Sitting Together in the Light

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It is time to revisit Ernest Hemingway’s poignant masterpiece, “A Clean Well Lighted Place.” It is a short story about a cafe which shelters the lonely and distraught, affording them safe harbor for a few hours. A clean well lighted place where one can feel at home. A place where “everyone knows your name.”

An older waiter is convinced that all is “nada,” nothing, meaningless and that his elderly customer is there to push the nothingness away for a while because “This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves.”

Isn’t that all each of us desires, to sit with someone in the light when “nada” starts closing in? Let’s do that for one another when we feel hopeless, when panic pushes up from our gut threatening to take over our lives. Be that clean well lighted place, a safe haven for one another.

 
Surviving

An old codger on a bar stool
Spins victory vignettes
Swaying in sync
With the melodies of stories
That play in his head
Hoping for a listener to relieve him
Of the nothingness that calls him
To the warmth of the cafe.

RIta H Kowats 1-27-2017

 

Photo Credit:  https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-road-nature-night-1163/

 

 

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Resistance is NOT Futile

This excellent post from Jen Payne might be helpful for my readers as well. I also suggest that we glean inspiration from Ashley Judd’s Nasty Woman speech at the Women’s March: http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/ashley-judd-nasty-woman-womens-march-video-watch-1201966160/

I woke up this morning with a feeling of dread. Despite the abundance of good work, the anticipation of my new book, the arrival of a dear friend for a weekend visit, I knew there was something else lurking. The same dark anomaly that has been lurking for years now—yes, years, think about it.

When I woke up this morning, I knew that at some point in my day, at least once, whether intentional or not, I would be subjected to the reality of Donald Trump. Headlines yelling at me from my news sources, in my social media newsfeed, from the display in the checkout line—the enormity of what is happening is so loud and terrifying, I’ve developed a screaming whine in my ears that will not go away.

And that’s the scariest part—this is not going away. Not. Going. Away.

So the question is, what do we do…

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“It was a bright cold day in April [January], and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

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“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

― George Orwell, 1984

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

― George Orwell, 1984

“It was a bright cold day in April [January], and the clocks were striking thirteen.” So begins George Orwell’s story of descent from freedom, 1984.  When I read the news in real-time this morning my instinct was to panic; instead I determined to weave reality with Orwell and develop a spiritual practice with which to combat the onslaught. Here it is:

Turn PANIC into PRESENCE:

P= Pay attention, live consciously

A= Analyze the situation; no intellectual or spiritual sloth

N= Now; Live in the now.  Don’t let fear of the future take possession

I=  Inhabit;  live in the deepest self where the divine in us is present

C= Call on the wisdom of the Spirit.  We are not alone.

And breathe…..be well travel companions.

 

It is encouraging to me that so many are in sync in our response to news of the last two days.  This morning the Washington Post carried this story:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/why-orwells-1984-matters-so-much-now/2017/01/25/3cf81964-e313-11e6-a453-19ec4b3d09ba_story.html?utm_term=.b4ab636b7a1b&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

 

A Companion to the Women’s Marches

 

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huffingtonpost.com

 

 

For Strong Women

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbel
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

– Marge Piercy in Circles on the Water

Anthem Before Inauguration

 

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Anthem- Leonard Cohen

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government —
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.

 

Photo Credit: photopin.com

My Slip Is Showing

 

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Once upon a time women would not leave the house without wearing a proper undergarment we called “a slip”..this explanation intended, of course, for a newer generation who is perfectly happy with laced thongs!
A story from my tenure in high school dovetails perfectly with this poem that emerged this morning. My father introduced me to the world of 1950’s Hollywood musicals which I came to love, along with John Raitt. The spring I graduated Raitt stared in a production of “Oklahoma!” performed on the floating stage of the Aqua Theatre on Green Lake in Seattle. Dad took me as a graduation gift. I was walking on air to the Aqua Theatre with scores of other people when I noticed that my slip was slipping, the absolutely worst faux pas of 1962. I ducked behind the nearest tree to pull it up and emerged red-faced and relieved to have set the world right again.

My slip is Showing

when we get old
we don’t mind anymore if our slip shows
its shocking ruffle of black Chantilly
sashaying under our outer armor.

let the young be shocked I say
for shock shakes the souls of the old
exposing the richest parts to innocent adoring eyes
and transforms limitation to fine laced truth

© RIta H Kowats 1-5-17
Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/357825132871751312/

Since The Big Bopper’s song “Chantillly Lace” is stuck in my head, I might as well share the agony and the ecstasy with you:

 

Blessing for 2017

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I am indebted to John O’Donohue once again for this lovely poem.  It seems I will forever learn at the soul of this great contemporary mystic. Josie is John’s mother who died after him in 2011.

 

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

“A New Year Blessing”
Benedictus (To Bless The Space Between Us)

 

 

Photo Credit:  Pastor Linda Roddis