Tonight we went to the Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington and 50 people showed up.

Display at the RBG: "Reach in and discover the stomach contents of this life size Giant Catfish"

Display at the RBG: "Reach in and discover the stomach contents of this life size Giant Catfish"

Each night the staff open up with a song called “Go Outside“.  Chris Gilmore of  Earth Mentorship, opened up with a story about a red fox that would show up at his high school weekend bonfires.  The amazing thing was it only showed up when they were playing music.  It would come out and sit on this little hill and listen, every time.

Threads from the talk tonight:

Deep Nature connection requires mentoring.  Left to my own devices I will continue to be aware of what I already know.  Its the mentors choice to increase awareness of the one that is learning.  I remembered back to when I didn’t know what a robin was.  There were no robins.  I played on that lawn.  I was there every day.  But I know now, where there are lawns there are robins.  A mentor showed me my first robin.  And then they hooked up my ears to hear their song.  Then through curiosity I was led to discovering the nest.  Now my yard is magic, watching birds of many species rear their young.

The same is true for parenting.  What the parent gives attention to the children will consider important.   If nature doesn’t exist for the parents it won’t exist for the children.
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Mt Monadnock, one of the Seven Sacred Mountains of the U.S.

Mt Monadnock, one of the Seven Sacred Mountains of the U.S.

On my way out of town on the way to Austria, I felt a previous lesson rising within me.  This was a teaching, a lesson, that I had learned about going on a journey.  One time I learned the hard way, ignoring this feeling, and all of my bags disappeared out of the back of the car, but that’s another story.

“I think we should stop and offer prayers before this incredible journey to Austria and back”, I said to Aji, my adopted 17 yr old nephew.  “Good idea, Uncle Mark”.  (I should note he was with me when we discovered the mysterious disappearing bag trick.)

We pulled over and walked to the side of the gas station parking lot.  There in the distance was Mt. Monadnock.  Now this was special because it’s a rare place that one can see Mt. Monadnock from these parts.  As well, it’s one of the Seven Sacred Mountains, according to Gilbert Walking Bull, an elder of mine, who has “changed addresses” so to speak.  Each time he came to visit us from the Black Hills, he would tell us about this mountain and others like it around the country that rise up out of the land.  “People have quested on these mountains and received visions from the creator, these are sacred places”.

“Perfect”, I said to myself, regarding the synchronicity.  I pulled out my ceremonial tobacco pouch that I use when tending a Sacred Fire.  “I would like to make an offering to this Sacred Mountain here in New England, to watch over us until we reach the high mountains of Austria”.  “And back”, said Aji.  Bless us with a grounded and safe journey so that we may return and tell the story of the day, sharing the blessings and teachings from the Alps Nature community to our own”.  Aji and his mother, who was kindly driving us to the airport, also joined in.

We had a natural moment of quiet when we were done.  I think it was peace.  The feeling was, ‘We’ve done what we can, it’s the creators turn.  Let’s continue and live our mission to the fullest’.

And so we did.

When we arrived in Tyrol by plane, the descent into the high valley was spectacular.  The scale of the mountain peaks to the valley floor was ridiculous.  We were alive and impossibly in some Magical Land.

tryol landscape

Our host, Ron Bachman, co founder of the Alpen Wildnis Schule, gave us a greeting of local lore and legend on the drive through town.

The first story he told us was about this cave, which we could see, on the side of this mountain, rising steeply from the valley floor.  “ This is one of the Seven Sacred Mountains of Tyrol” he began.  My jaw dropped.  I shot a glance to Aji in the back seat that said “No way !”.   I looked up at this great mountain and reflected back on that moment, 24 hours earlier, when we left New England.  An unspeakable gratitude came over me.  I feel blessed.  This is unexplainable, but I feel protected and supported by the mountains, by these Sacred Mountains.

Inside, I expressed my appreciation and dedicated my journey to the highest purpose I could fulfill, an international network of peace.

Tyrol, Austria

Tyrol, Austria

Traveling to Austria for the first time triggered teachings I learned from Paul Raphael, Odawa Peacemaker.  He told me that before he traveled he would visit with his elders and tell them about the trip he was going on and the intention behind it.  He would ask for their blessing and prayers for his journey.  Sometimes they asked questions, looking for clarity and defining the mission.  This has become known as the Anchoring Principle.  It refines my purpose, supports my intention and empowers my best self to show up on the journey.

In this case, I talked with two elders in my community, and asked them for a message.  I would be traveling to another nature based community in Austria, I told them, what message should I carry from this community to theirs ?  “Geez, Mark, ask me an easy question would you ?”, Hank, the eldest at 84, said.  Then his gaze focused, looking me straight in the eye, “ Tell them to watch over the children, like a tree protecting the up and coming saplings” I was rivoted, my heart quickened.  “ Tell them to go the edge.  Stand on the shoulders of what we have done, there is no choice but to take risks.  Support the children to do that”.

Ok, done.  “Thank you, I’ll tell you what happened when I get back.” I was inspired by his conviction.

The other, Cara, told me this story: “Be like the Moon.  I read a story recently where an elder on the edge of the village told passersby, Be like the moon.  One day a child asked him ‘why do you always say that ?’.  ‘People complain about the rain, too wet, too cold, People complain about the sun, too hot, too dry.  Nobody ever complains about the moon, so Be like the Moon’.

“Thank you” I said, feeling blessed.

These are the first words I spoke in Austria. I shared this at the first moment I stood up to speak at the workshop, entitled “Peacemaking”.  It was my turn to introduce myself to 100 europeans from several different countries.  “ I am here with the blessing of my family and I have a message from two elders in my community for you”.  I felt a formal conduct enter my being.  Words of love and connection came through me offering a message of peace from one side of the world to another.  My gratitude to Paul Raphael and his elders for conducting themselves in this way and sharing them with me.

Next Post:

Story of the Day – Part Two: The Sacred Mountains Blessing