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Volume I, Number 1: September, 1999.
Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Heron´s Nest Award

      the Milky Way streams–
      a farmer bends to his work
      widening a ditch

                                            H. F. Noyes

Harvest time quickly approaches and there's much to be done. Farmers are up before the sun and their labors continue long after it has set. There isn't time to stand around star gazing. They stoop, bending down over the earth with shovels and hoes, hoping that their timing and their labors accord with the conditions at hand so that there will be a good yield.

The galaxy, home to our small solar system, is spinning at an unimaginable speed, yet we are not aware of it. There are uncountable stars in this galaxy, each moving at insensible speed through space. Yet when we look out on a clear night, into that dense river of stars, it appears to be stationary÷hazy, amorphous light, spilled across black velvet. We know that the earliest humans gazed upon this same panorama, this apparently identical organization of stars, and we imagine it to have been this way forever.

The same is true for life here on Earth, yet it appears quite the opposite. How busy and changeable everything seems! Yet there is an all pervading constancy. This is the great paradox, excruciating yet delightful.

Species arise, evolve, and become extinct. Generation after generation, we humans have applied our minds to the difficulty of life, of preserving ourselves, our families, our nations and our race. Only recently has it begun to dawn upon us that, to accomplish this preservation we must take all things into our hearts. Whether we look to the past, to the future, or simply turn our heads and look around in the present, we find ourselves part of an unceasing flux, an amazing and apparently accelerating state of change. Yet this in itself is as constant as the stars. It is the process of self preservation that has not changed, although the means by which we seek to survive is perpetual adjustment, through physical, mental and spiritual adaptation. The more we learn, the more obvious it becomes; in order to survive, it is essential we widen the ditch. Ultimately, it must be wide enough to receive the stream of the Milky Way, the infinity that it represents. In order to truly preserve ourselves we must become wise, to learn who it is "we" really are. To reach this understanding we "bend" to our work. More importantly, we learn to bend in our work, until everyone and everything is included. There comes a point for each of us when the fear of not surviving falls away. We find that the ditch has always been wide enough to hold everything. In fact there is nothing to preserve.

I thank Tom Noyes for this profound haiku which so wonderfully balances the vast and the small, the ephemeral and the timeless. In this poem, the human condition can be seen as insightful as well as primitive and innocent. Here is an invitation to return home to our origin, to embrace and to be embraced by the cosmos, each in our own small way.

  – Christopher Herold
August 22, 1999