Good Friday Visitation: Beat On, Mighty Heart

sacred heart of Jesus framed

Midway through Holy Week my thoughts have turned to Jesus in a surprising way:  in the symbol of the Sacred Heart.  As a child I marked the First Friday of each month by accompanying my enthusiastically pious father to the Mass and Novena of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  My own fervor was sparked by a painting of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus with an extended heart encircled by a crown and with rays of light streaming from it. It hung above our living room couch where at age fifteen I received what I thought was a vocation to join a Trappistine monastery.  Right.

Imagine my surprise, then, when ten years ago, after all the liberated theology- from Berkeley no less- this symbol made a stunning re-entrance into my life.  I was meditating when a vision manifested before my inner eye.  Jesus stood before me with hands outstretched, holding his bloody, and beating heart out to me:

Jesus:  Take my heart.
Rita:     (in breathless horror) I couldn’t do that!
Jesus:  (Lets go of his heart with one hand and opens my hands) Do you love me?
Rita:     Yes. I do.
Jesus:   Take my heart.  (Puts his heart into my hands)

Take my heart.  The heart of Jesus, or Aung San Suu Kyi, or Nelson Mandela, does not belong on a wall, safely enshrined to soothe our communal conscience.  Rather, we must embrace it, bloody mess and all.  May this Good Friday remembrance teach us compassion.  Beat on mighty heart!

Palm Sunday: The Real Kindom of God




Palm Sunday

by Joyce Rupp

Three men
proclaiming the memory
of your path to Calvary.
Three men
with somber voices
making all the appropriate
pauses and inflections

But what I remember
is the Calvary
beside me,
the man
whose body odor
invaded my space,
the man
seemingly homeless,
surely mentally challenged.

The three men
went on and on and on
with their words
telling the history
of your suffering.

I found you
not in their stiff words
but next to me,
a man still bearing
the heavy cross of loneliness and rejection 

Photo credit: “St. Boniface Church In San Francisco Lets Homeless People Sleep In Pews”

The Spring of Conscience

The Spring of Conscience original

 “Breaking Camp”

The grey Canadian geese like
arrowheads are pulled north
beating their powerful wings
over the long valleys…

Our people are moving and we
must choose and follow
through all the ragged cycles of
build and collapse,
epicycles on our long journey
by the north star and the
magnetic pole of conscience”

Circles on the Water by Piercy, Marge

The Spring of Conscience

Photo Credit:  Deborah Koff-Chapin has created  a technique she calls “touch drawing.”  She calls them “SOULCARDS.” They  come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools.  They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with.  You can learn more at Deborah’s webpage

The Sublime Madness of Life




Let us not shun chaos
Nor bask in it as serpents seek sun.
Embrace and let go
Embrace and let go
Chaos to new life
Peace to chaos.
Primordial unity orders the universe
With the fierce force of unimaginable
Love, and sometimes we catch
A glimpse of it on the way around.


© rita h kowats March 2015


Photo Credit:  Deborah Koff-Chapin has created  a technique she calls “touch drawing.”  She calls them “SOULCARDS.” They  come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools.  They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with.  You can learn more at Deborah’s webpage


Not In My Name

Edward_Hicks_-_Peaceable_Kingdom The Peaceable Kingdom A Painting by Edward Hicks, 1780– 1849, hung in the Brooklyn Museum

Marge Piercy in Circles on the Water

Creamcheese babies square and downy as bolsters
in nursery clothing nestle among curly lions and lowing cattle,
a wolf of scythe and ashes, a bear smiling in sleep
The paw of a leopard with eyes of headlights
rests near calf and vanilla child.
In the background under the yellow autumn tree
Indians and settlers sign a fair treaty.
The mist of dream cools the lake.


On the first floor of the museum Indian remains
are artfully displayed. Today is August sixth, Hiroshima
Man eats man with sauces of newsprint.
The vision of that kingdom of satisfaction
where all bellies are round with sweet grasses
blows on my face pleasantly
though I have eaten five of those animals.


All the rich flat black land,
the wide swirlmarked browngreen rivers,
leafy wheat baking tawny, corns silky spikes,
sun bright kettles of steel and crackling wires, turn into
infinite shining weapons that scorch the earth.
The pride of our hive
packed into hoards of murderous sleek bombs.


We glitter and spark righteousness.
We are blinding as a new car in the sunshine.
Gasoline rains from our fluffy clouds
Everywhere our evil froths polluting the waters-
in what stream on what mountain do you miss
the telltale brown sludge and rim of suds?


Peace: the word lies like a smooth turd
on the tongues of politicians ordering
the sweet flesh seared on the staring bone.
Guilt is added to the municipal water
guilt is deposited in the marrow and teeth.
In my name they are stealing from people with nothing
their slim bodies. When did I hire these assassins?  

My mild friend no longer paints mysteries of doors and mirrors.
On her walls the screams of burning children coagulate.
The mathematician with his webspangled language
of shadow and substance half spun
sits in an attic playing the flute all summer.
for fear of his own brain, for fear that the baroque
arabesque of his joy will be turned to a weapon.
Three A.M. in Brooklyn: night all over my country.
Watch the smoke of guilt drift out of dreams.


When did I hire these killers? one day in anger,
in seaslime hatred at the duplicity of flesh?
Eating steak in a suave restaurant, did I give the sign?
Sweating like a melon in bed, did I murmur consent?
Did I contract it in Indiana for a teaching job?
Was it something I signed for a passport or a loan?
Now in my name blood burns like oil day and night.


This nation is founded on blood like a city on swamps
yet its dream has been beautiful and sometimes just
that now grows brutal and heavy as a burned out star

Photo Credit:  The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks in Widipedia