Solace: Offering And Receiving

In this strange stretch of time, we take turns needing and giving solace. What we receive today we give tomorrow. May spirit guide us to pay attention to others’ need for solace and offer it; that we have the humility to accept solace when it is offered. It’s simple. “Shine your shoes. Fill your refrigerator. Water your plants. Make some soup.” Say thank you. And together we will survive.

Solace Blessing

That’s it.
That’s all this blessing knows how to do:

Shine your shoes.
Fill your refrigerator.
Water your plants.
Make some soup.

All the things
you cannot think
to do yourself
when the world has come apart,
when nothing will be normal again.

Somehow
this blessing knows
precisely what you need,
even before
you know.

It sees what will bring
the deepest solace
for you.
It senses what will offer
the kindest grace.

And so it will step
with such quietness
into the ordinary moments
where the absence
is the deepest.

It will enter
with such tenderness
into the hours where the sorrow
is most keen.

You do not even
have to ask.
Just leave it open—
your door, your heart,
your day
in every aching moment it holds.

See what solace
spills through the gaps
your sorrow has torn.

See what comfort
comes to visit,
holding out its gifts
in each compassionate hand.

Jan Richardson in The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

Here We Are. Send Us.

John Quinn closes his book of essays, Walking in Wonder with this poem. Poet and mystic John O’Donohue died in 2008 and this stanza was penned by Quinn after the celebration of his life.

Envoi

Sometimes
A voice is sent
To calm our deepest fears

Sometimes
A hearty laugh
Will banish all our tears

Sometimes
Words will wing
Our dreaming ever higher

And sometimes
A mind will set
Our imagining afire

John Quinn

In Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World by John O’Donohue and John Quinn

Here we are.

Send us.

“We Bless While We Bleed”

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Rep. John Lewis (1940-2020)
Rest with Honor
Rest in Peace

 

America can only be saved by those
Who have the dexterity
To bless while they bleed

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III

 

In Gratitude for Rep. John Lewis

Injustice
Dogged him
Like a slave hound
Tracking and attacking
Trailing trauma in its wake.

Nevertheless
He blessed while he bled.
He blessed while he bled.

He fought the hound
And astonishingly, he forgave.
He always forgave.

c. Rita H Kowats 7-18-2020

Enrich yourself with Rev. Moss’s sermon about blessing while bleeding:

The Cross and the Lynching Tree:
A Requiem for Ahmad Arbery
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l6985UG0Z3k

 

 

Photo Credit: biography.com

 

 

 

 

 

Justice Waits In The Space Between Words

Wall of Words

This poem came from meditation at a time when conditions in our world weighed heavily on me.  LOL!  If only I had known the conditions we endure in this moment!  It feels like the time to revisit the poem.  We seek to tame the current of fear that rushes over imposing boulders springing up in our unconscious. So we flex our intellectual prowess in countless monologues across social media, in offices, living rooms and backyard gatherings.  We seek to blame and fix. In our love for justice we can continue our self-assigned role as “The Great White Fixers,” or we can practice waiting, listening more intentionally for the words of the oppressed.

We must act for justice, AND there is this from James Baldwin:

The root of the black man’s hatred is rage,
and he does not so much hate the white man
as simply as wants them out of his way,
and, more than that,
out of his children’s way.

 

James Baldwin I Am Not Your Negro

 

 

Silence

I hear my rapid thought-fire
Ricochet off your heart,
Creating a wall of words to
Keep me safe.

Wait.
Wait for the space
Between the thoughts
Between the words.

Wait.
Truth lives
In the Space Between

c. Rita H Kowats 7-18-2013

 

Fallen Idols

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Clay gods house clay souls
In heroes lauded on high.
Crumble and Scatter.

rhk

 

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Hands Out Of Pockets: A Call To Justice

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Hand tucked casually in pocket
While knee on neck snuffs out
The breath of another human being.
Just business as usual
In the neighborhood.

 

The spiritual life is not
A casual meandering
Down a safe garden path.
Our path must diverge into acts of justice
Lest the spiritual life become self-serving.
Take your hand out of your pocket.

Amen. 

 

c. rita h kowats 6-2-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:  Facebook/Darnella Frazier/AFP via Getty Images in the NY Post

Revisiting “CRASH”

The year 2004 brought us an extraordinary film written and directed by Paul Haggis.  Crash won three Academy Awards, Best Picture one of them.  The film deals with every shade of the complex human experience of race in America.  It is on my mind as we wrestle with the reality of George Floyd’s murder. The film calls me as a white person to see the truth straight on, ask the hard questions and work toward conversion and acts of justice.  It calls every race to do that by holding a mirror to the consequences if we continue to ignore our inner work.    Two scenes contain the seed of the whole film.

The first scene, “Pat Down by the Police” will ask you to be brave.  It is not for the faint of heart, containing violent language and action toward a woman of color. Officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) stops a car taking Hollywood director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton) home after an awards event.  Its truth is stark and powerful.

 

 

The second scene, “Car Fire,” turns the previous scene upside down and we are forced to examine the meaning of trust and vulnerability.

 

 

I invite us to gather in living rooms as adults and older teens to view this film for the first time or again.  Open a discussion of how it relates to George Floyd’s death and how we each carry the seeds of racism  buried deep or edging to the surface.  Spirituality is to be born in acts of justice.  We must not hoard it for self-gazing.