Winter Doldrums

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Really, I am truly grateful for Seattle rain, especially as I see reports about places where people are suffering from much more adverse weather conditions; however, winter can wear thin, can’t it?

This lovely poem from Marge Piercy picked me up.  I hope it does the same for you today.

 

The butt of winter

The city lies grey and sopping like a dead rat
under the slow oily rain.
Between the lower east side tenements
the sky is a snotty handkerchief.
The garbage of poor living slimes the streets.
You lie on your bed and think soon it will be hot and violent,
then it will be cold and mean.
You say you feel as empty as a popbottle in the street.
You say you feel full of cold water standing like an old horse trough.
The clock ticks, somewhat wrong, the walls crack their dry knuckles.
Work is only other rooms where people cough,
only the typewriter clucking like a wrong clock.
Nobody will turn the soiled water into wine,
nobody will shout cold Lazarus alive but you.

You are your own magician.

Stretch out your hand, stretch out your hand and look:
each finger is a snake of energy, a gaggle of craning necks.
Each electric finger conducts the world.
Each finger is a bud’s eye opening.
Each finger is a vulnerable weapon.
The sun is floating in your belly like a fish.
Light creaks in your bones.
You are sleeping with your tail in your mouth.
Unclench your hands and look.
Nothing is given us but each other.
We have nothing to give but ourselves.
We have nothing to take but the time that drips,
drips anyhow leaving a brown stain.
Open your eyes and your belly.
Let the sun rise into your chest and burn your throat,
stretch out your hands and tear the gauzy rain
that your world can be born from you
screaming and red.

by Marge Piercy in Circles on the Water

 

Photo Source: https://www.pexels.com/u/pixabay/

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The Homing Instinct

 

turtles homing

It is both frightening and painful for many Americans to witness the daily unraveling of the principles we hold sacred without relinquishing all hope.  Today I am returning to the magic of Pat Conroy in his novel Beach Music.  Let the vibration of hundreds of loggerhead turtles on their first march to the sea get deep into your soul’s bones as you take in Conroy’s description:

Beach Music

We must not forget our spiritual homing instinct, our restless urge to go beyond ourselves to the Other, however we define that for ourselves.  Know your spiritual landscape.  Fix your eyes on the vast ocean of the Other’s love, and let’s head out together. In this lies hope.

 

 

photo credit: Eddietherocker <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28393978@N07/35807963985″>Tres Turtles</a> via <a href=”http://Aphotopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Thank You

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I wish each of you abundant blessing in this new year.  I very much appreciate the energy you bring with you when you come to this blog, and I am grateful for the energy you infuse into it.  Together we experience God coming near.

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GOD JUST CAME NEAR

No
One
In need of love
Can sit with my verse for
An hour
And then walk away without carrying
Golden tools,
And feeling that God
Just came
Near.

 

HAFIZ

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Tran Cathedral of Light Sydney’s festival, Vivid Sydney

I See You

dove

And the feelings flattened and folded and
turned into something else, like emotional origami. Made to look pretty, but disguising something not at all attractive.

 A Rule against Murder Louise Penny

 

Phoenix Rising

 

 

Giddy with relief
We bid “Good Riddance!”
To the flattened and folded emotions of the old year,
Now smoldering embers of dashed dreams.

We stand poised to welcome a fresh start
Even as the embers flare up again,
Undulating on updrafts of promise-
Fleshed-out feelings inflated
With the expectation of transformation.

 

© Rita H Kowats 12-30-17

 

 

 

Photo Credit: DaPuglet <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/43810158@N07/36341206095″>Dove Lounging In The Apple Tree</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Evidence of Flossing: A Book Review

Evidence of Flossing Cover

 

Jennifer A. Payne’s
WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR
OF
“Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind”

Book Summary:

Would God floss? Do spiders sing? Can you see the Universe in your reflection? Find the answers to these questions in more in this new book by Connecticut writer Jen Payne. Her poems in EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING: WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND investigate the human condition and its folly, the beauty of our natural world, and the possibility of divine connection. 80 original and vintage photographs include a series of discarded dental flossers that inspired the book’s title.
ALA Notable Book author Dale Carlson calls the book “a brilliantly incisive commentary on our simultaneous human sense of beauty and waste and loss.”
EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING speaks to the common heart that beats in you and in me, in the woods and on the streets, across oceans and around this planet. It asks us all to consider the effects of our actions and how they influence everything else in the Universe.

My Review:

Jen Payne’s book, Evidence of Flossing: What we leave Behind, carries prophetic power in the spaces between its words. It is truth and beauty delivered to us in wide-eyed wonder by a child’s heart passionately in love with nature.

The prophet shows up in bold statements like,”This watch around my neck doesn’t work,” (Time Peace) and “My fingers touch its teeth like rosary beads, penance for our collective apathy,” and “Numbed and dumbed by these machines,” (Now Trending>)

Other times we encounter a mystic drawing us into the essence of the universe, “Everything is flowing, god whispers. How foolish am I to resist?” (Resistance is Futile.)

In each poem Jen crawls inside a subject and settles in for a leisurely lie-in until she understands, then becomes her subject. The integrity of the process gifts readers with fresh insight and renewed commitment to be mindful of what they leave behind. As in this verse from “Sanctified without Assistance,” ‘Jen’s writing is sometimes spare, creating space for soulful birthing: “Come winter, bare-branch whispers of hope promised, stored.”

Evidence of Flossing: What we leave Behind should not be missed. You will come away with both righteous anger and with hope. You will be blessed with insight into the nature of spirituality and rekindled with the joy of nature.

Jen Payne Head Shot

 

About the Author:

Jen Payne is inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. Her writing serves as witness to these in the form of poetry, creative non-fiction, flash fiction and essay. When she is not exploring our connections with one another, she enjoys writing about our relationships with nature, creativity, and mindfulness, and how these offer the clearest path to finding balance in our frenetic, spinning world.

Very often, her writing is accompanied by her own photography and artwork. As both a graphic designer and writer, Jen believes that partnering visuals and words layers the intentions of her work, and makes the communication more palpable.

In 2014, she published LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, a collection of essays, poems and original photography. Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind is her second book.

Jen is the owner of Three Chairs Publishing and Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company founded in 1993, based in Branford, Connecticut. She is a member of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, the Branford Arts and Cultural Alliance, the Connecticut Poetry Society, Guilford Arts Center, the Guilford Poets Guild, and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Installations of her poetry were featured in Inauguration Nation an exhibition at Kehler Liddell Gallery in New Haven (2017), and Shuffle &amp; Shake at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven (2016). Her writing has been published by The Aurorean, Six Sentences, the Story Circle Network, WOW! Women on Writing, and The Perch, a publication by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health.

You can read more of her writing on her blog Random Acts of Writing, http://www.randomactsofwriting.net.

 

Jennifer can also be found online at:

Website: https://3chairspublishing.com/

Blog: https://randomactsofwriting.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/threechairspub

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThreeChairsPub

Be sure to visit!

 

 

 

Looking For Cindy Lou Who

CindyLouWho

 

Cindy Lou Who
not asnooze
eyes alight with wonder

Waits
Expects
Believes.

Where wonder waits
Awe follows
Grace grows
Hope arrives.

Look within.
You will find her tucked
Between memories
playing with the possibilities
Of what might be

Shimmering
Sheer
Joy.

© Rita H Kowats 12-19-17

 

Photo Credit: http://seuss.wikia.com/wiki/User:Rickdrumz

Liberation From Suffering

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Suffering during the Holiday Season

Expectations run high for the perfect Hallmark/Netflix Christmas, which sets us up for disappointment. Our coping skills are diminished by lack of focus. We are exhausted by the rush and absorb negative energies from crowds of people with the same expectations and disappointments. So, drawn into the circus, we suffer. But we don’t have to suffer.
I find help in these simple truths from Buddhism and from the call of Christian mystics to let go and empty ourselves from disquieting ego attachments. Catching a few moments of silent solitude here and there help me to refocus when I feel drawn into the circus. My mantra becomes

Breathing in, I am free.
Breathing out, I release suffering.

We are all in this together. Good luck!

The Buddhist Concept of Suffering

Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
by Ron Kurtus (revised 10 June 2017)

The basis of Buddhism is a doctrine known as the Four Noble Truths.

The First Truth is that all life is suffering, pain, and misery. The Second Truth is that this suffering is caused by selfish craving and personal desire. The Third Truth is that this selfish craving can be overcome. The Fourth Truth is that the way to overcome this misery is through the Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths is a fundamental concept taught by the Buddha.

Four Noble Truths

Suffering exists
Suffering arises from attachment to desires
Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path

1. Suffering exists

The viewpoint is that life consists of suffering and dissatisfaction. This suffering is called dukkha. Human nature is imperfect, as is the world you live in. During your lifetime, you inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death. This is especially true for poor people. This means you are never able to keep permanently what you strive for. Happy moments pass by, and soon you will too.

2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires.

The cause of suffering is called samudaya or tanha. It is the desire to have and control things, such as craving of sensual pleasures. For example, if you desire fame and fortune, you will surely suffer disappointment and perhaps even cause suffering for others. Attachment to material things creates suffering because attachments are transient and loss is inevitable. Thus suffering will necessarily follow.

3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases

The end to suffering is called nirodha. It is achieving Nirvana, which is the final liberation of suffering. The mind experiences complete freedom, liberation and non-attachment. It lets go of any desire or craving. It is attaining dispassion. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles and ideas. It is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.

4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path.

In order to end suffering, you must follow the Eightfold Path. This liberation from suffering is what many people mean when they use the word “enlightenment.”
The path to the end of suffering is gradually seeking self-improvement through the eight elements. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance and other effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made through each lifetime.

Eightfold path

There are eight attitudes or paths you must follow to find freedom from suffering. These are the “right” or correct things to do in your life:
Right view
Right intention
Right speech
Right action
Right livelihood
Right effort
Right mindfulness
Right concentration
This is the way to reach Nirvana.

Summary

The Four Noble Truths is the basis of Buddhism. The First Truth is that all life is suffering, pain, and misery. The Second Truth is that this suffering is caused by selfish craving and personal desire. The Third Truth is that this selfish craving can be overcome. The Fourth Truth is that the way to overcome this misery is through the Eightfold Path.

http://www.school-for-champions.com/religion/buddhism_four_noble_truths.htm#.WjaDDHqIbMK

 

Photo Credit: http://www.mitchmiles262.com/2016/12/smartphones-and-holiday-shopping/