“It’s A Sin To Kill A Mockingbird”

Nine Mile Falls Nora Egger

Nine Mile Falls Spokane WA
Nora Egger Artist

 It’s a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird
(For Martina, sister of my flock)

Fractured light beckoning
through unhallowed glass windows
sends her fleeing to the river,
singing wheels a metronome for her soul,
marking mile after mile, hurt upon hurt.
Don’t they know it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird?
They can’t hear her song.

Muscles spent spirit spent
she collapses onto her meditation boulder
midway around the rushing snake and takes in hand
her most sacred scripture.
River rapids keep time
with sound-words tripping over sound-words
“Dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air…”
She lifts her eyes to the river and sees the falcon
wrestling with the wind and winning.
In that sacred, synchronous moment her song
reverberates through the canyon
and she knows that no matter what,
the mockingbird lives.

© rita h kowats 2015

I am indebted to Nora Egger for her gifted painting and her permission to use it here.  Those of a “certain age” will be taken back to Macolm GA of the 1930’s in Haper Lee’s magnificent classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.  It is a sin, says Atticus, because  “mockingbirds do not harm people, but sing their hearts out for us.”

My Scripture

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
    dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
   No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.
♠Gerard Manley Hopkins



Great Blue Heron on beach  no poem cropped for bus cards



Last evening my friend and I met over dinner at a restaurant at the Edmonds Marina, in the Seattle area, USA.  We were surrounded by the sea and by another sea of blue and green and 12’s.  This town is electric with football right now.  But the seahawk is not the only seabird which graces our shores.

The Great Blue Heron is an ever-present witness of vigilance and solitary self-reliance.  We had come together to plan the first gathering of the Spirit of the Great Blue Heron, an intentional liturgical gathering of persons who have experienced rejection by and alienation from institutional religions.  They seek healing and renewed spirituality.  Our hope is to create a safe environment where the Spirit can free each one to connect with sacred presence, however they experience it.  As we begin, most but not all participants are from the LGBTQ community.  Half of all donations will go to causes which aide LGBTQ teenagers.

Here’s the extraordinary synchronicity:  While we ate and discerned, seven large Great Blue Herons perched atop the marina roof below us, as if holding vigil and blessing the gathering in their name.  Honestly.  It happened.

Stirring the Waters

Pieces of my soul have been banished
To distant islands in the water of my life
Where no shark can catch the scent of blood-letting.
Torpid remnants of miscarried experiences
Are cast away, not cleanly cut
As Tibetan Buddhists
Dismember their dead to honor life.
These are rejected out of fear of life.

The Spirit of the Great Blue Heron
Weeps for the missing pieces and waits
For the time to stir the healing waters.
No meek dove, this Spirit.
She lifts her mighty frame forward
On thunderous wings
And with keen eyes fixed on the fractured pieces
She clasps them in her powerful beak
And brings them home.

What was separated is seamed
Pieces to Peace.

© rita h kowats 2015


It’s amazing what a simple sculpture gracing the edge of a beach will evoke.  I had a viseral response to these fish poles when I first started working with the photo.  That response was trumped by the creation that later emerged from the original photo.  I had no idea how to approach this writing until I saw the flying fish.  Here it is:

Resurrection when fish fly

Sacred Listening

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I take pen in hand today with a bit of trepidation, because this piece feels important, beyond me. For reassurance I invoke Meister Eckhart’s wisdom, “The preacher must beg the word of God from the people,”  and I ask for guidance to see and speak truth with inner eyes.

The seed was planted as I read from the memoir of Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light:  The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II.  Lusseyran tells the story of the accident which blinded him as a boy and how he adjusted to the disability and thrived because of it.  He formed a resistance group in World War II and survived imprisonment in the Buchenwald concentration Camp.  In the following quote Jacques Lusseyran describes how he used his sense of touch:

“Touching the tomatoes in the garden….is more than seeing them, it is tuning in on them and allowing the current they hold to connect with one’s own, like electricity. To put it differently, this means an end of living in front of things and a beginning of living with them. Never mind if the word sounds shocking, for this is love. You cannot keep your hands from loving what they have really felt”

And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II by Lusseyran, Jacques

This “more than seeing,” the “turning in on” and “connecting” moved me deeply.  I immediately recognized it as the most profound description of contemplation I have ever read.  If we can touch one another this way we will have re-discovered fire (paraphrase of Teilhard de Chardin).

It’s all about listening.  Really listening, as if we cannot hear with our ears, so we must hear with our souls. Contemplative listening touches the soul of the other with our presence.  We enter that place of sacred presence in ourselves by recognizing the difference between our ego needs and desires and the true self divested of ego.   Abiding in that place, even if for just a moment, we are free to connect with the other in his or her place of sacred presence, and sparks of spiritual energy ignite and transform.

Contemplation does not only happen between our ears as we sit alone in meditation.  Cultivate sacred listening.

photo credit a href=httpswww.flickr.comphotoszen13555854zena via a href=httpphotopin.comphotopina a href=httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-nc-sa2.0cca edited

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