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Weather and Spirit: The Enchantment of Sky
The following is the text of an address delivered at the daily chapel at St Michaels University School in Victoria, BC on January 10, 2003.
Island View Beach...just after noon. The storms of the past week have long filled in, but the winds of one yet to come push rollers across the high-tide beach. I sit...my jacket rustling in the wind...and I feel a spirit moving through me, rustling my soul in sympathetic response.
Thomas Moore in The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life has called my condition enchantment "nature's song heard by a sensitive ear...reflecting nature's geometry." He tells us that mystics from many religions have taught that enchantment provides a fulfilment that makes life purposeful and vibrant. An enchanted world speaks to the soul, and the soul has an absolute, unforgiving need for regular journeys into enchantment.
When I was a child, I found my main source of enchantment in the sky above me. First coming through the power of an Illinois thunderstorm, then in the beauty of snowflakes, later in the voice of the wind. I have studied weather in detail through three degrees. With equations and sensors and logic, I tried to fit weather into a tidy, explainable box, but always something was missing. I found the missing piece. And it was the same missing piece that anatomists and physiologists cannot locate within the human body.
Call it the soul, the spirit. All Nature has soul, has spirit. So does weather. But you must open yourself freely for it to be revealed. I find a spirit in the realm of weather that stirs all my five main senses and touches many of the rest. Weather brings me spirit daily, a continuous flow there for the inspiring.
Weather is elemental: air, water, solar fire, dust of the Earth. It is atoms and molecules, energy rampant and energy withdrawn. It follows natural laws. It has yin/yang rhythms: hot/cold; wet/dry; high/low; clear/cloudy. We are one with the sky. It begins at our feet yet extends to the heights of our imagination. It has rhythm, like breathing inspiration the taking in of spirit.
Sweep your eyes across the sky. The visible and the invisible form a balance, a natural dance in a process ever flowing without end. Equations tell us part of the story; poetry reveals the rest. Open yourself to the process, and the science of nature will eventually unveil its poetry as well.
Moore tells us "nature is also a book, teaching those who are willing to be its pupils." "Enchanted science," he continues, does "not divide the poetry of nature...from physical laws and characteristics..."
I have known and still find science and poetry intermingled when my Weather Eyes are looking up. In many ways, shapes and spirits, weather brings to me rapture, wonder, a connectedness with the divine. In essence, Enchantment.
"The soul has an absolute, unforgiving need for regular excursions into enchantment," Moore reminds us, "like the body needs food and the mind needs thought."
Keep the yin and yang balance of poetry and science, whatever path you follow. Keep the steady rhythm of imagination and experience flowing within you. Find the enchantment.
"With your eyes to the sky," the Zuni people of the Arizona territory remind us, "in old age, may you walk lively on a path of beauty."
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