Blurred Borders

I rediscovered this photo while rummaging in a long-forgotten drawer for a greeting card.  The find has had me rummaging through the time I spent in the Ground Zero community, a nonviolent resistance movement to nuclear weapons. I lived in the woods in a house above the railroad tracks that moved weapons and fuel in and out of Subase Bangor in Poulsbo/Silverdale WA.  Perhaps the message I want to share in the accompanying poem is the realization that if we allow our spiritual practice to divest us of the need to cling to possessions, the world will not need weapons to protect the “lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed.”

I.

My intrepid Blue Cream Tortoise Shell
boldly went where no sane mortal 
dared to roam.
Emily slinked across the railroad tracks
which carried warheads and fuel-
fresh and spent- into Subase Bangor.
She scooted under the gate 
making her way to the bunkers 
where armed marines waited 
ready to shoot intruders at first sight-
but surely not Emily.
Emily who did not threaten to destroy 
"the lifestyle to which we had become accustomed."*

II.

Jim and I passed out the week's leaflets
from our respective lanes at Trigger Avenue gate.
We shivered against the temperature outside, 
and the inside temperature of workers
as they spotted us when traffic stalled.
It was a typical early morning arrival-
yawning, putting on makeup, shaving.
Until an unexpected guest materialized
darting in and out of cars, nostrils flaring 
eyes betraying the deer's sheer terror.
Guards rushed out to stop traffic
and opened the gate wide.
We waited. And waited.
Finally the deer leaped up
and shot to safety on the other side.
Jim looked at me and said,
"How ironic that she is safer in there than out here."

No open gate for those who "threaten the lifestyle to which we've become accustomed."

*Admiral Trost in The Trident Tides U.S. Navy publication

c. rita hemmer kowats Indigenous Peoples Day 2021

A Spirituality Of Deliberation





Waiting.
Waiting for a just peace
to show up.

Waiting
with twelve jurors
in their pain 
in their fear
in their doubt.

Holding Vigil

Breathing-in peace
we extend protection.
Breathing-in deep listening
we welcome transparency.

Peaceful
Protect
Listen
Open.

Waiting 
with intention.
Waiting together.

c. Rita H Kowats April 19, 2021

An Alternate Field Of Energy: Deep Listening

Avalokita, the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening

I have been listening to Anderson Cooper’s 360 podcast this week. Reluctantly.  I want in-depth coverage so I know where to direct my prayers, but I’ve been tempted to turn it off several times.  As the reporters narrate, the background plays a steady, unrelenting stream of protesters shouting.  The energy is too much for me to take in and I want to escape to the silence of my privileged white anchorage and chant “All shall be well.”

I keep listening because those protesters in Minneapolis and elsewhere around the US and the globe, deserve the respect of deep listening.  Not listening and analyzing words; rather, a deep listening for feelings that describe experiences.This is the kind of listening that can bring a just peace. Hundreds of oppressed citizens have literally put their lives on the line to tell me they can endure no more. The least I can do is listen.

In his book Silence: The Power Of Quiet In A World Full Of Noise, Thich Nhat Hanh tells of Avalokita, the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening. The name means “the one who listens deeply to the sounds of the world.” “Bodhisattva” refers to someone with great compassion who works tirelessly to mitigate the suffering of others. I, we, can be a Bodisattva of deep listening by willing ourselves to take in the energy of those who are crying out for justice. We can send back a sound of peace and healing.  We can send back a commitment to act for a just peace.

May it be so.