Holy Thursday Meditation – April 14, 2022

“The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.”

― Thomas Merton

Calligraphy drawing of the Atomic Bomb by Thomas Merton



Holy Thursday Meditation

~~~

Let’s the world break bread together – not BOMBS!

slides0017 peace parade - bruce witzel photo early 80's




An alternative world view – watercolour by b. thomas witzel, 1992

Rainbow Watercolour, 1992 - by bruce witzel


Peace and love for all,

Bruce

~~~

The upside of down, a Zen reflection

Reflection on the lake Feb. 2018 - bruce witzel photo


The way up is the way down

~~~~


peace, Bruce



AN INDIGENOUS STORY ON HEAVEN AND HELL – from the Novelist Barbara Kingsolver

Girl in Mexico City Zocalo, October 1992 - bruce witzel photo

      Young Girl With Bread in Mexico City      Bruce Witzel photo – Oct. 1992


~~~~


Some truths are best expressed in fiction. This is the wonder of story telling. And American novelist Barbara Kingsolver is a literary champion in this regard, and more.

Similarly, the beloved country folk-rock artist John Prine (sadly, an early victim of Coronavirus in April 2020) has said “There’s one thing I’ve learned about writing story songs: If you are writing story songs you better have a good ending. And if you don’t have a good ending, you better have a darn good moral to the story.”

When a friend recently lent me The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel published in 1988,  I read it and wept with despair, and with hope. Three decades later it rings true to our times. Especially, the scene from the book I share below – and it has a good ending and a good moral!


The book jacket blurb and a list of characters will help set up the context:

Meet Taylor Greer, who grew up in poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when Taylor heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time she arrives in Tucson, she has acquired a completely unexpected child and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.


Lit of characters, setting and plot background:

· This scene takes place in the kitchen of youthful Taylor and Lou Ann, two single mothers who join forces  to make ends meet by renting a small apartment in Tucson, Arizona.

· The two elderly women are their neighbours – Edna (who is blind) and Mrs. Virgie Parsons.

· Estevan and Esperanza (Hope) are a migrant refugee couple seeking sanctuary in America from death-ravaged Guatemala in the south.

· Turtle is the 3 year old “adopted” child of Taylor Greer, who narrates this scene.



Screenshot - a bit  of the plot of the novel, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver



Here is the borrowed snippet from The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver –


AN INDIGENOUS STORY ON HEAVEN AND HELL

 ~~~~

Estevan produced a package, which turned out to be chopsticks. There were twenty or so of them wrapped together in crackly cellophane with black Chinese letters down one side.

“What is it, eating sticks?” Edna ran her fingers along the thin shafts. “It sounds like a great adventure, but I’ll just stick to what I know, if you don’t mind. Thank you all the same.” I noticed that Edna ate very slowly, with gradual exact movements of her fork. Mrs. Parsons said she wasn’t game for such foolishness either.

“I never said it was foolishness,” Edna said.

The rest of us gave it a try, spearing pieces of chicken and looping green-pepper rings and chasing the rice around our plate. Even Esperanza tried. Estevan said we were being to aggressive.

“They are held this way.” He demonstrated, holding them like pencils in one hand and clicking the ends together. I loved his way of saying, “It is” and “They are.”

Turtle was watching me, imitating. “Don’t look at me, I’m not the expert.” I pointed at Estevan.

Lou Ann came back to the table. “Where did you learn how to do that?” she asked Estevan.

“Ah,” he said, “this is why I like chopsticks: I work in a Chinese restaurant. I am the dishwasher.”

“I didn’t know that. How long have you worked there?” I asked, realizing I had no business thinking I knew everything about Estevan. His whole life, really, was a mystery to me.

“One month,” he said. “I work with a kind family who speak only Chinese. Only the five year old daughter speaks English. The father has her explain to me what I must do. Fortunately, she is very patient.”

Mrs. Parsons muttered that she thought this was a disgrace. “Before you know it the whole world will be here jibbering and jabbering till we won’t know it’s America.”

“Virgie, mind your manners,” Edna Said.

“Well, it’s the truth. They out to stay put in there own dirt, not come here taking up jobs.”

“Virgie,” Edna said.

I felt like I’d sat on a bee. If Mama hadn’t brought me up to do better, I think I would have told that old snake to put down her fork and get her backside out the door. I wanted to scream at her: This man is an English teacher. He did not come her so he could wash egg fu yung off plates and take orders from a five year old.

But Estevan didn’t seem perturbed, and I realized he must hear this kind of thing every day of his life. I wondered how he could stay so calm. I would have murdered somebody by now, I thought, would have put a chopstick to one of the many deadly uses that only Lou Ann could imagine it for.

“Can I get anybody anything?” Lou Anne asked.

“We’re fine,” Edna said, obviously accustomed to being Virgie’s public relations department. “You children have made a delightful meal.”

Esperanza pointed at Turtle. It was the first time I ever saw her smile, and I was struck with what a lovely woman she was when you really connected. Then the smile left her again.

Turtle, wielding a chopstick in each hand, had managed to pick up a piece of pineapple. Little by little she moved it upward toward her wide-open mouth, but the sticks were longer than her arms. The pineapple hung in the air over her head and then fell behind her unto the floor. We laughed and cheered her on, but Turtle was so startled she cried. I picked her up and held her on my lap.

“Tortolita, let me tell you a story,” Estevan said. “This is a South American wild Indian story about heaven and hell.” Mrs. Parsons made a prudish face, and Estevan went on. “If you go to visit hell, you will see a room like this kitchen. There is a pot of delicious stew on the table, with the most delicate aroma you can imagine. All around, people sit, like us. Only they are dying of starvation. They are jibbering and jabbering,” he looked extra hard at Mrs. Parsons, “but they cannot get a bite of this wonderful stew God has made for them. Now, why is that?”

“Because they are choking? For all eternity?” Lou Ann said. Hell, for Lou Ann, would naturally be a place filled with sharp objects and small round foods.

“No,” he said. “Good guess, but no. They are starving because they only have spoons with very long handles. As long as that.” He pointed to the mop, which I had forgotten to put away. “With these ridiculous terrible spoons, the people in hell can reach into the pot but they cannot put the food in their mouths. Oh, how hungry they are! Oh how they swear and curse each other!” he said, looking again at Mrs. Parsons. He was enjoying this.

“Now,” he went on, “you can go and visit heaven. What? You see a room just like this first one, the same table, the same pot of stew, the same spoons as long as a sponge mop. But these people are all happy and fat.”

“Real fat, or do you mean just well-fed?” Lou Ann asked.

“Just well-fed,” he said. “Perfectly, magnificently well-fed, and very happy. Why do you think?”

He pinched a piece of pineapple in his chopsticks, neat as you please, and reached all away across the table to offer it to Turtle. She took it like a newborn bird.

~~~~

Excerpted from The Bean Trees, Pgs. 105-108 by Barbara Kingsolver


The-Bean-Trees-cover-708x1024


 Other highly praised books and writings by Kingsolver are Prodigal Summer, Flight Behaviour, Poisonwood Bible, and Laguna. She has a degree in biology and has worked as a scientist. For 25 years she divided her time between the borderlands near Tucson, Arizona and the place she now calls home – a farm in the Southern Appalachians.

She is one of my favourite authors.


~ Cheers ~

Bruce


Two campesino women in Zapotilan del Rio, Oaxaca Mexico, October 1992 - bruce witzel photo2

Oaxaca Campesina Women Preparing a Large Meal    Bruce Witzel photo – Oct. 1992  


~~~~

In the Wake of Charles Brandt, a Wellspring in Our Hearts

~ the brandt series ~


A photo essay


“We are all fellow-passengers on this planet earth, and we are all of us dependent upon one another for the happiness and welfare of the world in which we happen to live.”

                                                                   Charles Brandt, 1947


Christmas Card 2017 from Charles Brandt


Charles Brandt in the 1960's with the Hermits of St. John the Baptist

  Charles Brandt in his early hermit days, mid 1960’s


IN THE WAKE OF CHARLES BRANDT


The Annual General Meeting of the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society was held in early November at the Brandt Hermitage. It began with a short commemoration of frater Charles Brandt who died October 25, 2020. Covid 19 protocols were in place. The twelve people participating included two nurses, two teachers, two community development workers, two carpenters, one medical doctor, one silviculturist, one geotechnical consultant and an Oblate Benedictine, Karen Nicol, who is the active contemplative resident at the hermitage.


All those present gathered on the grassy area overlooking Oyster River. Everyone chose a small rock to hold and then they formed a sharing circle. Willa Canon spoke of the symbolism of stone, its integrity and strength. Bruce Wood read a passage on walking meditation written by Charles. Bruce Witzel welcomed everyone and thanked them for attending.


Each person then shared how they came to know of Charles and the affects his leadership had on them. George Wahl led the closing meditation. Karen Nicol called attention to a bald eagle that flew over our sharing circle, as in giving a blessing.


EAGLE WITH EFFECT! & eye

Bruce Witzel photo


As everyone moved into the hermitage for the Annual General Meeting, the stones were placed into Charles’ small chapel. Afterwards these stones were returned to the outdoors of the hermitage forest, near the wooden sculpture of St Benedict.


Statue of St. Benedict at the brandt hermitage with stones from meromorial 10-04-2021 karen nicol photo (2)

Karen Nicol photo


CONSTITUTION OF OUR SOCIETY


The purpose and vision of the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society is seeking to fulfill the wishes of Father Charles Brandt that the forest and house of the hermitage is to be preserved as a peaceful centre for contemplating the spiritual foundations of ecology and nature as a sacred commons, and as a home for a designated Catholic hermit or other contemplative person who shares this vision, and is dedicated to the environment and a life of contemplative prayer.

“The human community and the natural world must move forward into the future as a single sacred community, or we will perish in the desert. Only the sense of the sacred can save us.” – Fr. Thomas Berry



WELCOMING REMARKS FROM BRUCE WITZEL


As chairperson of the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society, I welcome you to the Merton House at the Brandt Hermitage and Forest.


Sketch of hermitage -artist unknown

artist unknown


It is clear each of us knows Charles Brandt in different ways. His diversity was profound.



photo compliments Tsolum River Restoration Society

Photo from the Tsolum River Restoration Society


Bachelor of Science from Cornell University for Charles Brandt



Charles Brandt working at a book press

Charles Brandt working at his book press



Priest Charles Brandt works hard for the ecology




Charles in his library 2015-01-31 bruce witzel photo

Charles in the hermitage library – photo by Bruce Witzel


For instance, Charles led the People of God in various church communities for most of seven decades – either as a humble monk or a faithful pastor.


Father Charles Brandt in mid 1960's 2

Father Charles with a Comox Valley Parish, mid 1960’s (photographer unknown)


left to right - Bishops Gary Gordon and Remi De Roo, Charles Brandt (50th anniversery as a hermit priest), Gary McCue - Nov. 5, 2016 , Campbell River BC- b. witzel photo

Bishops Gary Gordon and Remi De Roo with Charles and his nephew Gary McCue (b. witzel photo)


Charles speaking at his 50th znnviersery of ordiantiona as a hermit priest (nov 23, 2021)

My word to you is “Only the sense of the sacred can save us.” – (from Charles Brandt Speaks)



And for those he gathered together in meditation groups and retreats, there was a deep contemplative fellowship linked to a profound ecological and universal consciousness.


spirituality and environment retreat  2 led by Chalres Brandt



Meditation retreat by C.Brandt and with B.Witzel

Island Catholic News Notes from the late 1980’s(Bruce is beside Charles)

From Dream of the Earth, Man Alive episode 1993

Click here for full 1993 Man Alive episode about Charles –Dream of the Earth


At his hermitage Charles was a solitary hermit monk, and he freely acknowledged his loneliness at times.


Water colour painting of Charles Brandt's original hermitage

Watercolour painting of Charles’ original hermitage building – artist G. Cunningham



With the environmental initiatives he helped realize like the Tsolum River Restoration, the Oyster River Enhancement and Friends of Strathcona Park, Charles was always reasoned, gentle and steadfast.



Charles award reception - photographer unknown



Oyster river salmon hatchery under construction in mid 1980's - charles brandt photo

Oyster River Salmon Enhancement Facility under construction in the 1980’s – Charles Brandt photo


BC Achievement award to Charles

2017 British Columbia Community Achievement Awards


Screenshot 2021-12-22 113227 for video on the Nature Inspiration Award from Canada Museum of Nature


Click here for 3:12 video, 2020 Nature Inspiration Award with Charles Brandt



Oyster River near the hermitage - charles brandt photo

Oyster River – charles brandt photo


Pink Salmon spawning grounds Sept 24 Oyster River - charles brandt

Pink salmon in the Oyster River – charles brandt photo


Sockeye at Adams River Haig-Brown Conservation Area - chalres brandt photo

Sockeye Salmon during spawning season – charles brandt photo


As an expert birder and a wildlife conservationist, in his approach he was scientific and awed with reverence  – both quantitatively and qualitatively, through his non dualistic manner of observing and being in the world.


House Finch (female) - by Charles A.E. Brandt

House finch (female) – Charles Brandt photo


Redwing Blackbird (female)- charles brandt photo

Redwing blackbird (female) – charles brandt photo



TrumpeterSwans - Charles Brandt photo

Trumpeter Swans – charles brandt photo



In the arts community and the cultural restoration and book binding world, as well as the paper conservation domains and the museums that Charles worked with he was not only known as a master, he was actually a genius.


Charles Brandt with Sybil Andrews painting from June 1993 Island Catholic News article

Charles at Sybil Andrews memorial – photo from June 1993 Island Catholic News Article



Note about Charles Brandt from Museograme - Jan.-Feb. 1981

Charles as Director of the Canadian Conservation Institute in 1979

Charles as director of the Mobile Conservation Lab – photo from Canadian Conservation Institute



Letter of reccomendation for Charles to Canadian Architecture Institute


Tsolum-River-Mine-Restoration-Story-0083-1400x1049 photo by Taylor Roades of the Narwhal

Charles working in his conservation lab that was located in the hermitage – photo by Taylor Roades



Award to Charles Brandt from University of Victoria 1983-08-02


With much of his life well lived in contemplation and prayer, Charles still found time to meld this with action. He became a loyal friend and a mentor who counselled people to open our hearts, minds and souls – to the earth and to each other.


Charles knew through deep experience that humanity belongs to the earth and that we are an integral part of the incredible web of life.


Spiderweb - photo by Mac Witzel

photo by Mac Witzel (Bruce’s dad, long-time friend of Charles)

 

He echoed Martin Luther King Jr. who boiled it down to this:

“All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied into a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly, affects all – indirectly.”

 

Charles wants us to fully comprehend this reality which he knew as Sacramental Commons. Pope Francis calls it integral ecology in his teaching “Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home”.


Within this understanding Charles believed “we must think like a mountain”.


Mt. Albert Edwards (large), Vancouver Island BC - March 21, '15, charles brandt photo (2)

Mount Albert Edward – photo by Charles Brandt


Each earthly being (human and non-human alike) have distinct and individual patterns – for human earthlings, we have our will.


Thich Nhat Hanh gives an example. Although the lotus flower is different from the mud, it needs the mud. And the mud needs the lotus.


Lotus flower at the Getty Villa - bruce witzel photo

photo by Bruce Witzel


Although distinct, nothing is truly separate. Charles wanted us to embrace this insight. 


And, to “pay attention”.


A quote Charles sent out

from a quote sent by Charles


Charles’ faith was broad and inclusive. His was the basic Christian tenet that we are all One Body with many differing parts – the rich and the poor, the suffering and the voiceless, and the whole earth that sustains all life. This reality is represented in all of the true spiritual and religious traditions throughout this blue-green planet.


earth from space  - the overview institute


Respecting this diversity we must come to communion with one another, Charles said, to form a single sacred community – or we will perish together, in the desert.


In gratitude for your caring love dear brother, frater Charles Brandt

         

        Bruce Witzel,

              from the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Forest – November 4, 2021



REFLECTION FROM CHARLES – A WELL SPRING IN OUR HEART

(excerpt from Self and Environment


It is early morning with its quiet and coolness. I walk out the old logging road to Catherwood Road. Catherwood is my connector to the outside world.


My hermitage is located deep in the temperate rainforest, on Oyster River, British Columbia. The logging road along with other trails through the forest is where I practice walking meditation.


Charles Brandt at his hermitage - by videographer Geoffry Leighton

Image by videographer Geoffrey Leighton



I do not think of the road as leading anywhere. It is the road to nowhere, the path on which I journey and have been journeying for a lifetime.


The hermitage forest and driveway Nov. 2-2017 - Chalres Brandt

photo by Charles


When I walk this road I have no destination, no timetable or estimated time of arrival. I simply place one foot in front of the other, let all my cares, my anguish, angst, fears drop away. My breathing is in harmony with my pace, my pace is in harmony with the universe.


Charles Brandt -  by videographer Geoffry Leighton

Image by videographer Geoffrey Leighton


And although this is the path of nowhere, in reality it is the path of everywhere, because it enables me to be in communion with the whole community of beings, beings which are diverse, interiorized, and each in communion with every other being in the universe.


I become present to the most distant star, and she to me, the ‘complicated web’ of interdependent relationships. Every atom of my being is present to every atom of the universe, and they to it.


The Death of a Star

photo compliments of Nasa – Death of a Star


~~~~~

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

(T.S. Eliot) 


Humanity is set on a path of exploration that will lead to the realization of the oneness of the human community and the earth community. When that begins to happen and when it does happen we will truly know the place for the first time.


Hermitage forest,  in the video Turning Point - Charles Brandt and Thomas Merton - produced by videographer Geoffrey Leighton

Click here for the film Turning Point –Charles Brandt and Thomas Merton by Geoffrey Leighton


We live in a dualistic, dysfunctional society that is intent on exploiting the natural world. We are in a crash situation, living between hope and despair. We have approached the bottom closely enough for us to begin to realize that we have to change.


Port Alice pulp mill 1989 - bruce witzel photo

 Vancouver Island pulp mill in 1991 –  bruce witzel photo


Victoria Lake under red smoky skies from forest fires 2017-08-04  fran guenette photo

Smoke from Western North America forest fires of 2017 – bruce witzel photo


We sense that if we do not change, the human species could very well disappear.


meditative moment in the Courtenay estuary, Laing property - charles brandt photo

Meditative Moment – photo by charles brandt


There is an attraction force present today beckoning us away from the pit of despair to the hope of a better world. A transformational process has begun that is leading us to a new age, the age of the earth.


Bleeding Heart at the hermitage forest - charles brandt photo

Bleeding Heart – charles brandt photo


This transformation begins with the human heart, in the core of our spirit. We begin to detect a well springing up in our heart. Perhaps it is now only a trickle. But it will never run dry.


Waterfall in the woods! Dec. 31, 2010 - bruce witzel photo

photo by Bruce Witzel


Sometimes it runs more clearly and evenly. At other times it seems to have gone completely underground. It is a life force that needs to be purified so that it will flow continuously.

It will lead to a transformation of our hearts and minds that will enable us to realize the unity of all beings and enable us to reach out with love to every creature in the universe.


Charles Brandt, from Self and Environment – 1997


Deer at the hermitage 2018 - charles brandt photo

Charles Brandt photos

Black Creek, Vancouver Island entering Georgia Straight with the BC's Coastal Mountain Range in the distance - by Charles A.E. Brandt (2)

Black Creek Estuary enters the Salish Sea



Recognizing the sacred in all


~ Seasons Greetings ~


Bruce

~~~~


Holly berries at the hermitage - photo by Charles A.E. Brandt

Holly at the hermitage – charles brandt photo

~~~~

“Have Not–Know Not–Possess Not” – St. John of the Cross


Double exposure photo slide Vancouver, BC during my BCIT days -photo slide by bruce witzel and keith launer

“Double Exposed”  1976 photo slide by Bruce Witzel and Keith Launer


The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all

Karl Rahner

~~~~


Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 2.01.25 PM

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park –October 29, 2010


Peace to All


~ Bruce ~


~~~~

BOOKBINDERY AMONG FATHER CHARLES BRANDT’S ENDURING LEGACIES

 

~ the Brandt Series ~

 

The following guest article has been used by permission of Lara Wilson, Director of Special Collections and the University Archives, University of Victoria (UVIC). It was originally published June 2021 in Ampersands.

Head Librarian Jonathan Bengston came to the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage on March 21, 2021 with a team of people including Lara Wilson and David Young, Records  Management Archivist, to help dismantle Fr. Charles Brandt’s Book and Art Conservation Lab. Many of Charles’ nature photos and others of his collection are also being archived with UVIC.

Future plans are for a working paper and book conservation lab to be opened at the UVIC McPherson Library. It is hoped to include a window wall for the public to observe book and paper conservation in process.

The conservation laboratory and the photographs will continue as witness to some of the many legacies of the hermit monk and Catholic priest Charles Brandt, who died October 25, 2020.

     

          Bruce Witzel,

                on behalf of the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society

 

 

EmbossingTools of fr.Charles Brandt - photo by Lara Wilson, University of Victoria Special Collections and University Archives

The hand tools for embossing materials such as leather are made of bronze, date of manufacture likely early 1900s    Photo: Lara Wilson

 

BOOKBINDERY AMONG FATHER CHARLES BRANDT’S ENDURING LEGACIES

by: Lara Wilson and Heather Dean, Special Collections & University Archives

 

Hermit priest, environmentalist, spiritual teacher, and prominent bookbinder, Father Charles Brandt leaves behind many enduring legacies following his death on October 25, 2020, at the age of 97. Among them is his bequest to the University of Victoria Libraries of equipment, tools, and materials from his Hermitage’s conservation lab and bindery, located on the Oyster River at Black Creek on Vancouver Island.

Father Brandt was inspired to move to Vancouver Island to join the Hermits of St. John the Baptist, established in 1964 near the Tsolum River at Merville. Brandt, originally from Kansas City, Missouri, obtained a divinity baccalaureate from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin. Prior to moving to Vancouver Island, Brandt lived in a number of abbeys in the U.S, including St. Gregory’s Abbey (Shawnee, Oklahoma) where he worked as a bookbinder. Brandt sustained his life as a hermit priest through his bookbinding work. Trappist monks in Oregon sent Brandt the bookbinding equipment, which provided Brandt with the foundations to establish his own bindery on Vancouver Island.

Brandt, who had a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University (1948), was passionate about the environment. He eventually moved his hermitage from the Tsolum River to its present location on the beautiful Oyster River, where he lived for nearly 50 years. From his hermitage, Brandt engaged in conservation activities, not only preserving books and historical documents, but also advocating for preserving the natural world. The interconnection between his spiritual life and the natural world can be found in his books Meditations from the Wilderness (1997) and Self and the Environment (1997).

UVic Libraries was among Brandt’s clients and his bookplate can be found tucked into a number of volumes. The business card for the Brandt Conservation Centre, lists the following services:

 

Restoration & Conservation of:

Works of Art on Paper

Archival Materials: Maps, MSS, Parchments, Photographs, Newspapers, Broadsides.

Books and Pamphlets

 

Fine Binding

Encapsulation

Emergency Recovery Services

Surveys of Libraries, Archives & Fine Art on Paper Collections

 

Prior to the recent pandemic restrictions, UVic Libraries staff oversaw the packing and transport of the bequeathed materials to their new home, in the nascent print room of the Mearns Centre for Learning – McPherson Library. In the coming years, these materials, along with equipment and supplies from additional bequests and gifts, will be utilized through experiential learning opportunities for UVic students, as well as through workshops and other public programming. Among the materials received were book presses, binding leather, marbled endpapers, a skiving machine, Fr. Brandt’s custom watermarked archival paper, papermaking screens, embossing tools, gold leaf, and a massive “Robust” paper cutter.

 

Lime green robust cutter

The “Robust Cutter” is for cutting cardboard, date of manufacture c. 1970s. Photo: Lara Wilson

The Hermitage will live on as a spiritual retreat, with the 27 acres placed in a land conservancy and the property bequeathed to the Comox Valley Regional District. Fr. Brandt’s bequests will enrich our communities now and in the future. To learn more about Father Brandt, please see Brian Payton’s article in Hakai Magazine, “The Oracle of Oyster River.”

 

~~~~

 

Post script photos

 

bookbinding-catholic-hermit-520x780 photo by grant callegari

Charles Brandt working on a binding at his hermitage conservation lab – photo by Grant Callegari

 

 

An example of Charles Brandts book bindings and leather work - photo courtesy of Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society

One example of Charles Brandt book binding and fine leather work – photo from the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society

 

 

From Book Arts, 2014 volume 5, number 1 - saved by Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society

Conservators and staff who took part in the Mobile Conservation Laboratory 1979 pilot project pose outside the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa. Each conservator holds a tool of their trade. Charles Brandt (center) holds a Japanese paste brush.

Photo is courtesy the Government of Canada, Canadian Conservation Institution and from Book Arts 2014 – volume 5, no 1

 

 ~ peace ~

 

Bruce

~

Harvest Homestead Reflections

“All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of interdependent parts . . . The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, water, plants and animals, or collectively, the land.”

Aldo Leopold

 

Cheers to the raised beds 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photoart effect

Harvest Homestead Reflections

 

Cauliflower, white and purple 2021-09-19

 

 

 

 

One of many winter squash 2021-09-21

 

 

 

spider in rasberry patch 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

“The spider’s lesson is to never be greedy. It shows that objects of necessity can be objects of beauty and art as well. The spider also teaches us that we can become too easily enraptured with ourselves.”

Marlo Morgan

 

 

Kids garden art next to winter squash 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

Jalapeno peppers in greenhouse 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Garden arbour amidst west coast rainforest 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

“The patches of bluets in the grass may not be long on brains, but it might be, at least in a very small way, awake. The trees especially seem to bespeak a generosity of spirit . . . We know nothing for certain, but we seem to see that the world turns upon growing, grows towards growing, and growing green and clean.”

Anne Dillard

 

Smokebush in the forest 2021-08-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Lily by Japanese Maple 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

“It may be more appropriate to think of ourselves as a mode of being of  the earth, than a separate creature living on  the earth. Earth does not belong to us, it is us.”

Elizabeth Roberts

 

 

Chard and cabbage and waning peas in raied beds 2021-09-19 bruce witzel poto

 

 

 

 

Chard harvested 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Sunflower closeup 2021-08-19 bruce witzel photo

 

“From the forest and the wilderness comes the tonics and barks which brace humanity.”

Henry David Thoreau

 

 

Ninebark next to heather 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Ripening of tomatoes 2021-09-19 bruce wigtzel photo

 

“Return to the land means recovering something of the biorhythms of the body, the day, and the seasons from the world of clocks, computers and artificial lighting that have almost entirely alienated us form these biorhythms.”

Rosemary Radford Reuther

 

Heather looking at meditation point looking south down the lake 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Cucumbers, zuchinni, winter squash, pcikles and chard in our harvest kitchen 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Wintry pantry and jar room almost full 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

Mountain ash begin to turn colour as sentinel to our solar home 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

“There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy  of wind.”

Anne Dillard

 

Sunflower in the forest 2021-08-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

View south from our deck 2021-09-19 bruce witzel photo

 

 

Lone cosmos 2021-08-19 bruce witzel photo

 

“I would insist that our love for our natural home has to go beyond finite, into the boundless  – like the love of a mother for her children, whose devotion extends to both the gifted and the scarred among her brood.”

Barbara Kingsolver

 

 

Autumn sky that eventually cleared 2021-09-19

 

~ Peace and Love ~

 

Bruce

Britney Keeley’s opinion piece on Treaties

At school in early Spring my grand daughter’s grade 4 class had to write their opinion on this question:

What do you think of the treaties that were signed between the First Nations and the Canadian government? Share your opinion below.

 

With my grand daughter Britney’s permission I share her written response here:

I believe the treaty agreement was unfair, because the First Nations did not get all they were promised. Another reason is that they already had that land from the Creator. Also, the wolfers were looking for horses in the mountains and they came along the First Nations and killed them for no reason when they did not have the horses. And that is why I think the treaty was unfair.

by Britney Penelope Keeley

 

Brit's opinion piece about treaty rights

 

Fran and I have had four lovely weeks together with both of our grand daughters. They leave for their Alberta home tomorrow. Here are a few other images and notes.

 

Brit and emma at yoho park 2021-07-13 bruce witzel photo

Britney (left) and Emma (right) at Takakkaw Falls in Canada’s Yoho National Park in early July when we drove back to British Columbia in early July.  In the local Cree language “Yoho” means awe or wonder, “Takakkaw” means magnificent. 

 

emma, brit and fran at lake louise 2021-07-13 bruce wtizel photo

Emma, Brit and Francis at Lake Louise in Alberta – July 13, 2021

 

picnic at yoho 2021-07-13

Our picnic at Takakkaw Falls with Emma, below.

 

Emma at yoho 2021-07-13 bruce witzel photo

 

 

The next two photos were taken at Duck Lake, Saskatchewan on August 3, 2005.

They speak of the treaties and promises. Well – the broken promises.

 

Duck Lake and a Broken Treaty

 

 

Broken Treaty Mural at Duck Lake, Saskatchewan

 

 

 

Brit when she was six in 2017

Brit - 6 years old

 

`

Cheers for peace,

 

Bruce and Britney

 

FUNDAMENTAL SYSTEMIC CHANGE

 

Along with this beautiful full moon I experienced while driving home last night, what follows is something else to ponder…

 

Full moon over North Island forest and logging road at 10.30 pm  2021-06-23 bruce witzel photo

 

From the lessons of Coronavirus, we now know for sure that many areas require system change – take Senior Care homes for example. The 2020 book The Sustainable Economy by Robert S. Devine, which I introduced in my previous post What is the Price of a Human, suggests at least these nine items to help bring about fundamental systemic change:

 

1) Redesign corporations

2) Institute fees and caps on the extraction of virgin materials

3) Bolster public services

4) Dial down the stock market’s obsession with maximizing shareholders returns

5) Expand parental leave

6) Provide a sufficient minimum wage

7) Support organized labour

8) Infuse trade agreements with strong environmental and social provisions

9) Restrict advertising. (I like that one!)

 

These suggestions are courtesy of Gus Speth, past dean of Yale Forestry and Environmental Studies and  co-chair of the The Next-System Project.

The Sustainable Economy  was well researched, detailed and insightful about current problems and solutions.

~~~~

Now I’m half way through Bending Towards Justice, by US Senator Doug Jones. As the late Rep. John Lewis writes in praise about the book: “Facing the truth of our dark past with honesty and humility is the only way this nation (USA) can heal these deep wounds.”

~~~~

 

In closing I’ll quote from one of my personal heroes (an economist) :

 

“Everywhere people ask: “What can I actually do?” The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order. The guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in . . .  traditional wisdom . . .  

The real problems of our planet are not economic or technical, they are philosophical.”

 

E.F. Schumacher, author of Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered

 

~~~~

 

Through all our deepest ponderings, let’s opt in for the wisdom of the good earth!

 

Cheers, Bruce 

 

Francis and I in our garden, summer 2020 - Darrell McIntosh

What is the Price of a Human?

 

Currently I’m reading The Sustainable Economy: The Hidden Costs of Climate Change and the Path to a Prosperous Future by Robert S. Devine. What follows is a small synopsis of the book – augmented with my usual photo-essay approach.

 

Silverton Colorado quiet street 2016-10-14 bruce witzel photo

Quiet street in Silverton, Colorado – bruce witzel photo

 

     ~~~~

    

     With a focus on climate change, journalist and author Robert S. Devine reveals the fundamental flaws in the economy that enable environmental degradation. The Sustainable Economy is a book about economics, but it skips the equations and eases through the jargon, opting instead for compelling stories and surprising humor. Readers will encounter high-tech narwhals, struggling coal workers, orbiting giant mirrors, the kids who are suing the U.S. government over climate policy, and vanishing Alaskan towns.
The Sustainable Economy looks at many of the most pressing climate issues, such as melting ice caps and farm-killing droughts, but by viewing them through the revealing lens of economics, the book delivers a fresh perspective. Devine shows how the basic mechanisms of supply and demand fail when it comes to global warming and the environment. Fortunately, he also lays out a path to an improved economy that can boost our well-being while also fostering a healthy environment. Most importantly, The Sustainable Economy shows how we can overcome the political and personal obstacles blocking progress toward a sustainable, just, and prosperous economy.

 

~~~~

Yerba Buena Gardens in downtown San Francisco 2010-05-06 bruce witzel photo

Yerba Buena Public Park, San Francisco – bruce witzel photo

 

An autumn wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 2016-10-05 bruce witzel photo

Autumn Wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado – bruce witzel photo

 

Here is what Devine says:

     Incomplete communication misleads us consumers into buying products laden with hidden costs. Countless goods and services bear the stains of harms such as pollution, habitat destruction, floods, child labor, extinctions and disease. When we fill up at the gas station the price we are charged doesn’t tell us that our purchase increases the odds that a wildfire will burn down our community. Making such partially informed choices is like buying a house having seen only the kitchen.

     Another characteristic of the market that leads to failure is its inability to provide incentives for businesses to produce or protect public goods, such as fire departments or city parks. Most important, the market doesn’t generate the public goods sometimes known as “ecosystem services”, such as nutrient cycling, soil formation, oxygen creation and a livable climate. Many of these essential services operate in the background; like plumbing and wiring, they go unnoticed and unappreciated unless they fail…

 

Wendell Berry and friends with hirse team- photographer unknown

Wendell Berry and friends – photographer unknown

 

4 seated cycle in Bend, Oregon 2016-10-01 fran guenette photo

Bend, Oregon-– Francis Guenette photo

 

 

Girl in Mexico City 1991-10-19  bruce witzel photo

Girl in Mexico City, 1991 – bruce witzel photo

 

~~~~

And here is an excerpt from where I just stopped reading and now currently have bookmarked:

 

     Among the multitude of studies exploring the inequities associated with climate change is the UN’s World Economic and Social Survey 2016: Climate Change Resilience: An Opportunity for Reducing Inequalities. “Sadly, the people at greater risk from climate hazards are the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized who, in many cases, have been excluded from socioeconomic progress,” writes then United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in the report. “We have no time to waste – and a great deal to gain – when it comes to addressing the socioeconomic inequalities that deepen poverty and leave people behind.” The study estimates that over the last twenty years low-income countries have suffered a 5 percent drop in GDP due to climate-related disasters, while wealthy nations have not been smacked as hard. . .

     For years experts have been wrestling with whether and how to incorporate wealth disparities into climate economics and the social cost of carbon, though not always with equity as the goal. One early attempt showed how not to do it. As part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Second Assessment Report, produced in 1996, the working group on the economic and social dimension of climate change tackled the always delicate task of putting a price tag on a human life. Despite dissent from some members, the group assigned different values to different lives depending on such factors as the average income of a person from a particular nation. Writing about the group’s approach in their book, Priceless, economist Frank Ackerman and Georgetown University law professor Lisa Heinzerling report, “A careful reading of the fine print revealed that they were valuing lives in rich countries at $1,500,000, in middle-income countries at $300,000, and in the lowest-income countries at $100,000.”

     Understandably, this raised the hackles of many people, particularly residents of the $100,000 countries. They let it be known that they did not think that the life of, say, an Indian or a Nigerian was worth only one-fifteenth as much as the life of an American or a Saudi Arabian, The controversy dealt the IPPS Second Assessment a painful blow. When the Third Assessment came out five years later [2001], it suggested a single value for everyone.

 

The Sustainable Economy: The Hidden Costs of Climate Change and the Path to a Prosperous Future 

by Robert S. Devine (2020)  pages 177-178

 

Woman in Mexico City,1991 - bruce witzel photo

A woman in Mexico City, 1991 – bruce witzel photo

 

Matthew holding Emma 2009-04-10 bruce witzel photo

My granddaughter Emma, held by her father Matthew at our piano in 2009 – bruce witzel photo

~~~~

 

Peace and regards,

          

            Bruce

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