“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

Pay Attention

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For the third time on these pages I post this poem with hope and a prayer that nonviolence will replace violence, that deep self will replace ego.  I share the poem today in response to the possibility of yet another war in the Middle East.

 

Continuous War Sabers

 

 

Photo Credit for flags:  wikepedia.org

Waiting For The Bus

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I spill out of kaiser Permanente Medical Center with other members fortunate enough to afford insurance. My monthly premium covered all but $300 of my recent hip replacement. Waiting for the bus in the cold Pacific wind, I listen to the even more chilling chant of a man at his post in a parking lot driveway.”Sparechangepleasesparechangepleasesparechangeplease.” Inwardly I chant, “There is irritation here, but I am not irritated,” a chant which morphs into metta, “May you be safe from harm, happy and peaceful, strong and healthy. May you receive what you need.” I am grateful that my privileged life has given me the education and counseling I need to deal with stress. A round trip Lyft ride to the specialist would have cost $30 so I am stuck with the bus. This man likely has no doctor, much less an extra $300. He probably doesn’t even have bus fare, while I have the tech training and hardware to maintain a running online purse account with a senior discount. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

Choosing to take another three buses instead of enduring the frenzied but more direct E line, I wait three blocks from the famed Pike Street Market where fish-tossing is a sideshow. A woman wearing a harlequin-crafted face screams obscenities at the invisible person haranguing her about an auto accident. Her soliloquy is interrupted by another  agitated woman who threatens to hit her granddaughter with her shoe if she doesn’t behave. “I Don’t care what your mother does, when you’re with me, you won’t get away with…” being a toddler? The whole bus queue witnesses the declaration.

I want to run away. Judgment wells up from my collection of six psychology courses. Maybe if Grandma had those courses too she would have handled the situation differently. I manage to change judgment to compassion and send peace.

Three hours after beginning this journey I arrive home where a young woman meets me at the door and proclaims that I am Jesus and must give her a place to stay for the night. It was impossible on many levels. Next time I will make sure to have bus tickets and a list of shelters in my pocket when I venture out.

My ears and heart ring with traffic noise and life noise as I lie down to rest. I am tempted to wallow in the news that after this long trip to Kaiser Permanente there still is no help for the chronic illness that makes its home in me. My lament is caught up short when I remember the chant,”sparechangepleasesparechangepleasesparechangeplease.” Lesson learned. Until the next trip. There’s room on this bus for you too. Hop on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Bend With Me, Sway With Me”

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The black wrought iron bench was toasty-warm today where I sat watching lake side trees sway against the gentle wind. I hear Michael Buble’s catchy lyric, “Like a flower bending in the breeze, Bend with me, sway with ease.” The wind today was coming from the Fraser River Valley in Canada, but it is spring, not winter. Normally wind comes from the south around here in the Puget Sound area and our trees know that. They are genetically disposed to sway with the southern winds. When those winds howl down from Canada in winter accompanied by cold temperatures, we can be in trouble. It happened one winter when I lived in a rural wood. I woke up to the sight of eighteen trees uprooted on the road behind me. They can’t handle seventy-mile-an-hour sustained northern winds.

Recent deaths of siblings and friends have felt like those seventy-mile-an-hour winds, causing me to wonder how long I will need to brace against death’s onslaught. I am coming to realize that the ageless human ritual of bracing against death is futile. It simply comes when it comes. Unlike trees in the Northwest United States, our souls are genetically disposed to withstand onslaughts from all sides. I want to bend and sway with the wind of death instead of wasting energy trying to control its arrival.

As I sit on this black bench in spring wind, the image of a Day of the Dead shrine on my home altar comes to teach me. The bone woman is dressed in a vivid red dress trailing a pink ruffle. Blue, yellow and pink feathers festoon her wide-brimmed hat. She dances with death, swaying and bending to the timeless music of life. I hope to be carried out of this life on a celebratory wind. No kicking and screaming. No raging. I want to “go gentle into that good night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Photo by Seb on Unsplash

A Spiritual Practice For Aging

THE ABANDONED VALLEY

Can you understand
being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the
well so you could feel something
down there
tug at the other end of
the rope?

Jack Gilbert in Refusing Heaven

RESPONSE
(for a loved one who wandered too far)

Old age is like
an abandoned valley
where you have to
venture out in the middle of the night
to find a well to sink your bucket
in search of someone to send it back.
Don’t wander far.
The well is closer
than you imagine.

© Rita H Kowats

Holy Week Meditation II

Here is a little something for us to sit with in preparation for Easter.

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Photo Credit clenched hand:  Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

Photo Credit Open hands:  Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Holy Week 2019

 

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It is time.
We sit on our designated hills
overlooking our private Jerusalems
watching the malignant intruder slither
toward the Holy City.

Holy Week?
So they say.
They say it is a holy thing
that one chooses to die for all.
So we remember and choose
to muddle through our own dry and tattered times.

Like stark, barren limbs
giving way to bursts of chartreuse leaves
and sweet-smelling blossoms
that waft on winds of promise,
we too shall bear luscious, ripe fruit.

© Rita H Kowats

 

 

Photo Credit for Magnolia tree: photo credit: jennifernish <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/15004954@N03/6968390159″>sneak peek at spring</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

In Search of Abundance IV

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Lenten Meditation Four

for my brother George R.I.P. 3-24-19

You ran out of this life
before we could say a proper good-bye.

Arms pumping and superman’s cape flying,
It felt like a rush to relief
from loss and shifting scenes.

Although tattered and torn
you ran too fast for us to pull you back.
Why would we? For us.
Because we now live a while
in the empty space you left
until your renewed presence comes
running back to fill the vacancy.

Then you will bring along your legacy of courage
and the triple double dare
to take on life’s challenges
with hero cape flying behind pitching us
forward
always forward.

© Rita H Kowats. 3-28-19

 

In Search Of Abundance III

 

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The leaf photo evokes the image of a crab’s pinchers poised to strike as it sidles sideways across the sand. As we know, the astrological sign of cancer is named for the crab. Those who are born under this sign are said to struggle letting go and they often communicate indirectly. Outer appearances serve as an armor of sorts, hiding the depths of their feelings, a universally human tendency.

In the process of growing up, crabs have to molt their hard shells many times to make way for each new, larger shell. As it molts, the old shell has to soften while the beginnings of the new shell grow under it. The crab must pull its whole self from the old shell; if it gets stuck, it dies.

 

Lenten Meditation Three

Thinking sideways slanders truth.
Speaking sideways swindles youth.

Legacy leaving requires
unceasing releasing.
Brittle, whittled half-truths
must soften and slip
to make room for new strata
soon sloughed off to shine
brilliant on sparks of pure
godlight.

© Rita H Kowats. 3-22-19

In Search of Abundance II

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As the creator of this photograph, I instinctively positioned the leaf one way and have only seen it from that direction.  Until now. I decided to let the photo speak to me from all four possible positions.  I invite you to do the same.  You have my permission to position it as the spirit urges. For my first meditation I wrote from this position

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Lenten Meditation Two

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for BL

The bone-weary phoenix
emerges from his marrow yet again
with wings worse for wear and poised for take-off.
He hitches a ride on Spirit Breath,
animated and ablaze, drunk
on the sweet elixir of life.

But
“Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”
And
Borne on the wings of grace
we reach into the marrow of our souls
and pull ourselves back to
Abundant life.

© Rita H Kowats 3-17-19

In Search of Abundance

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In another post I told the story of this photo, 

On my walk along the lake I spotted a maple leaf, dried to death by the intense summer heat, stunning in its aridity.  Unable to ignore its call, I snatched it up and carried it home to await the muse.

It called to me again as this season of Lent commenced, but I wasn’t prepared to receive its unexpected power.  The liturgical artists from my spiritual home, Seattle Mennonite Church, extended an invitation for us to engage our lenten theme, Parables of Abundance: “We are interested in creating a visual piece that reflects both the abundance we experience in trying to live with less, as well as our feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” We are invited to bring our image or our written piece to the sanctuary to create a rich collage of our experiences of abundance.

As the photographer, I instinctively positioned the leaf one way and have only seen it from that direction.  Until now. I decided to let the photo speak to me from all four possible positions.  I invite you to do the same.  You have my permission to position it as the spirit urges.

 

Lenten Meditation One

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