.com/c/Granolasoul.

*As an Amazon Associate, Granola Soul may earn income from qualifying purchases.

A Spiritual Almanac: “Walk Away Quietly”

A Spiritual Almanac: “Song of a Dream”

When she was a child, Sarojini Naidu’s father wanted her to become a mathematician. But when she struggled to find the solution to an algebra problem, she wrote her first poem in the margins of her math textbook. It inspired her to write her next poem, and that one was 1300 lines long.

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poet and social activist. After meeting Gandhi in 1916, she traveled the countryside, giving lectures on social welfare and the emancipation of women. Her efforts awakened the consciousness of the women of India and helped them take their place in Indian society.

In addition to her political and social activism, Naidu was celebrated for her poetry. Rabindranath Tagore and other well-known writers of the day counted themselves as admirers, and Gandhi himself called her the “Nightingale of India” based on the imagery and lyrical quality of her work.

For our inspiration today, we’re listening to a Naidu poem that’s full of the lyrical quality Gandhi raved about. It’s a piece titled, “Song of a Dream.”

 

SONG OF A DREAM

By Sarojini Naidu

ONCE in the dream of a night I stood
Lone in the light of a magical wood,
Soul-deep in visions that poppy-like sprang;
And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,
And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,
And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

Lone in the light of that magical grove,
I felt the stars of the spirits of Love
Gather and gleam round my delicate youth,
And I heard the song of the spirits of Truth;
To quench my longing I bent me low
By the streams of the spirits of Peace that flow
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

More nuggets for today:

On this day in 1920, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party was founded.

Hitler announced the Nazi party’s 25-point program at a festival in Munich, and it sounds eerily similar to some of the political ideologies we hear today. Historian Karl Dietrich Bracher characterized the program’s points as being phrased like slogans and lending themselves to:

“… the concise sensational dissemination of the ‘anti’ position on which the party thrived. … Ideologically speaking, [the program] was a wooly, eclectic mixture of political, social, racist, national-imperialist wishful thinking…”

When he announced the program, Hitler declared the points unalterable and according to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the 25-point program remained the official Nazi statement throughout its entire history, although many points were ignored in later years.

Today is also the birthday of Wilhelm Grimm in 1786.

Along with his brother, Jacob, Wilhelm created a collection of stories titled Children’s and Household Tales, better known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

The brothers had a unique relationship. They lived under the same roof their entire lives and held most of their property in common. Their arrangement continued even after Wilhelm married at the age of 39, leading one visitor to remark:

“… they both live in the same house, and in such harmony and community that one might almost imagine the children were common property.”

In an interesting sidenote, the brothers were raised Calvinist and remained religious throughout their adult lives. Wilhelm read a Greek copy of the New Testament every morning, and the surviving correspondence between the brothers contains frequent spiritual references and words of thanks to God. 

Finally, today’s word of wisdom comes to us from the American writer and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said:

“Let us be silent, that we may hear the whisper of God.” 

Silence is always a good thing. I hope you have the chance to enjoy a little bit of it today.

And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.

 

Thanks for listening. Be kind, take good care and I’ll see you tomorrow.

“Song of a Dream” by Sarojini Naidu. Public domain.

Download episodes of “A Spiritual Almanac” podcast at https://spiritualalmanac.buzzsprout.com.

For additional video content, visit https://www.youtube.com/c/Granolasoul.

*As an Amazon Associate, Granola Soul may earn income from qualifying purchases.

A Spiritual Almanac: “Walk Away Quietly”

A Spiritual Almanac: “The Convert”

The British writer, G.K. Chesterton, had a tendency to forget where he was going and he frequently boarded the wrong trains. He personally recounted several occasions when he found himself in the wrong place and telegrammed his wife to ask where he was supposed to be. She would always sent the same reply: “Home.”

G.K. Chesterton had no theological training and never held a position in the church. But he was one of the most influential religious writers of the twentieth century. A confirmed Catholic, he’s best known for his mainstream religious books and his fictional portrayals of the priest-detective, Father Brown. But Chesterton’s first published works were books of poetry.

For today’s inspiration, we’re looking at a Chesterton poem that describes the euphoria of religious experience. It’s a piece titled, “The Convert.”

 

THE CONVERT

By G.K. Chesterton

After one moment when I bowed my head

And the whole world turned over and came upright,

And I came out where the old road shone white.

I walked the ways and heard what all men said,

Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,

Being not unlovable but strange and light;

Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite

But softly, as men smile about the dead

The sages have a hundred maps to give

That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,

They rattle reason out through many a sieve

That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:

And all these things are less than dust to me

Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

More nuggets for today:

On this day in 1879, F.W. Woolworth opened his first store in Utica, New York.

Woolworth was born to devout Methodist parents in nearby Rodman, New York. When he was four years old, he told his parents he wanted to become a traveling peddler when he grew up, and he frequently set up pretend stores with his brothers.

He named his first real store “Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store.” The idea was that he would offer general merchandise at a discount, buy directly from manufacturers and sell at fixed prices. The store failed within three months. But he kept the sign and used it when he opened another store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That one took off and launched one of the world’s largest store chains.

Today also marks the death of the artist, Andy Warhol, in 1987.

Warhol was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and his parents were immigrants from Slovakia. He started his career in advertising art, but quickly pivoted and became a leading figure in the “Pop Art” movement of the 1950s. For more than three decades, he was an icon of the artistic community and one of the world’s most sought-after portrait artists.

Warhol was a familiar figure on the New York celebrity scene and he lived as an openly gay man long before the arrival of the gay liberation movement. But he went to great lengths to hide the fact that he was also a devout and practicing Catholic. He regularly attended mass and the priest at the church he attended noted that he stopped by almost every day.

At his funeral, Warhol’s friend, John Richardson, described his spirituality. He said:

“Those of you who knew [Andy] in circumstances that were the antithesis of spiritual may be surprised that such a side existed. But exist it did, and it’s key to the artist’s psyche … He took considerable pride in financing his nephew’s studies for the priesthood. And he regularly helped out at a shelter serving meals to the homeless and hungry … The knowledge of this secret piety inevitably changes our perception of an artist who fooled the world into believing that his only obsessions were money, fame, glamour …”

Finally, our word of wisdom for today come to us from the great Sufi mystic, Rumi. He said:

“You were born with wings, why do you prefer to crawl through life?” 

There’s a lot to be discouraged about these days. But I hope you can muster up the courage to go out there and spread your wings a little bit today. And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.

Download today’s episode of “A Spiritual Almanac” at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart and everywhere else you find your favorite podcasts.

Thanks for listening. Be kind, take good care and I’ll see you tomorrow.

“The Convert” by G.K. Chesterton. Public domain.

Download episodes of “A Spiritual Almanac” podcast at https://spiritualalmanac.buzzsprout.com.

For additional video content, visit https://www.youtube.com/c/Granolasoul.

*As an Amazon Associate, Granola Soul may earn income from qualifying purchases.

A Spiritual Almanac: “Walk Away Quietly”

A Spiritual Almanac: “As Air Carries Light”

According to legend, Jacopone da Todi was attending a wedding when a balcony collapsed, mortally wounding his wife. In his grief, da Todi abandoned a promising legal career, gave away everything he owned and started traveling the countryside as a spiritual wanderer. It was a journey that would eventually land him in prison.

Whether the story about the death of da Todi’s wife is true or not, we know that something triggered his sudden conversion and motivated him to join the Franciscan monastic order. As a Franciscan, he discovered his gift for poetry, and became the leader of a group of Franciscans who embraced the notion of radical poverty.

But da Todi ended up on the wrong side of papal politics and spent five years in prison for opposing the election of Pope Boniface VIII. During his time in prison, he wrote poems about his personal encounters with divine love.

For today’s inspiration, we’re looking at a piece that speaks the essence of da Todi’s spiritual experiences. It’s a poem titled, “As Air Carries Light Poured Out by the Rising Sun.”

 

AS AIR CARRIES LIGHT POURED OUT BY THE RISING SUN

By Jacapone da Todi

As air carries light poured out by the rising sun,
As the candle spills away beneath the flame’s touch,
So too does the soul melt when ignited by light,
its will now gone.
Lost within this light,
the soul, dying to itself, in majesty lives on.

Why fish among the waves for wine
Spilled into the sea?
It has become the ocean.
Can wine once mingled be drawn again from the water?
So it is with the soul drowned in light:
Love has drunk it in,
changed it, mixed it with truth,
until it is entirely new.

The soul is willing and yet unwilling,
For there is nothing the soul now seeks,
save for this beauty!
No longer does it hunger or grasp,
so emptied by such sweetness.
This supreme summit of the soul rises
from a nothingness shaped
and set within the Lord.

FOR ADDITIONAL READING: Jacopone da Todi: The Lauds

More nuggets for today:

Today is the celebration of Maha Shivaratri in the Hindu tradition.

Maha Shivaratri is a major Hindu festival. It’s celebrated in honor of the god, Shiva, and recalls Shiva’s performance of the heavenly dance. During the festival, believers are encouraged to pray and meditate on honesty, non-violence, charity and other virtues. While some celebrants do their best to keep everyone awake all night, others mark the day with a visit to a nearby temple or on pilgrimage.

On this day in 1582, Pope Gregory XII introduced the Gregorian calendar, replacing the Julian calendar created by Caesar in 46 B.C.

The Julian calendar was seriously flawed — it calculated a year as 365 days and six hours. In reality it only takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds for the Earth to circle the sun.

The Gregorian calendar adjusted for the discrepancy. But to get time back on track, Gregory needed to skip several days. So, in 1582, the day following October 4 was October 15. Gregory also ordered that New Year’s Day be moved from April 1 to January 1.

Today is also the birthday of the American politician and civil rights leader, John Lewis, in 1940.

As a young boy, Lewis dreamed of being a preacher and he practiced by preaching to the chickens on his family’s farm. He would later graduate from American Baptist Theological Seminary and be ordained as a Baptist minister.

But Lewis is best known for his work in the civil rights arena. He was one of the “Big Six” leaders who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He also led the first of three marches from Selma to Montgomery across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. During that march, Lewis and other protesters were beaten bloody by police.

He went on to serve 17 terms in the house of Representatives and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Lewis died of pancreatic cancer in July 2020. But just a few months earlier, on March 1, Lewis spoke at the Edmund Pettus bridge during a commemoration event for the first Selma march. In his speech, he again spoke the now famous line:

“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”

Finally, our word of wisdom for today come to us from the Thomas Aquinas. He said:

“The things that we love tell us what we are.”

I hope you find something — or someone — interesting to love today. And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.

Thanks for listening. Be kind, take good care and I’ll see you tomorrow.

“As Air Carries Light Poured Out by the Rising Sun” by Jacopone da Todi. Public domain.

Download episodes of “A Spiritual Almanac” podcast at https://spiritualalmanac.buzzsprout.com.

For additional video content, visit https://www.youtube.com/c/Granolasoul.

*As an Amazon Associate, Granola Soul may earn income from qualifying purchases.

A Spiritual Almanac: “Walk Away Quietly”

A Spiritual Almanac: “I Live, I Die, I Burn, I Drown” by Delmira Agustini

The Uruguayan poet, Delmira Agustini, published her first volume of poems when she was a teenager. She would go on to inspire an entire generation of South American writers before dying a tragic and violent death.

Delmira Agustini’s works often feature Eros — the Greek god of love — as the protagonist, and she frequently wrote about female sexuality at a time when the literary scene was dominated by men. Her attention to the feminine led one of her peers to compare Agustini to the Christian mystic, Teresa of Avila, saying that Agustini was the only woman since Teresa to truly expresses herself as a woman.

She married in 1913 and divorced less than a year later. A month after the divorce her ex-husband ended her life by shooting her twice in the head. Agustini was just 27 years old.

For today’s inspiration, we’re looking at an Agustini poem that talks about the pain we experience whenever we exercise the courage to love another. It’s a piece titled, “I Live, I Die, I Burn, I Drown.”

 

I LIVE, I DIE, I BURN, I DROWN

By Delmira Agustini

I live, I die, I burn, I drown 
I endure at once chill and cold 
Life is at once too soft and too hard 
I have sore troubles mingled with joys 

Suddenly I laugh and at the same time cry 
And in pleasure many a grief endure 
My happiness wanes and yet it lasts unchanged 
All at once I dry up and grow green 

Thus I suffer love’s inconstancies 
And when I think the pain is most intense 
Without thinking, it is gone again. 

Then when I feel my joys certain 
And my hour of greatest delight arrived 
I find my pain beginning all over once again.

More nuggets for today:

In 1499, the German mathematician and astronomer, Johannes Stoffler, predicted a global flood would occur on this day in 1524.

He based his prediction on planetary alignments associated with the astrological sign of Pisces and convinced a German count to build a three-story ark, not unlike Noah from the book of Genesis. Incredibly, when the count boarded the ark on the predicted day, it began to rain. The rainstorm turned out to be a dud, but the gathered crowd panicked and hundreds reportedly died as they stampeded the ship. When the count refused to let them come aboard, the crowd dragged him off the ark and stoned him to death.

And in a weird historical twist, on this day 469 years later, CBS aired a special called The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark.

A whopping 20 million viewers tuned in to watch George Jammal claim he’d seen the ark on Mount Ararat in Turkey and brought home a piece of wood from it. Later, it was discovered that Jammal had never even been to Mount Ararat and a biblical scholar admitted to helping him invent the entire thing.

Today is also the birthday of the legendary landscape photographer, Ansel Adams, in 1902.

Adams was a restless child and he was kicked out of several schools for being inattentive. His father eventually pulled him out of school altogether and hired private tutors to educate him.

But when he was 17, Adams joined the Sierra Club and landed a job as the summer caretaker of a Sierra Club facility at Yosemite. During summers, he spent his time hiking, camping and taking photographs of the natural world — a passion that would ultimately define his life.

Adams is best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West. He founded a group of like-minded photographers called “Group f/64.” Group members promoted “pure photography” and developed techniques to sharpen the clarity and focus of images — resulting in a style of photography that has a haunting and even spiritual quality.

Speaking about his uncanny ability to capture some of the most impressive landscape images ever recorded, Adams joked that he had divine help. He said:

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”

 Adams died in 1984 at the age of 82, but his work lives on through a trust that bears his name.

 Finally, our wise word for the day come to us from the nineteenth-century Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh. He said:

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

So, let’s raise a glass to today’s small things.

And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.

Download today’s episode of “A Spiritual Almanac” at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart and everywhere else you find your favorite podcasts.

Thanks for listening. Until next time, be kind, take good care and I’ll see you tomorrow.

“I Live, I Die, I Burn, I Drown” by Delmira Agustini. Public domain.

Download episodes of “A Spiritual Almanac” podcast at https://spiritualalmanac.buzzsprout.com.

For additional video content, visit https://www.youtube.com/c/Granolasoul.

*As an Amazon Associate, Granola Soul may earn income from qualifying purchases.

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