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:

 

Opening Vision

Guest Post
Marcia McLaughlin

 

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Sometimes we have so much difficulty seeing clearly what is ahead of us.  Recently I was at Holden Village, a retreat center in the mountains.  The top photo was taken out my bedroom window, which was covered with snow.  The colors were beautiful, but I couldn’t tell at all what was beyond my window, other than the snow.  Less than 48 hours later, because of melting snow, I was able to see the trees and buildings beyond my window.  Life can be like this—we struggle and struggle to make sense out of life, not seeing our way out of a difficult situation.

Then something happens that changes our vision and brings sudden clarity.  The confusion and struggle melt away as the snow did, opening up to an answer.  The snow melts when the temperatures get warm enough.  One can wait for that to happen or use a shovel to dig your way through the snow.  When our vision of a situation is blocked by something, we may have to wait or perhaps there is something we can do to bring clarity.  What or who helps you when you are in the midst of confusion and struggle and need clarity?  Since my blocked window was on the 2nd floor, I wasn’t capable of removing the snow.  I had to wait.  Are you able to wait when nothing you can do removes the block, when struggling is futile?  How is God a part of finding clarity? How is God a part of stopping the struggle and waiting?

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1 Corinthians 13: 12-13.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.
Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Marcia Mclaughlin is my colleague in spiritual direction ministry.  She ministers as spiritual director, pastoral care counselor, and retreat leader at Richmond Beach UCC.  I am delighted to share her wisdom with you.

Link to Marcia’s Linkedin Profile:

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?

Out-Waiting Tick Tock

This post is inspired by Sue Llewellyn’s Word A Week Challenge on A Word in Your Ear at http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/a-word-a-week-photograph-challenge-waiting/.  We are asked to respond to the word, WAITING.  Once in a while lately I feel like Alice following the white rabbit down the hole, so my poem emerged from these ideas of waiting and being a good steward of TIME.

My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place.  And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Time trips over its hands,
Running, running, late, late,
For a very important date,
Its slaves shackled to tick tock,
Tumbling, tumbling, into the
Hole they’ve loosened with the
Pick axe of avoidance, and
Shoveled out with the spade of fear.
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Waiting
For shackles to fall,
And slaves to see the
Light of Day.
Waiting to become
Time itself,
Stretching minutes into long, leisurely
Hours- hours easing into
Eternity,
Waiting,

Tick Tock,

Tick Tock,

Tick tock,
Stop.

 

God Waits in the Space Between: Silence As A Spiritual Practice

Wall of Words

Silence

I hear my rapid thought-fire
Ricochet off your heart,
Creating a wall of words to
Keep me safe.

Wait.
Wait for the space
Between the thoughts
Between the words.

Wait.
God lives
In the Space Between.

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I spent the first quarter of my life entombed in a womb of words. A tomb, because I was only living on the surface; a womb, because I was still growing. Still. Gratefully, by the time computer technology advanced to the point of a 24/7 stream of words, I had begun a serious journey into the space between the words.

In those first twenty-five years, fear was my tomb and words my shield against perceived- and real- danger. Without space between the words to sustain me, I missed so much:

• The nuances of bird songs
• A loved one’s plea for comfort
• Justice framed in hostility
• So many gifts of insight offered and missed
• Awe, Joy, Love
• The voice of God

Gingerly, but intentionally, I inched out of my tomb and practiced listening. At the dinner table and in other gatherings, I consciously chose to stay quiet, and just watch people and listen. People began to see the deeper me, and their responses lessoned my fear, thus lessoning the need to protect with talk. Eventually silence became more of a habit, and I came to feel at home with it.

In the last quarter of my life I struggle more with how I respond to the avalanche of words coming at me from society, and my responses to it:

• The need to know everything about everything by reading and sharing constantly, both verbally and virtually.
PRACTICE: Choose to limit how many articles I read on one topic, and how much time I spend in analysis. Instead, I try to spend some of the time in quiet reflection on how the topic relates to me, and I pray about it, so it doesn’t remain just an intellectual exercise of my ego.

• Multitasking, particularly with mixed media
PRACTICE: I ask myself, why is the TV/radio on if I’m working on my tablet and not really listening? What good is my split attention doing me or others? When I am at ease with myself, I turn something off. When I still need the chatter, I give in. Hopefully I ask what my need was!

• Monologue vs. Dialogue
PRACTICE:  What did that person just say? I was busy thinking about my response. I chose to lose my chance to respond instead of losing the other’s contribution; instead of losing the emotion, the intuitive request lying between her words.

• An Overcrowded Calendar: Constant activity deprives us of the spaces between. If we are rarely still, we miss the voice of God.
PRACTICE : Prioritize. It helps me to open my calendar to “monthly view” before I make a commitment; to assess my needs first and weigh them alongside the invitation. Often, I need to call back, allowing time to consider the effects my “yes” may carry.

• “I’m late, I’m late, For a Very Important Date”: It is taking five seconds instead of two seconds to upload a website. The car in front of me is traveling at speed limit, and so am I.  But I have to pass it. The “old lady” in front of me in the grocery store line is taking forever. This “old lady” has no place to be, but she wishes the one in front of her would hurry up.
PRACTICE: Slow down. Ask myself why I need to hurry. The question is a choice to live consciously. If I choose to shrug off impatience, I make space for reflection. While I wait for the “old lady,” I can notice that she uses food stamps and I can pray for her. I develop the virtue of compassion; whereas, if I fret, my energy goes into the fretting … What good does it do either of us?

It is not just for the sake of our own growth that we must practice silence. It is now a countercultural activity. The common good dictates that we address injustice in society. Before the prophet speaks she/he waits in silence for the words of truth to come. And when they are born from a posture of silence, they “roll down like a river and… like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24 paraphrased)