For the First Time

Meeting Earth for the first time,
O, what wonders she shares with our eager senses!
Her beauty is boundless, in the green of endless forests, in leaves and limbs and every breath we share.
The symbiosis of life takes in and releases in harmony; we participate but remain blind.
From aged stone to painted shores, we find vibrant color and life and sacred presence.
Infinite dimensions in the beating of a butterfly’s wing, through coursing rivers and crashing seas.
Myriad reflections in a drop of dew suspended on a single blade of grass, the colors of a rainbow arcing over us, light shimmers and life teems everywhere, beneath the sea, on the land and high above.

See it!
Breathe it in deeply!
Allow your soul to be stirred from slumber!
Open your eyes and rejoice!

Celebrate earth washing herself clean with gentle showers and scouring storms, rolling thunder and lightning igniting the sky.
The membrane of earth’s vital connections flowing through me and through all of us.
What are we truly and what have we become?
A raindrop, a singing cricket, a colorful flower or the mightiest oak? Are we clouds floating high above the grandeur, witnessing the unfolding of earth’s story, which is our own?
We are endless and one with the beauty that surrounds us, but we cannot sing as she does because our eyes are dim. Our minds are clouded and our attention diverted.
Away, away from our dear Mother who birthed us in pain and wonder.
As we entered this place, trespassing upon her domain, she stared in awe as we returned the gaze.
And she made a promise,
To always provide.
To always nurture.
To allow us to live free in her abundance and ask nothing in return.
O, that we could all meet her again for the first time and witness with new eyes the majesty of her loving embrace.

Would we so freely desecrate her holy body and pillage what she generously provides?
Or might our attention be consumed by what we have rather than what we have not?
Would our minds race so eagerly toward oblivion if we watched a sunset again for the first time?
Would we find conflict and war so easily if the azure of the sea were brand new?
Could our quests for influence and power remain if we truly observed the path of a waterfall for the first time?
If a bird’s song and a berry’s flavor and the wind’s gentle caress were new sensations, would we still seek out the distractions we cling to?
Might there yet be hope for us in new-fallen snow? A mountain’s summit?
In a single breath?

Breathe her in again.
And again.
For the first time.

Unity

The blood flowing through your veins was formed in the heart of a star. We are a microcosm of the Universe, possessing in part the substance of all.

Over eons, our minds have been trained to decipher patterns, yet so many elude us. The coarse texture of a feather, the delicate symmetry of a butterfly wing. Our veins a mountain stream, bringing life to the farthest reaches of our being. Nature’s divine patterns are etched into each of us, yet we are blind to them. We fail to realize our unity with the world even though we are drowning in it.

In nature, we unfold a part of ourselves too often bound up in society’s custom & convention. It is that hidden part which understands our unity with all things, that part which sees the common fabric from which all things are cut. Yet, we must also realize that it is only our minds which do the cutting. In truth the cloth is whole, as it has always been.

Our so-called intellect has a habit of lying to us. Separation is an illusion we impose upon the world because the pure synthesis of nature is beyond our capacity to rationalize. So it is beyond rationality where we can see past the lies. Here, we are truly free to see the beauty of our beating heart. Not the feeble muscle in our chest, but rather the throbbing, pulsing energy of reality itself. That is our true heart, and it is yours as it is mine. One heart, beating for all of us, driving the symbiotic synergy that we call life.

In Defense of the “Articulate F-Bomb”

Language is a funny thing – composed of these strange symbols, which allow us to transfer recognizable images from one mind to another.  Through our spoken and written words, we are able to communicate complex ideas, instruction and insight, and even pass along our accumulated knowledge from one generation to the next.

In short, words have power.  But not all words are created equal; the power spectrum of words runs the gamut, from feeble, mono-dimensional words to the most provocative and profound oratory.  The ability to use words to tap into the psyche of others can be a tremendous asset.  Choosing the words we speak is very much like a gifted artist selecting the shades and hues with which to create his masterpiece.

Since language provides such a powerful, engaging toolset, it is easy to see why the abuse of these tools can be damaging.  Irresponsible use of vocabulary has always been a problem, and will surely continue as long as humans continue speaking.  And while they may change over time and over generations, there are certain words that remain taboo.  American comedian George Carlin introduced us to seven of them in 1972.

One of these infamous words is “fuck”.  It is called “the F-bomb” for a reason; the power it contains, when used effectively, is unparalleled (at least in the English language).  Now, don’t misunderstand; I am in no way defending gratuitous swearing.  Ill-timed or unnecessary profanity is considered offensive to many, and is rarely useful in civil dialogue.  However… there are those rare occasions when dropping an F-bomb can completely reposition what is being said.  It can evoke a visceral response in the hearer that is more profound than anything a lesser word might be capable of.

A perfect example of this viscerally appropriate use of the F-bomb can be found in the Noah Gundersen song, “Jesus, Jesus” (2009, track 5).  After a verse lamenting the current state of world affairs and expressing his desire to experience life and love, the artist gives us these lines:

“Jesus, Jesus
It’s such a pretty place we live in,
and I know we fucked it up.
Please be kind.”

I can think of no more evocative way to convey the sentiment behind those words.  He’s expressing his deep affection for our world and how the beauty and purity of nature is being slowly strangled by our human selfishness.  We haven’t simply “messed up” this “pretty place we live in.”  We haven’t “damaged” it, “abused” it, “ruined” it, or even “raped” it.  Though that last one comes pretty close.

No.  We fucked it up.  Royally.

Even the pleading tone of the singer’s voice on the next line, “Please be kind”, seems to be an acknowledgement of our abject unworthiness of that kindness, in light of what we’ve done to the precious gift we call home.

Art has always been capable of manipulating human emotions, and songwriters are perhaps uniquely gifted in this ability.  Music can effortlessly bring us to tears, drive us to the brink of rage, or enfold us in meditative peace, depending on the notes that are played and the artist’s choice of words.

Words also have the potential to change minds and hearts on critical political and social issues. Who can overstate the impact of Alexander Hamilton’s essays on the formation of the United States, or the ability of religious leaders to incite positive change in their communities? Who questions the influence of a political candidate’s fiery rhetoric to galvanize their base (or their opposition)?  It is precisely because words have such power, that they must be used responsibly. Remember that it was the words of Adolf Hitler, which were used to provoke one of the greatest travesties in human history.

So when is it appropriate to drop an “articulate F-bomb” into a sentence or a song?  It really comes down to intentionality.  The speaker or vocalist must know the audience they are communicating with, and choose words deliberately to emphasize a specific point or concept.  Superfluous use of profanity does little to enhance art or conversation, but the occasional “articulate F-bomb” can evoke an emotional response that would be otherwise unattainable.

In order to be an effective communicator, all options must be left on the table. We should not expect people to tie one hand behind their backs by stigmatizing and excluding certain words from their vocabularies. It is important that we not lose sight of what words actually are. They’re just symbols, after all. Symbols, just as stop signs, corporate logos, and hand-drawn illustrations are symbols. The point is the meaning they convey and how well they convey it, not the particular form being used. Rejecting certain symbols out of hand can impede our ability to communicate.  The pen is indeed mightier than the sword, but only if we allow it to be wielded to its maximum potential.


Gundersen, Noah. (2009). Jesus, Jesus. On Saints & Liars [digital]. Seattle, WA: Independent.