Biophilia: Life, Love, and the Language of Nature 
Rea L. Ginsberg, LCSW-C, ACSW, BCD
bio: life, biology
philia: a feeling of love, friendship & esteem (Aristotle and the concept of reciprocity: true friendships are beneficial to both parties, especially in the way of happiness and love; acts of friendship also benefit the giver and contribute to the sense of a fulfilled life.)
A strong attraction for the natural world. A firm emotional attachment to the living world.
Our inborn need for connection to life and to the vital processes of life.
An innate love for the natural world, believed to be felt universally by mankind.
"The urge to affiliate with other forms of life." 
Love of life.
Our natural love of life helps to sustain life.
In architecture, biophilic design is a sustainable design strategy that incorporates reconnecting people with the natural environment.
Biophilic design: an environment that strengthens life and supports its sociological and psychological components.
In healthcare, having a window looking out onto plants is claimed to help speed up the healing process of patients in the hospital. Having plants in the same room with patients is also said to increase the rate of healing.
"I know that there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be....I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles." 
Trees and nature are fundamental for human survival and the model for our thriving - physical, mental, spiritual.
"In wildness is the preservation of the world" 
Every tree tells a story. Listen. Host to our enchanted forests and singing woods. Yearning to stay awhile and play by ear...
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep." 
Every tree an entertainer of imagination, invention, creativity, Keeper of dreams.
A forest is a metaphor for life; everything is related, Including past to present to future; Circles unbroken.
Every leaf matters, And only together do they shape the branches.
Every root is a primary source of nurture & nourishment; Roots tell their secrets to each other; they communicate.
Every flower signals a source of food later on. "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." 
Every ring represents a pivotal occasion.
Trees: objects of love, longing, loss, and the cycle of life; Fierce, furious Bittersweet Beauty.
Resilience; regeneration; wellness.
Grounded, a foundation for life.
The apple-pear tree, bursting into bloom, April 11, 2017
1. With full acknowledgement to The Free Dictionary and to Wikipedia, those splendid resources, for the audacious plagiarism found here. -- "Casual academic"! 2. Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984. 3. Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, written between 1942 & 1944; first published 1947. 4. Henry David Thoreau, "In wildness is the preservation of the world," from 'Walking,' a lecture first delivered on April 23, 1851. First published posthumously as an essay in the Atlantic Monthly, 1862. 5. Robert Frost, poem: "Stopping by woods on a snowy evening," 1922. 6. Ralph Waldo Emerson, c. 1840. Image credit: RLG Tags: #nature #trees #resilience #healing #wellness
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
CONGRATULATIONS to BOB DYLAN ! Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
The award was announced on October 13, 2016. The Swedish Academy wrote that the prize was granted for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."
“Dylan has recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love,” the Swedish Academy said in a biographical note accompanying the announcement. “The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title ‘Lyrics.’ As an artist, he is strikingly versatile; he has been active as painter, actor and scriptwriter.” The academy added: “Since the late 1980s, Bob Dylan has toured persistently, an undertaking called the ‘Never-Ending Tour.’ Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.”
Song text: How many roads must a man walk down Before you call him a man ? How many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand ? Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly Before they're forever banned ? The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind The answer is blowin' in the wind.
Yes, how many years can a mountain exist Before it's washed to the sea ? Yes, how many years can some people exist Before they're allowed to be free ? Yes, how many times can a man turn his head Pretending he just doesn't see ? The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind The answer is blowin' in the wind.
Yes, how many times must a man look up Before he can see the sky ? Yes, how many ears must one man have Before he can hear people cry ? Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows That too many people have died ? The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind The answer is blowin' in the wind.
Song Text: Come gather 'round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You'll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you Is worth savin' Then you better start swimmin' Or you'll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin'.
Come writers and critics Who prophesize with your pen And keep your eyes wide The chance won't come again And don't speak too soon For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. For the loser now Will be later to win For the times they are a-changin'.
Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call Don't stand in the doorway Don't block up the hall For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled There's a battle outside And it is ragin'. It'll soon shake your windows And rattle your walls For the times they are a-changin'.
Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land And don't criticize What you can't understand Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command Your old road is Rapidly agin'. Please get out of the new one If you can't lend your hand For the times they are a-changin'.
The line it is drawn The curse it is cast The slow one now Will later be fast As the present now Will later be past The order is Rapidly fadin'. And the first one now Will later be last For the times they are a-changin'.
Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son? And what did you see, my darling young one? I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin' I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin' I saw a white ladder all covered with water I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son? And what did you hear, my darling young one? I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin' I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin' I heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin' I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin' Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Oh, who did you meet my blue-eyed son? Who did you meet, my darling young one? I met a young child beside a dead pony I met a white man who walked a black dog I met a young woman whose body was burning I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow I met one man who was wounded in love I met another man who was wounded in hatred And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
And what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son? And what'll you do now my darling young one? I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin' I'll walk to the deepths of the deepest black forest Where the people are a many and their hands are all empty Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison Where the executioner's face is always well hidden Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten Where black is the color, where none is the number And I'll tell and think it and speak it and breathe it And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin' But I'll know my songs well before I start singin' And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
* * * * Image credits: Bob Dylan (top image - c. 1962 @ Carnegie Hall?): www.nbcnews.com 1963: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Dylan 2001: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/arts/music/bob-dylan-nobel-prize-literature.html?_r=0 2012: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Dylan 2013: www.performanceimpressions.com Swedish Academy (below left): www.nobelprize.org Swedish Academy (below right): www.dreamstime.com
Post Script #1: Dylan did not attend the Nobel Prize ceremonies that took place on December 10, 2016. He declined the invitation. He sent a note to the Swedish Academy, accepting the Prize but stating that he had pre-existing commitments that prevented his attendance. It was an ethical error of epic proportions, extreme arrogance. He was just too busy! No one knows where he was on that day of festivities in Stockholm. www.nytimes.com/2016/12/10/arts/bob-dylan-skips-nobel-prize-ceremonies.html?_r=0
Post Script #2: And finally, he did receive the Nobel medal and commemorative diploma in Sweden, weekend of April 1, 2017. Nobel laureates are awarded approximately $900,000 (8 million Swedish krona) in Prize money. They are required to give a lecture within 6 months of the Prize ceremony which took place on December 10, 2016. It remains unclear exactly when Dylan will give his lecture and whether it will be in person or taped. www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/arts/music/bob-dylan-accept-nobel-prize.html?ref=todayspaper
National Museum of African American History and Culture
LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING (Song also known as "the Black American National Anthem") Lift every voice and sing Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise, High as the list'ning skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us, Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, Let us march on till victory is won. ~~ James Weldon Johnson, 1899 (lyrics) ~~ John Rosamond Johnson, 1900 (music) www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya7Bn7kPkLo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGqx4asAJqshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngFDy52eCZY
A few of those mentioned above:
Frederick Douglass, c. 1874
Louis Armstrong, 1953
Maya Angelou at Clinton inauguration, 1/20/1993
Mahalia Jackson, 1962
James Baldwin, 1969
Henry Louis Gates Jr. with Peabody Award, 2014
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, 2007
Langston Hughes, 1936
Martin Luther King Jr., 1964
Death be not proud. Out of slavery's ashes, THIS magnificent and vibrant LIFE.
The Blue Cat: Life, Afterlife, and Transformation
Rea L. Ginsberg, LCSW-C, ACSW, BCD
Two scribes and the elegant Blue Bastet Cat with earring
The life of the dead is set in the minds of the living. ~~ Marcus Tillius Cicero
Cats were revered in ancient Egypt. The domesticated cat became a symbol of poise and grace, protection and motherhood – the visible soul of the Egyptian home. Cats were considered sacred, a subject of religious worship, and adorned with fine jewelry like golden earrings.  Wearing gold jewelry was a sign of the cat’s importance.
Egyptian cat with gold earrings & gold nose ring; bronze, c. 600 BC
The history of the Egyptian cat involves the land itself. Egypt’s economy was primarily agricultural, and an empire was built on Ancient Egypt’s enormous agricultural wealth. Cats were highly valued for their skill in controlling the rodent and snake populations that plagued homes, farms, fields and granaries. Cats helped to protect precious crops. Originally for this reason, they were gradually domesticated, maintained in grand style, and deified as purveyors of fertility and sun. They were seen as a divine force that harnessed nature to the benefit of the empire.
Carved black limestone statue of a reclining mother cat nursing her 3 kittens; c. 300 BC; Sadigh Gallery, NY. Representation of fertility and motherhood, a visual prayer.
Amulet: cat with a kitten in front of her, Egyptian faience, c. 400 BC; Charm with magical powers, protection against evil. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
Felines: goddess Wadjet depicted as a lion-headed woman. Bronze, c. 600 BC; Brooklyn Museum
Hieroglyphic: Cat-headed figure of a demigod, Balancing Life, Death, and Afterlife; International Council of Museums Committee for Egyptology; Museo Egizio, Turin, IT
Archaeologists believe that cats were also important in dream interpretation. If a cat appeared in a dream, it meant that the dreamer would have a bountiful harvest.
Cats received great respect after death. "The cat's body was placed in a linen sheet and carried amidst bitter lamentations by the bereaved to a sacred house where it was treated with drugs and spices by an embalmer.”  Cats often received a full embalming ceremony, like humans, and were buried in some of the great cemeteries along the Nile. Many were buried with provisions for the afterlife, such as mice and pots of milk. Grief was boundless, endless, infecting.
Mausoleum & dwellings along the Nile River of Egypt
In some ancient artifacts, Nile boatmen are pictured paddling into the afterlife, accompanying an Egyptian on death’s long voyage.  We can safely assume that the same moral obligation would apply to the sacred, noble cat.
Boatmen accompanying an Egyptian on death’s long voyage into the afterlife. Artifacts found in an ancient Egyptian grave.
The scholarly scribes carefully documented, by hand and with reed brushes and pens on papyrus paper, the lives, deaths, and burials of cats owned by royalty. Hieroglyphs on papyrus.  The cats were mourned at length and in ways similar to the mourning of humans.
Hieroglyphics on papyrus paper, c. 600 BC. One figure bears the head of a cat.
Mummification was supposed to keep a cat’s body intact for transporting to the spiritual afterlife. Because of the Egyptians’ deep affection for cats, and the elaborate after-death and burial procedures created for them, the mummies of ancient cats survived and can still be seen in plenitude today. All these extensive and painstaking preparations give fresh significance to the phrase, "Undying love."
Cat mummy -- Canadian Museum of Art
Death is not the end of the story. Far from it.
Their spirit is reaffirmed now by our admiration and awe. We are their afterlife! That is an honor and a responsibility we owe to the cats and their grieving human preservers. We must behave accordingly, with reverence.
The Egyptian cats offer us the privilege, even if only for a momentary glimpse, of living in their times, many ages ago.
Cat mummies -- British Museum, Our impressive company from antiquity. Grief from a different perspective.
How old is old? How long is forever? Are 3,000 years a long time? Who is measuring? The mind is not a passive learner, and individual perception and observation matter.
When each of us learns something from the lookback, the cats have made our lives a little better than before.
Death yields its benefits. We are required to find them. Until then, we are not whole and free.
“If not for death, would we appreciate life?” 
When we deny death, we cannot serve life well. All of us have the power to write our own story, the courage to make our own choices, the resilience to fathom death as well as life.
Egyptian hieroglyphics, c. 600 BC, Carved into the wall of a tomb. Writing it down… ...so important to the health and soundness of the individual & the community.
Tombs of Ramses V and Ramses VI, in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. Hieroglyphics carved into walls and ceilings. The tombs were looted about 3,000 years ago, in times of Egyptian crisis, But the radiant writing still lives, bearing witness for the dead. It was their duty to write it down - for Self, for the gods, and for generations yet unborn.
Tomb of Ramses VI, a lasting legacy, deep and complex; fathoming Life and Death and the Afterlife.
That becomes the root and the richness of life’s meaning. “Life is primarily a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life….The quest for meaning is the key to mental health and human flourishing.”  Hope and sense of purpose.
What counts is not so much what happens to us, but rather, how we perceive what happens to us -- how we frame life’s events. We have the aptitude to imagine, to reframe, to revise our perceptions, and thereby to rise.
That is strength and growth.
The deaths and burial rituals of ancient cats teach us tales about the beauty of life and the importance of the past. The past is the foundation of the present and a herald of the future. It must not be denied or ignored as some people suggest. Forgetting the past in order to soothe today’s grief pain is not a restorative option. "Forget about the dead and move on" is shallow advice. Impossible. Choose the past and the present. They are actually factually indivisible. They form a whole. It is not a question of either / or.
We cannot live as though history had not happened.
“Turkish” Angora kittens – Angoras are a “landrace” breed, one of several descendant breeds from the ancients ! Past is present and informs the future.
This choice opens our pathways to the fullness of life, containing all that is possible and complete in every particular, and a lasting legacy of dignity, integrity, sincerity, and grace.
Envision. Remember. Become.
Those immortal dead live again In minds made better by their presence. ~~ George Eliot
An Appreciation: Thank you, MTC and HMC, for your friendship and for the Blue Cat. – 6/4/16 -- Viva la Blue Cat. “Each of us has a unique constellation of gifts, an unreplicated radius of influence, and within that radius, be it as small as a family or as large as a state, we can be a transformative presence.” [J. H. Sacks]
And always a Debt of Gratitude to MWM, without whose steady encouragement this pen would still be silent. “We each have…capacities that can lie dormant throughout life, until someone awakens them. We can all achieve [that] of which we never thought ourselves capable. All it takes is for us to meet someone who believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. Such people change lives.” [J. H. Sacks]
Map of Nile River region, burial ground for many ancient cats. The Nile is the longest river in the world.
Older map of the Nile region -- British
Hieroglyphic word for NILE
Hieroglyphic words for male cat & female cat. The name for "cat" was MAU, an onomatopoeia.
I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul. ~~ Jean Cocteau
Divine Felines, 305 BC; Wood, gilded gesso, bronze, rock crystal, glass; Scarab placed between the ears symbolized the morning sun. Brooklyn Museum SCARAB: used in ancient Egypt generally as "a symbol for the soul."
The Back Page: Even the smallest feline is a masterpiece. Cats have a rare grace, elegance, and absolute emotional honesty, Glad for company and yet possessing secret lives. They are like spirits come briefly to earth. Time spent with a cat is never wasted.* Life, Afterlife, and Transformation.
(*Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Pam Brown, Jules Verne, Colette)
“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted, but mostly they're darked. But mostly they're darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?” ― Theodor S. Geisel