My postage-stamp-sized floors shine,
Reflecting my clean and polished soul
(“Cleanliness is next to godliness?”)
Sitting still I bask in the shine while I can-
Before splotches of spinach and sin
Soil soul and floor yet again.
Alas, the leaf blower beneath my window
Is the bell calling me
Back to mindfulness
(I hate this infernal cacaphony of chaos)
Breathing in, I welcome peace
Breathing out, I release this edginess.
Breathing in, I rest in Presence.
Breathing out, I release anger.
Giving thanks for this day humanly lived.
© Rita H Kowat 6-13-18
photo credits: mop and bucket <a href=”http://worldartsme.com/”>WorldArtsMe</a>
leaf blower https://unhealingmedic.deviantart.com/art/Leaf-Blower-289176773
If you have never seen a Great Blue Heron walking, I assure you, it is quite amusing. These magnificent birds are as comical as we are in our daily ego-grasping endeavors. If we don’t laugh, we cry, so let’s have a laugh at our expense.
photo credit: DFChurch <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/77056186@N00/25777120120″>Little Blue</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
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.
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
photo credit: James Bowe <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29848680@N08/41372593744″>Buttercups</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
It should come as no surprise that much of what you read here has already been written elsewhere, for there really is “nothing new under the sun.” Thank you to the mystics and wonderers who go before me. What is new for each of us is the aha moment when we see a truth for the first time or when we peel away another layer so as to understand at greater depth.
For a few years I have used this mantra to stop the human flow of judgment and criticism,”God alive and we thrive.” If god is alive in the conversation, we thrive instead of being dragged down in a cloud of negative energy. I have found the mantra quite helpful until the other day when I had to deal with the incessant noise that accompanies city living and was given a new layer of meaning. I recalled a video of a Buddhist nun who used a bell to call her to mindfulness. She alluded to feeling so frustrated and impatient with the noise that kept her from mindfulness, and substituted the noise itself as the bell calling her to mindfulness. I began to consider the noise outside as a call to mindfulness and a different word came up, the word “presence.” My mantra became “Breathing in presence I release irritation. Breathing in presence I release unrest.” After a while the noise slipped away and I was gifted with a few moments of connection with the divine…much more satisfying than fixating on the noise of garbage trucks uploading!
Subsequently, other uses of the mantra have presented themselves to me. One day I fixated on the possibility of someone’s interference in my life. That negative energy did me no good at all, but this mantra transported me out of it, “Breathing in presence I release mistrust. Breathing in presence I release fear.” When we live in divine presence there is simply no space for negative energy. When we invite presence we are inviting the divine presence that lives in the other person to share space in our being. It is like greeting someone with “Namaste, I greet the god in you.”
I invite you to try this mantra and share in a comment that will give all of us tools for our spiritual growth. Blessings be yours.
Photo Credit: http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/garbage-truck-clip-art-10415641
I Invite you all to travel over to https://listeningtomylife.blog/blog/
Here you can drink in and savor the wisdom and experience of my dear friend, teacher and soulmate. This is a recent offering:
A friend sent me this poem today and I wanted to share it with you. This is the spiritual journey for me–letting go of all those old stories that keep me from living in peace. I love the image of the backpack. Getting rid of those old emotions that hold us in a tight knot. Filling our backpacks with compassion brings forth a sense of connection. May it be so!!
The Sage Must Travel Light
Youth can carry a heavy load day after day
Without noticing the damaging effects.
But the sage must lay down the burden.
Grudges and disappointments
Are much too cumbersome
For a person of wisdom and contentment.
The sage must travel light.
There is a backpack in the mind
Which over the years, has become
Filled with rocks and stones.
You do not have to carry them anymore.
You can empty your pack
And carry only compassion
From one day to the next.
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God”. Ruth 1:16
Imagine this. Your father is eighty years old and his wife of 55+ years has just entered a Memory Care Unit. Every visit to his wife is a painful death. The added stress of learning how to manage his household and care for his own aging body is quickly depleting him of energy.
Like the biblical Ruth you hear a call that is more than duty. The call to loving compassion sounds clearly and insistently across Badlands and Cascades: Uproot. Go. Your people shall be my people. So you leave everything to make a new home with your father.
Who does such a thing? I am in awe of the courage and aware of the challenges. May I someday learn to be this selfless.
vibrates along every vein in every root
pulsing and pulling
tapping the primal tattoo heard by Ruth before you:
You scoop up your scattered roots,
clutch them close and set out.
©Rita H. Kowats March 23, 2018
The Badlands Photo Credit: Thomas James Caldwell <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/81643710@N00/15497697471″>Erosive Effects</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Cascade Mountains Photo Credit: jcolman N00/3475838105″>The Olympic Mountains in morning sunlight via photopin (license)
Tree: Photo by Daniel Watson from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-trunk-green-leaf-tree-beside-body-of-water-762679/
When I heard Li-Young Lee read this stunning love poem I instantly dissolved in tears. It’s depth took me to regions beyond human love to that intense longing for the beyond, the more, to the inscrutable mysteries of the universe where I have found the divine in my old age. I can hear it whispered by desert mothers and fathers in the caves of Cappadocia and encounter it wafting on the notes of Hildegard von Bingin’s ethereal chants. This is the stuff of mystics. Enjoy.
Weekend All Things Considered February 24 interviewed Li-Young Lee. (Listen here)
I Loved You before I Was Born
I loved you before I was born.
It doesn’t make sense, I know.
I saw your eyes before I had eyes to see.
And I’ve lived longing
for your every look ever since.
That longing entered time as this body.
And the longing grew as this body waxed.
And the longing grows as this body wanes.
That longing will outlive this body.
I loved you before I was born.
It makes no sense, I know.
Long before eternity, I caught a glimpse
of your neck and shoulders, your ankles and toes.
And I’ve been lonely for you from that instant.
That loneliness appeared on earth as this body.
And my share of time has been nothing
but your name outrunning my ever saying it clearly.
Your face fleeing my ever
kissing it firmly once on the mouth.
In longing, I am most myself, rapt,
my lamp mortal, my light hidden and singing.
I give you my blank heart.
Please write on it
what you wish.
My first experience visiting a Memory Care facility has left me with a heightened awareness of the spiritual practice of emptying oneself. I am left with an urgency to learn how to let go while I can still choose. I want to store up the Light that will warm me and guide me if I come to a place of unawares. May it be so.
The young woman at the lobby desk welcomes my sister and me to the memory care unit with genuine enthusiasm, happy that Gloria has visitors. She invites us to enjoy refreshments from the sideboard while we sign in, then we embark on our journey into another world.
The door opens onto the movie theatre. Comfortable chairs face a giant screen, flanked by posters of actors in their 1940’s heyday. A few residents watch, while others sleep or stare inwardly at movies of their past lives.
The theatre morphes into a small dining area, the brown floral Persian rug seamlessly connecting the two areas. Three small tables host residents and their care-givers slowly enacting the ritual of eating. Bite. Sleep. Bite. Stare. Bite. Tears gather and I choke up, overwhelmed by the question stalking me on this first journey, ” What if the disease takes me? What if…” The words of the biblical character Job bubble up as if emblazoned on a marquee,”The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” What an emptying this would be.
Moving down a hallway, windows look out on a garden and period musical instruments don one wall, while 1950’s fashion prom dresses decorate the other wall. When the hallway enters into another area we see Gloria seated at a table eating lunch with another resident. She still knows who we are and her delight at seeing us is reassuring. Also reassuring is her increased appetite and genuine affirmation of her new home.
After a brief stroll around the halls we say our goodbyes, happy that Gloria is happy but dreading the fast-approaching time when she will no longer know who we are. We, however, will know who Gloria is on our next visit and we will love her in whichever dimension is claiming her that day.
PHOTO CREDIT: https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2017/01/25/learn-about-alzheimers-disease-and-dementia-research-at-public-forum/