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
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 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,
Those people need to respect
Themselves more and not stoop
To such beliefs and actions.
I know you.  You’re me.
I see you.


© rita h kowats 2015



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

soul card for combat fatigue tiny for feat image

Combat Fatigue

soul card for combat fatigue


I was inspired by Amy’s Campion’s post this morning, “The Meaning of Locks in Dreams. ” She gives a variety of interpretations to the symbol which you might find helpful:


Combat Fatigue



Photo Credit:  Deborah Koff-Chapin has created  a technique she calls “touch drawing.”  She calls them “SOULCARDS.” They  come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools.  They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with.  You can learn more at Deborah’s webpage

Photo Credit Sunrise Overlay:  Linda Roddis

Two-Spirit Spirituality Revisited

dreamstime_l_8136471 Two-Spirit Symbol 2

It feels like a good time to repost this piece which I published February 2014.

I have known for a very long time about the tradition of gender-variant shaman among Native American peoples primarily in North America, and recently I felt moved to research further.  This poem is the fruit of my research and prayer.  I dedicate it to my dear friend Jim, the extroverted gay mystic, who gave this gift at the hardest of times to a church which could not receive it.


photo credit:  ID 8136471 © Njnightsky | Dreamstime.c


An Outstanding TED TALK about gender variance:

Two Spirit: The Story of a Movement Unfolds – Native Peoples – May-June 2014 – Native Peoples

Redeem Beauty

Skagit Valley Tulips Washington State  USA

Skagit Valley Tulips
Washington State USA

This morning I am reflecting on beauty.  In his book Meister Eckhart:  A Mystic-Warrior For Our Times, Matthew Fox describes a “Mystic- Warrior” as “one possessed by beauty, one alive with radical amazement.”   In spring we seem to pay more attention to beauty, perhaps since we tend not to see it in the starkness of winter;  but it is there as well.

The Romantic poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote about beauty in “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo:  Maidens’ Song from Saint Winefred’s Well.”  It has long been a favorite of mine.  The Leaden Echo describes a young girl gazing at her image in a well, musing on what will become of her as she ages.  Hopkins dwells on poignant images of diminishment in age, striking a somber note:

So be beginning, be beginning to despair.

In the second half of the poem, The Golden Echo, the poet delves into the well of mysticism and seems to say that in God there is no diminishment.  In God we ARE  beauty, “beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.”

The flower of beauty…

Never fleets more, fastened with the tenderest truth
To its own best being…

Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God
Beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.

….The thing we freely forfeit is kept with fonder a care
-Where kept?  Do but tell us where kept, where-
Yonder.-What high as that!  We follow, now we follow,-
Yonder, yes yonder, yonder, yonder.

A good spiritual practice for spring would be beauty-mindfulness.  We could actually take a lunch break, sit outside and let our senses drink in beauty.  We could sit alone with our sandwich in a cafe sans technology, paying attention to the beauty we see in the appearance and actions of people. In God there is no diminishment.  In God there is only beauty.

Photo Credit:  Sarah Levinson used with permission

“The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo:  Maidens’ Song from Saint Winefred’s Well” Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Time


Holy Saturday: The Power in Liminality

indigo aurora borealis photo pin with shadowThey take my body bound in linen
And lay it in a tomb hewn out of rock.

I can hear the echo of the large stone

Sealing it shut.

While outside the earth is a formless wasteland
An abyss covered in darkness, 
I hear a mighty wind
Sweeping over the waters
Howling with grief and expectation.

Debilitating death incubating a power
Too great to be contained-
An indigo evolution on the threshold
Of a New Way waiting
For the energy to explode

In an iridescent aurora swept in
By The North Wind.

Let there be light.
And there is light.

In the earthquake the angel announces
I am not here.

Go to Galilee.
Go to Galilee.

© rita h kowats 2015

The poem harkens back to the Easter Vigil readings from the Genesis creation story and Matthew and Marks’ passion narratives.

photo credit: N07/16897701962″>Finnish aurora, KP8 via photopin (license)

Good Friday Visitation: Beat On, Mighty Heart

sacred heart of Jesus framed

Midway through Holy Week my thoughts have turned to Jesus in a surprising way:  in the symbol of the Sacred Heart.  As a child I marked the First Friday of each month by accompanying my enthusiastically pious father to the Mass and Novena of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  My own fervor was sparked by a painting of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus with an extended heart encircled by a crown and with rays of light streaming from it. It hung above our living room couch where at age fifteen I received what I thought was a vocation to join a Trappistine monastery.  Right.

Imagine my surprise, then, when ten years ago, after all the liberated theology- from Berkeley no less- this symbol made a stunning re-entrance into my life.  I was meditating when a vision manifested before my inner eye.  Jesus stood before me with hands outstretched, holding his bloody, and beating heart out to me:

Jesus:  Take my heart.
Rita:     (in breathless horror) I couldn’t do that!
Jesus:  (Lets go of his heart with one hand and opens my hands) Do you love me?
Rita:     Yes. I do.
Jesus:   Take my heart.  (Puts his heart into my hands)

Take my heart.  The heart of Jesus, or Aung San Suu Kyi, or Nelson Mandela, does not belong on a wall, safely enshrined to soothe our communal conscience.  Rather, we must embrace it, bloody mess and all.  May this Good Friday remembrance teach us compassion.  Beat on mighty heart!