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:
While looking for food, a nomad in the Namib Desert might see this little Fringe-Toed Lizard doing his gymnastics to survive the otherwise unsurvivable heat. He lifts one appendage at a time, removing it momentarily from the sand’s heat. At noon he will burrow into the cooler sand beneath the surface. At dawn our nomad would enjoy the cool mist blowing in from the ocean, and with many other plants and animals, sip from its moisture left on leaves. The Sidewinder snake adapts its behavior by heaving its body across the sand, touching down in only two places at a time.
Adapting. And how do we human beings adapt our souls to meet the overwhelming challenges thrown at us by our environment? Like these desert animals, we are a resilient lot. We survive and we often thrive. Adaptation of the soul is analagous to adaptation to environments; however, unlike other animals, we can make choices- choices which get us and others into dire situations, and choices which redeem us. Apartheid imprisoned Nelson Mandella for twenty-eight years, and his spirit adapted and thrived. I can only conjecture about the details of Mandella’s adaptation. You have developed your ways of adapting to spiritual challenges, to “The Dark Night of the Soul,” as John of the Cross called it. These choices have redeemed me at times:
1. Be Faithful
To mantras that focus me, affirmations, rituals, other prayer forms.
2. Be Helpful
Seek out viable and positive service opportunities. Service takes us out of ourselves.
3. Be Creative
Paint, draw, write, compose music, play music) Creative activity often puts us into an altered state where we can forget our despair for a while, and unite with the Other.
4. Be Communal
Talk with a spiritual guide or trusted friend.
These adaptations get me through the heat of the day: Old truths embedded in a new metaphor.
Quilt by Nadine Meeker
The soul knows what she wants, even if our ego is confused. She casts out invitations, and like stones cast on gentle water, they ripple out, and touch every aspect of our lives.
Images from the soul are spontaneous lights from the Godhead. The soul casts them out, and stepping into the light, she waits until we are conscious enough to see and respond. We can teach ourselves how to be aware of the invitations by fidelity to two spiritual practices. First, we can view synchronous events as invitations from our soul, and daily ask for the grace to pay attention to them. With practice, we can learn to focus intentionally on our surroundings and interactions with people, staying open to the possibilities they “throw out.” For example, one day I may have a dream about a one-time friend, in which he wrestles with strong emotions. The next day I stumble upon an article about grieving that touches on my recent experience of loss, and I think again of the dream and become concerned about my friend with no apparent cause; however, I resist the urge to shrug it off with, “Oh, it’s ‘just’ a coincidence.” I ask myself what images surround my friend when I think about him? What images surround me? What feelings do these experiences evoke about him and about me? I decide to inquire about his well-being from a mutual friend, and learn that his mother died at the same time as I lost a loved one. The synchronistic event becomes an invitation cast out to me, and if I respond to its light, I grow.
We can develop our imaginations by devoting time to creative expression. Time spent drawing, painting, writing, making music, dancing, etc., is liminal time…the space in between, in which the soul casts her sacred images. If we work 9-5 and surround ourselves with people and frantic activity 24-7, there is no time to create, and we will miss the light.
Writing this reflection has been a good examin for myself. May the soul’s images astound us.