Lake Lament

 

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In June, even though I couldn’t see the lake I at least had a piece of it. On this August morning thick underbrush enveloped me and I lamented the loss of the lake.

At first I felt closed in and irritated that the city had not followed through with its mandate to prune. What about the common good and our need for beauty, after all? A practice of sitting ensued and soon I felt protected by the semi-circle of green, holding me, shielding me from the pending evil about to descend on Portland Oregon today.

Earlier I had sent loving kindness to the far right hate groups Patriot Prayer and Proud boys, due to hold a rally there. I sent loving kindness to the counter-protesters. I imagined nonviolence prevailing.

At the lake I imagined the overgrown green surrounding all of them with love and nonviolence and I called on all that is holy to shield them from the evil of hate. The little lake that I love is not what I needed. Nature knows best.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” has experts all over the country monitoring hate group activity. Here are some links that detail the rally in Portland today. Heads up Washington State voters. Our primary ballots are due this coming Tuesday. Are you aware that one Republican candidate running for U.S. senate is Joey Gibson, the leader of Patriot Prayer?

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/08/04/patriot-prayer-and-proud-boys-met-hundreds-counter-protesters-portland
https://www.splcenter.org/pnw-rallies

Can We Care Again?

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The headline in the Seattle Times reads “For third day, grieving orca carries dead calf in water.” (July 26, 2018). As I write this morning it is the sixth day the mother has carried her dead baby on her nose, diving down deep to retrieve it whenever it slips off. I don’t have words to express how I feel. The photo says it.

Elephants also mourn, holding wakes for fallen elephants. In a PBS production I saw a herd come across the remains of a bull elephant. They circled the skull caressing it with their trunks, even lingering over it. Around and around they went, emitting those low rumbling sounds humans cannot hear by ears alone.

I mourn that many humans no longer hear. We seem to have forgotten how to care enough for one another to hold vigil.
My practice:

Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release indifference
Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release hate
Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release fear of the other.

Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release indifference
Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release hate
Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release fear of the other.

May the merits of this practice extend to all sentient beings in the universe.

Amen.

Photo Credit: Seattle Times

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/puget-sound/for-third-day-grieving-orca-whale-carries-dead-calf-in-water/

Mother Hospitality

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This morning I feasted on a video from American Public Television entitled, Borders. PBS describes it this way:

“BORDERS explores the relationships and influences that Mexican and American craft artists have on each other and our cultures.” You can enjoy it here:

http://www.pbs.org/craft-in-america/tv-series/borders/

As I luxuriated in the rich, intense colors and the spiritual meaning inherent in the folk art I determined to learn more and to incorporate Mexican culture in my life more. Then I was slapped in the face by Donald Trump’s assessment of the Mexican people and I wept. This poem, Mother Hospitality, emerged as a spiritual practice to deal with my waning hope.

 

 

Caged within the borders of his fear
the xenophobe hunkers down untouched
by the diffused difference of cultures
casting bits of light on uncaged seekers outside.

Mother Hospitality tootles across the globe
picking up variegated pieces of light and love.
Her basket swings blithely on her arm in rhythm
with the hope that beats in her heart.
She watches for signs of cracking
then, quick as she can, tosses in a sliver of light
One sliver.
Enough to rattle the cage.

© rita h kowats 7-24-18

 

Photo Credit: free download from https://kathleenhalme.com/explore/cage%20clipart%20person/

Listening to My Life: A Book Review

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Recently I overheard a conversation in which someone exclaimed exuberantly, “You are so completely yourself and true. How refreshing!” How refreshing indeed, to listen to Ardine Martinelli tell her story with the power that only comes from a soul fully reconciled with her humanity, and living it truthfully.

The memoir, Listening to My Life, is the story of our human journey. Young women hungry for a femtor, and young men longing to learn respect for women will glean much from these pages. Abusers desperate to repent and the abused who seek to forgive may find healing in the telling of a life who has listened to itself. Profound wisdom awaits all who venture in.

With every passing chapter, episodes of my own life passed before me. Martinelli’s narrative is so compelling that I felt mandated by an unseen force to truly listen to my life as I read hers. I finished this book with regret that it ended, and came away inspired to continue listening to my life with as much integrity as the author has lived hers.

Please visit Ardine’s blog where she posts excerpts from her book and timely pieces that emerge from her life today as she lives it.

https://listeningtomylife.blog/book/

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/­