To preserve the natural world as the primary revelation of the divine

must be the basic concern of religion.


Water fall in the woods near the neighbours with zoom effect - Dec. 31, 2013 

A nearby creek – December 31, 2013


Thomas Berry & Brian Swimme


bruce thomas witzel:

This weeks photo challenge is Angular; the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright was a master at angles. One of my first blog posts highlights Kentuck Knob, a Pennsylvania home he designed in 1953 at 86 years of age. This was during the period he was working on the Guggenheim Museum. Kentuck Knob is 2200 square feet created on a grid of equilateral triangles. It was one of Wright last home designs. The pioneer of Organic Architecture died in 1959.

Originally posted on through the luminary lens:


“ . . . one of Wright’s most poetic and beautiful residential designs. I continue to be moved by its unique and intrinsic beauty and marvel that the man who remains undisputed as America’s greatest architect, in his 86th year, found his muse on a knob in southwestern Pennsylvania . . .” Gerald Lee Morosco


“It is the nature of any organic building to grow from its site, come out of the ground into the light – the ground itself always as a component basic part of the building itself.” Frank Lloyd Wright – The Natural House 1954


Photo credit unknown


Organic commandment cropped

kentucky knob.watercolour

“. . . and then we have the primarily new ideal of building as organic. A building as dignified as a tree in the midst of nature.” FLW

Fran and I take particular joy in Wrights designs.  Kentuck Knob was built in 1954, on a hexagonal pattern and it contains…

View original 40 more words


Lakeview from home - bruce witzel photo

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Martin Luther King, Jr.





A few days ago word came from the south of France, that the beloved Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh had suffered a serious brain hemorrhage. An announcement from Plum Village on November 12, 2014 said “at present, Thay is still very responsive and shows every indication of being aware of the presence of those around him. He is able to move his feet, hands and eyes. There are signs that a full recovery may be possible.”

Plum Village is a monastery and Buddhist practice centre. It has associated centres in the U.S., Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Germany, and 1000’s of smaller sangha communities located throughout the world.  They welcome people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds.

photo courtesy of Plum Village and Paul Davis


Thich Nhat Hanh is affectionately known as Thay (pronounced tie) by those closest to him. It means teacher in Vietnamese. He is also widely respected by the inter-faith community and people of goodwill throughout the world. His leadership focuses on the “Art of Mindful Living” through the development of compassion, listening, respect and wonder – this can transform us towards peace and well being, both ourselves and the world. Nhat Hanh has been described as a cross between a cloud, a snail and a piece of heavy machinery. His faith has moved mountains.

I was first introduced to Thich Nhat Hanh in the late 80’s through his book The Sun My Heart. It had special significance to me as a young Solar Activist struggling within the Catholic tradition.

Thich Nhat Hanh shares with humble and practical simplicity. He is not technical. He speaks from the heart. He has said, “There is no way to peace – peace is the way.” His talks, poetry, story telling and writings about mindfulness, meditation, peace and reconciliation are published in over 100 books in dozens of language. He demonstrates a universal message.

Nobel Peace Prize Nomination – photo source unknown

king & hahn & peace quote

Now an aged 88 years, Thay has dedicated his life to the  practice of Engaged Buddhism, similar to the Social Gospel Movement and the Christian Beatitudes. In the early 60’s he studied and taught Comparative Religion at Princeton and Columbia and founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon. With other university professors and students in Vietnam, he began the School of Youths for Social Services. Teams of young people went out to the countryside to help establish schools, health clinics, gardens and later to rebuild bombed villages. By the end of the Vietnam War more than 10,000 nuns, monks and social workers were involved.

photo by Dick DeMarsico, from the Library of Congress Public Domain

Martin Luther king Jr. - photo by Dick DeMarsico - reproduction rights transferred to Library pf Congress. No copyright restriction known

During Thich Nhat Hanh’s visits to United States in the 1960’s, Thay worked tirelessly to promote peace and reconciliation in Vietnam. He developed profound friendships with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Catholic monk Thomas Merton. In 1967, Dr. King nominated Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize, calling him, “An apostle of peace and nonviolence”, saying “His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”

photo source unknown

Thomas Merton & Thich Nhat Hanh 

During this period Thomas Merton wrote an essay – Nhat Hanh is My Brother – in support of Thay and his peace efforts. Five decades later it still rings true. Here is a portion of the closing paragraph.

“I have said Nhat Hanh is my brother, and it is true… I have far more in common with Nhat Hanh than I have with many Americans, and I do not hesitate to say it. It is vitally important that such bonds be admitted. They are the bonds of a new solidarity and brotherhood which is beginning to be evident on all the five continents and which cuts across all political, religious and cultural lines to unite young men and women in every country…  This unity of the young is the only hope of the world. In its name I appeal for Nhat Hanh. Do what you can for him…”

With Mindfulness and loving action –  let us keep Thich Nhat Hanh in our thoughts and prayers.

In peace – Bruce



Update from the nuns and monks of Plum village, November 16, 2014 

In the early morning, Saturday, November 15, Thầy opened his eyes for the first time since his cerebral hemorrhage, to look at his attendants for a brief moment… The doctors are cautiously optimistic and remind us that Thầy’s condition is still in a critical stage and conditions can change at any moment…

Please continue to enjoy the blue sky for Thầy, the fresh morning air and the small pathways in nature for Thầy. Especially, please enjoy each other, your loved ones, and our togetherness for Thầy.


bruce witzel photo – through the luminary lens

Rose Garden, Washington Park - Portalnd Oregon - bruce witzel photo


A special reply to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement


bruce thomas witzel:

On this Remembrance Day, as we say in Canada, I give you this post from April 2013, with highlights from a recent Arms Control Treaty as well as words of a Navajo Song and Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is in honor of all victims of war, soldier and civilian alike.

Special note: The post below is missing much of  the essential text.  For my complete story, click the following link:

Thanks – Bruce

Originally posted on through the luminary lens:

Tell me and I’ll forget

Show me and I may not remember

Involve me and I’ll understand


IMG_6514 (2)




More than a thousand useless words is one single word of peace. UPANISHADS

slides0017 (2)


Widney Brown, senior Director of International Law at Amnesty International, said “when you think of the huge economic interest and the political power in play for the big arms producers and exporters, this treaty is a tribute to both civil society who championed the idea to save lives and reduce human suffering as well as the governments who heeded that call.”



Peace . . . Bruce

Two photos are of the The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, created by Vietnam veteran and sculpture artist, Dennis Smith, and located near Weed, California.

The photo of the “children for peace” were taken in the mid 1980’s.

The photos of the war mural and the combat transport were taken at the Castile…

View original 30 more words

Global Descent from the Canadian Rockies

On the Summits

Francis and I recently enjoyed one week in the Canadian Rockies, an area of five National Parks (four located in Canada) as well as numerous provincial parks and semi protected multi-use areas. Two of these parks straddle the U.S.-Canadian border in a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

The following photo essay begins in Jasper National Park at the bone chilling Athabasca Glacier, part of the massive Columbia Icefield. Nearby Mount Columbia hovers at 12,294 feet, the 2nd highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. These glacial meltwaters flow to three world oceans – the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic.

Follow this 400 kilometre journey, from the forests, meadows and rugged snow capped peaks of North America’s continental divide, then meandering downwards and eastwards through golden grassy foothills, tumbling out to the apparently infinite windswept prairies.

This is a story of the ages juxtaposed against our contemporary times. Frequent readers may recall my posts about Small is Beautiful. In what comes next, think big – it goes with the terrain.




Summit of Icefields Parkway. Jasper National Park - Bruce Witzel photo

Icefield Parkway Summit


Athabasca Glacier of the Columbia Icefields

Athabasca Glacier


Peyto Lake, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park - Bruce Witzel photo

Peyto Lake


Highwood Meadows, Kananaskis Country - Bruce Witzel photo

Highwood Meadows in Kananaskis


Icefields Parkway - Francis Guenette photo

  Descending Icefield Parkway


Mountain Sheep - Bruce Witzel photo

Grazing mountain sheep in Banff National Park


Banff National Park Icefields Parkway Oct 27, 2014 - Bruce Witzel photo

Modern Travel


North Saskatchewan River leaving Banff National Park

North Saskatchewan River


Elk in Banff National Park - Bruce Witzel photo

Elk outside the Town of Banff


Trans Canada Highway in Banff National Park Oct 27, 2014 - Bruce witzel photo

On the Trans Canada Highway


Bow River, Banff - Oct 27, 2014 - Francis Guenette photo

Bow River on the outskirts of Banff


wedge-pond-in-kananaskis-country - Francis Guenette photo

Wedge Pond


Kananaskis off Alberta Highway 40

Nearby Kananaskis Country



Grizzly Country


Kananaskis Country, Alberta - Bruce Witzel photo

Outskirts of Kananaskis Village – site of 1988 Winter Olympics and 2002 G-8 Summit


Barrier Lake, Alberta - Bruce Witzel photo

Barrier Lake near Highway 40 Alberta


Highway 40 Alberta - Bruce Witzel photo

Misnomer – Kananaskis Trail (really?)



Highway 40 bridge washout from 2013 Calgary floods - Bruce Witzel photo

Highwood River bridge lost in 2013 Calgary floods


Rebuilding bridge lost to 2013 Calgary Alberta floods - Bruce Witzel photo

Ravaged earth equals high water


Foothills against the Canadian Rockies - Bruce Witzel photo

Foothills of the Canadian Rockies


View west from Alberta Highway 22  - Bruce Witzel photo

View from Highway 22


Near Longview Alberta - Bruce Witzel photo (2)

Heartland Country (homegrown CBC Television Series)


Cowboy Trail off Highway 22 Alberta - Francis Guenette photo

And cowboy trails


Foothills and Canadian Rockies near Highway 22 - Bruce Witzel photo

Home on the Range


 Looking west off Alberta Highway 22 - the cowboy trail - Bruce Witzel photo

Mountains meet foothills where cattle graze (click photo for awesome hi-resolution)


Alberta oil well near Longview - Bruce Witzel photo

… and oil and gas


Alberta oil well and gas pipeline - Bruce Witzel photo

Descent. Or dissent?


Foothills of Alberta - Bruce Witzel photo

Oxbow River


Wind turbine near Pincher Creek Alberta - Bruce Witzel photo

Cheers to Prairie Wind


Near Pincher Creek Alberta - Cowley Ridge Wind Site - Bruce Witzel photo

Tilting at wind mills, or to live the impossible dream.


Cowley Ridge Wind Turbine

For us and the earth. To be or not to be? That is the question.


Whyte Museum of the Rockies


~ from back home on Vancouver Island ~


Love, peace, and harmony, to all



Sculpture at Slocan Lake in New Denver BC - Oct.24, 2014 Bruce Witzel photo

Each one of us has to be our true self: fresh, solid, at ease, loving and compassionate.

When we are a true selves, not only you but everyone around you will profit from your presence.

Just like a beautiful tree: if the tree is anything but a tree we are all in trouble.


Thich Nhat Hanh


Western Larch near Cranbrook BC - Oct. 26,2014 - Bruce witzel photo 

A few days ago in south eastern British Columbia, near the headwaters of the mighty Columbia . . .

these Tamarack trees (or western larch) turn to gold and then drop their needles in autumn.


Columbia Lake - Bruce Witzel photo


Headwaters of Columbia River - Bruce Witzel photo


~ Peace to all ~



The pacifist Catholic monk Thomas Merton was prophetic in speaking about The Price of Rain…

Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment, it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness.

from Raids on the Unspeakable, 1966


Here at the cabin, the sunny days of summer days are gone. Grey skies and fall rains have returned and our hydro electric system has replaced our solar panels in providing most of our energy needs. Here is the intake flume on a normal autumn day.

hydro screen operational running 79 gpm thru a 145 mm nozzle - creates 1.24 KILOWATTS of  POWER - Bruce Witze

When I awoke yesterday morning, Environment Canada was giving a severe rainfall warning. Its epicentre was forecast to be my local small town.  A “Hard Rains a Gonna Fall”, to borrow from Dylan….


Yes indeed…


Flume for penstock - Full rain Oct.20, 2014 - Bruce Witzel photo


Penstock trail - Bruce Witzel photo

The plan was for me to head over by ferry from Vancouver Island to the city of Vancouver, located on the mainland. Francis has been there with the grandkids for the past few weeks.


Travelling was questionable as you can see from these photos…


The stream is flooding the road on October 19, 2014 - Bruce Wtizel photo


The rains did subside. This morning I managed to make it out of the woods.


I’m now on the way to the metropolis for a few days – then a week long vacation to enjoy the fall colours.



Fall colour in Washington State - bruce witzel photo


Talking about liquid sunshine, I’ve been reading about the basic human right to water in a book written by Vandana Shiva, a world renowned physicist  and environmental activist. Her work brings attention to genetic food engineering, cultural theft, and natural resource privatization which she links to rising fundamentalism, violence against women, and planetary death.

Vandana will be speaking about Earth Democracy on October 28th at the University of Regina, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation.


vadana shiva quote - source unkown

Here she writes about the corporatization of water:

The erosion of the power of the nation-state concentrates power in the hands of corporations. It does not devolve power to the people; it does not move power downward into the hands of the local community. It removes power from the local level and transforms institutions of the state from being protectors of the health and rights of people to protectors of the property sand profits of corporations.  This creates a state more committed to protection of foreign investments than the protection of its citizens…

As we saw in Bolivia, the theft of common resources through the privatization of water, for example, is condoned; collecting rainwater was forbidden (emphasis mine). Options for survival may only lie outside the law.

pg.87  Earth Democracy – Justice, Sustainability and Peace by Vandana Shiva


A view from our deck on a star filled nigh in September, 2104 - bruce witzel photo

For more on Water Justice you can visit the Blue Planet Project, is a global initiative by the Council of Canadians working with partners around the world. to achieve water justice based on the principles that water is a human right, a public trust, and part of the global commons.


In Peace and Solidarity


(ah, those sunny days)


view-of-the-cabin-guenette-photo -  Francis Guenette photo


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