lindas ww fb pic for swb

Welcoming Waters: A Sacred Place for Varigated Human Beings

lindas ww fb pic for swb

In February we gathered for the first time.  Now it is August and our graced gathering of Welcoming Waters members has grown in trust and strength and healing.  We are twelve vibrant and variegated human beings, and we invite you to bless us with your presence if you live in or are visiting the greater Seattle area.

Welcoming Waters is a gathering of people who seek to hear the message the spirit is speaking through one another. Many of us were asked to leave religious institutions because we revealed our authentic selves. Some of us told our worshiping community that we were members of the GLBT community, others of us expressed our doubts, and some of us expressed an understanding of faith that was outside the borders of the church we were attending. When we were all ushered to the door, formally, or subtlety of those communities, we found that the Spirit of love, the Spirit of God, the insights of our faiths did not stop working in our lives or teaching us profound truths. We simply lost a place to talk about them.

We are so blessed to be able to gather at the beautiful Lake Ballinger Community Center five miles north of Seattle on the third Sunday of the month at 10:30 and like the great blue heron who finds herself on the shores of Lake Ballinger, we wait and wade in the waters of the Spirit together.

If you sense the spirit has something to say but you have not found a safe place to express those words, or if you are seeking a faith gathering that will accept all of you, we invite you to come to our gathering.

We will gather again on March 15 at Lake Ballinger Community Center 1030am.
All are welcome.

If you would like to talk to someone before attending please email
Pastor Linda Roddis linda.heronspirit@gmail.com
or
Rita kowats, MA Theology soulseeing@gmail.com

www.welcomingwaters.org

https://www.facebook.com/PastorLindaRoddis

Mountlake Community Center
23000 Lakeview Drive
Mountlake Terrace WA 98043

Words

Ouroboros of Words

 

The Spiritual Practice of Eating Our Words

 

 A little scandal
by Marge Piercy in CIRCLES ON THE WATER

 

The eyes of others
measure and condemn.
The eyes of others are watches
ticking no.
My friend hates you.
Between you I turn and turn
holding my arm as if it were
broken.
The air is iron shavings
polarized.
Faces blink on and off.
Words are heavy.
I carry them back and forth in
my skirt.
They pile up in front of the
chairs.
Words are bricks that seal the
doors and windows.
Words are shutters on the eyes
and lead gloves on the hands.
The air is a solid block.
We cannot move.

 

Silence
by Rita H. Kowats

 

I hear my rapid thought-fire
Ricochet off your heart,
Creating a wall of words to
Keep me safe.

Wait.
Wait for the space
Between the thoughts
Between the words.

Wait.
God lives
In the Space Between.

The Womb of Abandonment

Feather on the Breath of God

 

 

Since I posted a piece last week entitled, “Feather on the Breath of God,” the spiritual practice of abandonment has dogged me down the labyrinthine ways of my consciousness, unrelenting in its insistence that I stop and listen.  So here I am, living with the metaphors of god as the air we breathe or the feather on the air free-falling into the womb of abandonment.

I concede that much of my poetry comes from a place out of my control.  Sometimes the words just tumble out and I catch my breath when I see what I have written.  That’s when I know that a phrase bears more deep reflection and prayer because there’s a lesson in it for me, and perhaps for you.  Often these phrases are currents of the Spirit wakening us to connections perched on the threshold of possibility.

The phrase, “womb of abandonment” haunts me this week.  A womb is the liminal place of development.  In it we can hunker down and pay attention to our growth.  The womb protects us. But here’s the paradox:  the spiritual practice of abandonment demands scarcity before abundance.  We gain abundance by letting go.  Why would someone choose to undertake the free-fall into this womb if it means letting go of attachments that keep us from experiencing the abundance of divine life?  Because if god is the floating feather, we become divine in the process of falling.

I choose the free-fall because life in abundance is a life lived freely.  Those rare moments of freedom from ego-clamoring are worth the agony of letting go.  Like a free-fall jumper high on adrenaline, I am addicted to the adrenaline rush of grace every time I dare to jump into the womb of abandonment.

Feather on the Breath of God

FB_IMG_1436140369942.jpgFeather on the breath of god

Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silences, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather
on the breath of God.  ◊ Hildegard von Bingen

Feast on this poignant capture of feather-essence by Lynn Schooler, and feel the buoyancy of this music by Marshall McGuire and Riley Lee, “Feather on the Breath of God,” from their album Floating World

Feather on the Breath of God (Hildegard von Bingen)

I eschew the ancient white man
Wrapped round in long white beard
Who peers from glittering guileless eyes.

Give me the air we breathe any time
The currents that move through the universe
Wakening us to connections
Perched on the threshold of possibility.

Give me the feather floating free-fall
Into the womb of abandonment.

© rita h kowats 2015
Photo Credit: You have feasted on the photographic work of Lynn Schooler previously on this blog ( https://www.facebook.com/lynn.schooler).  Used with permission.

Humble Remnant in Soul Land

donkey at the Capitol

Some thoughts for this American season of Independence

Humble Remnant in Soul Land
Texts: Zech 9:8-10; Heb 11:8-16; Jn 8:31-36

In our reading from Zechariah we meet the remnant of God’s people who have come out of exile in Babylon to make a home for themselves back in the land they believe God gave them.  They are lost in transition and the prophet calls them to build a soul city with humility and nonviolence as its foundation.  Yahweh is powerfully present, standing guard against prowlers who would lure them back.  This new home is ruled by a humble man on a donkey who banishes the trappings of war.  It is a soul land, not a homeland.

Many Christians in America have been in spiritual exile for 239 years, asleep while a national lifestyle of violence and greed has come to so define us that we throw up our arms and cry, “What could I possibly do?” We celebrated Independence Day yesterday.  As Christians we seek to re-appropriate that goal by living in interdependence.  It is time to emerge from spiritual exile in the homeland of violence, hate and greed and enter the Soul Land we have inherited as God’s people.  The words of an old hymn recently moved me deeply, “The Word of God Is Solid Ground.”  It asks, “What powers can our faith constrain?  What iron-clad restrictions?  No self-deceiving rule can chain our conscience and convictions.  Our God alone is on the throne,” it goes on to say.  “For freedom’s sake we bend, we break, a sign to ev’ry nation that we have found a solid ground; God’s word our sure foundation.”  Let us not forget that our God’s throne is on the back of a donkey.

When we give countercultural witness from an ego place we are stuck in exile; however, if the authority to witness comes from the God we meet in prayer and self-reflection, we are a humble remnant ruled by the donkey-king. Sooner or later each of us is called to speak and to name injustice clearly and unequivocally.  Take a moment to recall such a time.  Where did your strength come from?  It is a soul-strength that breaks out in goose bumps and evokes a resounding, “Yes.”  People listen when we are able to say, “For I have been to the Mountain top!”

Let’s step out of lofty metaphors now and examine how we can practically address our society’s exile.  John’s Jesus tells his disciples that if they live according to his teaching they will know the truth, and the truth will set them free.  More lofty words, but notice the call to practical hard work implied between the lines.  Living according to Jesus’ teaching means that we take gospel values seriously.  We find the truth by paying attention and changing behaviors and attitudes in variance with gospel values.  Getting into Soul Land is much harder work than staying in homeland.  It’s no easy thing to prophesy from the back of a donkey.

Meister Eckhart provides rich material for meditation on this theme.  As a brilliant theologian and gifted preacher he chose to preach with a mind like a razor but from his perch on the metaphorical donkey.  He chose to preach in the market place and in German rather than Latin so that all the peasants under the thumb of the corrupted guild system and bishops of the church could understand his message that all people are aristocrats, divine by grace and noble by nature.  He condemned what he called the “Merchant Mentality.” His message was considered seditious to church officials and rulers who profited by the guild system, so they silenced him.  But that silence resounded clearly and boldly because his countercultural lifestyle was an invitation to emerge from exile.  His choice to preach an empowering message to humble peasants is a powerful example to us in our own century.  Out of his mysticism came a word which expresses exile poignantly:  ICHGEBUNDENHEIT, bound up in the I, the ego.  When we have loosed those bonds, says Eckhart, we give birth to the Son of God and that love spills out to the marketplace in acts of justice.

Finally, a personal example of my being stuck in exile and being given the grace to emerge.  As a member of the Ground Zero Community in Poulsbo, WA I passed out leaflets to workers entering Subase Bangor every Monday morning at 6:00 A.M.  As you can imagine my mind often wandered to that cup of hot coffee waiting at the end of my shift.  I struggled to remain nonviolent amidst weekly encounters with angry sailors and marines, and it was often difficult to fend off despair. For a year a man came in every week in a pick-up truck with a rifle rack on the back; sometimes he had two passengers along.  I stood there in my self-righteous indignation relating to him as a “red neck war monger.”  One Monday I was able to be more centered as I prayed that I and the workers would be open to hearing one another.  This man came in alone, looking depressed.  I felt moved to say, “How are you today?”  He blurted out, “How am I?  I’m terrible.  How else could I be, having to go in there and do what I do every day?”  I began to learn that we must prophesy truth with intelligence and clarity, but we must do it from the back of a donkey.

This poem, inspired by Psalm 137, came out of my meditation and I close with it:

On the shores of the Potomac
We sit and weep-
Outlanders in Homeland
Looking for our godvoice.
From deep in Soul Land
We feel its vibrations

Quivering
Quaking
Incubating
Erupting into a Hope Song
Sung true and strong
In a foreign land.

Photo Credit Donkey:  photo credit: N06/14358934769″>Tourism Office – Mijas – donkey taxi sculpture via photopin (license)

Beach Homing

girls building fort on beach 2

Camping chair sunk in sand
Feet cooling in aberrant waves
Towering crags bear witness
To the muse asleep in my interior shelter.

Their first trip past me almost escaped notice
Giggling girls gallivanting (Do Not Disturb)
Except these girls did not giggle.
No bikini-clad Beach Barbies here.
No Pollyanna pleasantries.
These new women were beach-striders on a mission
Spurred on by the Women’s World Cup amulets they wore.

They return dragging driftwood booty
To some sacred place beyond me.
I call out, “I bet you girls are building a fort, aren’t you?”
They break into ecstatic grins and throw down the gauntlet
“YES!”
I shout a blessing, “Oh, what fun!  Carry on!”

A shelter of their own
Away from adult eyes and ears
Away from expectations of princess peers
They build their sanctuary
And weave stories to carry them
Through to the other side
Where a god of strength and freedom
Welcomes their self-assurance.

The day-before-yesterday
My twelve-year-old self combed
This beach for driftwood booty
Which has become the sacred shelter
Of my Muse.
© rita h kowats June 2015

Standing the Test of Time: Aging Organically

Standing the test of time

 

 

Head burrows in hand
Elbows sink in shallow sand,
Sagging skin flails into eternity,
Chewed-up guts of a lifetime spill out
Keeping time with the cosmic rhythm
Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock.

And in spite of it all
We endure.
We thrive.

 

© rita h kowats May 2015

 

I See You

I watched Avatar again last evening and luxuriated in the luminescence of Pandora.  The Na’vis’ greeting of “I see you,” moved me as it always does.  “I see you,” not “What’s up?”  I offer three vignettes of the phrase:

 

I  I see you.

Mom greets me from her station on the front steps
Where she weeds and waits.
“Honey.  Tony is gone.  He died today.
Tony sang his little heart out for us.mom and rita
I’m sorry.
I lay my loss down in the softness
Of her embrace,
Knowing that she saw me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

II.  I See You.

We shared song and soul,
Discourse and discovery.
Then we set sail separately
To save our respective worlds.

I had not knownroman collar with eyes overlay
We were in love until the energy
In our farewell ignited the truth
Living in our eyes.
A bittersweet moment of sheer joy
Imprinted on the genes of our souls
Left to shape us separately even now.
I see you.

 

 

III.  I see you.

Innocent on-looker to T.V. reporter:
“I’m not prejudiced,
But
Those people need to respect
Themselves more and not stoop
To such beliefs and actions.
I know you.  You’re me.
And
I see you.

 prejudice

© rita h kowats 2015

 

Presence

Wherever you stand be the soul of that place

Public transportation has become my preferred way to move about my congested city and between cities. However, I am a solitary person so the crowded, loud and stuffy buses are a challenge for me.  Often I am unable to muster up the spiritual energy to learn anything from a trip.  I am definitely out of my comfort zone, but I bus it intentionally for the lessons I learn about being truly present to myself and others.

Recently I took two buses and a ferry to visit my friend on an island.  In a cemetery along the route workers were erecting a canopy over an open grave.  The scene drew me in, conjuring images of my siblings and I standing at the grave of our parents.  I prayed for the loved ones of this spirit who would arrive in a few hours to say good-bye.

Soon, after one of the hundred stops the bus made, I felt a rich, reverberating and peaceful energy around me. Startled, I began to pay attention.  Someone was singing.  I turned on my hearing aids and was greeted with a faith-filled gospel song that seemed to emanate from a life deeply lived and a love freely given.  I caught the singer’s eye and gave her a thumbs up.  As the bus approached her stop she moved forward, still singing.  The driver shouted, “Take it outside, will ‘ya?”  I walked over, shook her hand and said, “Thank you.”

The challenge of the ride came when three “fare checkers” boarded the bus like Navy SEALs on a mission. They boomed out an introduction, asking us to have our transfers ready to prove that we had paid.  Three men- one to check, two to provide muscle off the bus if necessary.  I wondered what passengers without homes were experiencing during this check that felt like a raid.

On the last leg of the trip home I sat beside a sixteen year old who had traveled from a city forty-five miles south to meet another teen who said he’d buy a pair of shoes from him.  The buyer was not answering his phone, so it appeared that the trip was useless.  A really sweet kid who likely had no adult to navigate him through the ins and outs of business transactions.  No car, but big on initiative.  I tried to be present and offer him a bit of comfort and reassurance.

Taking public transportation is becoming a spiritual practice for me.  Sometimes life outside my comfort zone is more real and spiritual than life ensconced safely in my contemplative anchorage.

Phonto Credit:  Evening Standard