Stay With Me, Remain With Me Here

The chant, “Bleibet hier, Stay With Me,” has been a haunting backdrop for me this week. Serious illness and painful life transitions in my faith community and family have called me to hold vigil with those whom I love. With Marge Piercy in her poem, “Gracious Goodness” I ask, “Why is there nothing/I have ever done with anybody/that seems to me so obviously right” than to hold vigil with others? Stay with me. Remain here with me. Watch and pray. Watch and pray.

And now my sister-in-law is finally at the end of her agonizing journey through Alzheimer’s. She is in hospice at a memory care facility three short miles from me. Stay with me, remain here with me. My vigil candle ablaze, I look toward her care unit and send light. An adaptation of the Loving Kindness prayer finds its way to Phyllis on each breath I send:

May you be safe from harm.
May you be free from fear.
May you be released from pain.
May you pass into light in peace.
I love you, Phyllis.
May I let you go with joy.

There is solace for me in this commingling of spirits. 

Long Time No See

Dear Faithful Readers,

…and a heartfelt welcome to newcomers. It’s been a long while since we’ve mused together. COVID and it’s fallout have taken a great deal of energy, hasn’t it? It’s good to come home.

Things I have been learning:

  • I’d rather get through old age with a cat companion than without. She reminds me that life is more than about me.
  • How to let go of friends and their dear ones as they transition to another life.
  • I have clay feet.
  • There is hope in a new generation of spiritual companions.

Things I look forward to learning: Stay Tuned

“There is a huge silence inside each of us that beckons us into itself, and the recovery of our own silence can begin to teach us the language of heaven.” ~ Meister Eckhart

Caring And Letting Go

“I want to be disturbed. When I read about or see dismaying things, I want to be dismayed. To be cooled out and indifferent to what is going on around me seems like a bad idea. If I am burying my emotions, it is probably unhealthy, and even if not, disengagement is inhumane. I want to be a human being like other human beings, who feel bad when conditions are bad, cry when there is something to cry about, and whose compassionate emotions spur them to act to make things better. In the Buddhist analysis of the kleshas, the key element is clinging, holding on. What makes a klesha a klesha is that it compels you—it contains an element of clinging that produces even more disturbing emotion, and it takes you over. So my anxiety, or anger, or attachment, isn’t necessarily a klesha if I am not compelled or controlled by it—if I can experience it fully and let go of it.”

“Disturbed But Not Disturbed”By Norman Fischer
Lion’s Roar  November 2022

And so goes my struggle to deal spiritually with the horror of war; the shame and fear of violent rhetoric and action in my home country. The ebb and flow of ocean waves has become my spiritual touchstone lately. I breathe grace on an in-breath and send it out where it needs to go on an out-breath. Breathing in divine movement and sending it out to my companion humans. Grace in, Grace out. Grace. Grace. In. Out.

If I am faithful to the breath, I live into hope. May it be so.

Spiritual Practice For A Frantic World

Yesterday I had a very painful procedure done by a nurse in my oral surgeon’s office. Her competency evoked trust but her communication style frustrated me. Immediately upon completing the procedure she started shooting rapid-fire instructions at me. I was still coming down from the pain and somewhat shocked by it. I retained none of her instructions.  “Wait, please,” I said. “I need a few minutes to come back from this.” I did breath work until the pain subsided and I could concentrate. Then I said, “Ok, give it to me again slowly.” She was great.

Can you just give us a few minutes, World? I am struggling with the reality that I no longer fit out there and I want to stay in here. So, I’m creating a spiritual coping process that some of you may also find helpful:

  • Before leaving the house I will cleanse myself of negative energy I might impose on others, and I protect myself from possible frenetic or negative energy I may encounter.
  • Because I tend to lash out when encountering these situations, I will develop a habit of intentionally taking a breath before I respond.
  • As I did with the nurse (Ahh. I’ve done one right thing lately!) I will try not to support frenetic behavior by actively stating my need. Done with compassion, this could create a little awareness and compassion in a segment of my community.
  • Returning to my little anchorage-home I will cleanse myself of any frenetic or negative energy I picked up. I will send light to those persons whom I encountered.
  • Difficult experiences “out in the world” lately have evoked tears of utter frustration. Not wanting to heap rant after rant on those close to me, I’ve held it in. Creating this process just now has been so helpful. Now I need to get a hold of that one person who can receive my rant, and get it out of my system. Thanks to you too, for your witness to this process. I imagine you’re relieved I didn’t get started on the quality of some Uber driving.

You are all persons who take your spiritual lives seriously, or you wouldn’t be dropping by. If you have helpful thoughts on this topic, please, share them below. We’re in this together. Peace be with you.

One Heart, One Mind
“The eye with which God sees me 
is the same eye with which I see God.
God’s eye and my eye are one eye.
one seeing, one knowing, one loving.”

Meister Eckhart

This morning I picked up Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice. The essay that caught me up is from Chapter 2, “Collective Consciousness.”

In this moment I miss our holy teacher profoundly. It occurs to me that by reading his words again, I have come into his presence.  His consciousness lives on in his words. I think he would say that this is essentially what happens in prayer when we become present to one another in the collective consciousness, or in Buddhism, the “one mind.”

Thich Nhat Hanh says, “…with a Sangha [community], whether of two or five or one hundred people like us, when we simultaneously practice sending spiritual energy, then that energy is magnified and much more effective….if we have a Sangha that is free and solid then the energy we can send together will certainly be greater.”

In another life I was a Catholic sister. In the days before the Vatican II reforms I knew this experience of the “one mind” to be true, and I relished common meditation, even at 5 a.m. Years after the younger members had abandoned the practice, I visited a convent of traditional, older members with whom I was expected to meditate- at 5 a.m. I entered the chapel with a good book to read, unconvinced of the efficacy of this archaic practice. “I might as well read the scripture text for the day,” I thought. I read, and immediately was lost in meditation on the passage; indeed, soon lost in contemplation. My silent connection with the meditators beside me was palpable. In our everyday lives we had little in common, but in this sacred space we were one.

Cyber Community, shall we meditate together with the intention of sending the power of peace where it is needed? 

Breathing in peace
Releasing violence.
May it be so.

A Plea

A Plea 

Some struggle to restrain the storm 
that broods in every soul-cell.
They struggle to quell the looming eruption
Or the gut-wrenching whimper that rumbles 
and hiccups on the crest of unstoppable sobs.
Their fear demands, “Just how supreme will this court get?”
Others teem with pent up joy released and celebrated.

I hear the preacher pray:

May  we respect one another.
May  we listen deeply.
May  we refuse violence of word and body.


c. Rita H Kowats
June 26, 2022

Release The Talking Heads

Nino Bughadze
We are wrapped 
In Rapid-fire thoughts
Ejected with rapid-fire words.

We leave no wiggle room for being,
From whence comes truth.
(Even Molly of Denali’s mom
Tells her to slooooooow down.)

Where are you?
Have we wound you round so tightly
That we’ve stifled your every nudge
Nestled in the recesses of our souls?

Unbind us.
Peel off this tyranny of constant chatter
And take us home to that spacious center
Where you frolic with abandon.
Release our Talking Heads.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 
June 11, 2022

“And Jesus Wept”

My friend Jim wrote this poem in 1987 to tell the story of that year’s Gay Pride Parade in NYC. He was an extroverted mystic, fitting no one’s mold. Jim lived enough years after that to see some progress toward justice, but this was a bleak time. May our tears be for joy this year

Corpus Christi: New York "87"

Sunny Sunday in late June.
Thousands march.
Joyous and free.
I joined.

Searchers and seekers
Walking with dignity and pride.
Approaching the Cathedral:
A contradiction!

Blue barricades, blue flashing lights
On cop cars and paddy wagons;
Blue shirted police arm to arm
Protecting the Cathedral.

A Crucifixion?
The front steps blocked by
A blue Army in blue berets
(looking psychotic)
Shaking rosaries, thumping Bibles
Yelling “Sinners Sinners” as we passed by.

“Shame, shame, shame,” we murmured
Softly in reply.
I looked for Jesus beyond the barricades.
Not there!
“Thank God,” I said.

At 3 o’clock the parade stopped.
A city fell silent.
Bells tolled.

From the Village up Fifth Avenue.
Coming closer and closer
Passing over us
Until the whole sky was filled with
Colored balloons.

My heart burned within,
I remembered all who died of AIDS.
Gazing at the heavens,
I watched a great loving God
Gather balloons, holding them high
In God’s bright blue sky
Above the blue baracades, blue lights
Blue armies & blue shirted cops.

My God gathered these children,
Sons & daughters into a peace-filled
Eternal embrace.

I wept.
Turning, I saw two older women,
Pioneers and witnesses of the movement,
Weeping and holding each other as they
Too gazed upward.

Peace to you and me!

James L. Becker

Beauty Cannot Be Banned

BBC Ukrainecast- graffiti left in Bucha by Russian soldiers
Katarzyna Modrzejewska

Beauty Rises

Beauty rises.
No matter what.

It rises from rich loam
and from tomes teeming
with dreaming.

A sunflower in Donetsk region
lifts its face, offering seeds 
to a waiting lark.
One errant seed clinging to a claw
drops into the rubble 
of the besieged city.

The seed pushes up 
through a crack in the rubble.

Beauty rises.
No matter what.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 
June 2, 2022

Spiritual Support

Today the proverbial last straw is falling on my back and Ive spent a long while staring into space. The way out stretches into two forks on the road to peace: a new version of something I wrote earlier on these pages, and a healing mantra which I’ve prayed a good part of this day. I hope that one of them speaks to you and offers healing.


Before we escape into more analysis…
This time let us sit in silence together 
And feel our common suffering to the depths 
Until we know, really know, 
The place to which we have come. 

Then let us stand together and act.


Breathing in,   I honor this moment.
Breathing out, I am at peace.

Breathing in,   I step into suffering.
Breathing out, I release expectation.

Breathing in,    I step into grief.
Breathing out,  I release expectation.

Breathing in,     I know I am loved.
Breathing out,   I release doubt.

Breathing in,     I honor this moment.
Breathing out.  Breathing in.
I honor this moment.