Summer Solstice Off the Grid

If the solstice, the sunset, the ringing of bells are not mantras then what is?

Ringing bells on the Summer Solstice for dailybell2008, with friends at StoneLake Farm, a unique 21-acre off the grid homestead located in Humboldt County, approximately 60 miles southeast of Arcata, California. Close to redwood groves and wild rivers, high on the southwest flank of Buck Mountain, the small farm has goats, chickens, a large garden, orchards, a lively creek complete with dipping holes, flowing waterfalls, and stunning vistas. Thanks to our hosts, Melinda Stone and Francis Lake for an amazing weekend.

Sunset at the Sunset

Brenda Hutchinson is ringing bells at sunrise and sunset. She is convinced that “something as inarguable as the movement of the earth can be used as a point of unity and awareness among large groups of people who might otherwise find it impossible to agree.”

I’m house sitting for Brenda in the Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco. She lives ten blocks from the ocean. I decided to join her mantra of bell ringing – at least for one day. You can join her too at DailyBell2008.

The sacred vs the image

sand sculpture

I took the day off and enjoyed the beach at San Sebastian State Park. When I walked over the crest of the boardwalk I saw salmon blue clouds and the peep of the sun over the horizon. I had decided to get to the beach early enough to watch the sunrise and it was astounding. There were multiple flocks of sea birds worshiping the sun at a single point on the beach. My first impulse was to grab my camera and try to capture the image of natural beauty in front of me, but then I would miss seeing it for myself.

On this journey I decided not to image the “natural” landscape without evidence of human intervention. The experience of witnessing nature is a sacred event when it moves the heart. This is not an experience that I can bring to you through an image. I thought about the way images dilute the sacredness of a place. With better and better imaging technology we are tricked into believing that seeing the image is just as good as experiencing the real thing and more convenient to boot. If people choose not to experience nature first hand there will be no witness, which can lead to inaction, to the deadening of the spirit, and to the diminishing of our sense of and desire for the sacred.

I’ve also decided not to take any images of the interior of the Mantra Trailer for the same reason. It’s a space to be experienced, explored and witnessed from the heart. Like our own interiors, like nature, the interior of the Mantra Trailer is not a curio or spectacle to be merely viewed, or examined.

For those who do not have the opportunity to experience the Mantra Trailer in real life, I invite them to look inward to imagine the interior space. Imagine a comforting oasis, a warm, bright womb.