Shadow Souls

Flare up like flame
And make big shadows I can move in.

Rainer Maria Rilke 


I, 59 

God speaks to each of us as he makes us, 
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear: 

You, sent out beyond your recall, 
go to the limits of your longing. 

Embody me. 

Flare up like flame 
and make big shadows I can move in. 

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. 
Just keep going. No feeling is final. 
Don’t let yourself lose me. 

Nearby is the country they call life. 
You will know it by its seriousness. 

Give me your hand.


Rainer Maria Rilke
In Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
Trans. Anita Barrows

Patience

30 

Not making war 

A Taoist wouldn’t advise a ruler 
to use force of arms for conquest; 
that tactic backfires. 

Where the army marched 
grow thorns and thistles. 
After the war 
come the bad harvests. 
Good leaders prosper, that’s all, 
not presuming on victory. 
They prosper without boasting, 
or domineering, or arrogance, 
prosper because they can’t help it, 
prosper without violence. 

Things flourish then perish. 
Not the Way. 
What’s not the Way 
soon ends.

Lao Tzu : Tao Te Ching : A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way
Le Guin, Ursula K.; Tzu, Lao

31 

Against war 

Even the best weapon 
is an unhappy tool, 
hateful to living things. 
So the follower of the Way 
stays away from it. 

Weapons are unhappy tools, 
not chosen by thoughtful people, 
to be used only when there is no choice, 
and with a calm, still mind, 
without enjoyment. 
To enjoy using weapons 
is to enjoy killing people, 
and to enjoy killing people 
is to lose your share in the common good. 

It is right that the murder of many people 
be mourned and lamented. 
It is right that a victor in war 
be received with funeral ceremonies.

Lao Tzu : Tao Te Ching : A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way
Le Guin, Ursula K.; Tzu, Lao

Every day lately, I feel myself teetering on a precipice of despair, barely catching myself from falling over. Every day I heave many sighs of relief that somewhere someone has remembered the common good.  That somewhere someone has chosen nonviolence, and it has made all the difference. Then I begin the next day teetering and sighing.

Patience is a difficult spiritual practice for me. I desire the magnanimity to allow myself and others to grow at the pace we are able to grow but instead, I often despair over our human limitations. The practice of patience is a way to get through this time of social rancor.

Breathing in,   I am patient.
Breathing out, I release despair.

Breathing in,   I am patient.
Breathing out, I release shame.

Breathing in,   I am patient.
Breathing out, I release blame.

Breathing in,   I am patient.
Breathing out, I release impatience.
Breathing in,   I am patient.

May it be so.

Seething In The Soul





What to do in the Darkness
by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

Go slowly
Consent to it
But don’t wallow in it
Know it as a place of germination
And growth
Remember the light
Take an outstretched hand if you find one
Exercise unused senses
Find the path by walking it
Practice trust
Watch for dawn

Soul Sloth

Soul lethargy is not Letting go.

It is soul sloth.

Soul lethargy is not 
Letting go.
It is soul sloth.

Like Sherlock asleep
on his exercise wheel,
I emerge from this pandemic
afraid to get back on the wheel,
curled up instead around my COVID fat
feeling sorry for myself.
Feeling pseudo-safe in a cocoon
of my own making.

A cocoon leading not to new life
but to one doomed to die by soul sloth.

Up! 

My soul opens like a morning glory 
starved for sunlight, waiting
for grace to pull me up.
Divine Spirit ever folding and unfolding, 
Show me the way out.

In the asking, soul sloth becomes
Letting-go.

c. Rita H Kowats 5-30-21

* Apologies to my feline sleuth for so cavalierly exposing his soul and fat belly for all to see.

Empty And Full

The Uses of Not

Thirty spokes meet
In the hub.
Where the wheel isn’t 
Is where it’s useful.


Hollowed out,
clay makes a pot. 
Where the pot’s not 
is where it’s useful.






Cut doors and windows 
to make a room.
 Where the room isn’t, 
there’s room for you.
So the profit in what is 
is in the use of what isn’t.

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

trans. Ursula K. LeGuin

Releasing Anxiety: A Spiritual Practice

If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.

Deepak Chopra

Spiritual Practice

Calling forth divine energy I open myself to it’s movements within me, around me, and through me.

May spirit guides protect me.

Breathing in,   I am safe.
Breathing out, I release fear.

Breathing in,   I welcome possibilities
Breathing out, I release judgment.

Breathing in,   I am safe.
Breathing out, I release fear.

Breathing in,   I welcome possibilities
Breathing out, I release judgment.


May it be so.

PHOTO Credit: c. 2014 Shelly “First Day of School” licensed CC-BY sketchport.com

Embracing Our Humanity

“Do not fight against pain; do not fight against irritation or jealousy. 
Embrace them with great tenderness, as though you were embracing
a little baby. Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it. 
The same thing goes for all of your emotions.”

Thich Nhat Hanh
You Are Here
We are often so hard on ourselves when discovering our limitations.  Thich Nhat Hanh invites us to accompany our breathing with the mantra, "Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.  Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out."  Today I adapt it to, "Breathing in, I know that I am human.  Breathing out, I accept that I am human."

The invitation to embrace all of our emotions tenderly, even those that want to shame us, brings me back to a time of meditation in which I lost myself in remorse and shame while pondering past behaviors.  The vulnerable child within me had long since introduced herself to me and I had taken first steps to welcome her back.  But the embrace of her humanity still alluded me.

In this meditation I felt a strong impulse moving me onto the floor before my little altar.  Without thinking, without words, I gathered my knees to my chest and rocked and weeped in that fetal position until the words finally flowed, bringing profound healing, "Margaret, I love you so much. I don't want to be ashamed of you again. I treasure your vulnerability for all that it teaches me."

Since that time, it's easier to accept my humanity.  But when the shadows return, I become the woman nestled in the womb of the Crescent Moon, where I rock for a while to recover from the utter surprise that I am human!

Breathing in,   I know that I am human.
Breathing out, I accept that I am human.

May it be so.

Our Half-Lived Lives: O’Donohue Meets Meister Eckhart


…An authentic life is a life that is aware of and willing to engage its own oppositions…. Sometimes, people who are very vociferous and moralistic are people who have erased the tug of opposition from their lives….It is lonely sometimes to hear them talk because,in their certainty, you can hear the hollow echo of a life only half-lived….One of the greatest duties of postmodern culture…is to try to bring the personal and the communal, the individual and the universal, together.

John O’Donohue in a talk delivered for “The Open Mind” 

published in Walking in Wonder by John Quinn and John O’Donohue



The eye with which god sees me
is the same eye with which I see god.
God’s eye and my eye are one.
One seeing, one knowing, one loving.

Meister Eckhart


There is a space
of potential presence
in god’s eye where we
can reside in peace
with the other, even if
we cannot be with them
in any other place,
in any other way.
If we can believe that
we are one in God’s eye,
we break the wall of dualism
that separates us, even
if just for a moment.
Moments live into
more moments.
Rest in the sacred gaze
of the divine.