Innocence Re-Membered

photostudio_1527032468111

 

Epilogue

On my way home I passed the girls and stopped to chat.  They showed me each new leaf on a shrub they had discovered and their brother told me the story of the Tyrannosaurus Rex that lumbered across his T- shirt.

Also, this…

from “A Brief for the Defense” in Refusing Heaven, Jack Gilbert

We must risk delight. We can do without
pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness
in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the
only measure of our attention is to praise
the Devil.

 

 

 

 

photo credit: James Bowe <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29848680@N08/41372593744″>Buttercups</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Sting: Living in the “Shadow of the Shipyard”

Dry dock number 2. This still remains today.

 

Thomas Wolfe tells us we can’t go home again, but we must.  So Sting found out when the “songs stopped coming.”  In a recent TED Talk (linked below ) he tells the story of how he lost his muse and found it again in his home town of Wallsend in the North East of England.  It is a profound telling of life in the “shadow of the shipyard,” of the men of the town walking down to the sea in the morning and back up the hill in the evening, an ever present ship looming between houses lining narrow streets.  The yard was “noisy, dangerous and toxic,” but he returned to try to understand his ‘folk,” to honor the community he came from.  The songs he has written are integral to his first musical, “The Last Ship,” premiering in Chicago this June 10- July 13.  I hope you enjoy Sting’s talk and performance as much as I did.  We all have to take this same archetypal spiritual journey in some form in order to become whole.  I’ll meet you along the road.

 

 

Photo Credit: N04/5794537953/”>detroiturbex.com via photopin cc

http://www.ted.com/talks/sting_how_i_started_writing_songs_again?utm_content=awesm-publisher&awesm=on.ted.com_f0FwL&utm_source=lm.facebook.com&utm_medium=on.ted.com-facebook-share&utm_campaign=

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-23866406

http://www.sting.com/news/title/stings-new-musical-the-last-ship-anchors-in-chicago-prior-to-broadway-bow

 

The Stranger

The Stranger

With unseeing eyes
Hollowed from a dozen
Imposters’ faces,
I squint at the emerging
Stranger
Traversing regally through
My life.

Each counterfeit countenance conveys
A piece of the truth, and
“The play is the thing
Wherein I’ll catch
The conscience of the King.”
A questionable cast of characters all:
Control.  Fear.  Manipulation…

Curtain call
Brings them all on stage.
Kudos and bravos for
Truth learned and support loaned.
They fade with dimming lights and
The Stranger takes center stage,
Hostage no more.

© rita h kowats 2013
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What’s In the Bag?

]whats in the bag

In February of 1989 magic wafted around the day care center at St. Olaf’s.  It did not, however, start out that way.  At the last minute my helper called in sick, and I was left alone to transition twelve toddlers from nap to play.  I managed somehow to diaper and potty all of them, put their shoes on, and feed them a snack.  I’ve taught secondary school and adults all my life, and without a doubt, this is the hardest job I’ve ever had…and the most fun.

Twelve toddlers, champing at the bit to get outside, ran around screaming at the top of their not so little voices.  The fun had not yet begun.  Salvation appeared at the corner of my eye- a left-over Christmas bag on the counter above their line of vision.  It was shimmering red with teddy bears on it, a toddler’s ecstatic dream.  With no time to let my mind entrap me, I grabbed the bag and shouted with all the delight I did not yet feel, “I wonder what’s in this bag?”  On a dime, they screeched to a halt en masse and twelve contralto voices squealed, “I want to see, I want to see!”  Wiley Witch that I am, I replied in my best teacher’s bribing tone, “You can’t see until you line up at the door!”  They ran to the door, falling over each other’s tiny feet, so excited to receive this wonderful gift.  What gift, I had no idea.  I asked the question a few times, and the children guessed lions, and tigers and bears, oh my, giggles galore gallivanting around the room.  Then brilliance struck.  I pulled a camel out of the bag, picked up Katie with the twinkling azure eyes, put her on it, and told the camel to take her outside to play.  Katie skipped out on the camel while the other children regaled me with a cacophony of delight.  At about child number seven Zack’s mom came in to retrieve him and he burst into tears, “No, Mommy!  I want my camel!”  We had to let him hop on the camel and Mom went out to get him.  What a switch.  Play time that day, with children galloping about on a variety of animals, is forever etched in my memory.  I pull it out whenever I am in need of my own play time.

The children knew the animals weren’t real, and they didn’t care.  They expected nothing, and because of it, their adventure was more real than real, and the element of surprise carried them to another, holier place.

Waiting for the Camels

Waiting for the Camels

The Black and White Pinto Pony

Mary and Rita.jpg enlarged
One spring day in 1949 a man strolled through our lazy Seattle neighborhood, leading a black and white pinto pony.  I left my little heart on 50th St. in West Seattle that day.  “Hey, kids, you want to ride my pony?”  Duh.  We ran into the house and wore Mom down with begging.  After all, for just $5 she would have a swell portrait of us.
I remember that day as the happiest of my childhood- not the details- I didn’t know until recently that my sister had wanted to wear the chaps, but she let me instead.  It’s the experience of ecstasy I remember.  It’s there on my face, bursting through the dimples.

I also remember sitting on the floor in front of the book case at age seven and a half, ecstatic at my re-discovery of a book, If Jesus Came To My House.  It portrayed a child leading Jesus by the hand through the house and neighborhood, pointing out the most special people, places and toys.  I remember feeling so close to Jesus as I read, and the yearning for him to come to my house and stay.  The seeds of mysticism planted.  A remodled house now, an evolved image of Jesus; nevertheless, the same yearning.

Jesus arrived at my house the day the black and white pinto pony came, and every time since then, when I watch toddlers play, and my cat chase her tail.  This old shaker song ,“Simple Gifts” was written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett.  It says it all.

 

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Mary and Rita close up