THE ABANDONED VALLEY
Can you understand
being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the
well so you could feel something
tug at the other end of
Jack Gilbert in Refusing Heaven
(for a loved one who wandered too far)
Old age is like
an abandoned valley
where you have to
venture out in the middle of the night
to find a well to sink your bucket
in search of someone to send it back.
Don’t wander far.
The well is closer
than you imagine.
© Rita H Kowats
The leaf photo evokes the image of a crab’s pinchers poised to strike as it sidles sideways across the sand. As we know, the astrological sign of cancer is named for the crab. Those who are born under this sign are said to struggle letting go and they often communicate indirectly. Outer appearances serve as an armor of sorts, hiding the depths of their feelings, a universally human tendency.
In the process of growing up, crabs have to molt their hard shells many times to make way for each new, larger shell. As it molts, the old shell has to soften while the beginnings of the new shell grow under it. The crab must pull its whole self from the old shell; if it gets stuck, it dies.
Lenten Meditation Three
Thinking sideways slanders truth.
Speaking sideways swindles youth.
Legacy leaving requires
Brittle, whittled half-truths
must soften and slip
to make room for new strata
soon sloughed off to shine
brilliant on sparks of pure
© Rita H Kowats. 3-22-19
The black wrought iron bench was toasty-warm today where I sat watching lakeside trees sway against the gentle autumn wind. Against the wind. I hear Bob Seeger singing in my ear,”…we were running against the wind.” The wind today was coming from the Fraser River Valley in Canada. Normally wind comes from the south around here in the Puget Sound area and our trees know that. They are genetically disposed to sway with the southern winds. When those winds howl down from Canada in winter accompanied by cold temperatures, we can be in trouble. It happened one winter when I lived in a rural wood. I woke up to eighteen trees uprooted on the road behind me. They can’t handle seventy-mile-an-hour sustained northern winds.
I saw the lesson in the trees gently swaying today. I’ve been feeling a bit off lately, an underlying dis-ease in response to an impending hip replacement. The surgery itself doesn’t make me uneasy…I’m a pro, having already had both knees replaced! It’s all the preparations and doctors’ appointments and constant questions and questionnaires that unnerve me. The trees reminded me to be flexible, to sway with the wind rather than against it. Much easier. Much healthier spirituality and physically. Of course, sometimes justice demands that we run against the prevailing wind hanging on tightly, but not this time.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
photo credit: KarinKarin2 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/123747563@N07/32265204954″>Sylt</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Our attempts at self-protection
cause us to live
in a cramped corner of our lives.
Frank Ostaseski “A Friend until the End”
Lion’s Roar July 2018
Senescence has overtaken my back, but I am releasing pain and regaining flexibility by doing PNF stretches and swimming. Compared to five months ago, I am literally a walking miracle. I often meditate in the water, where this analogy came to me.
A miracle for the back
Why not for the soul?
Breathing out ego
Breathing in light
Synced simultaneous soul-stretches
Creating space for the divine.
© Rita H Kowats 6-25-18
Hour Glass Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/hourglass-sands-of-time-woman-man-1356070/
Unclench Yourself: Guided Meditation
Listen to this gift from Marge Piercy. Find the rhythm in your breathing as you take in the essence of her words. Let feelings rise as they will.
Open, love, open.
I tell you we are able
I tell you we are able
now and then gently
with hands and feet
cold even as fish
to curl into a tangle
and grow a single hide,
slowly to unknit all other skin
and rest in flesh
and rest in flesh entire
Come all the way in, love,
it is a river
with a strong current
but its brown waters
will not drown you.
Do not hold out your head.
The current knows the bottom
better than your feet can.
You will find
that in this river
we can breathe
we can breathe
and under water see
small gardens and bright fish
for the air.
You are content to lie on the surface of the cobalt Maui ocean, cocooned in the embrace of warm trade winds, buoyant and safe. Relax and enjoy the carefree feeling of being carried aloft. Continue to synchronize your breathing with winds and waves. In out in out. Feel the warmth of the sun kiss your skin. Breathe in out in out.
Now let your mind wander to regions below the ocean’s surface, to places less placid where fear warns you away. Take some time now to explore those fears which threaten to take your breath away. Name each one as you breathe in and let out the fear on the wave of your breath. In out in out.
You have now dared to leave the surface. How is it for you down there? What small gardens and bright fish do you see? Your breathing becomes deeper and flows evenly throughout every cell of your body. You are the ocean. As the fish is in the sea and the sea is in the fish, you are in the ocean and the ocean is in you.
Ever so gently now, let your body slowly float up to the surface as you continue to breathe. Breathing in I am whole. Breathing out I release all fear. Breathing in I am peace. Breathing out I offer peace.
May it be so.
Sit back and listen to the meditation here:
Photo credit: Marine Explorer <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/71925535@N03/34628416992″>Red sea fan #marineexplorer</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
I have friends who are dealing with the worst of cancers and the death of a loved one. Earthquakes, flooding, wars and hurricanes displace thousands of people. Yet, many of them endure. Not just endure. They endure creatively. How do they do it?
They learn these truths:
Photo Credits: Raw silk- http://www.wormspit.com/degumming.htm; -wood_uncut_by_borysses.jpg
Sleep leaves us totally vulnerable to the beck and call of our unconscious. We spend a few hours each night open to stark naked truth, for better or for worse. If we turn our attention to those nocturnal events in our wake time, we glean valuable insight.
Lately I have been called to that vulnerable space in waking time as I deal with an incident that sent me into an emotional hurricane of old tapes. Around and out and in my ego spins on the rim of the hurricane, covering the same territory ad nauseum while longing to catch hold of the Eye where I can be drawn down into Presence for as long as that gift lasts. This time is both cursed and blessed. Cursed because that slip into emptiness is unspeakably lonely. One day when I was twenty-seven years old I thought I was losing my mind. I wasn’t, but the feeling of abandonment was keen enough to convince me I was. I shouted out to the God of my youth, “Help me! I don’t know what to do.” And the way opened.
I hate the hurricane and I love it because it makes me strip down to my essential humanity where I have to wallow in my muddy feelings. It’s so damned uncomfortable. And so redeeming because it’s in the wallowing that I become vulnerable enough to let go and can slip into the Eye of Presence.
After four dizzy days of spinning and three sleepless nights, I have finally caught onto the innermost rim and slipped into the Eye. Ahhh.
An Offering of Spiritual Practices for Hurricane Times
- I kept my battery powered candle on throughout the night as a symbol that it is through the wounds that the light gets in (Thank you, Leonard Cohen.)
- Sent loving kindness to the object of my wrath (between rants)…poured love like gold into the wound that wounded until it’s scar blinded with bling! Here is my version of it:
- Swore softly at my cat between clenched teeth
- Called upon my angels and spirit guides to surround me and let pass into me and from me only that energy which is for the greatest good.
- Cleansed my aura often with spritz spray because-
- Debriefed with a friend
Breathing in I am peace
Breathing out I release anger
Breathing in I am power
Breathing out I release dominance.
May it be so.
Photo Credit: http://www.nocturnepodcast.org/ Artist: Robin Gelanti
My soul feels tight
Like a ball of yarn
Wound around itself
Strand by strand round and round
Until no redemptive chink
Admits light or air.
Ego clamors to unravel and reveal
As if knowing alone can extricate and redeem.
Spirit takes this Jonah by the hand
And descends into the belly of the ball
To sit in her light and breathe in her air
Until the beginning strand finds me,
Wraps me round and catapults me
Into divine spaciousness.
© rita h kowats 7-16
(Genesis 32: 22-31)
I see you across the river.
Your massive wings catching the wind’s draft
Beckon me into the fray- I thought.
Your invitation is lost in the miasma
of my pugnacious fear.
The river pulls me toward my destiny
every step across the ford fraught
with illusions of empire.
You stand stalwart in shinning sheen
that sets off sparks of fused energy
wherever it touches me.
Thrust and lunge pass and punt
around and under over and through
I wrestle in dusk then dark
demanding the blessing of blissful sovereignty
until I break with the dawning of new day.
I wake from the stupor of exhaustion
Supine and cradled in your protective wings.
Blessed with the chrism of your love
I rest in embryonic innocence
Face to Face
Free of fear.
© rita h kowats 2014
A “SoulCard” 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. You can learn more at Deborah’s webpage www.soulcards.com
Used with permission from the artist.