Thinking Like a Mountain – Charles Brandt at 96

 

Coast Mountains (large), from Oyster Bay, Dec. 2, '14. charles brandt photo (2)

British Columbia Coast Mountain Range and the Salish Sea – Charles Brandt photo

 

“Somehow we must come to realize that the earth is not merely a resource for human exploitation, but that it is a gift, a holy gift, that has a vastly deeper worth than its value as purely an economic commodity. To do this we must discover our own spirit.”

 

February 19th, 2019 is frater Charles Brandt’s 96th birthday. He made this plea many years ago in the late 1980’s. He continues with this belief onwards today. His long life has been one of quiet contemplation and action. He has shared this generously and encouraged others.        

 

Charles lives with a faith that is durable and deeply rooted.

 

Antelope Canyon, Page Arizona - July 2007 by Charles A.E.Brandt

Antelope Canyon, Arizona – Charles Brandt photo

 

He calls people to have greater awareness through living by example. Charles is an advocate of meditation, both sitting and walking. He is a renown expert in art, book and paper conservation. This has provided Charles’ material and creative sustenance.

 

Charles Brandt's book binding skills

An example of Charles Brandt’s work in the art of book binding

 

As a humble Catholic hermit, monk and priest, Charles is true to the universal principle ‘it is better to give than recieve’.  Recently he donated his hermitage land rights, ensuring the 27-acres of natural forest on the banks of the Oyster River are protected in perpetuity.

 

Here are details from a news release:

 

The Comox Valley Land Trust (CVLT) is pleased to announce the establishment of a conservation covenant over 27-acres of wild land on the banks of the Oyster River. The land is currently home to spiritual leader and conservationist Father Charles Brandt, 95, who asked the CVLT to protect the mature forest and riparian areas for future generations.

Father Charles Brandt, or “Father Charles,” has lived in his hermitage on the 27-acres bordering the Oyster River since 1970. As the first ordained Catholic priest-hermit in two centuries, he asked the CVLT to hold conservation covenant over the property to safeguard the values of conservation and ecological stewardship. “The covenant will ensure that these mature forests and riparian areas, as well as the plants and wildlife that call them home, are protected for future generations in perpetuity,” says Tim Ennis, executive director of CVLT.

Father Charles plans to eventually donate the land to the CVRD as parkland (allowing pedestrian-only public access). A registered society will lease back the hermitage building for use by a contemplative individual to carry on in the priest-hermit’s tradition. “We must fall in love with the Earth, and we only save what we love,” says Father Charles. “It is my deep love of contemplation and communion with the natural world that has led me to act in its defense.”

Funding required to complete the project was generously provided by Judy Hager (in memory of Bob Hager), the Oyster River Enhancement Society, members of the Tsolum River Restoration Society, and other local community members. The CVLT would like to thank everyone who helped to bring about this conservation success story. 

 

January 31, 2019   Comox Valley Land Trust

 

Oyster River near the hermitage - charles brandt photo

Oyster River near the hermitage – Charles Brandt photo

 

“We find ourselves alienated not only from ourselves but from our sister and brother, and from the very root of reality. We find ourselves alienated from the earth and its natural resources. Instead of living in peace and harmony and unity with the earth, we find ourselves exploiting it and performing acts of violence that degrade and spoil it . . . Because of these grave threats to the continuation of life on earth we are drawn together in the cause of peace. We seek peace with all the peoples of the earth and with the earth itself . . . ”

~ frater Charles Brandt  ~      (frater – Latin for brother)

from the grassroots People’s Synod of 1986-1991 in the Diocese of Victoria (Vancouver Island)

 

An article of Charles’ from the synod, a New Consciousness, is previously posted here.

 

charles brandt at his hermitage in 2018 - photo by grant callegari

Charles Brandt at his hermitage, the ‘Merton House’  (photo by Grant Callegari of Hakai Magazine)

 

Charles studied for a brief time with Aldo Leopold’s son and was influenced by Aldo’s own  experience of paradigm shift, as described in this essay below of witnessing a wolf die.

Charles often paraphrases Leopold, saying we must learn to Think Like a Mountain. Hence the title for this post, celebrating Charles life of 96 years and creation of Brandt Hermitage Land Trust.

 

Screenshot_2019-02-19 Thinking Like a Mountain by Aldo Leopold - wolves and deforestation(1)

 

Cheers to you Charles,

 

in fellowship with all

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7 thoughts on “Thinking Like a Mountain – Charles Brandt at 96

  1. Happy 70th Anniversary of the Sand County Almanac to you, Bruce! I’m glad to know that Charles Brandt’s land is protected under a Conservation Easement and that the land trust movement in Canada is going strong. I just finished a grant application for federal money to help fund an easement on 50 acres of organic farm here. Learning the Land Trust business has been a great adventure.

    • Thanks Priscilla. The Land Covenant movement is important and practical way to witness to the “land ethic” that Aldo Leopold acted upon. So different than the speculation and development model that is so prevalent. It’s great to hear of your work protecting the land of the organic farm in Wisconsin, correct? What I hadn’t realized is the cost involved to get the baseline assessment done and then to ensure monitoring continues so as to honor the covenant. A minimum of $20,000 had to be raised in the case of the Hermitage Land being legally part of the Comox Valley Land Trust.

      • I’ve written baseline documentation for several acquisitions and write monitoring reports every year, while our volunteer Board of Directors assists in the monitoring. I don’t have any credentials like some coming right out of Environmental Studies programs, but I get the job done. We’re not yet accredited, but we’re definitely working from the Standards & Practices.

  2. I am so moved by frater Charles Brandt’s words and the life he’s lived in simplicity and purpose. How wonderful that he’s made preservation arrangements for his beautiful hermitage and property, and it would seem to me that if it serves as a retreat center or a gathering spot for others to get in touch with God and nature, this dear man’s life will influence for many decades to come. What an inspiration! What life well lived!

    • Yes Charles is an inspiration for many people; locally and globally. As well as being an hermit-priest in the local diocese, he is also an oblate (associate) of Saccidananda Ashram in South India founded by a Benedictine father, Bede Griffiths. Charles once said that he came to the Catholic faith during the 1950’s after reading the autobiography of Bede called the “Golden String”. Then in the late 1980’s Charles spent a few months living at the Ashram where he met of all people, Joanna Macy. Charles has made many broad connections like this over the years to people of all walks of life.

      In regards to your pondering about the hermitage, the Land Trust and the future regional park as a retreat opportunity Charles gathered a team of friends and a advisors over the past couple years to help him make this happen. Hence the Land Trust. Also an independent Legal Society (separate from the CVLT) was formed which I’ll quote directly it’s purpose:

      The Brandt Hermitage Society seeks to fulfill the explicit wishes of Father Charles Brandt, that. . .
      the forest and house of The Hermitage 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 dedicated to the environment, who shares this vision.

      Gee, I should have included this in the post. Thanks Debra, for own support of Charles life work and vison.

    • Your welcome Rosaliene. May all people become aware of the the earths voice and the earths beauty that surrounds us. The well being of humanity is intimately linked to the well being of the earth. As you say, the Web of life.

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