For the third time on these pages I post this poem with hope and a prayer that nonviolence will replace violence, that deep self will replace ego. I share the poem today in response to the possibility of yet another war in the Middle East.
Photo Credit for flags: wikepedia.org
The black wrought iron bench was toasty-warm today where I sat watching lake side trees sway against the gentle wind. I hear Michael Buble’s catchy lyric, “Like a flower bending in the breeze, Bend with me, sway with ease.” The wind today was coming from the Fraser River Valley in Canada, but it is spring, not winter. Normally wind comes from the south around here in the Puget Sound area and our trees know that. They are genetically disposed to sway with the southern winds. When those winds howl down from Canada in winter accompanied by cold temperatures, we can be in trouble. It happened one winter when I lived in a rural wood. I woke up to the sight of eighteen trees uprooted on the road behind me. They can’t handle seventy-mile-an-hour sustained northern winds.
Recent deaths of siblings and friends have felt like those seventy-mile-an-hour winds, causing me to wonder how long I will need to brace against death’s onslaught. I am coming to realize that the ageless human ritual of bracing against death is futile. It simply comes when it comes. Unlike trees in the Northwest United States, our souls are genetically disposed to withstand onslaughts from all sides. I want to bend and sway with the wind of death instead of wasting energy trying to control its arrival.
As I sit on this black bench in spring wind, the image of a Day of the Dead shrine on my home altar comes to teach me. The bone woman is dressed in a vivid red dress trailing a pink ruffle. Blue, yellow and pink feathers festoon her wide-brimmed hat. She dances with death, swaying and bending to the timeless music of life. I hope to be carried out of this life on a celebratory wind. No kicking and screaming. No raging. I want to “go gentle into that good night.”
It is time.
We sit on our designated hills
overlooking our private Jerusalems
watching the malignant intruder slither
toward the Holy City.
So they say.
They say it is a holy thing
that one chooses to die for all.
So we remember and choose
to muddle through our own dry and tattered times.
Like stark, barren limbs
giving way to bursts of chartreuse leaves
and sweet-smelling blossoms
that waft on winds of promise,
we too shall bear luscious, ripe fruit.
© Rita H Kowats
Photo Credit for Magnolia tree: photo credit: jennifernish <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/15004954@N03/6968390159″>sneak peek at spring</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Lenten Meditation Four
for my brother George R.I.P. 3-24-19
You ran out of this life
before we could say a proper good-bye.
Arms pumping and superman’s cape flying,
It felt like a rush to relief
from loss and shifting scenes.
Although tattered and torn
you ran too fast for us to pull you back.
Why would we? For us.
Because we now live a while
in the empty space you left
until your renewed presence comes
running back to fill the vacancy.
Then you will bring along your legacy of courage
and the triple double dare
to take on life’s challenges
with hero cape flying behind pitching us
© Rita H Kowats. 3-28-19
The leaf photo evokes the image of a crab’s pinchers poised to strike as it sidles sideways across the sand. As we know, the astrological sign of cancer is named for the crab. Those who are born under this sign are said to struggle letting go and they often communicate indirectly. Outer appearances serve as an armor of sorts, hiding the depths of their feelings, a universally human tendency.
In the process of growing up, crabs have to molt their hard shells many times to make way for each new, larger shell. As it molts, the old shell has to soften while the beginnings of the new shell grow under it. The crab must pull its whole self from the old shell; if it gets stuck, it dies.
Lenten Meditation Three
Thinking sideways slanders truth.
Speaking sideways swindles youth.
Legacy leaving requires
Brittle, whittled half-truths
must soften and slip
to make room for new strata
soon sloughed off to shine
brilliant on sparks of pure
© Rita H Kowats. 3-22-19
As the creator of this photograph, I instinctively positioned the leaf one way and have only seen it from that direction. Until now. I decided to let the photo speak to me from all four possible positions. I invite you to do the same. You have my permission to position it as the spirit urges. For my first meditation I wrote from this position
Lenten Meditation Two
The bone-weary phoenix
emerges from his marrow yet again
with wings worse for wear and poised for take-off.
He hitches a ride on Spirit Breath,
animated and ablaze, drunk
on the sweet elixir of life.
“Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”
Borne on the wings of grace
we reach into the marrow of our souls
and pull ourselves back to
© Rita H Kowats 3-17-19
I was recently introduced to a children’s song about respect for body. These lines caught my attention:
“My body’s nobody’s body but mine.
You run your body, let me run mine.”
Peter Alsop, entertainer, counselor, psychologist
I am taken aback by its stark, bold truth. It carries a wake-up power that summons us to respect. What if we paraphrased these lines to read:
“My soul’s no one’s soul but mine.
You run your soul, let me run mine.”
Thoughts translated into words are an energy that either affirms or negates its intended target. Yet, we pass easy judgment on the process of one another’s spiritual development as though we have that right and as though we actually know the heart of someone else.
In their book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald describe their study which concluded that every human being fills in what we don’t know with what we think we know. We develop Mindbugs which keep us from seeing reality clearly. E. Adelson defines them as “ingrained habits of thoughts that lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions.” Banaji and Greenwald point out that mindbugs can be so powerful that they can cause us to more often remember things that didn’t happen than things that did happen. Given this research, I ask, Who has the moral authority to judge the status of someone’s soul? Is it not deserving of as much respect as our body?
There is a place for professional discernment, even for nonprofessional discernment for the sake of protecting our souls from intrusion. However, we must always be aware that we have mindbugs and try to get out of their way as we discern. Otherwise, discernment becomes judgment of motives and choices .To pass on judgments made out of our mindbugs is not only irresponsible, it is often just an act of self-aggrandizement. If the other is down, I am up.
Isn’t the task of running my own soul monumental enough without trying to run other’s souls? Leave it, I say.
“My soul’s no one’s soul but mine.
You run your soul, let me run mine.”
A Spiritual Practice
My spiritual practice comes in the form of a pause. I try to pause before I judge. I breathe in respect and release fear. I breathe in love and release judgment. Once in a while it works. Our human instinct is to protect our ego, but the pause interrupts the knee-jerk impulse to insert our ego into the unknown spaces of the other. The pause lets in the Spirit who sees reality as it is.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com