RELIEF REVEALED

winter to spring collage

For a few years I rented an apartment located across the street from Volunteer Park in Seattle where I would visit the conservatory to escape the incessant, driving rain of winter. Some of you are experiencing the harshness of desert heat at this time. Others can hardly endure freezing temperatures. Relief, pour out your sweet elixir!

 

By the time I walked through the conservatory doors
my rain-drenched coat dripped
into rivulets between the tiles of the green ceramic floor.
The moist heat cocooned me in an aura of sensuous pleasure
releasing me from the burden of my winter coat.

I strolled from room to room
Eyes feasting on a kaleidoscope of vivid color
Paraded with pride by paradise flowers
Orchids Birds of Paradise Hibiscus

Reaching the desert succulent wing
I sat for a while to ponder the plants.
How do you survive this intense aridity?
How do I survive this incessant humidity?

They survive because they must
We survive because we know
That relief lies latent
In the recesses of our souls
Warming us like the moist heat
Of a conservatory on a winter day.

Visit often and spring befalls us
Like pollen cascading from fuchsia Hibiscus.

© Rita H Kowats 1-23-18

 

 

 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60878-d141258-Reviews-Volunteer_Park_Conservatory-Seattle_Washington.html

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Collusion

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Collusion

The day after
the Shame
the expanse of sometimes blue sky
is speckled with thick, sooty elephant-skin clouds
That bleed disdain on Lady Liberty
who holds vigil in the harbor
of the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The Shame
shrieks, reeks inhumanity, holding us hostage
until we dare say it out loud:
Racist.
Brothers and sisters, forgive us,
for we know exactly what we do.

© Rita H Kowats 1-12-18

 

Photo Credit: Getty

 

 

Thanksgiving

To all my American bloggers, Happy Thanksgiving!  To everyone else, may you also find a way today to celebrate the richness of your culture.  I am grateful to all of you for your presence here and wish you abundant blessing.

 

Thanksgiving Card with Poem

 

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>

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.