Here is a little something for us to sit with in preparation for Easter.
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>
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.
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
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
In another post I told the story of this photo,
On my walk along the lake I spotted a maple leaf, dried to death by the intense summer heat, stunning in its aridity. Unable to ignore its call, I snatched it up and carried it home to await the muse.
It called to me again as this season of Lent commenced, but I wasn’t prepared to receive its unexpected power. The liturgical artists from my spiritual home, Seattle Mennonite Church, extended an invitation for us to engage our lenten theme, Parables of Abundance: “We are interested in creating a visual piece that reflects both the abundance we experience in trying to live with less, as well as our feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” We are invited to bring our image or our written piece to the sanctuary to create a rich collage of our experiences of abundance.
As the photographer, 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.
At the beginning of this season of Lent we are reminded by Matthew’s Jesus that “unless [we] change and become like little children, [we] will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 18:2
With little children what you see is what you get. They are open, trusting and straightforward. If there is a proverbial elephant in the room they will point it out and “call it by its true name.” (Thich Nhat Hanh). If we are called to emulate this quality then surely, now is an apt time to do it. We must get to the truth of our identity, know ourselves as flawed, but renewed and reclaimed in our flaws. We are changed.
Gandhi said that we should “be the change we want to see in the world.” By changing attitudes and behaviors that kill spirit to ones that give life to it, we become antidotes for the evil dominating our world. This Lent the enduring question for me will be, “What gives me life?”
Breathing in life
I celebrate life.
Breathing out negativity
I release its hold on me.
Breathing in life
I send it I to the world.
Breathing out negativity
I release its hold on the world.
May it be so. Amen.
Now this from Jan Richardson
Blessing the Dust
For Ash Wednesday
All those days
you felt like dust,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
This is an offering I posted a few years ago which seems even more relevant today as many churches grapple with deeply felt justice issues. May we learn to bend without breaking.
Photo Credit: Tumsu/Pixabay in https://radio.wosu.org/term/brain-plasticity#stream/0
Resting beside Echo Lake
in the waning winter sun
I spot His Majesty Maximiliano Mallard
and chat him up from a distance.
“Oh, you exquisite gift! Look at that magnificent head gleaming
now emerald, now sapphire in the sun. Your rich chestnut chest
precedes you, as well it should. Thank you, friend.”
He waddles close, quacking in time to kissing sounds
(surely sounded by some silly passerby)
He turns his head sideways to check me out.
Then called away by the flock,
He collects his mate who waits patiently
(in the shadows)
and they are off…
Your visitation is the recurring echo of lessons offered
heeded, exceeded and ignored.
I wanted to ask, “What is your lesson today Your Majesty?”
His voice comes to me
In the peaceful quiet of Echo Lake:
“Be content with your own best self. Strut your own stuff, girl!”
© Rita H Kowats
Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/Capri23auto-1767157/
Jim Neafsey https://www.sacredbondprints.com
used with permission
I wanted to evoke a living Presence, a palpable sense of Mystery
infusing the mother and child, the green hills, the foggy valleys,
the starry night…and ourselves.
This stunning and evocative icon gifts me with a rich array of feelings, faith and questions. It takes me to that place where you, my readers, also desire to go, so I offer you this introduction. On his website Jim offers us insight, knowledge and experience about the creation of his icon and how to use it in meditation. Many of you are involved in spiritual practices for yourselves and others. Prints can be effortlessly ordered here. I intend to hang my print above my sacred space where it can be a spirit muse for my own meditation and for those who join me in spiritual practice. Those of you active in a myriad of justice ministries, especially immigration justice, might hang a print in your office. I can see it sparking rich sharing. Greeting cards are also offered…these could be meaningful Christmas cards for friends and family this year.
Invitation to Fireworks
Can you see her there
Vibrating in the spaces between stars?
A persistent luminescent beacon, she beckons
you in and
Throw on her cape of lush verdant vales and flailing whales
Move with her through divine pregnant spaces
until you come to that road rarely walked.
Plant your soul-feet firmly on it and bring her home.
What was otherwise mundane and profane,
Becomes fire-infused divinity.
© Rita H Kowats 2-19-19