Blessing in the Chaos Jan Richardson To all that is chaotic in you, let there come silence. Let there be a calming of the clamoring, a stilling of the voices that have laid their claim on you, that have made their home in you, that go with you even to the holy places but will not let you rest, will not let you hear your life with wholeness or feel the grace that fashioned you. Let what distracts you cease. Let what divides you cease. Let there come an end to what diminishes and demeans, and let depart all that keeps you in its cage. Let there be an opening into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos, where you find the peace you did not think possible and see what shimmers within the storm. Jan Richardson in The Cure For Sorrow: A Book Of Blessings For Times Of Grief
Morning Meditation Hunting for solace Fleet-footed and soul-suppled, We dash down labyrinthine paths, Crosscuts furrowed by unbounded grace. Like steam-fog rising from ponds in early morning, Grace rises from well-worn paths And enfolds us in a holy embrace. If we let her. c. Rita H Kowats January 8, 2022 With a grateful nod to The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson
When the pandemic first began, I longed for the comfort of Three Pines Village featured in the Louise Penny mystery series. So I reread all of the books. It helped! “Some might argue that Three Pines itself isn’t real, and they’d be right, but limited in their view. The village does not exist, physically. But I think of it as existing in ways that are far more important and powerful. Three Pines is a state of mind. When we choose tolerance over hate. Kindness over cruelty. Goodness over bullying. When we choose to be hopeful, not cynical. Then we live in Three Pines.” (Louise Penny) So I read. And read. It’s time to go back to Three Pines on this anniversary of the horror perpetrated in the U,S. Capital.
One of Penny’s books, Glass Houses, features a cobrador, a “cloaked figure acting as a conscience to those without one. Forcing payment of a moral debt.” (Penny) He/she stands wordlessly in the village green. Waiting. I’m reminded of that book every day lately when I see an unsheltered person come to rest on the bench across the street. Sometimes in chilling, drenching rain and high wind. They just sit for a while, and I hold vigil with them from my warm, dry apartment. I pray for forgiveness for my complicity with an unjust system that keeps them unsheltered. The visitor to the bench is a cobrador for me, calling me to accountability and inspiring me to action. My hope is that all of us will stand as a conscience that reminds us that there is still such a thing as the common good. That we will stand as a conscience that says no to violence and selfishness.
We stand. With or without words. We stand boldly in our “no.”
The Light Bearers Carry your light into the dark. Swing it wide Into the hidden cupboards Tucked away Under the staircases of our souls. Illuminate The shadows that loom And shatter peace By piece by piece, But gentle your swings- Don’t show us all at once Lest you send us scampering Deeper into the cupboard. Illuminate. Carry your light into the dark. Swing it wide Into the hidden cupboards Tucked away Under the staircases of our souls. Cauterize. Bring your light beside our wound To staunch the steady stream of negativity That threatens our well-being; A slow burn, endearing and enduring. Cauterize. Carry your light into the dark. Swing it wide Into the hidden cupboards Tucked away Under the staircases of our souls. Heal, Lightbearer. Ignite us with love And stoke it, until transformed, We bear the light to others. Heal. Carry your light into the dark. Swing it wide Into the hidden cupboards Tucked away Under the staircases of our souls. c. Rita H Kowats 2021
photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/227572587397001342/
I’ve been taking a hike through my blog this morning in search of nourishment to navigate this new terrain I’ve landed in. I first wrote about spiritual backwalking in December 2019 when I could not have known that our lives were about to change in ways not seen since my grandfather and his sisters died in the 1917 flu epidemic, leaving my mother destitute. Today would have been her 113 birthday, and I am only now reflecting on how her experience of a pandemic shaped her life, and consequently, my life. What fears did her trauma pass on to me? How did she imprint me with resilience? The covid pandemic is teaching me how to walk backwards, as it taught the child who became my mother.
I have recently been gifted with a profound metaphor that I will share with you, but first
TWO STORIES. A treasured member of my faith community lives with early on-set Parkinson’s Disease. When his brain stops moving him forwad, he walks backward. Healthline.com says, “It’s a simple way for you to challenge different muscles and force your mind to focus and operate differently.” Rather than stopping, my friend lets go and imagines another way to move. Backwards becomes frontwards.
In the 1960’s war novel, Catch-22, Yosarian walks backwards, “…because he was continually spinning around as he walked to make certain no one was sneaking up on him from behind.” Yosarian was experiencing the reality of war, not paranoia. The enemy was sneaking up behind him with intent to kill. His fixation on fear had taken possession of him, so he walked backwards to be safe. And now
THE METAPHOR. What if we trained our souls to stop the unhealthy ego-spin by walking backwards? This spiritual practice necessitates a profound letting-go, just as it does when our bodies attempt to walk backwards. We are awkward and afraid of falling, so we rely on a friend’s arm or trekking poles, and our progress is slow. Spiritual backwalking requires us to rely on the movements of the Spirit instead of relying solely on an out-of-control ego. We find the courage to walk inside the dangerous fissures of constant change and uncertaintly. We take on a holy vulnerability when we risk this spiritual backwalking.
Our society doesn’t endorse walking backwards. It’s motto is forward-thrust with great gusto, a speed which supports all manner of unhealthy ego-patterns, the worst of them being an inordinate drive to control self and others at all cost. This is the war zone we find ourselves in at this moment and like Yosarian, we have to walk backwards to be safe. We have to let go and trust Spirit to companion us through the change and uncertainty that bombards us.
Beannacht (New Year Blessing) – John O’Donohue On the day when The weight deadens On your shoulders And you stumble, May the clay dance To balance you. And when your eyes Freeze behind The grey window And the ghost of loss Gets in to you, May a flock of colours, Indigo, red, green, And azure blue, Come to awaken in you A meadow of delight. When the canvas frays In the currach of thought And a stain of ocean Blackens beneath you, May there come across the waters A path of yellow moonlight To bring you safely home. May the nourishment of the earth be yours, May the clarity of light be yours, May the fluency of the ocean be yours, May the protection of the ancestors be yours. And so may a slow Wind work these words Of love around you, An invisible cloak To mind your life. by John O’Donohue In To bless the space between us: A Book of Blessings