About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Refugee Countryside

A rock formation in the north Iceland region of Westfjords
associated in legends with a troll woman Sekolla.
Can a countryside become a refugee, can it be uprooted?
     I know from my own experience that it can. I was born in Sudetenland, originally part of the Czech Republic which was for centuries settled by Germans. After the horrors of the Second World War, the local German population was expelled and deported to Germany and the generation of my parents was sent or commanded to resettle that land. At that historical junction even the countryside became uprooted and felt like a refugee; most of the local lore, legends, stories, myths disappeared and were forgotten when the Germans left.
    In any old cultural land all over the world from Iceland to Hawaii, from Kalahari to Siberian taiga, every significant feature of landscape usually has a story attached to it (anthropologists and religionists call it aetiology). It can be about a prince drinking from this spring, a folk hero and brigand being born under that ancient oak, or a waterfall appearing where a forlorn bride was said to jump over the cliff. Those stories are usually very poetic and mythical, only occasionally with a kernel of historical truth, but they play an important function because they help to tie people to their history and their environment. But they also have an important factual function; these stories often contain warnings about dangers of extreme weather, floods, fires...
    Before I was born, all these stories, or most of them, vanished with the expelled and deported Germans. It took about twenty years before the new settlers really noticed that something significant was missing in their lives. Of course they started to create their own lore, but it takes centuries. And thus during my childhood some naturalists, anthropologists and folklorists started to work to resurrect and return back at least some of those old stories.
    I wrote that this kind of geographical lore is part of any old genuine culture. It is also part of biblical stories. Interestingly, these geographical connections are the most neglected part of biblical stories. Perhaps it is because we, and most people of faith, do not live in biblical lands any longer. Some fundamentalists occasionally feel the urge to travel to the Holy Lands and trample ancient holy places and thus participate in turning them into an Americanized holy Disneyland.
    But biblical geographical references are deeper than Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Jordan River or the Lake of Galilee. They permeate the Bible through and through and are important for understanding its message, important even for us today and important for us here, wherever we live, thousands of miles from the Holy Land. These Biblical examples can teach us to relate and respect countryside around us.

    Unfortunately the original inhabitants of our country at the Hudson River Estuary are long gone and only the faintest remnants of these old stories are remaining. Yet inspired by our faith tradition and re-learning how to be sensitive to the broad environment and country around us, we can start resettling our homeless countryside all about us. Just like with any refugees, we all will benefit from this endeavor.
Laurel Hill, a dominant igneous rock intrusion
located in the marches near mouth of the Hackensack River
near Secaucus, New Jersey.

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