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Flowers, Creatures & Contemplatives Embracing One Another in the Wilderness World

I.

 

“…the silence of the forest is my bride & the sweet dark warmth of the whole world is my love & out of the heart of that dark warmth comes the secret that is heard only in silence, but it is the root of all secrets that are whispered by all the lovers in the beds all over the world.”

Thomas Merton (1997), Dancing in the Water of Life (journals)

 

Among the earliest memories imprinted in my mind: ...

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Agrarian Ecology

One might wonder whether any twenty-first-century preoccupation with agrarian values, agrarian ecology, and agrarian ideals comes as too little, too late. Less than 2 percent of the North American public lives in rural areas outside towns, cities, and suburbs, and less than half of the world’s population now lives outside cities. But the New Agrarianism, which is emerging globally, is not restricted to the rural domain, nor is it necessarily a romantic desire to reenact social behaviors and mores associated ...

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Desert prophet of new food crops

For 40 years Richard Felger has promoted native plants to feed the Southwest

Richard Felger has always been a little ahead of his time. Even before he was a teenager in southern California, he cultivated rare cacti and orchids at home, and kept three alligators in his bathtub. Before he graduated from the University of Arizona, he shadowed some of the world’s greatest desert ecologists. On his first trip down to Alamos, Sonora, he realized what would drive his ...

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An Apology to Young Agrarians

Dear Aspiring and Practicing Young Farmers,

Before anything else, I want to apologize for previously failing to acknowledge your value to our society at large, and to more fully support you in gaining traction with your endeavors. In four decades of writing about farming and ranching, I am afraid I have missed the mark by not writing about the issues most critical to your health and well-being. I have been so attracted to helping save the seeds, breeds, soil, and water ...

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Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest

Native Milkweeds

The Desert Southwest harbors at least 41 of the 76 milkweed (Asclepias spp.) species known to exist in the lower 48 states. The species richness of milkweeds in this region is influenced by the tremendous diversity and range of vegetation types, soils, topography, climate, and the exposure of unusual rock types that occur over more than a 9,000 foot elevation range. The nectar of milkweed flowers is attractive to dozens of insects including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, ...

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Reading Pope Francis on Peace, Justice & Caring For Creation

Respect & Forgiveness for Flawed but Courageous American “Saints”

 

One of the more remarkable features of Pope Francis visit to North America was his request that we remember and reflect upon the lives of certain charismatic Americans whom few U.S. citizens would have placed into the same category of greatness: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and the newly sainted Junipero Serra. What do these five persons have in common? Why has each of them ...

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Becoming “Laudito Si” Franciscans of the Rivers and Seas in the Era of Mining Spills

The recent toxic spill of 3 million pounds of mine wastes in the Animas-San Juan watershed is roughly I received my “call” year ago to become a Franciscan after days of solitude and prayer in the wilderness of the Four Corners region. It is also the same watershed where I once caught five catfish for breakfast while co-leading an Outward Bound-style rite of initiation in tributaries to the east of Lake Powell.

So just how does being a Franciscan brother shape ...

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Migratory Monarchs and Native Bees as Spiritual Messengers of Climate Change

When Pope Francis recently released his encyclical on climate change, people of many faiths finally realized how climate change is ultimately an issue of social and environmental justice that bringing caring for creation and “the right to life” to all species, races, cultures and classes. But it should explicitly be added that climate-related “social justice” needs to be applied to “social insects” like some bees and butterflies, not just to “social hominids” like human beings? Indeed, the plight of monarchs, ...

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Q&A from the Conservation You Can Taste Tour

These are various questions that were given to Gary Paul Nabhan by hosts of his tour Conservation You Can Taste. In particular, these came from representatives from the University of Ohio, and the University of Minnesota.

QUESTION: You have worked as a plant explorer and now you are an orchard-keeper of over 150 varieties of wild and heirloom fruits. What prompted your interest in food biodiversity?

NABHAN: Our Lebanese grandfather was an immigrant who grew trees in the Old World ...

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Water Justice

Pope Francis paraphrased:

“…access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.”

On the bottom side
of each flat rock
that has found a way
to reach its angle of repose
on the desert’s bottom floor
a sheen of droplets
forms at night
enough to fill a single cup.

That is your daily water ration
for the rest ...

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