Spiritual Listening

It becomes increasingly more lonely to live a life of presence in today’s world. We try to listen deeply and the other drinks in the empathy we channel.  Then when we need deep listening, it is often not to be found.  We are greeted with a barrage of self-absorbed words tripping over more words. We survive by leaning into the constant presence of the divine that informs and sustains us.  

We desire to listen as an unconditional gift, even making it an intentional spiritual practice; however, our humanity longs for reciprocation. May we live into a bountiful space where deep listening defines our humanity and each one is blessed with a generous listener.

Constant Spirit Sprung

My young self shook
with sheer terror
in the Disclosure Confrontation Marathon
where they likened me to a monkey
swinging from bar to bar
shrieking,”Look at me, look at me!”

A constant stream of words
“saying nothing worth hearing” until,
the truth I sought so desperately
welled up from Constant Spirit

“I don’t love anyone because I don’t know how.”

Redemption.
Relief 
to know a starting point for growth.

Disclosure Confrontation Marathon-
No deep listening here.
Trauma aside, it pushed me onto the path.
How much better to have been led to it.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 7/31/2021


photo Credit: Pexels.com

Intentional Speaking: A Spiritual Practice

When I am giddy with the prospect of juicy gossip, John O’Donohue throws down this gauntlet to me:

May you not disrespect your mystery
 through brittle words or false belonging.

-“For Absence” in To Bless The Space Between Us


Physicists tell us that our thoughts are energy and energy doesn’t die.  Do I really want the negative energy of gossip to be my lingering legacy in the universe?

A Blessing For These Times

Blessing in the Chaos

To all that is chaotic
in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be
a calming
of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that
have laid their claim
on you,
that have made their
home in you,

that go with you
even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you
hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace
that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you
cease.
Let what divides you
cease.
Let there come an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find
the peace
you did not think
possible
and see what shimmers
within the storm.

—Jan Richardson



https://paintedprayerbook.com/2012/01/24/epiphany-4-blessing-in-the-chaos/

The Gift Of What Is





He was pinned to himself to die,
a royal tern with a black crest blown back
as if he flew in his own private wind….
We borrowed a clippers, cut and drew out the hook.
Then the royal tern took off, wavering,
lurched twice,
then acrobat returned to his element, dipped,
zoomed, and sailed out to dive for a fish.
Virtue:  what a sunrise in the belly.

Marge Piercy “Gracious Goodness”

I hadn’t been to the little dock at Echo Lake in two weeks and I eagerly anticipated seeing the ducks and Great Blue Heron, my long time friend. Perhaps a few cormorants as well.  Imagine my disappointment upon arrival, seeing that the reeds and spindly cottonwoods had taken over my view of the lake. For a few futile minutes I yelled inwardly at the park department for not maintaining this little spot that gives such great joy to so many of us. 

Then my ear caught that familiar flapping of tiny hummingbird wings and I watched one after another drink from the blooms of a tree that blocked my view of the lake. One bright red dragon fly hovered at an apparently fecund tree stump, while a two inch zebra-stripped one landed on the railing beside me. Another smaller dragonfly, the color of my blue shirt, landed on my arm seeking a like-minded creature, perhaps. My favorite red-winged blackbirds were sadly silent, avoiding the midday sun rather than serenading me with the song I love so much.

“Virtue: What a sunrise in the belly.” See divinity where it is, not where we want it to be.

Letting Go of Trauma: A Prayer

Artem Beliakin/Pexels


Letting Go Of Trauma
A Prayer

Fly we must
Over the canyons of our despair
Spare
Spare 
Spare us from echoes
Of shame and blame
That twist in and out
Of our honeycomb hearts.

Fly we must- 
Surviving until we thrive.
Surviving until we let you pluck us
From the safety of flight
And set us down on
The holy ground of your love.
Root us in you, Holy One.
Mute the voices of shame and blame.

May it be so.




Spiritual Walkabout

Ezekiel 37
Vision of the Dry Bones.

[a] 1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the Lord and set me in the center of the broad valley. It was filled with bones. 2 He made me walk among them in every direction. So many lay on the surface of the valley! How dry they were!

5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life. 6 I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put breath into you so you may come to life. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. 7 I prophesied as I had been commanded. A sound started up, as I was prophesying, rattling like thunder. The bones came together, bone joining to bone. 8 As I watched, sinews appeared on them, flesh grew over them, skin covered them on top, but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me: Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man! Say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: From the four winds come, O breath, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.[b] 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet….





As I walkabout the valley
of my soul today, 
I gather scattered skeletons 
I’ve discarded in shame.

Remnants of missteps dangle from dry bones. 
Brushing them bare, breathing 
forgiveness and compassion into them,
I rise yet another day.

Redemption 

c. Rita H Kowats 6-20-2021


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Living In The Interstices


Living In The Interstices


Gap
Crevice
Space

All words we could have chosen,
But this was Berkeley, after all.
How much better to lift one’s eyes to the universe
(While onlookers rolled theirs)
And espouse a Spirituality of Interstices.

How often I have lived in the space 
between this home and that home
Like a trapeze artist clinging to this bar 
while watching the next one swing

Closer
and
Closer.

Major shifts of reality foreshadow 
New growth incubating in the interstices-
That space in between departure and arrival,
Between letting go and letting be,
Space fertile yet fearful
Teeming with possibility.

On the final leg of my journey
I again wait in the space between 
Living here and living there,
Living and not living…
A multiversal journey toward 
New spiritual consciousness.


RHK 6/10/21














Shadow Souls

Flare up like flame
And make big shadows I can move in.

Rainer Maria Rilke 


I, 59 

God speaks to each of us as he makes us, 
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear: 

You, sent out beyond your recall, 
go to the limits of your longing. 

Embody me. 

Flare up like flame 
and make big shadows I can move in. 

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. 
Just keep going. No feeling is final. 
Don’t let yourself lose me. 

Nearby is the country they call life. 
You will know it by its seriousness. 

Give me your hand.


Rainer Maria Rilke
In Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
Trans. Anita Barrows

Making Friends With Boredom

 

 

“In navigating the changes, in wrestling with boredom, in confronting our restlessness, in learning to pay attention to what is before us rather than forever moving on to something or someplace that looks more appealing, we come to know regions of our souls that we could never enter otherwise.

Where do you find sources of stability?

What do you learn in committing to something—a place, a person, a way of life—over the long haul?”

In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson

 

 

Photo Credit:  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/6-scientific-benefits-of-being-bored-a6839306.html

 

Be A Clean Well Lighted Place

light-road-nature-night_kindlephoto-87473224

 

Recently I wrote that one “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.”  I offer another pondering of this piece posted three years ago.  We needed to be clean well lighted places for one another then.  We need to be now, more than ever.

It is time to revisit Ernest Hemingway’s poignant masterpiece, “A Clean Well Lighted Place.” It is a short story about a cafe which shelters the lonely and distraught, affording them safe harbor for a few hours. A clean well lighted place where one can feel at home. A place where “everyone knows your name.”

An older waiter is convinced that all is “nada,” nothing, meaningless and that his elderly customer is there to push the nothingness away for a while because “This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves.”

Isn’t that all each of us desires, to sit with someone in the light when “nada” starts closing in? Let’s do that for one another when we feel hopeless, when panic pushes up from our gut threatening to take over our lives. Be that clean well lighted place, a safe haven for one another.

 
Surviving

An old codger on a bar stool
Spins victory vignettes.
He sways in sync
With the melodies of stories
That play in his head,
Hoping for a listener to relieve him
Of the nothingness that calls him
To the warmth of the cafe.

RIta H Kowats 1-27-2017

Photo Credit:  https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-road-nature-night-1163/