New Year’s Resolution: Come Back to Presence

egos hurricane

Come Back

Whirls around me, like a hurricane
In search of its eye,
Cavorting, contorting, convoluting
Around and around,
Down and down,
Careening toward
It plucks me up and flings me
Far and away from
Dissociated, aimless and exiled.

Come back.
Presence will wait.
Gather up your scattered and scarred ego
And bring it home to

© rita h kowats 2013

A Spiritual Practice For the New Year

forgiveness for ourselves

I have grown up with Pat Conroy, living through the horrors of his family life in The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, and Beach Music. Copious tears have accompanied the reading of each saga of abuse and dysfunction in the Conroy family.  In the spaces between the words I knew that it was not really fiction.  Now that I am reading this year’s publication of Conroy’s autobiography, The Death of Santini, I know not only that the sagas are true, but that they are only half the story.  This is a story of reconciliation.  Pat forgave his father, and himself.  This, I am in awe of.

So, forgiveness is on my mind today.  My meditation led me into those realms of forgiveness and I share the practice that came from it.  My intention is to slowly review my life in stages and let the people who have consciously or unconsciously hurt me, gently stroll through my mind.  These are hurts that have been healed, some already forgiven, some still waiting.  It is not a time to use my ego to freshly analyze each hurt; rather, for me it is a process of the spirit, wherein, being truly present to it, I choose to let it go. If I feel it is not time to forgive, I just move on to the next person, knowing that I will return to analyze and pray about that hurt again at another time.  In this practice, I remember to forgive myself as well.

The first time I used this practice the experience was both powerful and gentle.  When the two most poignant hurts came into awareness I felt pain and cried, but it was quickly healed.  I think we have to forgive more than once, and at each forgiveness, we let go of more resentment and it is easier.  As I write, I have become aware that I forgot a hurt that rivals the hurts doled out by Santini! No wonder.  It has a layer of nearly impenetrable scar tissue protecting it….Been there, done that.  In these few days before the dawning of the New Year, I intend to repeat this practice daily.

Practice: Center yourself in a way that is meaningful to you.  When you feel ready, name a person from an early memory who hurt you, and say while inhaling and exhaling:

Breathing in, I forgive you, ___________________(name)

Breathing out, I release resentment.

Breathing in, I forgive you, _________________(your name)

Breathing out, I release resentment.

Repeat this until you know that it is time to move on to the next person.

May peace be yours in this New Year!

Community In The Blogosphere


Hearts fractured by death, separation, sickness, adversity.  Hearts seamed and soldered.  Hearts held intact by personal courage and the solidarity of the human spirit.  I experience all of this today as I meander through the WP Reader.  I am deeply moved by the depth of pain and bloggers’ responses to it.  Expectations of joy abound at this season.  Sorrow is often unwelcome, yet, the courageous expression of it bears witness to the heart of humanity.  The willingness to acknowledge our pain and live through it to the other side, is incarnation.

Walking together through our diverse experiences of Christmas has been one of the most profound expressions of community I have had.  I feel supported in my own experience by people whom I don’t really know, because our humanity unites us.  When bloggers share their experience with integrity and conviction, it tells their readers that they are not alone.  Today I breathe in community and release isolation.  I am proud to be on this human journey with you.  Merry Christmas!

Breathing in, I put on peace.
Breathing out, I release anxiety.
Breathing in, I embrace community.
Breathing out, I release isolation.

The Stranger

The Stranger

With unseeing eyes
Hollowed from a dozen
Imposters’ faces,
I squint at the emerging
Traversing regally through
My life.

Each counterfeit countenance conveys
A piece of the truth, and
“The play is the thing
Wherein I’ll catch
The conscience of the King.”
A questionable cast of characters all:
Control.  Fear.  Manipulation…

Curtain call
Brings them all on stage.
Kudos and bravos for
Truth learned and support loaned.
They fade with dimming lights and
The Stranger takes center stage,
Hostage no more.

© rita h kowats 2013

The Other Eye: A Dreampoem

eye of horus2

Sunday December 8, 2013


What seemed silly upon awakening has become an awakening:

There is an eye in my left leg, below the knee.  It bulges out, making walking difficult.  I know it is an eye, because it feels like the one they removed from my right leg last year.  It keeps vigil from the top of my dresser in the bedroom.  I feel both anxious and eager as I await the extraction.  I walk into the pure white lab and climb onto a table.  Technicians sedate me and when I come out of it they hand me the eye, which is entirely unlike the eye on the dresser in the bedroom.  That eye is just an ordinary eye, while the extraordinary nature of this eye dazzles and delights.  It is the Eye of Horus, resplendent in violet and lapis and gold.  I leave the lab carrying the eye in my outstretched hand.


The Other Eye

We get by with
The faithful ordinary eye…
Let that sleeping dog lie!
Why risk exposing
The Other Eye?

Sheathes the sacred eye in a
Safe shroud, away from
Mocking taunts and response-ability,
Deaf to neighbors’ silent pleas to
Restore second-sight
To their first eyes.

Grace intervenes, and
The Other Eye becomes
Too overwhelming to contain.
Integrity replaces fear.
We carry the gift in our
Extended hands,
Inviting.  Challenging.

©  2013   rita h. kowats

Sophie: The Hound From Heaven


Poem Challenge from
“Write a poem or short vignette using the picture featured in this post as your inspiration.


She waited sixty-one years
For me to notice her, my
Unseeing eyes glimpsing life aslant
Through the fingers of her wing.
Rolled eyes and sophomoric sighs of,  “WhatEVer,”
Every time I failed to notice her:

Water running in the sink,
Memory off on holiday outside, but…
No overflow.

Weary of waiting
She startles me with a
Brush of wings across the nose
And a celestial song in my ear.
Anonymity be damned,
She sends the message,
“See me!”

Cat asleep on the bed,
Transported to Elysian realms.
My gaze wanders to a corner, and
There you are,
Wafting in midair with energetic wings
Covering your face now,
Then stretching full spread.
fear-fueled awe gives way to
Sheer wordless joy, and
I feel the sound of her voice:
“Ah, at last, she sees.”

Steadfast Being, Sophie:
Seer and trickster
Protector and friend:
I see you.

© rita h. kowats

What’s In the Bag?

]whats in the bag

In February of 1989 magic wafted around the day care center at St. Olaf’s.  It did not, however, start out that way.  At the last minute my helper called in sick, and I was left alone to transition twelve toddlers from nap to play.  I managed somehow to diaper and potty all of them, put their shoes on, and feed them a snack.  I’ve taught secondary school and adults all my life, and without a doubt, this is the hardest job I’ve ever had…and the most fun.

Twelve toddlers, champing at the bit to get outside, ran around screaming at the top of their not so little voices.  The fun had not yet begun.  Salvation appeared at the corner of my eye- a left-over Christmas bag on the counter above their line of vision.  It was shimmering red with teddy bears on it, a toddler’s ecstatic dream.  With no time to let my mind entrap me, I grabbed the bag and shouted with all the delight I did not yet feel, “I wonder what’s in this bag?”  On a dime, they screeched to a halt en masse and twelve contralto voices squealed, “I want to see, I want to see!”  Wiley Witch that I am, I replied in my best teacher’s bribing tone, “You can’t see until you line up at the door!”  They ran to the door, falling over each other’s tiny feet, so excited to receive this wonderful gift.  What gift, I had no idea.  I asked the question a few times, and the children guessed lions, and tigers and bears, oh my, giggles galore gallivanting around the room.  Then brilliance struck.  I pulled a camel out of the bag, picked up Katie with the twinkling azure eyes, put her on it, and told the camel to take her outside to play.  Katie skipped out on the camel while the other children regaled me with a cacophony of delight.  At about child number seven Zack’s mom came in to retrieve him and he burst into tears, “No, Mommy!  I want my camel!”  We had to let him hop on the camel and Mom went out to get him.  What a switch.  Play time that day, with children galloping about on a variety of animals, is forever etched in my memory.  I pull it out whenever I am in need of my own play time.

The children knew the animals weren’t real, and they didn’t care.  They expected nothing, and because of it, their adventure was more real than real, and the element of surprise carried them to another, holier place.

Waiting for the Camels

Waiting for the Camels