“Know the Raw Silk, Hold the Uncut Wood”

raw silk on uncut wood

I have friends who are dealing with the worst of cancers and the death of a loved one.  Earthquakes, flooding, wars and hurricanes displace thousands of people. Yet, many of them endure. Not just endure. They endure creatively. How do they do it?

They learn these truths:

 

 

 

Photo Credits:  Raw silk- http://www.wormspit.com/degumming.htm; -wood_uncut_by_borysses.jpg

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Returning to Presence: A Spiritual Practice

 

November tree

 

Sometimes we all get into an obsessive space over a perceived or real wrong done to us. Around and around, out and in our egos spin on the rim of that hurricane, covering the same territory ad nauseum even while we long to catch hold of the Eye where we can be drawn down into Presence for as long as that gift lasts.

Here are some tools I find helpful:

  • Keep a battery powered candle on throughout the time your ego spins out of control. It is a powerful symbol that through the open wound the light gets in (Thank you, Leonard Cohen.)
  • Between rants send loving kindness to the one who wounded you. Pour love like gold into their wound until it’s scar blinds with bling! Here is my version of it:

I surround you with divine light
May you be safe from harm
May you be happy and peaceful
May you be strong and healthy
May you take care of yourself with joy.

  • Call upon your angels and spirit guides to surround you and let pass into you and from you only that energy which is for the greatest good.
  • Cleanse your aura often with spritz spray or hands full of water, or burn sage. “Our thoughts and feelings have an electromagnetic reality and we should manifest wisely.” (source unknown)
  • Debrief once with one trusted person if you feel the need; repeated sessions with multiple persons tend to feed negative energy.

Mantra

Breathing in I am peace
Breathing out I release anger
Breathing in I am power
Breathing out I release dominance.
May it be so.

 

 

Doubt As A Path To Faith

doubtfaith

 

 

Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it,  live along some distant day
into the answer.”

Time and again I have become aware of how profoundly connected my psychological self is to my spiritual self.  One day as I worked at my desk I began musing about my childhood and realized how keenly ashamed I was of the limitations of the little girl I had been.  I felt surrounded by spirit and as if pushed in the direction, I began walking downstairs to the little chapel in our convent.  I lay down on the floor before the altar in a fetal position and held “Margaret” like I had never held her before.  I promised to love and cherish her.  I thanked her for all the good things she brought to me.  I forgave her imperfection.  I offered her gifts to God.  At seventy-three years old I am finally living into those gifts.

I think that faith development is both spiritual practice and psychological practice.  My experience with Margaret was both a psychological practice of becoming conscious of my vulnerabilities and a spiritual practice of letting them go and resting in the divine.  When we have doubts about faith we sometimes go into “The Dark Night of the Soul,” described by the mystics.

“It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness….the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.”

Elkhart Tolle  See the full description here:   https://www.eckharttolle.com/newsletter/october-2011

So we begin to ask questions, often feeling guilty about it.  Some give up all faith in the end; for others doubt brings them closer to God.  Why this paradox? To paraphrase Jesus, whoever finds faith will lose it, and whoever loses their faith for my sake will find it.  After living in our faith for a while we take the risk of separating what is authentic about it from that which encloses us in a spiritual safety deposit box. If we come to a faith in which we have no need to be controlled, we come to an experience of the holy that is real and which has no need to control us.

Why do we sometimes feel closer to God when we doubt God?  Because we dare to seek the real God who lives outside the sometimes immature and unhealthy images we conjure.  Faith is not something that can be pinned down with very specific and concrete language.  Those who express faith are often mocked in our “enlightened” western society.  When we have begun to develop the right side of our brain we can see into the spaces between words and know that those spaces contain real truth. Some of my heroes are scientists who dare to make the connections between science and spirituality:  Brian Swimme, mathematical cosmologist, Albert Einstein, and to some extent, David Bohm. They have risked being laughed out of the sacred halls of academia.

Many of you are by now sick of the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory; however, it can be a profound spiritual awakening.  A person who scores as a high thinker and sensate can use spiritual practices to develop his/her intuitive gifts.  As a traveler I could stop photographing a myriad of details for a few minutes and just sit and drink in what the scene means and how it affects me.  Practices like this bring us into the spaces between words where the experience of the holy happens. Churches celebrate the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle annually by telling the story of how he doubted the resurrection of Jesus.  Poor man.  He never had access to the MeyersBriggs.

At the end of his life the great scholastic theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas said about his many treatises, “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” His fine mind and the questions he asked of it led him to rest in divine presence.  They served him so well that in the end he didn’t need them anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Invitation

synchronicity.jpg

 

You Are Invited

 

A sincere welcome to you recent companions on this blog, and gratitude to long-timers.

A word about the process I use to write my post.  All of it emerges from my own human condition, the status of my own soul, if you will.  I spend time in meditation asking the spirit moving in the universe to offer connections to us.  “Show me what my reader’s hearts long to hear and need to hear,”  I ask, and usually that’s what I write about.

So, let’s not be ships passing in the night.  If you have a topic about the spiritual life, something that is bringing you close to your center or away from your center bring it to me and I will hold vigil with it and offer a reflection. No catch. No money involved.  Just one human being blessed with the privilege of education and experience extending a heart to other human beings. (see my page Spiritual Companion Ministry).

Shoot me an email at:

soulseeing@gmail.com

It can be from Mickey or Minnie Mouse if you like, and I would respect that anonymity in my post.

Blessings on you and on those whom you love,

Rita

Sacred Iconoclasm

Portland-KKK-1922-FSDM2 small

 

“This image shows a photograph from the early 1920s, probably in Portland, in which robed and hooded Ku Klux Klan members share a stage with members of the Royal Riders of the Red Robe, a Klan auxiliary for foreign-born white Protestants. A large banner reading “Jesus Saves” occupies a prominent position on the wall at the rear of the stage and testifies to the strong role that Protestantism played in the KKK philosophy of “100 percent Americanism,” an ideology that developed during World War I as a reaction to the perceived threat to national unity posed by the influx of non-Protestant, non-English-speaking immigrants.”

https://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/portland-kkk/#.WT77sWjyvIW

While reading the Washington Post this morning I was accosted by this photo from the Oregon Historical Society.  Although the story it tells about the Pacific Northwest is familiar to me, the stark truth of the paradox depicted  shook me to the core. I read it as “Jesus Saves, but only white people.” I invite the photo to go viral as a warning to all that we are again confronted by the “KKK philosophy of ‘100% Americanism’.” Let the warning go out that espousing a warped brand of Americanism in the name of a warped brand of Christianity calls for an iconoclastic revolution.  Perhaps Meister Eckhart’s most puzzling statement is, “I pray God that he may quit me of god.”  This is the time to throw out all profane idols and embrace the real God devoid of all ego clammoring for power.

This poem from a few years ago speaks to this experience once again:

natures stained glass 50 per cent

 

Photo Credit:  https://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/portland-kkk/#.WT77sWjyvIW

Photo Credit:  Nature’s Stained Glass Window overlay Lynn Scholar

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/06/07/when-portland-banned-blacks-oregons-shameful-history-as-an-all-white-state/?utm_term=.0280aaa83460

 

Waiting

nude in the desert framed

 

I came upon this blessing in a moment of empathy for a friend who is enduring the death of her husband.  A Gift for you, Mary Lou, and for all of us who grieve loss. I am reminded of a line from Call the Midwives, “We just go on living until we are alive again.”  May we endure together.

 

The Art of Enduring
For Holy Saturday

Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. —Psalm 31: 2
This blessing
can wait
as long as you can.

Longer.

This blessing
began eons ago
and knows the art
of enduring.

This blessing
has passed
through ages
and generations,
witnessed the turning
of centuries,
weathered the spiraling
of history.

This blessing
is in no rush.
This blessing
will plant itself
by your door.

This blessing
will keep vigil
and chant prayers.

This blessing
will bring a friend
for company.

This blessing
will pack a lunch
and a thermos
of coffee.

This blessing
will bide
its sweet time

until it hears
the beginning
of breath,
the stirring
of limbs,
the stretching,
reaching,
rising

of what had lain
dead within you
and is ready
to return.

Ann Richardson in Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings

 

 

 

The Spiritual Practice of Truth Tango

 

dancing-skeleton

 

That old familiar tune
Strikes up in the recesses of my soul
Heralding the familiar promenade of pretense.
I cast off layers of deceit
To the tattoo-tune of the Holy Stripper
And the raucous pleadings of my victims,
“Take it off! Take it all off!”
The bright white bones of truth
Step out of their camouflage
To dance La Cumparsita with wild abandonment
Until the familiar tune calls me back
To the stage of my humanity.

© Rita H Kowats June 3, 2017

 

 

 

Photo Credits:  Dancing Skeletons http://www.mbird.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10dancing-skeleton.jpg

Relinquishment

cappadocia_05

 

1 Kings 19:11-13

11 God said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of HaShem, for HaShem is 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

goblins4

“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

Holocaust Day of Remembrance

bitsela-2HR

  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/