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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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

What If?

Louise Penny November quote

 

But

What if
we remembered
that the drama of mottled clouds
stirs the iffy places in our souls?

What if
we remembered
that skeleton trees create space
for soul seeing?

What if
we remembered
that the snare drum dissonance of leaves
crunching underfoot
announces the death of misconceived decisions
and promises life conceived in hope?

What if
we remembered
that the pungent odor of garden leftovers
wafting on crisp autumnal air
promises a resurrection like none other?

What if
we remembered
that the threads of November’s spider webs
emanate from the same spiritual fiber
that weaves one soul to another soul to another?

What if
we remembered.

 

© Rita H Kowats
November 2017

 

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

“Unclench Yourself”: A Guided Meditation

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Unclench Yourself:  Guided Meditation

Listen to this gift from Marge Piercy.  Find the rhythm in your breathing as you take in the essence of her words.  Let feelings rise as they will.

Unclench yourself

Open, love, open.
I tell you we are able
I tell you we are able
now and then gently
with hands and feet
cold even as fish
to curl into a tangle
and grow a single hide,
slowly to unknit all other skin
and rest in flesh
and rest in flesh entire

Come all the way in, love,
it is a river
with a strong current
but its brown waters
will not drown you.

Let go.
Do not hold out your head.
The current knows the bottom
better than your feet can.
You will find
that in this river
we can breathe
we can breathe
and under water see
small gardens and bright fish
too tender
too tender
for the air.

Marge Piercy

Meditation

You are content to lie on the surface of the cobalt Maui ocean, cocooned in the embrace of warm trade winds, buoyant and safe. Relax and enjoy the carefree feeling of being carried aloft. Continue to synchronize your breathing with winds and waves.  In out in out.  Feel the warmth of the sun kiss your skin.  Breathe in out in out.

Now let your mind wander to regions below the ocean’s surface, to places less placid where fear warns you away.  Take some time now to explore those fears which threaten to take your breath away.  Name each one as you breathe in and let out the fear on the wave of your breath. In out in out.

You have now dared to leave the surface.  How is it for you down there?  What small gardens and bright fish do you see? Your breathing becomes deeper and flows evenly throughout every cell of your body.  You are the ocean.  As the fish is in the sea and the sea is in the fish, you are in the ocean and the ocean is in you.

Ever so gently now, let your body slowly float up to the surface as you continue to breathe. Breathing in I am whole.  Breathing out I release all fear.  Breathing in I am peace.  Breathing out I offer peace.

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Marine Explorer <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/71925535@N03/34628416992″>Red sea fan #marineexplorer</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

We Are The Song

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Louise Penny writes a mystery series about a detective in a mythical village in Quebec called Three Pines. I love these books especially for the author’s keen insight into human nature and her prose which flows like poetry. A favorite from the series is The Beautiful Mystery, about a murder in a monastery set deep into the wilds of Canada. Although hidden away, the monks are renowned for their near perfect expression of Gregorian chant. The abbot says, “Each of us individual notes. On our own, nothing. But together? Divine. We don’t just sing, we are the song.” The narrator says, “Gamache wondered if an equally important part of a chant wasn’t just the notes, but the space between them. The silence…They had such a profound effect on those who sang and heard them that the ancient chants became known as “The Beautiful Mystery.”

 

The Beauriful Mystery

 

 

Photo Credit: https://www.smov.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=347&Itemid=717

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/

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

 

 

 

Kendra’s Bench

Reginas Bench

 

Friday would have been an idyllic Northwest summer day except for a foreboding haze of smoke from Canada’s forest fires settling in tree branches and hugging the shoreline. Determined to enjoy my excursion to the beach in spite of it, I set out to wait for my friend to arrive by ferry.

Happily ensconced on a promenade bench I relished the briny odor of Puget Sound and the glad sounds of children romping in waves. Smoke obscured my lifelong mountain friends but my memory served up a feast of towering snow-capped craigs.
My reverie was abruptly interrupted by an approaching man who lingered at the bench and gingerly draped his hand over the back. “Excuse me,” he said. “I just want to say ‘hi’ to my little girl.” I noticed the memorial plaque and offered to move so he could sit with her a while. He countered, “Thank you, but my wife is waiting in the car and she isn’t well.” We said our good-bye. Alone now, I studied the memorial plaque. Kendra was nineteen when she died and her dad wrote, “No father should ever have to bury his child, but I put my trust in the Lord.” I wept.

 

Kendra,
Did you know?

He loved you
To the top of the mountains
To the bottom of Puget Sound whose healing waves
Carried you aloft and soothed
Your seashell cuts and scrapes.

Here he stands
Grief barely at bay
Even now.
A father who never
Should have buried his child.
A father whose tender love
Is balm for this fatherless soul.

© Rita H Kowats 8-14-17

Note:  you can see a photo of Regina’s bench at Olympic Beach Here.