Sitting Ducks

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It was such a perfect and appropriate image. Of being blind. Of the people who use the blind not seeing the cruelty of what they did, not seeing the beauty of what they were about to kill. It was, after all, a perfect word for that perch. A blind.

Louise Penny Still Life p. 257

These wise words from Louise Penny refer to a murder committed in the shelter of a deer blind perched out of sight in a tree.  The image moves me to reflect on all the ways we ambush one another then cover it up in the safety of our self-righteousness.

Pledge: A Spiritual Practice

I will pay attention to the words and actions I hide behind to ambush the other.

If I must say or do the hard thing let it be said and done with eyes wide open rather than with eyes wide shut.

I will seek out those who speak and do in the light, and learn from them how to begin.

I will replace the violence of the blind with compassion and understanding.

 

photo credit: felipe_gabaldon <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/25716821@N04/36415309560“>From the cave</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com“>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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In Search Of Two Sticks

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Feet firmly planted in the starters’ block,
Hands holding the weight of my body
I await the starter’s gun with expectation
Couched in taut trepidation.

We’re off!
Find two sticks to rub together,
An ideology and a firebrand will do nicely.
Hurry. Rub fast before-
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

Furtive fumbles in decaying underbrush
Uncover the piece de resistance-
The twin sticks of wealth and prestige,
a toxic fast-fading conflagration
No phoenix rising here.

Energy waning, desperation draining
I plod on in search of fire fodder,
Stumbling upon the sure-fired kindling
Of dogma and Nirvana fizzling out incompatible

At last, the finish line.
I collapse with hands empty and spirit vulnerable
Rubbed raw and flame flashing
God rekindled.

 

 

© Rita H Kowats November 9, 2017

“Know the Raw Silk, Hold the Uncut Wood”

raw silk on uncut wood

I have friends who are dealing with the worst of cancers and the death of a loved one.  Earthquakes, flooding, wars and hurricanes displace thousands of people. Yet, many of them endure. Not just endure. They endure creatively. How do they do it?

They learn these truths:

 

 

 

Photo Credits:  Raw silk- http://www.wormspit.com/degumming.htm; -wood_uncut_by_borysses.jpg

Returning to Presence: A Spiritual Practice

 

November tree

 

Sometimes we all get into an obsessive space over a perceived or real wrong done to us. Around and around, out and in our egos spin on the rim of that hurricane, covering the same territory ad nauseum even while we long to catch hold of the Eye where we can be drawn down into Presence for as long as that gift lasts.

Here are some tools I find helpful:

  • Keep a battery powered candle on throughout the time your ego spins out of control. It is a powerful symbol that through the open wound the light gets in (Thank you, Leonard Cohen.)
  • Between rants send loving kindness to the one who wounded you. Pour love like gold into their wound until it’s scar blinds with bling! Here is my version of it:

I surround you with divine light
May you be safe from harm
May you be happy and peaceful
May you be strong and healthy
May you take care of yourself with joy.

  • Call upon your angels and spirit guides to surround you and let pass into you and from you only that energy which is for the greatest good.
  • Cleanse your aura often with spritz spray or hands full of water, or burn sage. “Our thoughts and feelings have an electromagnetic reality and we should manifest wisely.” (source unknown)
  • Debrief once with one trusted person if you feel the need; repeated sessions with multiple persons tend to feed negative energy.

Mantra

Breathing in I am peace
Breathing out I release anger
Breathing in I am power
Breathing out I release dominance.
May it be so.

 

 

La Vita Bella

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Along with millions of others I recently viewed a photo on Facebook of a group of elderly women at La Vita Bella nursing home in Dickinson, Texas.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey they sat in water up to their waists waiting to be rescued.  Not exactly the Beautiful Life they had expected.  One resident did craft work, others just sat and waited.  How does one keep one’s self stable and centered when fear stands watch outside the door threatening to knock it down?  As I’ve continued to ask myself that this week a memory of another tragedy caught my attention.

September 11, 2001.  An eerie, out-of-character silence had settled on my class of seventeen-year-olds as we waited for news of a sighted but now missing hijacked airplane. Two had already crashed into the twin towers.  A wail shattered the silence, emitted from a slumped-over manchild. “Where is my brother?  He isn’t answering his phone.  WHERE IS MY BROTHER?” How does one keep one’s self stable and centered when fear stands watch outside the door threatening to knock it down?

One day at a time, one choice at a time.  In another era we would have said one self-denial at a time.  As a young nun in pre-Vatican II days I wore sacrifice beads and pulled one down with each denial.  Please.  Meister Eckhart fiercely condemns such practices as blocks to birthing the real God in our lives.  I think we prepare for those times of no control with the practice of relinquishing control. By letting go of the need to control we become free and able to endure lack of control.  We can let go of our need to have the last word, the most stunning idea, the brilliant psychoanalysis of our neighbor. By living outside of  our egos we learn to live inside of ourselves where we are sparks of the divine.  If we address the fear which stands outside our door from that place, we know how to wait for the rescue.

For the Women of La Vita Bella

 

 

Cold water rising
Strong women reap peace past sown
Fear flees in its wake

rita h kowats 9-4-17

 

 

La Via Bella

 

 

Photo Credit Hands: creative commons https://pixabay.com

Photo CreditLa Vita Bella: Trudy Lampson via AP

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

“Bomb-Affected-People”

 

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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