One Heart, One Mind
“The eye with which God sees me 
is the same eye with which I see God.
God’s eye and my eye are one eye.
one seeing, one knowing, one loving.”

Meister Eckhart

This morning I picked up Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice. The essay that caught me up is from Chapter 2, “Collective Consciousness.”

In this moment I miss our holy teacher profoundly. It occurs to me that by reading his words again, I have come into his presence.  His consciousness lives on in his words. I think he would say that this is essentially what happens in prayer when we become present to one another in the collective consciousness, or in Buddhism, the “one mind.”

Thich Nhat Hanh says, “…with a Sangha [community], whether of two or five or one hundred people like us, when we simultaneously practice sending spiritual energy, then that energy is magnified and much more effective….if we have a Sangha that is free and solid then the energy we can send together will certainly be greater.”

In another life I was a Catholic sister. In the days before the Vatican II reforms I knew this experience of the “one mind” to be true, and I relished common meditation, even at 5 a.m. Years after the younger members had abandoned the practice, I visited a convent of traditional, older members with whom I was expected to meditate- at 5 a.m. I entered the chapel with a good book to read, unconvinced of the efficacy of this archaic practice. “I might as well read the scripture text for the day,” I thought. I read, and immediately was lost in meditation on the passage; indeed, soon lost in contemplation. My silent connection with the meditators beside me was palpable. In our everyday lives we had little in common, but in this sacred space we were one.

Cyber Community, shall we meditate together with the intention of sending the power of peace where it is needed? 

Breathing in peace
Releasing violence.
May it be so.

A Plea

A Plea 

Some struggle to restrain the storm 
that broods in every soul-cell.
They struggle to quell the looming eruption
Or the gut-wrenching whimper that rumbles 
and hiccups on the crest of unstoppable sobs.
Their fear demands, “Just how supreme will this court get?”
Others teem with pent up joy released and celebrated.

I hear the preacher pray:

May  we respect one another.
May  we listen deeply.
May  we refuse violence of word and body.


c. Rita H Kowats
June 26, 2022

“And Jesus Wept”

My friend Jim wrote this poem in 1987 to tell the story of that year’s Gay Pride Parade in NYC. He was an extroverted mystic, fitting no one’s mold. Jim lived enough years after that to see some progress toward justice, but this was a bleak time. May our tears be for joy this year

Corpus Christi: New York "87"

Sunny Sunday in late June.
Thousands march.
Joyous and free.
I joined.

Searchers and seekers
Walking with dignity and pride.
Approaching the Cathedral:
A contradiction!

Blue barricades, blue flashing lights
On cop cars and paddy wagons;
Blue shirted police arm to arm
Protecting the Cathedral.

A Crucifixion?
The front steps blocked by
A blue Army in blue berets
(looking psychotic)
Shaking rosaries, thumping Bibles
Yelling “Sinners Sinners” as we passed by.

“Shame, shame, shame,” we murmured
Softly in reply.
I looked for Jesus beyond the barricades.
Not there!
“Thank God,” I said.

At 3 o’clock the parade stopped.
A city fell silent.
Bells tolled.

From the Village up Fifth Avenue.
Coming closer and closer
Passing over us
Until the whole sky was filled with
Colored balloons.

My heart burned within,
I remembered all who died of AIDS.
Gazing at the heavens,
I watched a great loving God
Gather balloons, holding them high
In God’s bright blue sky
Above the blue baracades, blue lights
Blue armies & blue shirted cops.

My God gathered these children,
Sons & daughters into a peace-filled
Eternal embrace.

I wept.
Turning, I saw two older women,
Pioneers and witnesses of the movement,
Weeping and holding each other as they
Too gazed upward.

Peace to you and me!

James L. Becker

Beauty Cannot Be Banned

BBC Ukrainecast- graffiti left in Bucha by Russian soldiers
Katarzyna Modrzejewska

Beauty Rises

Beauty rises.
No matter what.

It rises from rich loam
and from tomes teeming
with dreaming.

A sunflower in Donetsk region
lifts its face, offering seeds 
to a waiting lark.
One errant seed clinging to a claw
drops into the rubble 
of the besieged city.

The seed pushes up 
through a crack in the rubble.

Beauty rises.
No matter what.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 
June 2, 2022

Lest We Fade Away

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 

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

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

Winter And Spring
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 
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

When Will We Ever Learn?

© Negro Elkha / Adobe Stock/

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.

“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

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

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
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

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Standing Watch

Glass Houses, features a cobrador, a “cloaked figure acting as a conscience to those without one. Forcing payment of a moral debt.”

Louise Penny Glass Houses

When the pandemic first began, I longed for the comfort of Three Pines Village featured in the Louise Penny mystery series. So I reread all of the books. It helped! “Some might argue that Three Pines itself isn’t real, and they’d be right, but limited in their view. The village does not exist, physically. But I think of it as existing in ways that are far more important and powerful. Three Pines is a state of mind. When we choose tolerance over hate. Kindness over cruelty. Goodness over bullying. When we choose to be hopeful, not cynical. Then we live in Three Pines.” (Louise Penny)  So I read. And read. It’s time to go back to Three Pines on this anniversary of the horror perpetrated in the U,S. Capital.

One of Penny’s books, Glass Houses, features a cobrador, a “cloaked figure acting as a conscience to those without one. Forcing payment of a moral debt.” (Penny)  He/she stands wordlessly in the village green. Waiting. I’m reminded of that book every day lately when I see an unsheltered person come to rest on the bench across the street. Sometimes in chilling, drenching rain and high wind. They just sit for a while, and I hold vigil with them from my warm, dry apartment. I pray for forgiveness for my complicity with an unjust system that keeps them unsheltered. The visitor to the bench is a cobrador for me, calling me to accountability and inspiring me to action. My hope is that all of us will stand as a conscience that reminds us that there is still such a thing as the common good. That we will stand as a conscience that says no to violence and selfishness.

We stand. With or without words. We stand boldly in our “no.”

The Light Bearers

Carry your light into the dark.
Swing it wide 
Into the hidden cupboards
Tucked away 
Under the staircases of our souls.

The shadows that loom 
And shatter peace
By piece by piece,
But gentle your swings-
Don’t show us all at once
Lest you send us scampering
Deeper into the cupboard.

Carry your light into the dark.
Swing it wide 
Into the hidden cupboards
Tucked away 
Under the staircases of our souls.

Bring your light beside our wound
To staunch the steady stream of negativity 
That threatens our well-being;
A slow burn, endearing and enduring.

Carry your light into the dark.
Swing it wide 
Into the hidden cupboards
Tucked away 
Under the staircases of our souls.

Ignite us with love
And stoke it, until transformed,
We bear the light to others.

Carry your light into the dark.
Swing it wide 
Into the hidden cupboards
Tucked away 
Under the staircases of our souls.

c. Rita H Kowats 2021

photo credit: