A Posture For The Holidays

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So we have arrived once again on the cusp of celebration, when expectations run high and nerves fray at the edges.  In this lovely poem, For The Senses, John O’ Donohue offers us a way through, a way to be for the holidays.

This way demands that we slow down, watch, listen, wait.

May the touch of your skin

Register the beauty
Of the otherness
That surrounds you.

May your listening be attuned
To the deeper silence
Where sound is honed
To bring distance home.

 

May the fragrance
Of a breathing meadow
Refresh your heart
And remind you you are
A child of the earth.

 

And when you partake
Of food and drink,
May your taste quicken
To the gift and sweetness
That flows from the earth.

 

May your inner eye
See through the surfaces
And glean the real presence
Of everything that meets you.

 

May your soul beautify
The desire of your eyes
That you might glimpse
The infinity that hides
In the simple sights
That seem worn
To your usual eyes.
For the Senses by John O’Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us
Photo Credit: Rhonda Beck
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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>

A Spiritual Practice To Free The Mind

 

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The most powerful form of prayer, and the one which can gain almost all things and which is the worthiest work of all, is that which flows from a free mind. The freer the mind is, the more powerful and worthy; the more useful, praiseworthy and perfect prayer and work become. A free mind can achieve all things.
Conversations With Meister Eckhart Meister Eckhart, Simon Parke

What does the Meister mean by a free mind? Single-minded, focused on God, no distractions? Yes, but he also talks about ichgebundenheit, a state of mind in which we are bound to the drama of the ego, so a free mind would be a mind unchained to ego.
Eckhart also says,” I pray God that he may quit me of God,” so it means a mind free of false images of God.

A free mind is an empty mind, detached from all that enters, even from sacred moments gifted in contemplation.

For me it means that for just a moment I stop clinging to that which clamors for my attention. A common little drama which plays out in my everyday life is the distraction of noise. I live in a spralling apartment complex where maintenance needs generate constant loud noise. Tuesdays at 7:00 the city garbage trucks subject us to 20 minutes of an automated machine emptying one can after another. Wednesdays bring a grounds maintenance crew wielding their monstrous lawn blowers. The list goes on, but we musn’t. Most often the noise closes in on me taking over all of my attention. I rant and rave and denounce “progress,” as environmental injustice until I have allowed the noise to become me and there is no space for the divine. My mind is not free.
Buddhists have an excellent way to free the mind. They would tell me to see the garbage trucks as a mindfulness bell calling me to meditation. My practice has become a variation on that advice. In this practice substitute “garbage trucks” with whatever threatens to take over your being.

Spiritual Practice: Freeing The Mind

  • The distraction presents itself, threatening to take over thoughts and feelings.
  • Acknowledge it’s 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.

 

Photo Credit: 

https://www.pexels.com/search/art/  CCO license

Calling All Prophets

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“The Sound Of Silence”

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silenceIn restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dare
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence”

Photo Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/search/art/  CCO license

A Request

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A Request

Drought-Weary
On the cusp of Autumn
We dare to beg:

Rain down
On brittle leaves already colored
Dull yellow, gold and red.
Rain down
On forest-fire smokescreen,
On eerie orange sun
Casting shadows in shades of pink.
Rain down on day-long dusk
Wash ashen scales from purblind eyes

Rain down
On the parched spirits
Of dreamers curled up into themselves
Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Remove the smokescreen of words
That splays their spirits waiting
To be sacrificed on the altar of American jobs.

Some relief
We beg.

© Rita h Kowats 9-7-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: J&V Photography

http://www.americabythenumbers.org/learn-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca/

Ascension

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On this anniversary of the day the United States brought down “fire and fury like the world has never seen,”* on Nagasaki, Japan, many seek refuge from fear, hoping to ascend from the muck of unconscionable rhetoric.  Mary Oliver takes us there on the wings of the magnificent great blue heron.  May we also walk on water.

*Donald Trump 8-8-17

 

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond

by Mary Oliver

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

 

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

 

http://www.bestpoems.net/mary_oliver/heron_rises_from_the_dark_summer_pond.html

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 . All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit:

http://garysoutdoorwanderings2.blogspot.com/2012/06/heron-oddity.html

“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

The Butterfly Effect

 

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“This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened.”

http://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-is-chaos-theory/

 

Down Here
Wispy tendrils of hazy smoke
from Canada’s forest fires
Lasso branches of not-so-evergreens
And the aberrant heat drapes
its humid blanket over this bed
We now must lie in.

Over There
Adam lies drowning
In a pool of lethal despair
While in Bahrain more mundane matters
Press on Ahmad and the butterfly spirals down
To The Boneyard of Indifference.

©Rita H Kowats August 3, 2017

 

Photo Credit: photo credit: judygva <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/52450054@N04/34052621551″>Juniper Hairstreak – Callophrys gryneus, Phelps Wildlife Management Area, Sumerduck, Virginia</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;