First Journey to a Memory Care Center

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My first experience visiting a Memory Care facility has left me with a heightened awareness of the spiritual practice of emptying oneself. I am left with an urgency to learn how to let go while I can still choose. I want to store up the Light that will warm me and guide me if I come to a place of unawares. May it be so.

 

The young woman at the lobby desk welcomes my sister and me to the memory care unit with genuine enthusiasm, happy that Gloria has visitors. She invites us to enjoy refreshments from the sideboard while we sign in, then we embark on our journey into another world.

The door opens onto the movie theatre. Comfortable chairs face a giant screen, flanked by posters of actors in their 1940’s heyday. A few residents watch, while others sleep or stare inwardly at movies of their past lives.

The theatre morphes into a small dining area, the brown floral Persian rug seamlessly connecting the two areas. Three small tables host residents and their care-givers slowly enacting the ritual of eating. Bite. Sleep. Bite. Stare. Bite. Tears gather and I choke up, overwhelmed by the question stalking me on this first journey, ” What if the disease takes me? What if…” The words of the biblical character Job bubble up as if emblazoned on a marquee,”The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” What an emptying this would be.

Moving down a hallway, windows look out on a garden and period musical instruments don one wall, while 1950’s fashion prom dresses decorate the other wall. When the hallway enters into another area we see Gloria seated at a table eating lunch with another resident. She still knows who we are and her delight at seeing us is reassuring. Also reassuring is her increased appetite and genuine affirmation of her new home.

After a brief stroll around the halls we say our goodbyes, happy that Gloria is happy but dreading the fast-approaching time when she will no longer know who we are. We, however, will know who Gloria is on our next visit and we will love her in whichever dimension is claiming her that day.

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2017/01/25/learn-about-alzheimers-disease-and-dementia-research-at-public-forum/

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Oxymoron As Spiritual Practice

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I was dragging my body of spent muscles
out of the locker room at the YMCA when
I stopped in my tracks (plodding though they were)
before a big window displaying the Tai Chi class in motion.
There before me stood a twenty-something hulk of a man
Serenely engaged in the exercise, seemingly suspended from the ceiling
By an invisible wire attached to the bristles
Of his Lisbeth Salander Mohawk.

I giggled with delight at this delicious oxymoron
Placed along my one-size-fits-all path to wake me up.
Divinity lurks in the oxymorons of life,
Showing up where and how we least expect it.

© Rita H Kowats 2-8-18

 

 

 

photo credit: Thomas Hawk <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01/15801792012″>Punks Not Dead</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

“The Sacred Symmetry of Your Soul”

 

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FOR PRESENCE

Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

 

from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue

 

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photo credit: PMillera4 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/48227962@N04/36204074031″>Ireland</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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

Welcome, Whimsy!

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Good Morning, everyone.  Today is a day to take our souls out to play.  I will meet you in the backyard at the ancient cedars and we will swing away our cares.

 

TO BUILD A SWING

You carry
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare—
Don’t mix them!

You have all the genius
To build a swing in your backyard
For God.
That sounnds
Like a hell of a lot more fun.
Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.
I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.

Hafiz
Will sing a thousand words
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Silver hammers,
Polished teakwood,
Strong silk rope.

You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,
Mix them, mix Them!

HAFIZ

 

Photo Credit: photopin.com, creative commons

This Cacaphony of Caca: A Spiritual Practice

soul card for combat fatigue

There has been a lot of cacophony over caca in the last week. Donald Trump’s now infamous racist epithet has left many of us in a deep depression fraught with rage and outrage. Let the cacophony careen until it crashes through every wall erected to protect us from diversity. We wonder how Germany could have raised up Hitler and then remained silent. Now America knows how it happened. There is a time for words, there is a time for action. The time for action is now.

From a place burning deep within my humanity, I have cried tears of anger and tears of shame. I have sat in solidarity with friends as they cried tears of rage and shame. There have been prolonged episodes of reading and analysis of Huffpost, the Washington Post, the BBC. I wrote to my three legislators calling them to gather support in invoking the 25th Amendment. Now I have settled into silence and solitude to support the soulcare that I so sorely need.

SOULCARE

Free The Mind

Distractions enter, threatening to take over thoughts and feelings.

  • Acknowledge their presence saying, for example, “Garbage Trucks.” Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings.
  • Establish a rhythm to your breathing saying, “Breathing in I acknowledge this noise and it’s hold on me, breathing out I release it.”
  • Breathing the intention will eventually create a space for the divine to enter. Say, “Breathing in God is here. Breathing out, I am peace.”
    When you feel yourself resting in God’s presence continue breathing and wait for the Spirit’s prompting.

Seek Healing

  • Detach yourself from the belief that you are the sole saviour of the world.
  • Acknowledge your rage and grief and be grateful you can feel them.
  • Send loving kindness to yourself, repeating the mantra throughout your day until you feel a shift in your consciousness:

Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation

May I be safe from harm.
May I be happy and peaceful
May I be strong and healthy.
May I take care of myself with joy.

  • Send forgiveness to Donald Trump and to all of us for our complicity in racism; if forgiveness doesn’t come remember that it is a process. I have sometimes had to ask God to forgive for me:

Buddhist Forgiveness Prayer

If I have harmed anyone in any way either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions I forgive them.

And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions
I forgive myself.

Birth the Divine in the Unjust Situation

A Mantra

Breathing in peace
Breathing out transformed rage.
Breathing in the divine
Breathing out justice
Breathing in the divine
Breathing out justice.

God alive we thrive.
May it be so.

ACT

 

Photo Credit:   

“SoulCards” by Deborah Koff-Chapin.  The technique Deborah has created is called “touch drawing.”  The  cards come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools.  They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with.  www.soulcards.com

Used with permission from the artist

 

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

 

 

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;