Star Date 6-13-18

mop-and-bucket-clipart-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My postage-stamp-sized floors shine,
Reflecting my clean and polished soul
(“Cleanliness is next to godliness?”)

Sitting still I bask in the shine while I can-
Before splotches of spinach and sin
Soil soul and floor yet again.

Alas, the leaf blower beneath my window
Is the bell calling me
Back to mindfulness
(I hate this infernal cacaphony of chaos)

Breathing in, I welcome peace
Breathing out, I release this edginess.
Breathing in, I rest in Presence.
Breathing out, I release anger.

Giving thanks for this day humanly lived.

© Rita H Kowat 6-13-18

 

leaf_blower_by_unhealingmedic-d4s6285

 

 

 

 

 

photo credits:  mop and bucket <a href=”http://worldartsme.com/”>WorldArtsMe</a&gt;

leaf blower https://unhealingmedic.deviantart.com/art/Leaf-Blower-289176773

star http://simpleicon.com/star-2.html

Welcome to Listen to Your Life

 

I Invite you all to travel over to https://listeningtomylife.blog/blog/

Here you can drink in and savor the wisdom and experience of my dear friend, teacher and soulmate.  This is a recent offering:

 

The Sage Must Travel Light

A friend sent me this poem today and I wanted to share it with you.  This is the spiritual journey for me–letting go of all those old stories that keep me from living in peace.  I love the image of the backpack.  Getting rid of those old emotions that hold us in a tight knot.  Filling our backpacks with compassion brings forth a sense of connection.  May it be so!!

            The Sage Must Travel Light
    Youth can carry a heavy load day after day
        Without noticing the damaging effects.
        But the sage must lay down the burden.
                    Resentments, regrets,
                        Injuries, slights,
            Grudges and disappointments
                Are much too cumbersome
    For a person of wisdom and contentment.
                The sage must travel light.
            There is a backpack in the mind
        Which over the years, has become
                Filled with rocks and stones.
    You do not have to carry them anymore.
                You can empty your pack
               And carry only compassion
                From one day to the next.
                        William Martin

And Now the Damn Dandelions

 

 

(for Caron)

As a scruffy six-year-old I loved to sprawl on the parking strip under the Hawthorne trees Dad planted and pick dandelions to string a necklace for Mom. I’m sure the people riding past on the city bus were quite amused at the sight.  I wore  rolled-up baggy jeans, orange Mr. Magoo glasses, and tight Richard Hudnut Quick Home Perm curls.  When satisfied with my masterpiece, I ran up the stairs and through the backyard to the kitchen screen door, which banged repeatedly behind me like a glorious drum roll announcing my grand gift.  “Oh, Honey, it’s beautiful!  Yellow is my favorite color, you know,”  Mom exclaimed with every new necklace.

As a budding teenage beauty I lounged on the parking strip with friends hoping that Billy would just happen to walk by.  Right.  His paper delivery route took him by my house at the same time every summer afternoon.  To wile away the time we plucked the leaves off dandelions to the tune of “He loves me, he loves me not.”

And now, the damn dandelions!  They served me well in younger, carefree days.  in adulthood they are an eyesore, a nuisance. We regard them as useless weeds which overtake our carefully manicured grass, buying into the lawn culture marketed by herbicide companies.

What if we regarded dandelions as we do the weeds in our carefully manicured souls?  Let them grow among the virtues while we train them. We could treat them like questions living into answers, as Rilke says. The result just might be a more human landscape.

 

photo credit: Fire Engine Red <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/22620629@N05/25729346044″>Dandelions DP</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

 

 

 

The Homing Instinct

 

turtles homing

It is both frightening and painful for many Americans to witness the daily unraveling of the principles we hold sacred without relinquishing all hope.  Today I am returning to the magic of Pat Conroy in his novel Beach Music.  Let the vibration of hundreds of loggerhead turtles on their first march to the sea get deep into your soul’s bones as you take in Conroy’s description:

Beach Music

We must not forget our spiritual homing instinct, our restless urge to go beyond ourselves to the Other, however we define that for ourselves.  Know your spiritual landscape.  Fix your eyes on the vast ocean of the Other’s love, and let’s head out together. In this lies hope.

 

 

photo credit: Eddietherocker <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28393978@N07/35807963985″>Tres Turtles</a> via <a href=”http://Aphotopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Evidence of Flossing: A Book Review

Evidence of Flossing Cover

 

Jennifer A. Payne’s
WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR
OF
“Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind”

Book Summary:

Would God floss? Do spiders sing? Can you see the Universe in your reflection? Find the answers to these questions in more in this new book by Connecticut writer Jen Payne. Her poems in EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING: WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND investigate the human condition and its folly, the beauty of our natural world, and the possibility of divine connection. 80 original and vintage photographs include a series of discarded dental flossers that inspired the book’s title.
ALA Notable Book author Dale Carlson calls the book “a brilliantly incisive commentary on our simultaneous human sense of beauty and waste and loss.”
EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING speaks to the common heart that beats in you and in me, in the woods and on the streets, across oceans and around this planet. It asks us all to consider the effects of our actions and how they influence everything else in the Universe.

My Review:

Jen Payne’s book, Evidence of Flossing: What we leave Behind, carries prophetic power in the spaces between its words. It is truth and beauty delivered to us in wide-eyed wonder by a child’s heart passionately in love with nature.

The prophet shows up in bold statements like,”This watch around my neck doesn’t work,” (Time Peace) and “My fingers touch its teeth like rosary beads, penance for our collective apathy,” and “Numbed and dumbed by these machines,” (Now Trending>)

Other times we encounter a mystic drawing us into the essence of the universe, “Everything is flowing, god whispers. How foolish am I to resist?” (Resistance is Futile.)

In each poem Jen crawls inside a subject and settles in for a leisurely lie-in until she understands, then becomes her subject. The integrity of the process gifts readers with fresh insight and renewed commitment to be mindful of what they leave behind. As in this verse from “Sanctified without Assistance,” ‘Jen’s writing is sometimes spare, creating space for soulful birthing: “Come winter, bare-branch whispers of hope promised, stored.”

Evidence of Flossing: What we leave Behind should not be missed. You will come away with both righteous anger and with hope. You will be blessed with insight into the nature of spirituality and rekindled with the joy of nature.

Jen Payne Head Shot

 

About the Author:

Jen Payne is inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. Her writing serves as witness to these in the form of poetry, creative non-fiction, flash fiction and essay. When she is not exploring our connections with one another, she enjoys writing about our relationships with nature, creativity, and mindfulness, and how these offer the clearest path to finding balance in our frenetic, spinning world.

Very often, her writing is accompanied by her own photography and artwork. As both a graphic designer and writer, Jen believes that partnering visuals and words layers the intentions of her work, and makes the communication more palpable.

In 2014, she published LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, a collection of essays, poems and original photography. Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind is her second book.

Jen is the owner of Three Chairs Publishing and Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company founded in 1993, based in Branford, Connecticut. She is a member of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, the Branford Arts and Cultural Alliance, the Connecticut Poetry Society, Guilford Arts Center, the Guilford Poets Guild, and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Installations of her poetry were featured in Inauguration Nation an exhibition at Kehler Liddell Gallery in New Haven (2017), and Shuffle &amp; Shake at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven (2016). Her writing has been published by The Aurorean, Six Sentences, the Story Circle Network, WOW! Women on Writing, and The Perch, a publication by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health.

You can read more of her writing on her blog Random Acts of Writing, http://www.randomactsofwriting.net.

 

Jennifer can also be found online at:

Website: https://3chairspublishing.com/

Blog: https://randomactsofwriting.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/threechairspub

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThreeChairsPub

Be sure to visit!

 

 

 

Sitting Ducks

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It was such a perfect and appropriate image. Of being blind. Of the people who use the blind not seeing the cruelty of what they did, not seeing the beauty of what they were about to kill. It was, after all, a perfect word for that perch. A blind.

Louise Penny Still Life p. 257

These wise words from Louise Penny refer to a murder committed in the shelter of a deer blind perched out of sight in a tree.  The image moves me to reflect on all the ways we ambush one another then cover it up in the safety of our self-righteousness.

Pledge: A Spiritual Practice

I will pay attention to the words and actions I hide behind to ambush the other.

If I must say or do the hard thing let it be said and done with eyes wide open rather than with eyes wide shut.

I will seek out those who speak and do in the light, and learn from them how to begin.

I will replace the violence of the blind with compassion and understanding.

 

photo credit: felipe_gabaldon <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/25716821@N04/36415309560“>From the cave</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com“>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

A Spiritual Practice To Free The Mind

 

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The most powerful form of prayer, and the one which can gain almost all things and which is the worthiest work of all, is that which flows from a free mind. The freer the mind is, the more powerful and worthy; the more useful, praiseworthy and perfect prayer and work become. A free mind can achieve all things.
Conversations With Meister Eckhart Meister Eckhart, Simon Parke

What does the Meister mean by a free mind? Single-minded, focused on God, no distractions? Yes, but he also talks about ichgebundenheit, a state of mind in which we are bound to the drama of the ego, so a free mind would be a mind unchained to ego.
Eckhart also says,” I pray God that he may quit me of God,” so it means a mind free of false images of God.

A free mind is an empty mind, detached from all that enters, even from sacred moments gifted in contemplation.

For me it means that for just a moment I stop clinging to that which clamors for my attention. A common little drama which plays out in my everyday life is the distraction of noise. I live in a spralling apartment complex where maintenance needs generate constant loud noise. Tuesdays at 7:00 the city garbage trucks subject us to 20 minutes of an automated machine emptying one can after another. Wednesdays bring a grounds maintenance crew wielding their monstrous lawn blowers. The list goes on, but we musn’t. Most often the noise closes in on me taking over all of my attention. I rant and rave and denounce “progress,” as environmental injustice until I have allowed the noise to become me and there is no space for the divine. My mind is not free.
Buddhists have an excellent way to free the mind. They would tell me to see the garbage trucks as a mindfulness bell calling me to meditation. My practice has become a variation on that advice. In this practice substitute “garbage trucks” with whatever threatens to take over your being.

Spiritual Practice: Freeing The Mind

  • The distraction presents itself, threatening to take over thoughts and feelings.
  • Acknowledge it’s presence saying, for example, “Garbage Trucks.” Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings.
  • Establish a rhythm to your breathing saying, “Breathing in I acknowledge this noise and it’s hold on me, breathing out I release it.”
  • Breathing the intention will eventually create a space for the divine to enter. Say, “Breathing in God is here. Breathing out, I am peace.”
  • When you feel yourself resting in God’s presence continue breathing and wait for the Spirit’s prompting.

 

Photo Credit: 

https://www.pexels.com/search/art/  CCO license

Make Light

Puget Sound Jellyfish

 

My sister shared this photo which she took while on an outing to Alki Beach in West Seattle- our adolescent playground. I responded to it on a cellular level. Not because of conjured memories- it was the jellyfish that pulled me into their light with the enticing movement of their tentacles. They calm me. “What do you want me to learn? I asked them.

A National Geographic/Nova documentary, “Creatures of light” gave me the answer in a query posed by a scientist, “How to survive the dark? Make Light.” The documentary is a study of bioluminescence in more than 200 species of deep-sea creatures and the bioflorescence of many land creatures. Light is the stuff of life for them.

In biofloresencence species take light from an external source and give it back. Watching fireflies on an otherwise stifling summer night. What a gift. As human beings, our spirits catch the light from other beings and store it deep in our souls where it generates more light. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Jn.1:5

In bioluminescence, species create their own light. It is programmed into their genes. My imagination goes to the magic of Pandora, in the film Avatar.

Navi-River-Journey_Full_30133_picmonkeyed

Human beings are body and spirit and spirit is light. Light is as integral to our spirits as it is to the genes of bioluminescent creatures. With light we can make light. 

Give-receive–give-receive. I celebrate this interdependence on the weekend when Americans bow to independence.

 

 

Photo Credit Avatar: http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/navi-river-journey/news/16may2017-review-and-pov-video—na’vi-river-journey-on-pandora—the-world-of-avatar.htm

 

 

Día de Muertos-Day of the Dead

dofd-collage

I dedicate this post to a friend whose death is close.  He has chosen to die at this time rather than wait. Being kept alive by extraordinary means at an advanced age seems counterproductive to him when he could be dancing with the dead!  

Enjoy this extraordinary film of the life cycle of nature in Alaska, remembering that we are nature. Today is a day to celebrate the cycle.