Relinquishment

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1 Kings 19:11-13

11 God said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of HaShem, for is HaShem about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountain apart and shattered the rocks by HaShem ’s power—but HaShem was not in the whirlwind. After the wind there was an earthquake—but HaShem was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire—but HaShem was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Relinquishment

After

Whirlwind
Earthquake
Fire

You come to me,
Finally Faceless.
Eyes Ears Mouth relinquished,
I hear the steadfast summons
With Other ears.

Here I am. Send me.

© Rita H Kowats May 21, 2017

 

Photo Credit: https://honesterrors.com/2013/10/16/the-cave-cities-of-cappadocia-were-carved-by-hand/

Good In the Very Genes Of Our Souls

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“Their Eyes Were Watching God”

 

Spiritual awakening is the process of recognizing our essential goodness, our natural wisdom and compassion. In stark contrast to this trust in our inherent worth, our culture’s guiding myth is the story of Adam and Eve’s exile from the Garden of Eden. We may forget its power because it seems so worn and familiar, but this story shapes and reflects the deep psyche of the West. The message of “original sin” is unequivocal: Because of our basically flawed nature, we do not deserve to be happy, loved by others, at ease with life. We are outcasts, and if we are to reenter the garden, we must redeem our sinful selves. We must overcome our flaws by controlling our bodies, controlling our emotions, controlling our natural surroundings, controlling other people. And we must strive tirelessly—working, acquiring, consuming, achieving, e-mailing, overcommitting and rushing—in a never-ending quest to prove ourselves once and for all…. Feeling that something is wrong with me is the invisible and toxic gas I am always breathing.

  -Tara Brach, PhD Radical Acceptance

 

Photo Credit: Goblin State Park Hoodoos

http://www.americansouthwest.net/utah/goblin_valley/goblins4_l.html

“The Art of Precious Scars”

 

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Explosion

DANGER
Sizzles between air molecules
In spaces intended for patience and love.
Two-year-old Alice, impatient for food
Punctuates the room with a crescendo of piercing cries.
You are in the kitchen cooking a dinner that refuses to cook…
The Protector is away on retreat.
My seven year-old empathic brain is on high alert
Pleaser Stand-in Protector
I seek a distraction to divert the explosion.

From my place under the high chair
I make faces at Alice. It has worked before
BUT
As the high chair is bumped the milk sprouts wings

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE NOW?”

Your behemoth bulk looming over me
You snatch me up and carry me to my bedroom

Do you know how terrified and shamed I am
As you pull down my pants
EXPOSING
My tiny seven-year-old bottom?

Off comes the belt
Which leaves angry welts on
The seven-year-old
Who just wanted to keep the peace.

THE PROTECTOR
Never left you in charge after that.

Reconciliation

My fifty-five-year-old empathic brain had evolved
By the time of your visit.
The Protector came first on another bright Autumn day
After she died. “Honey, I’m alright,” she said.
You came many years later, having also evolved.

I lay on the couch before a roaring fire
Pretending to grade papers
While Beethoven’s Ninth wove its magic.
The chorus intoned Shiller’s “Ode to Joy”
And I became the music.
You came to me at the fireplace
As I stoked and the chorus proclaimed

Brothers, above the starry canopy
Must a loving Father reside.

“Honey, I do love you so much. Forgive me.”
Came the gentle whisper in my ear.

I wonder if Beethoven ever heard those words
From his abusive father.

Kintsugi

Sixty -six years later
The fissure gleams
With the gold
Of healing experiences
Whole gift to fellow fractured
Pilgrims

© Rita H Kowats 2017

 

 

For a poignant description of Kintsugi go here

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Holocaust Day of Remembrance

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  Yom HaShoah

“You just keep living until you are alive again,” said a character in a BBC episode of “Call the Midwife.”  The words stir me to write on this Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Survivors, their families, indeed, the whole Jewish community endure, and even thrive, with a resilience I can hardly even dream of mustering.  I repent and grieve for the evil perpetrated against Jews, gays, and those physically and mentally challenged.l  I celebrate their resilience, born from a deep well of faith.

Inaugurated in Israel in 1953, Holocaust Remembrance Day is ritualized differently throughout the world.  Common threads are the lighting of six memorial candles to represent the approximately six million victims.  The Mourners’ Kaddish is often recited to show that despite their loss, Jews still praise G-d.  At the memorial ritual in Auschwitz, school children participate in “The March of the Living,” which is a profound defiance of the Death Marches to the crematoriums.  I am reminded of the work of theologian Walter Brueggemann, who calls for a “prophetic imagination” which re-appropriates acts of injustice as positive acts of life- a way of living until we are alive again.

One Sunday I came to Hebrew class at Temple Beth El- always the only Christian student- this day, the only student.  My teacher, whose relatives did not survive the holocaust, took the opportunity to teach me some of the more obscure facts about anti-Semitism.  She said with searing pain, that in the Spanish Inquisition Jews were denied the right to recite Kaddish.  The refrain that G-d will “uproot foreign worship from the earth,” threatened the power of Christianity.

As I imagine the youth reciting Kaddish on their March of Life today at Auschwitz, I rejoice in the hope their action evokes.  In them, their ancestors live on.  Paul Celan’s poem, “Death Fugue,” draws us inside life in a death camp.  The images are shattering, but we must look.  We must remember.  After embracing the horrifying reality, I return to celebration of the resilience of a people who still chooses life.  L’Chaim!

 

Death Fugue
by Paul Celan

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden
hair Margarete
he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are
flashing he whistles his pack out
he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a
grave
he commands us strike up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at
sundown
we drink and we drink you
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair
Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith we dig a grave in the breezes
there one lies unconfined

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you
others sing now and play
he grabs at the iron in his belt he waves it his
eyes are blue
jab deeper you lot with your spades you others play
on for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at at noon in the morning we drink you
at sundown
we drink and we drink you
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with the serpents
He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master
from Germany
he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then
as smoke you will rise into air
then a grave you will have in the clouds there one
lies unconfined

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany
we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink
and we drink you
death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue
he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in
the air
He plays with the serpents and daydreams death is
a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith

Translated by Michael Hamburger

Clip Art Credits:  http://free-bitsela.com/

Cultivating Wisdom in This Spate of Fake News

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The beginning of wisdom

was when I learnt the difference
between believing in the truth
and telling the truth
about
belief.

Padraig O’ Tuama in Readings from the Book of Exile

 

 

Photo Credit: Truth is Beauty pictured at Burning Man. The 55-foot tall sculpture is part of ‘The Bliss Project’ by Marco Cochrane, and she currently resides at the San Leandro Tech Center, across the street from BART. Photo courtesy of marcocochranesculpture.net.

 

 

 

 

Diminishment

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Diminishment
Held my eyes in the mirror this morning
As she spoke her stark truth.
My body has declined.
There is no bringing it back.
Now Is the time of adaptation.

Yesterday, walking the Interurban Trail,
Bikers shouted “Seventy is the new 60. You can do it!”
Dropping me in a whir of wheels and wind
As they passed.
My mind wanders to the memory of another bike ride-
The rush of river rapids
A whiff of mock orange transporting me
To someplace beyond myself,
Hair awry in the wind and thirty-year-old muscles
Giddy With endurance
As they close in on mile thirty.
Grief and gratitude ride the memory with me
Calling me back to the visitor
In the mirror.

Today I live in that place beyond myself
With seventy two-year-old muscles
Wrapped around arthritic bones,
And the heavenly scent
Of mock orange to keep me company.

© Rita H Kowats 2-3-17

Photo Credit: http://www.nwplants.com/business/catalog/phi_lew.html

 

 

 

Anthem Before Inauguration

 

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Anthem- Leonard Cohen

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government —
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.

 

Photo Credit: photopin.com

My Slip Is Showing

 

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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: