Embers of December

embers in december


I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape- the loneliness of it- the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it- the whole story doesn’t show.  ♠ Andrew Wyeth

A week away shops and streets
Are all glitter and glare.
No clandestine chink reveals
The bone structure of holy audacity
That supports the waiting prophet.        

We must peer with inside-eyes
To catch sight of the faithful
Embers of story that wait
Behind glitter and glare.

© rita h kowats   December 2014



photo-credit-a-hrefhttpswww-flickr-comphotoszharth8372204605zhartha-via-a-hrefhttpphotopin-comphotopina.jpg ed.by rita h kowats

2 nudes in the desert

A Voice Cries in the Wilderness

2 nudes in the desert

 A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare
The way of the LORD!  Is.40:3


I offer this poem to honor the struggle and the victims caught in the wilderness:  Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Joseph, Diana, Linda, Jim, Jeremy the Boy Poet, Eddy, Bob, and thousands more. Presente!

 In the Wilderness



Photo Credits:  Female nude: photopin.com creative commons.  Male nudestudy of a male nude in desair trying to hide himself nicolai Abraham Abildgaard.jpg: Metropolitan Museum of Art used with permission.

“This Is the Way; Walk In It”

I have been feasting on the words of the prophet Isaiah in these early days of the Christian season of Advent. This morning came a clear message, a voice from behind sounded in my ear: “This is the way; walk in it.” Is. 30:21.  Not that way, but THIS way.  A voice hard to ignore.  It seems the poet John O’Donohue can’t ignore it either.  Enjoy.

walk your meditation


by John O’Donohue


Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.


New Strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening a conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight.

You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the to transform

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call

in To Bless the Space Between Us:  A book of Blessings







Like a spider who plucks
Web strands in its advance
To the center,
Dazzling Dawn inches up the almost blue sky
Casting wisps of crimson and yellow
Between giant fir watchmen.

Our souls watch and wait
In the weather of our lives
For Dawn to enlighten and enliven
The dark places.
She advances with intention
Choosing hues that saturate shadows
Lingering in the recesses
Of experience and expectation.

Color drenches the dark
Until we emerge inebriated with hope
Fully-dawned and daunted
No more.

© rita h kowats  November 30, 2014

The Space in God’s Eye

the space in god's eye



There is a space where two disparate souls can meet and dwell in peace, even if only for a few minutes here and a few minutes there.  Those few minutes can keep a relationship alive and thriving for a long time if we learn how to get out of the way of our judgments.  If we can believe that we are connected in that space even world peace is possible.

Last week I posted Thich Naht Hahn’s poem, “Call Me by My True Names.”  In it he reminds us of our call to compassion with, the lines

“I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.”

I am still struggling to get out of the way of the pirate’s evil deed in order to enter into the sacred space where we are one.  I believe in the space and I know that in order to enter it I have to leave dualistic thinking behind.  Thinking like, “Pirate evil.  Me good.”  Meister Eckhart tells us

The eye with which I see god
is the same eye with which god sees me.
My eye and God’s eye are one.
One seeing, one knowing, one loving.

the space in god's eye

If the eye with which the pirate sees god is the same eye with which god sees the pirate, why is it so hard to believe that the space where the pirate is seen by god is the same space where I am seen by god, and it is holy.  If we can live in that space long enough we are home.  We arrive with all our faults and we are loved anyway…both of us.

I have found that I cannot believe this with my mind.  The only way I can begin to  feel compassion for the pirate is to go into the eye of god.  I rediscovered a mantra given to me by Spirit in another blog.  It has been helpful:

Breathing in I welcome the other.
Breathing out I release judgment.
Breathing in I am at one with the other
Breathing out I release duality.



Photo Credits for the eyes in god’s eye:

a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotosmaniya968334809~FreeBirD®~a via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-nd2.0cca (2)

a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotosmaniya968334809~FreeBirD®~a via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-nd2.0cca

a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotosadamcohn2515866014AdamCohna via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-nd2.0cca

a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotos69er463302758Mohammed Alnasera via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-nd2.0cca

“Call Me By My True Names”

Thich Nhat Hanh 12 (cropped).jpg


As Thich Nhat Hanh lies in critical condition in a hospital after a brain hemorrhage, I sit here and try to take in these challenging words.  If we can get to the point of recognizing how evil intention lives in ourselves, perhaps we can get to the point of forgiveness and reconciliation with the perpetrators of evil deeds.


Call Me by My True Names
by Thich Nhat Hanh

From: Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
In Plum Village, where I live in France, we receive many letters from the refugee camps in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, hundreds each week. It is very painful to read them, but we have to do it, we have to be in contact. We try our best to help, but the suffering is enormous, and sometimes we are discouraged. It is said that half the boat people die in the ocean. Only half arrive at the shores in Southeast Asia, and even then they may not be safe.

There are many young girls, boat people, who are raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many countries try to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, sea pirates continue to inflict much suffering on the refugees. One day we received a letter telling us about a young girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate. She was only twelve, and she jumped into the ocean and drowned herself.

When you first learn of something like that, you get angry at the pirate. You naturally take the side of the girl. As you look more deeply you will see it differently. If you take the side of the little girl, then it is easy. You only have to take a gun and shoot the pirate. But we cannot do that. In my meditation I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, there is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate. I saw that many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam, hundreds every day, and if we educators, social workers, politicians, and others do not do something about the situation, in twenty-five years a number of them will become sea pirates. That is certain. If you or I were born today in those fishing villages, we may become sea pirates in twenty-five years. If you take a gun and shoot the pirate, all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs.

After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it, there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate, and me. Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other? The tide of the poem is “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have so many names. When I hear one of the of these names, I have to say, “Yes.”

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Dharma Writing Workshop

The Dharma Writing Workshop http://www.quietspaces.com/dharmawriting.html

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

Know Your Crow: Connections

crow with woman  photo credit a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotospequenasuricata1413285694Pequena Suricataa via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-nd2.0cca

On a hot August day
I sat on the spacious balcony of my home
Reading about enfolding and unfolding
Teetering between rupture and rapture,
When Lenore came to visit.
She landed in the gutter
And cocked her head in response
To my accolades of her beauty and intelligence.

After a bit she let loose with a booming
And flew onto the railing to study me better.
Then- exit stage up.

Lenore’s raucous call had announced
A radical paradigm shift in our lives.
Nevermore are we separate, but connected

© rita h kowats

photo credit:  a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotospequenasuricata1413285694Pequena Suricataa via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-nd2.0cca

bare trees in forest 2 photo credit a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotoszharth8372204605zhartha via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-nd2.0cca

Shivering Souls

bare trees in forest 2 photo credit a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotoszharth8372204605zhartha via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-nd2.0cca


In November we enter a  liminal space spiritually, where souls shiver and flame…



The Bare Bones of Kenosis





photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/zharth/8372204605/“>zharth</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com“>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/“>cc</a> edited

Knowing What Time It Is

intrinsic rhythm of control and surrender



Hang on.
Let go.
Let be.
What time is it?

The Spirit of the Dynamic Dance
Draws us into her syncopated rhythm.
Provocative and exciting is this tango of time,
Punctuated by head-snaps and intricate footwork.

Let be.

The dance is the time.
In dancing the dance
We know we are alive.

© rita h kowats 10-31-14


Enjoy visiting or revisiting this tango scene from the film Shall We Dance:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNjVaaZXcBY



The Veil Between the Worlds Is an Illusion

Holy Names Academy-sans veil - Copy

A Story for All Hallows Eve

On a bright Autumn Sunday afternoon I went to the high school where I taught to print and photocopy a lesson I planned to teach the next day.  Such is life, or lack of life, for a teacher!  The school was a four story turn of the century building, with innumerable nooks and crannies…great for young girls wanting to escape class.  The halls echoed my entrance on the first floor, alerting me to the fact that I was alone.  I didn’t care.  I was on a mission!  Ensconced at the desk in the teachers’ workroom on the third floor, I set myself to printing my handout.  NOTE:  This is 1984, the era of dinosaur computers and I am not, by nature, a practical person.  The printer would not print.  For twenty minutes my attention was riveted to that printer, nothing else.

Finally, success!  I whipped out the paper to take it to the photocopy machine, turned toward the open doorway, and froze.  Just inside the open door of the office across the hall, sat a young woman.  She was a 1960’s Joan Baez kind of girl, complete with straight, long, black hair, mini skirt, and even go-go boots.  I couldn’t move.  I had stopped breathing.  As if on cue, I heard a calm voice within me ask, “Why do you presume you have to be afraid?” and I blurted like a bullet, “Who are you, what do you want?”  At the sound of my voice, her diaphanous image disintegrated, like individual pixels on a screen separating from the picture, and I no longer saw her.  But I felt her presence.  It was benign, nothing sinister about it, but she was still there.  I decided then and there that my students could very well do without the assignment I had set out to print, and I fled the building.

“Why do you presume you have to be afraid?  Because Hollywood told me so.  Another ten years brought similar experiences, the fear dissipating with each one.  I started to read.  I worked with shamans.  I wrapped my unscientific brain around the most basic concepts of physics and saw how they related to spirituality.  I had always believed that we live on somehow after death.  Now I understood that the voice within me had come from this “Joan Baez” girl.  The shaman suggested that perhaps she only left because I had interrupted her quiet time.  During the week she put up with 250 teenagers.

My spiritual practice around the afterlife has evolved to include an intentional awareness of the presence of spirits in my daily life.  I invite them each day to guide, protect and companion with me.  When I write, preach, guide or discern a path, I chant a mantra, “Come good spirits, come.  Show me the way.”  I invite only those whom I can welcome, and protect myself from those who are not welcome.  The veil between the two worlds is getting thinner for me with every passing year and every encounter.

I am convinced that these are normal, everyday experiences, open to everyone.  Today is All Hallows Eve, a time when the veil is said to be at its thinnest.  Honor your dead with flowers, candles, and maybe a little chat.  Do you have a “ghost” story to share below?


Believer or not, this podcast from Snap Judgment, “Innocence Lost,”  is guaranteed to entertain, enlighten, or frighten someone: http://snapjudgment.org/SpookedV