Time Out From Chaos

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At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement.

― T.S. Eliot

 

A Blessing For This Time Of Wrestling

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May this blessing from Jan Richardson console us as we wrestle with so much these days.

Jacob’s Blessing

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. —Genesis 32:24

If this blessing were easy, anyone could claim it.
As it is, I am here to tell you that it will take some work.
This is the blessing that visits you
in the struggling,
in the wrestling,
in the striving.

This is the blessing that comes
after you have left everything behind,
after you have stepped out,
after you have crossed into that realm
beyond every landmark you have known.

This is the blessing that takes all night to find.
It’s not that this blessing is so difficult,
as if it were not filled with grace
or with the love that lives in every line.
It’s simply that it requires you to want it,
to ask for it, to place yourself in its path.

It demands that you stand to meet it when it arrives,
that you stretch yourself in ways
you didn’t know you could move,
that you agree to not give up.

So when this blessing comes,
borne in the hands of the difficult angel who has chosen you, do not let go. Give yourself into its grip.
It will wound you, but I tell you there will come a day
when what felt to you like limping
was something more like dancing
as you moved into the cadence
of your new and blessed name.

Jan Richardson in The Cure For Sorrow: A Book Of Blessings In Times Of Grief

 

 

Spiritual Energy

Man with conceptual spiritual body art

 

Our thoughts and feelings
have an electromagnetic reality.
Manifest wisely

 

A good spiritual practice for these stressful moments of pandemic: remember that we are energy and we are called to direct that energy intentionally for the greatest good.

Before I unconsciously spew out my hurts and frustrations on others, I ask myself these questions from a Buddhist tradition: Is it necessary?  Is it true? Is it kind?  Does it improve on the silence?  This practice is one way of  intentionally and responsibly directing our energy.

Blessings on us all.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: 4329116 Man with conceptual spiritual body art by
Nejron stockfresh.com

A Spirituality Of Aging

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I stand here
Outside of myself
And watch as I commence
the journey
Into venerable vulnerability-
At least that’s what the young call it;
It doesn’t feel venerable yet.

I watch with surprise
That this old body that once
Could stave off
All manner of ailment
Bouncing back stronger,
Now fights a succession of infections
On a pilgrimage to commune
With the bones
Of my once stately cathedral.

I stand here
Outside of myself
And watch as I
Cry through the loss
Like an ancient willow wailing
Over limbs taken by thankless winds.
I feel the phantom sensations
Of my coveted limbs tingle
With strength, endurance and joy.

If I stand here
Outside of myself long enough
I will see green-leafed limbs
Poke through the paneless windows
Of my bone cathedral,
Stretching toward
patience, acceptance and resignation.

I stand here
Outside of myself
Awestruck by this holy episode
We call life.

c. Rita H Kowats May 18, 2020

Photo Credit: Wikipedia  Commons

Deep Listening

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A good blessing possesses something of what Celtic folk have long called a thin place, a space where the veil between worlds becomes permeable, and heaven and earth meet. In a thin place, God is not somehow more present, more there than in other places. Instead, a thin place enables us to open our eyes and hearts to the presence of God that goes with us always.

 

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

In the introduction to her new book of blessings (The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for times of Grief) Jan Richardson reminds me of another encounter I recently had with this concept of “a thin place.”

The author noted that another Celtic tradition holds that some persons are themselves a “thin place.” I know these persons to be the true deep listeners among us. We come away from an encounter with them knowing that we have been seen, knowing that we are known.

During these dire times of pandemic we must find the thin places among us and seek and call on them. They are the ones who can hold space for our fear and sorrow. Find them. If you are yourself a thin place ( you know who you are) step up. Be the listener who holds that space for others.

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

http://henrinouwen.org/meditation/listening-spiritual-hospitality/

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Weeping Willow Meditation

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Weeping Willow Meditation

 

My seven-year-old self often sat
Settled under the swaying, trailing branches
Of the weeping willow that stood guard
In the center of her backyard.

 

The wispy caresses of the supple branches
Danced on the gentle wind,
Soughing a message unheard
On the other, unsettled wind
That gusted through the house-

You are loved. You are whole.

 

My seventy-five year old self
Now sits before a willow weeping
For a world not supple,
A world bending to its breaking point.
Trailing branches whip and slap,
Howls replace affirming whispers.

 

The weeping will wane
With every sway of every branch.
Hope will caress us again.
Weeping and rejoicing are One.
Live through each,
You become the Other.

 

© Rita Hemmer Kowats 4-30-2020

 

Photo Credit: Photo by Daria Sannikova from Pexels

Effacement

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EFFACEMENT/ Hafiz

Effacement
Is a golden gun.
It was not easy to hold it against my head
And fire!
I needed great faith in my master
To suffocate myself
With his holy bag
Full of truth.
I needed great courage
To go out into the dark
Tracking God into the unknown
And not panic or get lost
In all the startling new scents, sounds,
Sights,
Or lose my temper
Tripping on those scheming
Night and day around me.
Hafiz,
Effacement is the emerald dagger
You need to plunge
Deep into yourself upon
This path to divine Recovery—
Upon this path
To God.

efface[ ih-feys ]

verb (used with object), ef·faced, ef·fac·ing.
to wipe out; do away with; expunge:
to efface one’s unhappy memories.
to rub out, erase, or obliterate (outlines, traces, inscriptions, etc.).
to make (oneself) inconspicuous; withdraw (oneself) modestly or shyly.

Dictionary.com

 

Response

 

Ever So Dear Hafiz,

In principle I experience this experience you’ve opened up for us; however, as a creature of the twenty-first century and one schooled in psychology, I am compelled to qualify. For me, it is the unhealthy manifestations of ego that I seek to efface, not my Self, the deepest self where divinity makes its home, if I let it.

With that said, dear sage, I now offer a way beyond this pandemic surging through our world today. In spite of the attention many pay to the needs of the common good, this virus has also unleashed a dis-ease of the worst kind. It has loosened the already tentative grip we had on the virtue of selflessness. Ego selfishness gravely threatens body and soul.

So, yes, let us efface, I say. Let us efface selfishness and greed and take on the posture of a parent who would sacrifice anything for the good of their child. We are all one another’s child now. Let us walk this path to “Divine Recovery” together.

Photo Credit: https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/events/2018/03/05/the-common-good-an-anglican-understanding

 

 

Anticipatory Grief

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This heartfelt offering comes to us from my friend Vija, who waits in empathic prayer for her friend’s child to heal from the haunting feelings that threaten her life.

In time of anticipatory grief
Bring comfort to those who endure pain so great
that ending their life to stop such suffering makes perfect sense.

Spread peace like grass seed on the souls of those who love them,
those whose thought, each second of every hour, is for the safety of their beloved.
Let that seed take root and build up a prairie of undulating grasses,
beauty to behold for the poor in spirit.
Comfort those who sleep lightly, anticipating disaster and the worst of news, all night long.

You – you are deeply asleep in the stern of the boat, tucked up snuggly against the wooden ribs,
wrapped in wool that repels the splashing waves, lying on a dense cushion.
We here are panicked – trying to navigate while sinking, shouting to be heard above the storm.
The boat is tipping so perilously that we beat the oars aimlessly against the air
as frequently as we plow them through the water.

We, furious, shake you awake – pissed off that you would relax in such a moment as this.
You chasten us (what??) then right the boat, flatten the water whose area under the wet,
curved surface was as complex as a calculus equation only seconds ago.

Faith – where is our faith, you demand?
Because apparently sometimes, peace is present, but for the asking.
So – Ask.

Maybe bail for a bit, too:
praying and cursing as you toss bucket after bucket of water
out of the boat and back into the lake.

© Vija Merrill, 2020

 

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Respite

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How do we cope with the pace of covid 19?  This poem was my outlet.  It is heavy, but the times are heavy and allowing myself to feel puts me in solidarity with the suffering of others, and my own suffering.  I hold all of you in my prayer.

 

Respite
(Upon seeing Aid Units take neighbors to hospitals)

Last night
Lopsided Luna
Had shrunk to a sliver
While I rested safely
In the crook of her crescent elbow.

Yet today, as sometimes happens here,
Sol soars above the Salish Sea
In full, bold brilliance
Prompting squints to soothe and temper.
But try as we might to temper traffic-
The Aid Units keep on coming.

How I long to stagger the relentless surge
Of this viral onslaught.
Let me linger longer in that calm crescent cave
Where raw sadness can live its way back to hope,
Where I can hone the creed
That all is well-
Regardless.

C. Rita Hemmer Kowats 4-20-2020
Birthday of my father George J. Kowats +1988

 

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