“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

Ordinary Time


Yesterday, to save time, I took the E-line bus which runs through the non-Amazon side of Seattle.  It is a route which usually leaves me depleted of psychic energy.  However, this time the E-Line gifted me with the blessed ordinariness of life.  It was a holiday and folks were basking in their liminal time. Gentle smiles graced the faces of the poorest of the poor.  An aging woman who still walked well gave her seat to an aging man who no longer walked well.  I was unaware of my need to see ordinary folks going about their lives with courage and joy.  Today this poem emerged.


Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/349447/ by Eugenia

A Spiritual Practice For Ragged Souls

 

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So much is too much when it happens within a tight time frame. When I caught myself sitting still in a stare choking on emerging emotions I pushed my body out to the earth. The ritual that brought relief to my ragged soul follows. I hope you will also find it helpful.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE TO RELEASE AND RECHARGE ENERGY

Sit with feet planted firmly on the ground and breathe naturally while you gradually take in your surroundings (“Wherever you are be the soul of that place.”- Rumi)

Imagine that a cord stretches from the base of your spine down into the earth acting as a channel through which all accumulated unwanted energy passes into the earth where it can be reconstituted and positively recharged. With each deep exhale send this energy downward until it no longer has a hold on you.

As you gather this unwanted energy from your body let your prayer be this or something else meaningful to you:

Divine spirit moving in the universe, I release this energy into the earth.

You will know that this energy has left your body when it feels lighter and less dense.

Now imagine that a second cord extends from the base of your spine into the earth; its purpose is to carry positive energy from the earth into your body. With each deep inhale bring healing energy into every part of your body.

As you gather healing earth energy into your body let your prayer be this or something else meaningful to you:

Divine spirit, let this energy awaken me and flow through me to others for our greatest good.

When you feel balanced and grounded slowly bring your consciousness back to present time and place. Know that you may feel a little spacey, so move slowly and intentionally.

Now you are ready to receive again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: pexels.com

Dealing With Unwanted Energy

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Yesterday, when I read Anita Neilson’s excellent post, “I Beat the Blues.”  I was unaware how saturated I was with energy that wasn’t doing me any good at all.  “Depressed,” or “The Blues” didn’t ring true for the state in which I found myself, but Anita’s post was the catalyst I needed to release myself.

I find it a gift and a curse to have a heightened awareness of energy.  I am consistently aware of that, but inconsistently faithful to protecting myself from the sometimes intense or negative energy of others.  Political dissonance is causing even folks of good will to cast blame onto others of good will and that energy hangs out with the truly malignant energy spewing out of hate mongers.  I realized that I wasn’t taking well enough care of myself.

So I begin again.  I am blessed with the privilege of solitude and silence, so I usually remember to center, but I need to do it in the day’s middle as well as its beginning.  I’ve been forgetting to ground myself, which is essential for me to manage the energy I pick up.  The  meditation podcast that Anita recommends in her post is excellent.  I found tremendous relief from the centering/grounding meditation I found there.  A walk outside on the earth and in intimacy with trees returned my sense of rootedness.  I selected a glorious red leaf and stone to grace my inside altar. Spritzing  water all around my body helped me shake off accumulated energy that kept me on edge.

I cannot afford to be careless.  I really must intentionally protect myself from energy bombardment.  These are only a few ways to do that.  A simple google search with keywords  “energy-protection,” will yield many suggestions for those in need.

I feel so much better now.  Thank you, Anita.  May I remember to faithfully care for myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Lay Me Down

there is another world

I took comfort here as news of multiple  pipe bombs mailed to Democrats rolled in.

 

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Songwriters: Paul Simon
Bridge over Troubled Water lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

 

Let Not Swollen Cities Suffocate

 

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Like a Metal That Hasn’t Been Mined

by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, mountain, here since mountains began,
slopes where nothing is built, peaks that no one has named,
eternal snows littered with stars,
valleys in flower offering fragrances of earth….

Do I move inside you now?
Am I within the rock
like a metal that hasn’t been mined?
Your hardness encloses me everywhere….

Or is it fear I am caught in?
The tightening fear of the swollen cities in which I suffocate….

The Book of Hours III, 2

in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

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Call me a pantheist. I don’t mind. I am one with my cat, so why not with a mountain? Sherlock just jumped onto the table and has boldly pushed his way into my arms. I lay my head on him and feel the deep resonant purring. Our breaths synchronize and for that moment all is well. It isn’t enough that I observe momentarily. To become one with nature takes time. Time enough to blend breathing.

When I feel suffocated in the city, and all the politics that come with it, I need to immerse myself in nature to the point of saturation. Only then can I return to the city strong enough not to lose my self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: diana_robinson <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/62501682@N00/41437040220″>Seattle skyline from Kerry Park, Seattle, Washington</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: Onasill ~ Bill Badzo <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7156765@N05/40223073965″>Mount Hood – Oregon – USA</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Sway With the Wind

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The black wrought iron bench was toasty-warm today where I sat watching lakeside trees sway against the gentle autumn wind. Against the wind. I hear Bob Seeger singing in my ear,”…we were running against the wind.” The wind today was coming from the Fraser River Valley in Canada. 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 eighteen trees uprooted on the road behind me. They can’t handle seventy-mile-an-hour sustained northern winds.

I saw the lesson in the trees gently swaying today. I’ve been feeling a bit off lately, an underlying dis-ease in response to an impending hip replacement. The surgery itself doesn’t make me uneasy…I’m a pro, having already had both knees replaced! It’s all the preparations and doctors’ appointments and constant questions and questionnaires that unnerve me. The trees reminded me to be flexible, to sway with the wind rather than against it. Much easier. Much healthier spirituality and physically. Of course, sometimes justice demands that we run against the prevailing wind hanging on tightly, but not this time.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

 

 

 

photo credit: KarinKarin2 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/123747563@N07/32265204954″>Sylt</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Circling the White Elephant

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The Carousel (I)
Jardin du Luxembourg

Under its canopy, in the shade it casts,
turns a world with painted horses,
all from a land that lingers a while before it disappears.
Some, it’s true, are harnessed to a wagon,
but all have valor in their eyes.
A fierce red lion leaps among them,
and here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.
Even a stag appears, straight from the forest,
except for the saddle he wears, and, buckled on it, a small boy in blue. And a boy in white rides the lion,
gripping it with small clenched hands,
while the lion flashes teeth and tongue.
And here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.
And riding past on charging horses come girls,
bright-eyed, almost too old now for this children’s play.
With the horses rising under them, they are looking
up and off to what awaits.
And here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.

New Poems
in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

The Carousel (II)

It goes on and hurries to some end,
just circling and turning without a goal.
Flashes of red, of green, of grey whirl past,
solid shapes barely glimpsed.
Sometimes a smile comes toward us, and, like a blessing,
shines and is gone in this dizzying parade with no destination.
New Poems

in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

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Lately, many of us have been feeling like passengers on a carousel, circling around a snow-white elephant in the room of our battered psyches. Whether the elephant is elections, confirmation hearings, Brexit, hurricanes or earthquakes, we can’t seem to step out of the fray.

Rilke offers a way out.  Let’s give the elephants their just due, then turn our attention to the smiles, the blessings we see as we circle.  This carousel of life has no destination.  It is how we ride the horse that matters.

I see a smile today in the example of a friend who is circling her third and possible final encounter with cancer. Her honest, intentional living is a blessing to me.  I am choosing to live in that light today and invite you to also bask in it.  I extend the merits of this meditation to you and to all sentient beings.

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:https://www.pexels.com/photo/carousel-with-lights-1403653/Photo by Mihai Vlasceanu from Pexels

Response photo: http://www.pexels.com

 

 

 

 

Gottcha! Changing Focus

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The first headline screaming at me this morning was about a political rally in Mississippi in which survivors of sexual abuse were denigrated and doubted. I held on tightly, riding a wave of rage. Energy is hard for me to come by these days and I didn’t want to step into this carefully choreographed drama yet again.

Enter stage left, headline #2: possible tax fraud. “Gottcha!” Justice at last. True. If it plays out this headline may turn the tide. In the meantime, how do we get off this stage to protect our energy? How do we change our focus?

The process that has helped me in the last two months is a re-read of all the Louise Penny novels. By immersing myself in her poetic prose and the wisdom of her character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, I have regained hope in humanity. Living in the village of Three pines again for that time away changed my focus. Here is how the author described it:

Some might argue that Three Pines itself isn’t real, and they’d be right, but limited in their view. The village does not exist, physically. But I think of it as existing in ways that are far more important and powerful. Three Pines is a state of mind. When we choose tolerance over hate. Kindness over cruelty. Goodness over bullying. When we choose to be hopeful, not cynical. Then we live in Three Pines.

Louise Penny Glass Houses

As I read the last page of the last novel I heaved a sigh of relief. Stronger again, I have slowly re-entered the news cycle and contemplated how to do justice without being victimized by the drama. I have discovered that it helps me to intentionally hold in light persons wronged by the drama. Sending loving kindness to them not only helps them. Putting my focus on their well-being gives me hope and directs my focus away from the “Gottcha!” spin.  Many of you have found other ways to help you through this. Please share them with us.

Peace be with us all.

 

photo credit: Me now0 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/53421063@N02/16428362010″>Lake in the park. Изкуствено езеро в парка</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Pain-Compassion-Change

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One year ago I posted this:

“This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened.”

http://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-is-chaos-theory/

 

Down Here
Wispy tendrils of hazy smoke
from Canada’s forest fires
Lasso branches of not-so-evergreens
And the aberrant heat drapes
its humid blanket over this bed
We now must lie in.

Over There
Adam lies drowning
In a pool of lethal despair
While in Bahrain more mundane matters
Press on Ahmad and the butterfly spirals down
To The Boneyard of Indifference.

©Rita H Kowats August 3, 2017

 

Photo Credit: photo credit: judygva <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/52450054@N04/34052621551″>Juniper Hairstreak – Callophrys gryneus, Phelps Wildlife Management Area, Sumerduck, Virginia</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The Butterfly Effect III

Today, a year later, my back is left in pain from sitting all day on Thursday feeling and thinking my way through the testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Bret Kavanaugh. No doubt you have heard enough of and about it. I am led to acknowledge the pain that still bounces off the walls of our souls and offer a sliver of hope that I see emerging.

The spiritual implication of the Butterfly Effect theory is that our attitudes and actions matter to one another. They even matter to those we don’t know, whether we are aware or not. Even as I literally choke on the pain I still feel from past experiences, from the pain of Christine Blasey Ford, and the pain I feel with thousands of abuse survivors, I feel hope in the compassionate choice of Senator Jeff Flake calling for a week’s delay to investigate. Compassion. To feel with. This time, with this man, the butterfly did not spiral down to the boneyard of indifference.

We are experiencing this moment together. May we now practice leaving our left-brain analysis behind for a while to focus on this little flap of the wing:
Breathing-in compassion
Breathing-out compassion
Breathing-in understanding
Breathing-out change.

I am with you.