BELOVED IS WHERE WE BEGIN
If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.
Do not leave
who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path
Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.
I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from the scorching
or the fall
of the night.
But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.
I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.
I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
whisper our name:
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
It seems to be our human experience in dealing with chronic disease, (especially an unseen one) that we unintentionally hurt and misunderstand one another. Instead of asking for an explanation so we can understand and support, we sometimes make assumptions based on ignorance. Other times we are impatient and push the other to get better because we’re tired of listening. Sometimes a valid sentiment! I’ve done all the above! Likely you have too.
My spiritual practice around this tendency, however, takes a different perspective. I want to grow into a place where I don’t have to have full understanding and respect around the chronic disease that I have lived with for ten years. Enough of this lonely feeling of abandonment!
This mantra seems especially timely considering the pandemic when so many suffer so intensely:
I am Beloved.I have everything I need within me.
I am Beloved.
I rediscovered this photo while rummaging in a long-forgotten drawer for a greeting card. The find has had me rummaging through the time I spent in the Ground Zero community, a nonviolent resistance movement to nuclear weapons. I lived in the woods in a house above the railroad tracks that moved weapons and fuel in and out of Subase Bangor in Poulsbo/Silverdale WA. Perhaps the message I want to share in the accompanying poem is the realization that if we allow our spiritual practice to divest us of the need to cling to possessions, the world will not need weapons to protect the “lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed.”
My intrepid Blue Cream Tortoise Shell
boldly went where no sane mortal
dared to roam.
Emily slinked across the railroad tracks
which carried warheads and fuel-
fresh and spent- into Subase Bangor.
She scooted under the gate
making her way to the bunkers
where armed marines waited
ready to shoot intruders at first sight-
but surely not Emily.
Emily who did not threaten to destroy
"the lifestyle to which we had become accustomed."*
Jim and I passed out the week's leaflets
from our respective lanes at Trigger Avenue gate.
We shivered against the temperature outside,
and the inside temperature of workers
as they spotted us when traffic stalled.
It was a typical early morning arrival-
yawning, putting on makeup, shaving.
Until an unexpected guest materialized
darting in and out of cars, nostrils flaring
eyes betraying the deer's sheer terror.
Guards rushed out to stop traffic
and opened the gate wide.
We waited. And waited.
Finally the deer leaped up
and shot to safety on the other side.
Jim looked at me and said,
"How ironic that she is safer in there than out here."
No open gate for those who "threaten the lifestyle to which we've become accustomed."
*Admiral Trost in The Trident Tides U.S. Navy publication
c. rita hemmer kowats Indigenous Peoples Day 2021