Waiting for the Fog to Lift

Waiting for the Fog to Lift

 

When it fogs in October
People say, “It’s thick as pea soup out there!”
When it fogs in our souls
We pull up a stool to the hearth
And watch grievances bubble to a boil,
Thickening into an opaque blend
Of anger and resentment or fear and pain,
Depending on the available spices
We add to the mix.

Just as fog bides its time,
Confined by purblind eyes
We must stop stirring the pot,
And wait in the soulfog
For Spirit to restore peace.

 

© rita h kowats

 

The Holy Net of Grace

 

trapese artists

 

A recurring image in my life has made another appearance in my consciousness lately.  I am a trapeze artist in the circus that is my life, thinking that I have one simple goal:  to get to the other side.  Accomplishing that goal necessitates leaving the bar behind, even though I may, and often do, fall into the space between.  Over the years I’ve learned that the space is not such a formidable place.  The goal is to release the bar and make a home in the space between.

 

We stand on life’s platform
like trapeze artists
poised to spring:

hands sweaty
brows clammy
hearts hammering

peering into the space
between the bars.

An illusory Siren,
Safety lures us to the other side
with sweet songs of comfort and security
while the holy net of grace
waits for the free fall
into possibility.

© rita h kowats 2014

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/dirkscircusimages/6156299177/”>dirkjanranzijn</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Just for Fun: Spiritual Ecstacy

Spiritual Ecstasy Buttercup and  Raymond 2

 

 

[in Just-]
by E.E. Cummings

in Just-
spring              when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistle s      far     and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far     and     wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s
spring
and

the

goat-footed

balloonMan     whistles
far
and
wee

Spiritual Ecstasy

 

A friend posted this picture today from http://www.edgarsmission.org.au/, and it delighted me so much I was prompted to share it with you.  Edgar’s Mission is a farm animal rescue in Australia.  Treat yourself and look at the pictures of all their animals, noticing the apt names they have bestowed upon them.

Buttercup and Raymond remind me of King David dancing with abandon before the Ark of the Covenant.  The bounding lambs also recall a time when I walked with a loved one in spring rain and just had to stomp in the mud puddle and splash it all over him.  It was so “mud-luscious” I couldn’t resist.

When we throw off the things of adults and put on the heart of a child we enter into spiritual ecstasy.  We stand outside of ourselves, outside of mundane ego concerns, leaving us free to relish that spirit space where God lives.

May we all have at least twenty minutes today when we can be creative and throw ego-decorum to the wind!

 

On Patience

 

On Patience WP

 

A Poem:  “Waiting for the traffic light to change the Patient squints against the midday sun….”

On Patience Poem

 © rita h kowats 2014

photo creditgsgeorge via photopin.com”>photopin ccaltered border

photo credit Duncan Brown (Cradlehall) via photopin cc altered bird overlay

Midwives of Freedom

royal tern hooked

 

Gracious Goodness
by Marge Piercy

On the beach where we had been idly
telling the shell coins
cat’s paw, cross-barred Venus, china cockle,
we both saw at once the sea bird fall to the sand
and flap grotesquely.
He had taken a great barbed hook
out through the cheek and fixed
in the big wing.
He was pinned to himself to die,
a royal tern with a black crest blown back
as if he flew in his own private wind.
He felt good in my hands, not fragile
but muscular and glossy and strong,
the beak that could have split my hand
opening only to cry
as we yanked on the barbs.
We borrowed a clippers, cut and drew out the hook.
Then the royal tern took off, wavering,
lurched twice,
then acrobat returned to his element, dipped,
zoomed, and sailed out to dive for a fish.
Virtue:  what a sunrise in the belly.
Why is there nothing
I have ever done with anybody
that seems to me so obviously right?

large_5426725856

 

Every so often I have to get my Marge Piercy fix, and today was the day.  I can only read her poetry sporadically, because she throws truth like a dagger, piercing its target with razor-sharp precision.  When I read this poem today I became the royal tern and dissolved in tears commingled with memories in a sacred eucharist of life.

Perched as I am on the precipice of my seventieth year of this life, the view ahead is very different from the view at forty or fifty, much less before thirty-eight.  That time in my life can be deftly described by Marge Piercy in another of her poems entitled in true Piercy aplomb, “The Song of the Fucked Duck.”:

“In using there are always two.
The manipulator dances with a partner who cons herself.
There are lies that glow so brightly we consent
to give a finger and then an arm
to let them burn.”

I was like a young chimpanzee swinging from bar to tree, limb to rope, playing to a crowd of voyeurs and secretly shrieking, “Look at me, love me, look at me.”  Pieces of my integrity were lobbed off with every exhibition, leaving my young soul besotted with false hope and utterly alone.  I was willing to be conned by needy manipulators for whatever morsels of pseudo-love they threw my way.  For a time after my awakening I was ashamed of the vulnerable little girl who still occasionally clamored to be heard.  Eventually, the spiritual practices I was developing brought me into healing and new life.  One day while praying I realized that I had to embrace the child to set her free.  As if taken by the hand by the Spirit of God, I lay myself down in fetal position before the altar I had created.  Holding my body together with my arms, I held that little girl and loved her-all of her.  It was a physical enactment of a spiritual call to unconditional love of self.

As with Marge Piercy’s royal tern, I have been blessed with companions along my journey who have “unpinned” me.  The tears I shed while reading the poem witness to my gratitude for these loved ones who have loved me and showed me to myself.  In honor of them I try to stay aware of situations which could pin me. In my ministry as a spiritual guide I try to be a midwife of freedom for others.  “Why is there nothing I have ever done with anybody that seems to me so obviously right?”

 

 

 

Photo Credits:  Florida Department of Transportation;
flying tern: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/bejor77/5426725856/”>Erick Houli</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Sacred Cycles

Spring has arrived today in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.  73 degrees and sunshine lured me out to the lake to ponder the message it might have for me.  It’s astounding that such a small, seemingly inconsequential event can awaken us to the essence of life.

Connections poem

 “The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is; and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God. ”       § Meister Eckhart

Yom Ha Shoah: Holocaust Day of Remembrance

 

YomHaShoah SIX CANDLES

  Yom HaShoah

 

“You just keep living until your are alive again,” said a character in last Sunday’s BBC episode of “Call the Midwife.”  The words stir me to write on this eve of 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 and others in the Holocaust.  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, I presume.

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/

Easter Stretching

easter toddler.

While I worked as a peace activist I cared for toddlers a few hours a week.  It was such a relief to escape the darkness of nuclear weapons and attitudes of war by immersing myself in the imagination of two-year-olds for a few hours.  My favorite time was when they woke up from their nap.  Happy Easter!

 

Six somnolent toddlers
nestle in daycare cots
clutching stuffed animal amulets-
their companions into the dreamworld.

One by one they rub sandman eyes
and extend their little arms to me
as budding tree branches stretch to the sun.

We sit and rock
to the rhythm of hushed monosyllables
identifying body parts and objects.
I wonder if Jesus touched his resurrected body
exclaiming, “My eyes!”  “My nose!”  “My ear!”

My war-worn heart hungers for hope.
Who can give it?
The children.
The children teach trust.
I rub my purblind eyes,
and stretch out my arms,
Born again.

© rita h kowats 1991-2014

Photo Credit:  “Freedom” by citybreezes at  https://www.sumo.fm/#profile/p=2

Calvary Is Right Here

homeless person

 

“Palm Sunday”
Joyce Rupp

 

Three men
proclaiming the memory
of your path to Calvary.
Three men
with somber voices
making all the appropriate
pauses and inflections.

But what I remember
is the Calvary
beside me,
the man
whose body odor
invaded my space,
the man
seemingly homeless,
surely mentally
challenged.

The three men
went on and on and on
with their words
telling the history
of your suffering.

I found you
not in their stiff words
but next to me,
a man still bearing
the heavy cross
of loneliness and rejection.

“Palm Sunday” collected in My Soul Feels Lean:  Poems of Loss and Restoration Sorinbooks, 2013

 

 

Photo Credit:  Edited from The Homeless Epidemic at http://eng105project3.blogspot.com/?m=1

 

 

“Come Forth! “

Lazarus come forth 2

“And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with grave-clothes and his face muffled with a handkerchief. “Now unbind him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go home.”   John 11:44

I sat in our humble, spirit-filled church yesterday, listening to our preacher proclaim the story of Lazarus’ return to life, all the while, the image of Antelope Canyon wafting in and out of my consciousness.  This poem was born today.  I hope it will be for you as it is for me:  food for the journey before us.

Primal and pristine
Light
plummets through the fissure
of my tomb,
Trumpeting untested life.

Vigilant Wings
nudge an expectant spirit
through the stone canal
rubbed smooth by the struggle
to unbind.

Tomb shattered
Death battered
I tumble out
Unfettered,
Transfigured.

© rita h kowats Lent 2014

 

Photo Credit:  Antelope Canyon Page, AZ Joyce Roach, O.P. used with permission.  If you would like to feast more on Joyce’s poignant images, you can reach her at 253-756-9435, 1111 Rose Lane, Tacome WA USA 98406.