Spiritual Support


Today the proverbial last straw is falling on my back and Ive spent a long while staring into space. The way out stretches into two forks on the road to peace: a new version of something I wrote earlier on these pages, and a healing mantra which I’ve prayed a good part of this day. I hope that one of them speaks to you and offers healing.

Earlier 

Before we escape into more analysis…
This time let us sit in silence together 
And feel our common suffering to the depths 
Until we know, really know, 
The place to which we have come. 

Then let us stand together and act.

Mantra

Breathing in,   I honor this moment.
Breathing out, I am at peace.

Breathing in,   I step into suffering.
Breathing out, I release expectation.

Breathing in,    I step into grief.
Breathing out,  I release expectation.

Breathing in,     I know I am loved.
Breathing out,   I release doubt.

Breathing in,     I honor this moment.
Breathing out.  Breathing in.
I honor this moment.



Lest We Fade Away

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Narcissus 

Narcissus vanished. All that remained 
was the fragrance of his beauty— 
constant and sweet, the scent of heliotrope. 

His task was only to behold himself. 

Whatever emanated from him he loved 
back into himself. 
He no longer drifted in the open wind, 
but enclosed himself in a narrowing circle 
and there, in its grip, he extinguished 
himself. 

Uncollected Poems

from A Year With Rilke: Daily Readings From The Best Of Rainer Maria Rilke 


In the Greek myth of Narcissus he falls in love with his own reflection and fades out of existence. Today it feels as though the human species is in danger of fading away, having been gazing too long on our own reflection. Spirituality is about letting go of our fixation on ego and breaking through to divinity. Rilke says of Narcissus, “whatever emanated from him he loved back into himself.” When we love everything back into ourselves the common good suffers. Wars break out. Greed abounds. So, today I offer this practice:

Breathing in I welcome healthy ego.

Breathing out I release self-serving ego.

Breathing in I rest in soul-self.

Breathing out I emanate love.

May it be so.

For Love Of A Blackbird

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For Love Of A Blackbird

The pastor preaches passionately about Truth 
Exposing the lies Pilate 
Spins to the crowd outside.

(She could have preached it in another church earlier and called it “Face the Nation.”)

In yet another inner sanctum, Cory Booker 
Exposes the lies spit at another prophet on the docket
And the beat goes on, La de da de de.
And the beat goes on, La de da de de

Meanwhile, on the lush shore of a quarter-mile long lake 
The crisp and clear one-tone-tune of the mating
Red Wing Blackbirds preaches truth to my soul:

One true tune can stop a lie in its tracks.
Oh, for the love of a blackbird.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats March 27, 2022

Morning Reflection for Troubled Times

Chartres Labyrinth
Wikipedia.org
Prayer for the Morning 

With this new day, we open our
eyes and we pray: God, inhabit our 
seeing. Live in our looking. Be our 
vision and our sight. Illumine us, 
that we may perceive you, know 
you, welcome you in all the ways 
you go hiding in this world.

Amen.

Jan Richardson In The Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection And Prayer





Some Questions for Reflection Today

How do we seek God? 

Where do we perceive the presence of the holy? 

How far are we willing to go to find it? 

What feeds our minds and imaginations in our searching? 

How does our hunger for God impact our other relationships—with institutions and systems and other people? 

How do we claim and create our own visionary spaces…? 

Jan Richardson In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection And Prayer

Winter And Spring

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Winter 2015

I heard the sabers rattling
In digital space last night,
The same sabers heard in ‘90 and ‘03.
The blade smiths deftly forged their words
Hard as metal and plunged
Them into the furnace of fear
Where they shaped and tempered them
Into the fine point
That is called war.

Today I listen for the words
Of prophets rising above the din of sabers,
Their words clear and clean and true
Forged in the furnace of their souls
Shaped and honed by a justice
Crafted with eyes wide open.
I summon the prophet 
Who lives in the furnace of my own soul:
“Come forth!”

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 
December 2015



Spring 2022

The blade smiths are busy in Ukraine
As I grieve for a neighbor who died yesterday.
Loved ones draped his coffin with the flag 
That stood at attention in the alcove of his apartment. 
They donated his prosthetic legs to the next victims 
Of the boys in the back room.

“Oh, when will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?”
Today Pete Seeger’s lyrics wafted 
Over the shower stall at the YMCA
And froze me on the battlefield of Ukraine.
Joining in on the next verse I felt that prophet 
In the furnace of my soul 
Rising
Resolving
Replacing complacence with justice.
We sang the whole song, 
Strangers standing together at last 
In the hushed silence of truth laid bare.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats
March 14, 2022


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When Will We Ever Learn?

© Negro Elkha / Adobe Stock/epthinktank.eu

This morning after I swam with my 60’s generation peers I heard this in the next shower, ”Oh, when will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” I joined in singing to the last verse. I cried. She said she couldn’t get it out if her head today and I responded ironically , ”I wonder why.” “What a fire in the belly (Marge Piercy)” this experience was for me. May we learn soon.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone, long time passing?
Where have all the husbands gone, long time ago?
Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

The 1955 song by Pete Seeger, who died on Jan 28, 2014. He was 94 years old. This is one of the most familiar American folk songs.



A Protection Ritual For Violent Times

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My apartment building is a microcosm of contemporary American culture. The mood is taut. Recently the thin thread connecting us snapped. A disgruntled resident became violent and police and aid units responded. The attacker was taken to jail. The police found guns in his apartment.

At first I was quite shaken by the incident, even if I did not witness it. That violent energy had invaded my home. I wanted to run away, but where could I go? I had no illusion that a nonviolent utopia existed anywhere in this sleepy suburb. So I had to extend the protection I do for myself to all the residents in this building.  I walked the halls while silently praying the protection. I continue praying it from within my own apartment.

This morning as a miasma of violent energy gathers on the borders of Ukraine, I surround it with this protection. May it be a help for you as well.

Protection Ritual

I call on the Light Bearers

All holy spirit-filled souls and angels.

Surround me with your light. Cast it around me, above, below, before, behind me.

Light within and through me. Light showing me my wounds, cauterizing and healing them.

Be a boundary around me.

Repel violent energy.

Welcome the greatest good..


May it be so.

“Call Me By My True Names”II

Thich Nhat Hanh 12 (cropped).jpg

I will forever remember Thich Nhat Hanh for the challenge he offers me in this stark and powerful poem. If we can get to the point of recognizing how evil intention lives in ourselves, perhaps we can get to the point of forgiveness and reconciliation with the perpetrators of evil deeds. Thank you, Thãy.

Call Me by My True Names
by Thich Nhat Hanh

From: Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

In Plum Village, where I live in France, we receive many letters from the refugee camps in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, hundreds each week. It is very painful to read them, but we have to do it, we have to be in contact. We try our best to help, but the suffering is enormous, and sometimes we are discouraged. It is said that half the boat people die in the ocean. Only half arrive at the shores in Southeast Asia, and even then they may not be safe.

There are many young girls, boat people, who are raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many countries try to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, sea pirates continue to inflict much suffering on the refugees. One day we received a letter telling us about a young girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate. She was only twelve, and she jumped into the ocean and drowned herself.

When you first learn of something like that, you get angry at the pirate. You naturally take the side of the girl. As you look more deeply you will see it differently. If you take the side of the little girl, then it is easy. You only have to take a gun and shoot the pirate. But we cannot do that. In my meditation I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, there is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate. I saw that many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam, hundreds every day, and if we educators, social workers, politicians, and others do not do something about the situation, in twenty-five years a number of them will become sea pirates. That is certain. If you or I were born today in those fishing villages, we may become sea pirates in twenty-five years. If you take a gun and shoot the pirate, all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs.

After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it, there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate, and me. Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other? The tide of the poem is “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have so many names. When I hear one of the of these names, I have to say, “Yes.”

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Dharma Writing Workshop

The Dharma Writing Workshop http://www.quietspaces.com/dharmawriting.html

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

“ A Calming Of The Clamoring”

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…let depart all that keeps you in its cage.

Jan Richardson “Blessing in the Chaos”
Blessing in the Chaos
Jan Richardson

To all that is chaotic in you, 
let there come silence. 
Let there be a calming of the clamoring, 
a stilling of the voices that have laid their claim on you, 
that have made their home in you, 
that go with you even to the holy places 
but will not let you rest, 
will not let you hear your life with wholeness 
or feel the grace that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you cease. 
Let what divides you cease. 
Let there come an end to what diminishes and demeans, 
and let depart all that keeps you in its cage. 

Let there be an opening into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos, 
where you find the peace you did not think possible 
and see what shimmers within the storm.

Jan Richardson in The Cure For Sorrow: A Book Of Blessings For Times Of Grief

Morning Meditation

Andy Bennett ”An Autumn Morning”

Morning Meditation

Hunting for solace
Fleet-footed and soul-suppled,
We dash down labyrinthine paths,
Crosscuts furrowed by unbounded grace. 

Like steam-fog rising 
from ponds in early morning,
Grace rises from well-worn paths 
And enfolds us in a holy embrace.

If we let her.

c. Rita H Kowats January 8, 2022

With a grateful nod to The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson