Innocence Re-Membered

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Epilogue

On my way home I passed the girls and stopped to chat.  They showed me each new leaf on a shrub they had discovered and their brother told me the story of the Tyrannosaurus Rex that lumbered across his T- shirt.

Also, this…

from “A Brief for the Defense” in Refusing Heaven, Jack Gilbert

We must risk delight. We can do without
pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness
in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the
only measure of our attention is to praise
the Devil.

 

 

 

 

photo credit: James Bowe <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29848680@N08/41372593744″>Buttercups</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Free-Flowing Action

 

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From Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
trans.Anita Barrows and Joanna Macey

1,12
I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

 

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Conflicting Images Emerge:

-No forcing, no holding back

-But rivers can overflow,.wrecking havoc on nearby communities

-“Let justice roll down like a river,” Amos 5:24

-The Colorado river carved out the Grand Canyon over a period of millions of years

-Rivers plunge over steep ledges into pools below. Hear the roar of Niagra Falls and Victoria Falls in Zambia

-The River Dee in Scotland meandering along peacefully, allowing fly fishers the luxury of patience.

I resist the drive to dualize by insisting that I act this way and not that way. What matters, in Rilke’s mind, is that my action be true to itself, authentic.

Afterall,

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” Norman MacLean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: ShinyPhotoScotland N08/24432298457″>Mist in the Carse of Gowrie via photopin (license)

Imagine the Great Presence

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Today dawns on the new reality of a broken deal with Iran and missile fire exchanged between Iran in Syria and Israel. We wait for the other shoe to drop. Life on the edge is hard. Now, more than ever we are called to pay attention so we can feel the stirring of the Great Presence and receive its wisdom and consolation.

 

You, darkness, of
whom I am born—
I love you more than the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illumines
and excludes all the rest.
But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations—just as they are.
It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night.

Rainer Marie Rilke
I, II Rilke’s Book of Hours trans. Anita Barrows, Joanna Macy

 

Photo by Lennart kcotsttiw from Pexels

Bring Us Goodness And Light

 

 

This morning’s news cycle brought me back to that precipice of despair once again, so I begin yet another span of time away in which to allow space for the phoenix to rise again. I spare you the stories which pushed me over the edge so as to avoid putting the negative energy out there again-besides, you know them already.

My spiritual practice for this time came to me from, of all things, the Christmas carol, “Do You See What I See?” The phrase, “He will bring us goodness and light” engaged me. I want to counteract evil by radiating divine light and goodness. I rewrote the verse to reflect my theology and my heart.

Candle lit , I am ready to sing my song. Join me?

 

Listen to what I say
Live for peace, people everywhere,
Listen to what I say
The Christ, the Christ, moving in our world,
Will bring us goodness and light,
Will bring us goodness and light.

May it be so. Amen.

 

 

 

Photo credits:bxccbghcgsrasumofm.com “Phoenix Rising”

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Good Friday 2018

 

 

. . . Whom should I turn to,
if not the one whose darkness
is darker than night, the only one
who keeps vigil with no candle,
and is not afraid—
the deep one, whose being I trust,
for it breaks through the
earth into trees,
and rises,
when I bow my head,
faint as a fragrance
from the soil. [II, 3]

Rainer Maria Rilke from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macey

Larry Payne Was A Man: In Memoriam

 

One day In February 1968 two sanitation workers,  Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death in a garbage packer in Memphis Tennessee.  They were African American men working for starvation wages and under dangerous conditions:

From Taylor Branch’s On Canaan’s Edge (ISBN 978-064857121), page 684:

“It was a gruesome chore to retrieve the two crushed bodies from the garbage packer and pronounce them dead at John Gaston Hospital. Echol Cole and Robert Walker soon became the anonymous cause that diverted Martin Luther King to Memphis for his last march. City flags flew at half-mast for them, but they never were public figures like Lisa Marie Presley, whose birth at 5:01 PM was being announced. . . . Cole and Walker would not be listed among civil rights martyrs, nor studied like Rosa Parks as the catalyst for a new movement. Their fate was perhaps too lowly and pathetic.”
For the sanitation workers in Memphis enough was enough.  They began organizing a union and marched for their rights on March 28, 1968,  Dr. King joined them.  Frustration erupted in rioting and looting, and one person was killed, a child who became a man that day:  Larry Payne.  He had come to the March with friends.  He was sixteen years old.  Stories differ, but one historian reports that after having left the March, later in the day, a police officer shot and killed Larry in front of his housing project.  He was unarmed.  The officer has not been prosecuted.  Very recently, the FBI has reopened this cold case which was lost in the event of Dr. King’s assassination.
The sanitation workers carried signs that simply stated, “I am a man.”…not a “boy,” not a “nigger.”…A MAN.  On the anniversary of his death today, I want to remember Larry and his family who still grieves.  I remember all the sanitation workers who sacrificed so much to advance the cause of civil rights even in the face of Jim Crow.  The exclusion of any person diminishes our humanity.  I hope that we can intentionally develop spiritual practices which create space for all.

Start Here For More Information on the Memphis Strike:

mlk-­kpp01.­stanford.­edu/­index.­php/­encyclopedia/­encyclopedia/­enc_memphis_sani­tation_workers_s­trike_1968/­

The Common Good Matters

Internally displaced girls help each other wash hands at the UNHCR Sheik Shahzad camp in Mardan district

 

For a while now I have been yearning to hear mention of the Common Good in the media and on the lips of everyday people.  Today, it seems, the Common good is often equated with political correctness in America and is scorned as a weak liberal conspiracy to rob people of their rights.  But, plain and simple, it is just kindness.  May we begin a movement of kindness right now, today, within our circles of influence. **

 

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

You can listen to Naomi read her poem here

You can hear the story behind Naomi’s poem here.

**Find an excellent explanation of a circle of influence here.

 

Photo Credit: HUFF POST.COM

 

 

 

 

Forget the Perfect Offering- Love the Flaws

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Two books which I have found very helpful in opening my wounds to let the light in:

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Heart of Forgiveness: A Practical Path to Healing by Madeleine Ko-i Bastis

 

RELIEF REVEALED

winter to spring collage

For a few years I rented an apartment located across the street from Volunteer Park in Seattle where I would visit the conservatory to escape the incessant, driving rain of winter. Some of you are experiencing the harshness of desert heat at this time. Others can hardly endure freezing temperatures. Relief, pour out your sweet elixir!

 

By the time I walked through the conservatory doors
my rain-drenched coat dripped
into rivulets between the tiles of the green ceramic floor.
The moist heat cocooned me in an aura of sensuous pleasure
releasing me from the burden of my winter coat.

I strolled from room to room
Eyes feasting on a kaleidoscope of vivid color
Paraded with pride by paradise flowers
Orchids Birds of Paradise Hibiscus

Reaching the desert succulent wing
I sat for a while to ponder the plants.
How do you survive this intense aridity?
How do I survive this incessant humidity?

They survive because they must
We survive because we know
That relief lies latent
In the recesses of our souls
Warming us like the moist heat
Of a conservatory on a winter day.

Visit often and spring befalls us
Like pollen cascading from fuchsia Hibiscus.

© Rita H Kowats 1-23-18

 

 

 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60878-d141258-Reviews-Volunteer_Park_Conservatory-Seattle_Washington.html

This Cacaphony of Caca: A Spiritual Practice

soul card for combat fatigue

There has been a lot of cacophony over caca in the last week. Donald Trump’s now infamous racist epithet has left many of us in a deep depression fraught with rage and outrage. Let the cacophony careen until it crashes through every wall erected to protect us from diversity. We wonder how Germany could have raised up Hitler and then remained silent. Now America knows how it happened. There is a time for words, there is a time for action. The time for action is now.

From a place burning deep within my humanity, I have cried tears of anger and tears of shame. I have sat in solidarity with friends as they cried tears of rage and shame. There have been prolonged episodes of reading and analysis of Huffpost, the Washington Post, the BBC. I wrote to my three legislators calling them to gather support in invoking the 25th Amendment. Now I have settled into silence and solitude to support the soulcare that I so sorely need.

SOULCARE

Free The Mind

Distractions enter, threatening to take over thoughts and feelings.

  • Acknowledge their presence saying, for example, “Garbage Trucks.” Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings.
  • Establish a rhythm to your breathing saying, “Breathing in I acknowledge this noise and it’s hold on me, breathing out I release it.”
  • Breathing the intention will eventually create a space for the divine to enter. Say, “Breathing in God is here. Breathing out, I am peace.”
    When you feel yourself resting in God’s presence continue breathing and wait for the Spirit’s prompting.

Seek Healing

  • Detach yourself from the belief that you are the sole saviour of the world.
  • Acknowledge your rage and grief and be grateful you can feel them.
  • Send loving kindness to yourself, repeating the mantra throughout your day until you feel a shift in your consciousness:

Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation

May I be safe from harm.
May I be happy and peaceful
May I be strong and healthy.
May I take care of myself with joy.

  • Send forgiveness to Donald Trump and to all of us for our complicity in racism; if forgiveness doesn’t come remember that it is a process. I have sometimes had to ask God to forgive for me:

Buddhist Forgiveness Prayer

If I have harmed anyone in any way either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions I forgive them.

And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions
I forgive myself.

Birth the Divine in the Unjust Situation

A Mantra

Breathing in peace
Breathing out transformed rage.
Breathing in the divine
Breathing out justice
Breathing in the divine
Breathing out justice.

God alive we thrive.
May it be so.

ACT

 

Photo Credit:   

“SoulCards” by Deborah Koff-Chapin.  The technique Deborah has created is called “touch drawing.”  The  cards come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools.  They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with.  www.soulcards.com

Used with permission from the artist