Thursday, May 10, 2012

Barbara Hurd: Some kind words for swamps

".  .  .We love high drama in this country, mountain peaks and soap operas.  They offer us something to tilt our lives toward--that triumph of ascent, that heart-pounding eye-to-eye intensity, that feeling of being wildly alive.  Our nature aesthetics sound like movie reviews.  We thrill to the surprising twist in the road that reveals the vast panorama, the unexpected waterfall.  We canonize beauty that can be framed on the walls, in the camera, or on the postcard.
     To love a swamp, however, is to love what is muted and marginal, what exists in the shadows, what shoulders its way out of mud and scurries along the damp edges of what is most commonly praised.  And sometimes its invisibility is a blessing.  Swamps and bogs are places of transition and wild growth, breeding grounds, experimental labs  where organisms and ideas have the luxury of being out of the spotlight, where the imagination can mutate and mate, send tendrils into and out of the water.  It should come as no surprise that the most common carnivorous plants are found in wetlands.  Here there is room for the thought not fully formed to stretch, roll over, poke its eyes above water.  Here is the valley of split-pea soup where what floats like a chunk of ham might lift its meaty head out of the muck and haul itself onto the log next to you. blinking in the sunshine."

-- Barbara Hurd --
from Spring: A Spiritual Autobiography of the Season

I must confess that I'm one of those high drama lovers that Hurd writes of and who seldom spends any time contemplating the virtues of a bog.  And, I never thought of comparing our subconscious where those half-formed ideas germinate and play  to a swamp or bog, but it does seem to fit somehow.   Some of those ideas probably should never escape from the bog, but there are others that should be nurtured for awhile before being exposed to the harsh realities of  the outside world.

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