Laying It To Rest II

Laying It To Rest II

If you have experienced suffering in the context of instituional religion perhaps you will relate to my poem.  I offer it as a catharsis  to create an opening to healing.


I   Venomous Voices

Specks of stray spittle launched on spurious words
in hallowed halls of religion
fifty, thirty, sixteen years past:

“I’m the one asking the questions here.  You just answer them.”
(Yes, Daddy…or was that Father?)

“How long has she been chasing you?”

“I won’t hire her.  She’s angry.”
(Scared shitless)

“She discusses WITCHES with her students.”
(One of THOSE feminists)

II  Healing Voices

Hope is an April shower pinging
off tender green shoots
promising possibility:

“…I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction….Now choose life.”

“Rather than focus on what’s threatening to strangle you, why not focus on what’s struggling to be born?”
(Let go)

“Trust your intuition.”
(Be the Spirit Whisperer)

Passing showers lift
this withering flower
by the bootstraps of her integrity
and stand her up straight and strong.

III  Metamorphosis

The landscape has changed.
Fissures of venom have burned
new pathways in my heart.

No longer Bride of Christ
No longer Battered Wife

I am a seasoned colleague
In the business of Gospel Living.

© rita h kowats 2014


Photo Credits:  My dear friend ministers as a psychiatrist to veterans.  I took the original picture of this sunflower in the community garden which her team and the vets established as a sanctuary of peace and sustenance.


Caring for Anger

caring for anger

For Warmth

I hold my face in my two hands.
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands
to keep my loneliness warm-
two hands protecting,
two hands nourishing,
two hands preventing
my soul from leaving me
in anger.

Thicht Naht Hanh

Deep-seated, out-of-control anger is a serious illness in need of intentional and consistent ministering to ourselves by ourselves.  Spiritual practice is not a process detached from our bodies.  Because anger is a dis-ease of the soul which ravishes the body as well, our practice must use the body to heal the soul, and use the soul to heal the body…”Two hands preventing my soul from leaving me in anger.”  Thicht Naht Hahn is not just speaking metaphorically.

Of course, good health dictates that we reveal anger to ourselves.  We need to know its cause and its effects before we can let it go.  This is the work of the mind.  To let go is the work of the spirit.  Solid, healthy spiritual practice never labels anger as bad in itself.  As with all human limitations which impede spiritual growth, unbridled anger is released through a process of letting go, letting be, and breaking through to the Godhead (Meister Eckhart’s description.)

It doesn’t work to violently chisel away at our anger, forcing it to go away and leave us in peace.  Violence begets violence.  Instead, we can use a ritual to free ourselves.   Deeply moved by Thicht Naht Hanh’s practice of caring for anger, I have developed a ritual which some of my readers may also find helpful.  This is an intuitive ritual best done apart from the necessary analytical exercises used to determine the nature of our anger.  I choose a quiet space with a meaningful focal point, such as a candle and a symbol.  While centering, I call upon the Spirit to guide me.   I take my face in my two hands and repeat these mantras until I feel ready to move on.  When possible, I journal how the Spirit moved me as I prayed, before I move away from this sacred liminal time.  I set aside time for the ritual daily, until it is no longer needed .  Other times the need for it arises unexpectedly, so I retreat to my “inner room” wherever I am, and say all or part of the ritual to restore my equilibrium.

**First Mantra** Breathe while saying the words.  Soon their rhythm will take you to a sacred place.

I gather the pieces of my wounded spirit in my two hands.

Breathing in        I nourish my soul.

Breathing out    I release pain.

**Second Mantra**

I gather the pieces of my wounded spirit in my two hands.

Breathing in        I protect my soul.

Breathing out    I release loneliness and rejection.

 **Third Mantra**

I gather the pieces of my wounded spirit in my two hands.

 Breathing in        I am filled with peace.

Breathing out    I release resentment.

**Last Mantra**

I stand in peace before the Holy One.

Breathing in        my soul returns.

Breathing out    I become whole.

My face in my two hands holding my soul.   Amen.


I first came upon “For Warmth” in a little book by Thicht Naht Hanh, Be Free Where You Are.  It is a collection of meditations he shared with prisoners to empower them in coping with their incarceration.  One can put the book in a pocket or bag and read a page or a line while busily navigating through his/her own particular incarcerations.  I recommend it.