[a] 1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the Lord and set me in the center of the broad valley. It was filled with bones. 2 He made me walk among them in every direction. So many lay on the surface of the valley! How dry they were!
5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life. 6 I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put breath into you so you may come to life. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. 7 I prophesied as I had been commanded. A sound started up, as I was prophesying, rattling like thunder. The bones came together, bone joining to bone. 8 As I watched, sinews appeared on them, flesh grew over them, skin covered them on top, but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me: Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man! Say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: From the four winds come, O breath, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.[b] 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet….
As I walkabout the valley
of my soul today,
I gather scattered skeletons
I’ve discarded in shame.
Remnants of missteps dangle from dry bones.
Brushing them bare, breathing
forgiveness and compassion into them,
I rise yet another day.
c. Rita H Kowats 6-20-2021
Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
Joy is exemplified by a group of friends playing, or a carefree young girl singing to herself while engaged in her work. The happiness is rising from within and spreading out into the world! Joy comes into the world through gentle means, but springs from a solid sense of self. The power of joy should never be underestimated.
I stand here
Outside of myself
And watch as I commence
Into venerable vulnerability-
At least that’s what the young call it;
It doesn’t feel venerable yet.
I watch with surprise
That this old body that once
Could stave off
All manner of ailment
Bouncing back stronger,
Now fights a succession of infections
On a pilgrimage to commune
With the bones
Of my once stately cathedral.
I stand here
Outside of myself
And watch as I
Cry through the loss
Like an ancient willow wailing
Over limbs taken by thankless winds.
I feel the phantom sensations
Of my coveted limbs tingle
With strength, endurance and joy.
If I stand here
Outside of myself long enough
I will see green-leafed limbs
Poke through the paneless windows
Of my bone cathedral,
patience, acceptance and resignation.
I stand here
Outside of myself
Awestruck by this holy episode
We call life.
At some point in our spiritual journey we may feel the terror of falling into empty space without a net. Without landing. Just falling, falling, falling. Until we hear that voice of the divine, “I’ve got ya.”
I experienced this dream as a child, plagued by the fallout of PTSD. I can’t identify when I heard the voice or how it manifested, but the dream stopped. Instead of falling into empty space my spirit began expanding to reclaim it. No doubt my daytime world had become safer. No doubt I had discovered the Divine.
Sometimes the voice has to rise above some unhealthy ego chattering and I don’t hear it, but I know it’s always there. Perhaps the spiritual journey is a journey toward embracing the fall. Like the nimbleness of a child whose muscles and bones relax into a fall, we train our spirits to be nimble and let go.
Something for us to ponder today. Blessings on you and yours.
I love Rilke because he responded with integrity to the call he heard from the country of uncertainty. We have no control over that call. We especially have no control over it in this time of pandemic. I am, at least sometimes successfully, choosing to embrace the uncertainty and the lessons it offers me. It’s a good end-of-this-life practice, I think. Luke’s story of the prodigal son is here
The Departure of the Prodigal Son
To go forth now from all the entanglement that is ours and yet not ours, that, like the water in an old well, reflects us in fragments, distorts what we are.
From all that clings like burrs and brambles— to go forth and see for once, close up, afresh, what we had ceased to see— so familiar it had become. To glimpse how vast and how impersonal is the suffering that filled your childhood.
Yes, to go forth, hand pulling away from hand. Go forth to what? To uncertainty, to a country with no connections to us and indifferent to the dramas of our life.
What drives you to go forth? Impatience, instinct, a dark need, the incapacity to understand.
To bow to all this. To let go— even if you have to die alone.
Is this the start of a new life?
Rainer Maria Rilke in A Year with Rilke Translated and Edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
Is a golden gun.
It was not easy to hold it against my head
I needed great faith in my master
To suffocate myself
With his holy bag
Full of truth.
I needed great courage
To go out into the dark
Tracking God into the unknown
And not panic or get lost
In all the startling new scents, sounds,
Or lose my temper
Tripping on those scheming
Night and day around me.
Effacement is the emerald dagger
You need to plunge
Deep into yourself upon
This path to divine Recovery—
Upon this path
efface[ ih-feys ]
verb (used with object), ef·faced, ef·fac·ing.
to wipe out; do away with; expunge:
to efface one’s unhappy memories.
to rub out, erase, or obliterate (outlines, traces, inscriptions, etc.).
to make (oneself) inconspicuous; withdraw (oneself) modestly or shyly.
Ever So Dear Hafiz,
In principle I experience this experience you’ve opened up for us; however, as a creature of the twenty-first century and one schooled in psychology, I am compelled to qualify. For me, it is the unhealthy manifestations of ego that I seek to efface, not my Self, the deepest self where divinity makes its home, if I let it.
With that said, dear sage, I now offer a way beyond this pandemic surging through our world today. In spite of the attention many pay to the needs of the common good, this virus has also unleashed a dis-ease of the worst kind. It has loosened the already tentative grip we had on the virtue of selflessness. Ego selfishness gravely threatens body and soul.
So, yes, let us efface, I say. Let us efface selfishness and greed and take on the posture of a parent who would sacrifice anything for the good of their child. We are all one another’s child now. Let us walk this path to “Divine Recovery” together.