Sacred Cycles

Spring has arrived today in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.  73 degrees and sunshine lured me out to the lake to ponder the message it might have for me.  It’s astounding that such a small, seemingly inconsequential event can awaken us to the essence of life.

Connections poem

 “The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is; and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God. ”       § Meister Eckhart

Yom Ha Shoah: Holocaust Day of Remembrance

 

YomHaShoah SIX CANDLES

  Yom HaShoah

 

“You just keep living until your are alive again,” said a character in last Sunday’s BBC episode of “Call the Midwife.”  The words stir me to write on this eve of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Survivors, their families, indeed, the whole Jewish community endure, and even thrive, with a resilience I can hardly even dream of mustering.  I repent and grieve for the evil perpetrated against Jews and others in the Holocaust.  I celebrate their resilience, born from a deep well of faith.

Inaugurated in Israel in 1953, Holocaust Remembrance Day is ritualized differently throughout the world.  Common threads are the lighting of six memorial candles to represent the approximately six million victims.  The Mourners’ Kaddish is often recited to show that despite their loss, Jews still praise G-d.  At the memorial ritual in Auschwitz, school children participate in “The March of the Living,” which is a profound defiance of the Death Marches to the crematoriums.  I am reminded of the work of theologian Walter Brueggemann, who calls for a “prophetic imagination” which re-appropriates acts of injustice as positive acts of life- a way of living until we are alive again.

One Sunday I came to Hebrew class at Temple Beth El- always the only Christian student- this day, the only student.  My teacher, whose relatives did not survive the holocaust, took the opportunity to teach me some of the more obscure facts about anti-Semitism.  She said with searing pain, that in the Spanish Inquisition Jews were denied the right to recite Kaddish.  The refrain that G-d will “uproot foreign worship from the earth,” threatened the power of Christianity, I presume.

As I imagine the youth reciting Kaddish on their March of Life today at Auschwitz, I rejoice in the hope their action evokes.  In them, their ancestors live on.  Paul Celan’s poem, “Death Fugue,” draws us inside life in a death camp.  The images are shattering, but we must look.  We must remember.  After embracing the horrifying reality, I return to celebration of the resilience of a people who still chooses life.  L’Chaim!

 

Death Fugue
by Paul Celan

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden
hair Margarete
he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are
flashing he whistles his pack out
he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a
grave
he commands us strike up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at
sundown
we drink and we drink you
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair
Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith we dig a grave in the breezes
there one lies unconfined

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you
others sing now and play
he grabs at the iron in his belt he waves it his
eyes are blue
jab deeper you lot with your spades you others play
on for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at at noon in the morning we drink you
at sundown
we drink and we drink you
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with the serpents
He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master
from Germany
he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then
as smoke you will rise into air
then a grave you will have in the clouds there one
lies unconfined

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany
we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink
and we drink you
death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue
he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in
the air
He plays with the serpents and daydreams death is
a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith

Translated by Michael Hamburger

Clip Art Credits:  http://free-bitsela.com/

Easter Stretching

easter toddler.

While I worked as a peace activist I cared for toddlers a few hours a week.  It was such a relief to escape the darkness of nuclear weapons and attitudes of war by immersing myself in the imagination of two-year-olds for a few hours.  My favorite time was when they woke up from their nap.  Happy Easter!

 

Six somnolent toddlers
nestle in daycare cots
clutching stuffed animal amulets-
their companions into the dreamworld.

One by one they rub sandman eyes
and extend their little arms to me
as budding tree branches stretch to the sun.

We sit and rock
to the rhythm of hushed monosyllables
identifying body parts and objects.
I wonder if Jesus touched his resurrected body
exclaiming, “My eyes!”  “My nose!”  “My ear!”

My war-worn heart hungers for hope.
Who can give it?
The children.
The children teach trust.
I rub my purblind eyes,
and stretch out my arms,
Born again.

© rita h kowats 1991-2014

Photo Credit:  “Freedom” by citybreezes at  https://www.sumo.fm/#profile/p=2

“Come Forth! “

Lazarus come forth 2

“And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with grave-clothes and his face muffled with a handkerchief. “Now unbind him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go home.”   John 11:44

I sat in our humble, spirit-filled church yesterday, listening to our preacher proclaim the story of Lazarus’ return to life, all the while, the image of Antelope Canyon wafting in and out of my consciousness.  This poem was born today.  I hope it will be for you as it is for me:  food for the journey before us.

Primal and pristine
Light
plummets through the fissure
of my tomb,
Trumpeting untested life.

Vigilant Wings
nudge an expectant spirit
through the stone canal
rubbed smooth by the struggle
to unbind.

Tomb shattered
Death battered
I tumble out
Unfettered,
Transfigured.

© rita h kowats Lent 2014

 

Photo Credit:  Antelope Canyon Page, AZ Joyce Roach, O.P. used with permission.  If you would like to feast more on Joyce’s poignant images, you can reach her at 253-756-9435, 1111 Rose Lane, Tacome WA USA 98406.

 

Dawn

Lynn Schooler DAWN

 

DAWN

Flecks of sunglow
Penetrate
The long-chilled backbone of
My soul,
Thawing teardrops caught
In transit.

Spirit-inspired dawn spawns
Hope
Drawn from the integrity of
Living winter well.

© rita h kowats Spring 2014

 

Photo Credit:  https://www.facebook.com/lynn.schooler

I am grateful to Lynn Schooler for permission to use this exquisite photo experience of today’s dawn in Juneau Alaska.  You have a rich experience awaiting you at his facebook page.  Thank you, Lynn.

In Celebration of Telephone Lines: A Response

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In Celebration of Telephone Lines: A Response

                                    They stretch for miles,
                                    all those lines and spaces waiting
                                    for the notes to arrive, for the music
                                    to begin from blues and golds of the Sound:
                                    winds and crows, careening swallows,
                                    cedars swaying to tunes heard
                                    in hill tops and valleys: tulips, crocus,
                                    dancing white magnolia blossoms.
                                    So many messages of joy they carry.
                                    Yes, yes we honor those lingering lines
                                    and spaces of song.

    Kay Mullen

In Celebration of Telephone Lines

Flaws, faults, and faux pas
Line the landscape of human character
Like telephone poles stretching toward
A much-desired vanishing point.
We can wish them gone, but
They stand guard over the
Authenticity of our humanity.
They are the contours which
Showcase Beauty.
Honor them.

rita h kowats

In Celebration of Telephone Lines

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This morning I sit in my chair watching the next storm move in from the Pacific.  Clouds of every type race across the dawn- streaked blue, creating a backdrop for swaying cedars.  Crows struggle to stay airborne as they make their way toward their day jobs after a night of willow-nesting up north.  Idyllic.  Except for the damn telephone wires.  They intrude upon the landscape like the proverbial elephant in the living room.

 

Flaws, faults, and faux pas
Line the landscape of human character
Like telephone poles stretching toward
A much-desired vanishing point.
We can wish them gone, but
They stand guard over the
Authenticity of our humanity.
They are the contours which
Showcase Beauty.
Honor them.

© rita h kowats 2014