The Re-Creation Of A Soul

“Therefore, tell me: What will engage you? What will open the dark fields of your mind, like a lover at first touching?”

Mary Oliver

This brilliant poem by Mary Oliver burrowed into my soul this morning, promising rich nourishment in the week ahead. May it offer you the same. Life, death, resurrection … Fitting for this Eastertide.

"Flare"
By Mary Oliver

1.

Welcome to the silly, comforting poem.

It is not the sunrise,
which is a red rinse,
which is flaring all over the eastern sky;

it is not the rain falling out of the purse of God;
it is not the blue helmet of the sky afterward,
or the trees, or the beetle burrowing into the earth;

it is not the mockingbird who, in his own cadence,
will go on sizzling and clapping
from the branches of the catalpa that are thick with blossoms,
that are billowing and shining,
that are shaking in the wind.

2.

You still recall, sometimes, the old barn on your 
great-grandfather's farm, a place you visited once, 
and went into, all alone, while the grownups sat and 
talked in the house.

It was empty, or almost. Wisps of hay covered the floor, 
and some wasps sang at the windows, and maybe there was 
a strange fluttering bird high above, disturbed, hoo-ing 
a little and staring down from a messy ledge with wild, 
binocular eyes.

Mostly, though, it smelled of milk, and the patience of 
animals; the give-offs of the body were still in the air, 
a vague ammonia, not unpleasant.
Mostly, though, it was restful and secret, the roof high 
up and arched, the boards unpainted and plain.

You could have stayed there forever, a small child in a corner, 
on the last raft of hay, dazzled by so much space that seemed 
empty, but wasn't.

Then--you still remember--you felt the rap of hunger--it was 
noon--and you turned from that twilight dream and hurried back 
to the house, where the table was set, where an uncle patted you 
on the shoulder for welcome, and there was your place at the table.

3.

Nothing lasts.
There is a graveyard where everything I am talking about is,
now.

I stood there once, on the green grass, scattering flowers.
4.

Nothing is so delicate or so finely hinged as the wings
of the green moth
against the lantern
against its heat
against the beak of the crow
in the early morning.

Yet the moth has trim, and feistiness, and not a drop
of self-pity.

Not in this world.

5.

My mother
was the blue wisteria,
my mother
was the mossy stream out behind the house,
my mother, alas, alas,
did not always love her life,
heavier than iron it was
as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
oh, unforgettable!

I bury her
in a box
in the earth
and turn away.
My father
was a demon of frustrated dreams,
was a breaker of trust,
was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
He followed God, there being no one else
he could talk to;
he swaggered before God, there being no one else
who would listen.
Listen,
this was his life.
I bury it in the earth.
I sweep the closets.
I leave the house.

6.

I mention them now,
I will not mention them again.

It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.

I give them--one, two, three, four--the kiss of courtesy,
of sweet thanks,
of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
May they sleep well. May they soften.

But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them the responsibility for my life.

7.

Did you know that the ant has a tongue
with which to gather in all that it can
of sweetness?

Did you know that?

8.

The poem is not the world.
It isn't even the first page of the world.

But the poem wants to flower, like a flower.
It knows that much.

It wants to open itself,
like the door of a little temple,
so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed,
and less yourself than part of everything.

9.

The voice of the child crying out of the mouth of the
grown woman
is a misery and a disappointment.
The voice of the child howling out of the tall, bearded,
muscular man
is a misery, and a terror.

10.

Therefore, tell me:
what will engage you?
What will open the dark fields of your mind,
like a lover
at first touching?

11.

Anyway,
there was no barn.
No child in the barn.

No uncle no table no kitchen.

Only a long lovely field full of bobolinks.

12.

When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle, and the wind.

This is the dark bread of the poem.
This is the dark and nourishing bread of the poem.


photo credit:  Barn photo taken by Rebecca Staebler, formatted by Rita Kowats 

Time No Time

German SERMON 2 (DW 38, W 29) In illo tempore

The soul which is to be born in God must fall away from time as time must fall away from her. She must rise up and must linger in contemplation of this wealth of God,5 where there is length without length and breadth without breadth. There the soul knows all things and knows them in perfection.

MEISTER ECKHART: SELECTED WRITINGS

Selected and Translated by OLIVER DAVIES

Synchronicity: Divine Presence

Vignette 1: Jung Recounts the Story of the Golden Scarab Beetle

“A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since.”

Synchronicity: Jung recounts the story of the Golden scarab beetle

Vignette 2: Rita’s Beetle

I have honored the place of synchronicity in my life for a very long time. Five years ago my explanation of Carl Jung’s theory was met with incomprehension by a spiritual companion, so I gave her the example of Jung’s scarab beetle at the window. When I finished the story my companion reached into her bag and pulled out a photo of a beetle which she had taken the day before. “And here is your beetle,” she said.

Vignette 3: Yesterday’s Synchronicity

I began my writing session as I always do, with an invocation to Spirit, a request to show me the greatest good for myself and my blogging community. I came upon Mary Oliver’s poem, “Prayer” about casting the ashes of a beloved one upon the wild foam of waves. An hour after publication I heard from a friend I had not heard from for a while; a friend who had just cast precious ashes upon waves.

And the only thing I did was pay attention. We are profoundly connected. Listen.

Palm Sunday Tango

“Those who were seen dancing
Were thought to be insane by those
Who could not hear the music.” Nietsche

Palm Sunday Tango

Our cocked ears strain toward a not-so-distant future
To catch the first notes of an untamed Lindy Hop.

But now we dance a mournful marathon not of our making,
Dragging our weary bodies and souls behind us, waiting to hear
The last dreadful note.

We will dance with abandon
When the Lindy notes sound at last,
But in this time between we endure,
Faithful to the dance we hear now.

We learn the steps as we go,
Leaning against one another,
Hanging on, cheering on, crying with.
Tomorrow’s dance is for tomorrow.
Today we dance to the music we hear today-
Holy insanity.

c. Rita H Kowats 3/27/2021

*I am deeply moved by this post https://www.ritualwell.org/ritual/mourning-dancing

Endurance

Soon we live again exuberant and relieved;
But now we do a strange Lindy Hop
In a marathon not of our making,
We drag our weary bodies and souls behind us
Waiting for the Big Band to play the last note,
Releasing us from our dis-ease.
We yearn to dance again with abandon;
But in the time between we endure,
Faithful to this dance here and now.
Learning the steps as we go
Leaning against one another,
Cheering on, crying with.
Tomorrow’s dance is for tomorrow.
Dance today.

c. Rita H Kowats 3/20/2021

The Caboose

“… the lead bird isn’t an alpha bird, he explained, it’s just the one that assumes temporary wind duty, and when it gets tired, it flies to the back of the pack, where it may straggle while regaining strength. “If you’re the guy in front, you can only stay there so long,” he said. “Recovery may take awhile.” In the meantime, a new bird moves in.

“The Goose that flies at the back of the pack is just getting some rest”  by Mary Schmich

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2012-11-09-ct-met-schmich-1109-20121109-story.html

 

The Caboose

(On seeing geese fly in “V” formation)

Ahh. It’s my turn.
Not that I regret flying in the front;
I’m tired.
There’s less to do now
More to be.
There’s less to say now
More to hear.

I relish the sacred energy of the “V”
That carries me now,
“wind duty” done.
Such is life and death
And life again.

c. Rita H Kowats 3/14/2021

Respite

My candle batteries are still lasting. They’ve brought me light since Wednesday, but this morning I need more. So I curled up in the embrace of the two gigantic angels who always stand at my back, have my back. More than one person who has eyes to see such beings has pointed them out to me. At first I kept asking them for their names but they never told me, so I called them “Frick and Frack.” It stuck. So this poem is for them.

Respite

Standing at our backs,
Your expansive wings enfold
These unfledged humans
Who recoil from the miasma of hate
That now pollutes each breath we take
In this land of the once free.

Recoil or cower,
Which is it?

We shelter within stalwart wings waiting
For healing and spirit-washed air
To fill our lungs.

Then
We repair the breach.

c. Rita H Kowats 1-9-21

Photo Credit: https://www.jing.fm/idown/iimxihw_clipart-chromatic-angel-wings-within-angel-wings-clipart/

Find Life. Celebrate it.