Light and Shadow

“Salmon Berry Blossom on Black Water” Lynn Schooler

The impetus for this post was the beauty of our solar eclipse with its dramatic changes of light.

Chiaroscuro

  • :  pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color

  •  :  the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art:

  • the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow

Merriam-Webster

 

Inside every living thing, no matter how beautiful, if opened fully enough was darkness. A Trick of the Light Louise Penny

 
If you have ever spent time in the company of the dark emotions, you too may have received subtle messages from friends and strangers alike that you were supposed to handle them and move on sooner instead of later. Some of us have even gotten the message that if we cannot do this on schedule, we may not have enough faith in God. If we had enough, we would be able to banish the dark angels from our beds, replacing them with the light angels of belief, trust, and praise. Greenspan [Healing Through the Dark Emotions by Miriam Greenspan] calls this “spiritual bypassing”—using religion to dodge the dark emotions instead of letting it lead us to embrace those dark angels as the best, most demanding spiritual teachers we may ever know…The emotions themselves are conduits of pure energy that want something from us: to wake us up, to tell us something we need to know, to break the ice around our hearts, to move us to act.

Learning to Walk in the Dark Barbara Brown Taylor

 

Lynn Schooler photo used with permission

 

 

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Doubt As A Path To Faith

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Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it,  live along some distant day
into the answer.”

Time and again I have become aware of how profoundly connected my psychological self is to my spiritual self.  One day as I worked at my desk I began musing about my childhood and realized how keenly ashamed I was of the limitations of the little girl I had been.  I felt surrounded by spirit and as if pushed in the direction, I began walking downstairs to the little chapel in our convent.  I lay down on the floor before the altar in a fetal position and held “Margaret” like I had never held her before.  I promised to love and cherish her.  I thanked her for all the good things she brought to me.  I forgave her imperfection.  I offered her gifts to God.  At seventy-three years old I am finally living into those gifts.

I think that faith development is both spiritual practice and psychological practice.  My experience with Margaret was both a psychological practice of becoming conscious of my vulnerabilities and a spiritual practice of letting them go and resting in the divine.  When we have doubts about faith we sometimes go into “The Dark Night of the Soul,” described by the mystics.

“It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness….the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.”

Elkhart Tolle  See the full description here:   https://www.eckharttolle.com/newsletter/october-2011

So we begin to ask questions, often feeling guilty about it.  Some give up all faith in the end; for others doubt brings them closer to God.  Why this paradox? To paraphrase Jesus, whoever finds faith will lose it, and whoever loses their faith for my sake will find it.  After living in our faith for a while we take the risk of separating what is authentic about it from that which encloses us in a spiritual safety deposit box. If we come to a faith in which we have no need to be controlled, we come to an experience of the holy that is real and which has no need to control us.

Why do we sometimes feel closer to God when we doubt God?  Because we dare to seek the real God who lives outside the sometimes immature and unhealthy images we conjure.  Faith is not something that can be pinned down with very specific and concrete language.  Those who express faith are often mocked in our “enlightened” western society.  When we have begun to develop the right side of our brain we can see into the spaces between words and know that those spaces contain real truth. Some of my heroes are scientists who dare to make the connections between science and spirituality:  Brian Swimme, mathematical cosmologist, Albert Einstein, and to some extent, David Bohm. They have risked being laughed out of the sacred halls of academia.

Many of you are by now sick of the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory; however, it can be a profound spiritual awakening.  A person who scores as a high thinker and sensate can use spiritual practices to develop his/her intuitive gifts.  As a traveler I could stop photographing a myriad of details for a few minutes and just sit and drink in what the scene means and how it affects me.  Practices like this bring us into the spaces between words where the experience of the holy happens. Churches celebrate the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle annually by telling the story of how he doubted the resurrection of Jesus.  Poor man.  He never had access to the MeyersBriggs.

At the end of his life the great scholastic theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas said about his many treatises, “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” His fine mind and the questions he asked of it led him to rest in divine presence.  They served him so well that in the end he didn’t need them anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Invitation

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You Are Invited

 

A sincere welcome to you recent companions on this blog, and gratitude to long-timers.

A word about the process I use to write my post.  All of it emerges from my own human condition, the status of my own soul, if you will.  I spend time in meditation asking the spirit moving in the universe to offer connections to us.  “Show me what my reader’s hearts long to hear and need to hear,”  I ask, and usually that’s what I write about.

So, let’s not be ships passing in the night.  If you have a topic about the spiritual life, something that is bringing you close to your center or away from your center bring it to me and I will hold vigil with it and offer a reflection. No catch. No money involved.  Just one human being blessed with the privilege of education and experience extending a heart to other human beings. (see my page Spiritual Companion Ministry).

Shoot me an email at:

soulseeing@gmail.com

It can be from Mickey or Minnie Mouse if you like, and I would respect that anonymity in my post.

Blessings on you and on those whom you love,

Rita

Kendra’s Bench

Reginas Bench

 

Friday would have been an idyllic Northwest summer day except for a foreboding haze of smoke from Canada’s forest fires settling in tree branches and hugging the shoreline. Determined to enjoy my excursion to the beach in spite of it, I set out to wait for my friend to arrive by ferry.

Happily ensconced on a promenade bench I relished the briny odor of Puget Sound and the glad sounds of children romping in waves. Smoke obscured my lifelong mountain friends but my memory served up a feast of towering snow-capped craigs.
My reverie was abruptly interrupted by an approaching man who lingered at the bench and gingerly draped his hand over the back. “Excuse me,” he said. “I just want to say ‘hi’ to my little girl.” I noticed the memorial plaque and offered to move so he could sit with her a while. He countered, “Thank you, but my wife is waiting in the car and she isn’t well.” We said our good-bye. Alone now, I studied the memorial plaque. Kendra was nineteen when she died and her dad wrote, “No father should ever have to bury his child, but I put my trust in the Lord.” I wept.

 

Kendra,
Did you know?

He loved you
To the top of the mountains
To the bottom of Puget Sound whose healing waves
Carried you aloft and soothed
Your seashell cuts and scrapes.

Here he stands
Grief barely at bay
Even now.
A father who never
Should have buried his child.
A father whose tender love
Is balm for this fatherless soul.

© Rita H Kowats 8-14-17

Note:  you can see a photo of Regina’s bench at Olympic Beach Here.

 

 

 

 

Ascension

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On this anniversary of the day the United States brought down “fire and fury like the world has never seen,”* on Nagasaki, Japan, many seek refuge from fear, hoping to ascend from the muck of unconscionable rhetoric.  Mary Oliver takes us there on the wings of the magnificent great blue heron.  May we also walk on water.

*Donald Trump 8-8-17

 

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond

by Mary Oliver

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

 

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

 

http://www.bestpoems.net/mary_oliver/heron_rises_from_the_dark_summer_pond.html

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 . All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit:

http://garysoutdoorwanderings2.blogspot.com/2012/06/heron-oddity.html

“Bomb-Affected-People”

 

railroad gate bangor 4

 

On August 6, 1989 when the sun’s oblique rays cast long shadows of giant cedars across the railroad tracks leading into Subase Bangor, a Burlington Northern security car parked at the base gate and waited for a shipment to arrive. It was the guard’s duty to ensure safe delivery of missile propellant fuel on this anniversary of the United States’ bombing of Hiroshima.  I left my home above the tracks and approached the car with a heavy heart to dialogue with the guard:

Do you realize this is the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima?

No Ma’am, I don’t.

And we wait for a train carrying fuel for more bombs to potentially kill and maim more people?

We had to drop that bomb. It saved hundreds of American soldiers.

And what about the lives of hundreds of Japanese noncombatans? Don’t you think it’s time to let go of the bombs?

They were collateral damage. We need these bombs.

And so it goes. On and on and on…. The train arrived, met by armed marines who opened the gate to escort it to the bunkers. Fuel delivered, the train reversed it’s journey. Out of sight, not out of mind or heart. I knelt on the tracks, lit sage and wept for Hiroshima and for my own collusion. We the bombers are hibakusha as much as the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As long as we make bombs with intent to use, we are a bomb-affected-people.

For Further Reflection

 

http://hibakushastories.org/who-are-the-hibakusha/

http://www.military.com/base-guide/naval-base-kitsap—bangor

http://www.gzcenter.org/event/from-hiroshima-to-hope-2/

 

From Hiroshima to Hope 2017

The Butterfly Effect

Fesoj_-_Papilio_machaon_(by)

 

“This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened.”

http://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-is-chaos-theory/

 

Down Here
Wispy tendrils of hazy smoke
from Canada’s forest fires
Lasso branches of not-so-evergreens
And the aberrant heat drapes
its humid blanket over this bed
We now must lie in.

Over There
Adam lies drowning
In a pool of lethal despair
While in Bahrain more mundane matters
Press on Ahmad and the butterfly spirals down
To The Boneyard of Indifference.

©Rita H Kowats August 3, 2017

 

Photo Credit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly