Spiritual Practice For A Frantic World


Yesterday I had a very painful procedure done by a nurse in my oral surgeon’s office. Her competency evoked trust but her communication style frustrated me. Immediately upon completing the procedure she started shooting rapid-fire instructions at me. I was still coming down from the pain and somewhat shocked by it. I retained none of her instructions.  “Wait, please,” I said. “I need a few minutes to come back from this.” I did breath work until the pain subsided and I could concentrate. Then I said, “Ok, give it to me again slowly.” She was great.

Can you just give us a few minutes, World? I am struggling with the reality that I no longer fit out there and I want to stay in here. So, I’m creating a spiritual coping process that some of you may also find helpful:

  • Before leaving the house I will cleanse myself of negative energy I might impose on others, and I protect myself from possible frenetic or negative energy I may encounter.
  • Because I tend to lash out when encountering these situations, I will develop a habit of intentionally taking a breath before I respond.
  • As I did with the nurse (Ahh. I’ve done one right thing lately!) I will try not to support frenetic behavior by actively stating my need. Done with compassion, this could create a little awareness and compassion in a segment of my community.
  • Returning to my little anchorage-home I will cleanse myself of any frenetic or negative energy I picked up. I will send light to those persons whom I encountered.
  • Difficult experiences “out in the world” lately have evoked tears of utter frustration. Not wanting to heap rant after rant on those close to me, I’ve held it in. Creating this process just now has been so helpful. Now I need to get a hold of that one person who can receive my rant, and get it out of my system. Thanks to you too, for your witness to this process. I imagine you’re relieved I didn’t get started on the quality of some Uber driving.

You are all persons who take your spiritual lives seriously, or you wouldn’t be dropping by. If you have helpful thoughts on this topic, please, share them below. We’re in this together. Peace be with you.

Release The Talking Heads

Nino Bughadze pexels.com
We are wrapped 
In Rapid-fire thoughts
Ejected with rapid-fire words.

We leave no wiggle room for being,
From whence comes truth.
(Even Molly of Denali’s mom
Tells her to slooooooow down.)

Spirit,
Where are you?
Have we wound you round so tightly
That we’ve stifled your every nudge
Nestled in the recesses of our souls?

Unbind us.
Peel off this tyranny of constant chatter
And take us home to that spacious center
Where you frolic with abandon.
Release our Talking Heads.

c. Rita Hemmer Kowats 
June 11, 2022

“Call Me By My True Names”II

Thich Nhat Hanh 12 (cropped).jpg

I will forever remember Thich Nhat Hanh for the challenge he offers me in this stark and powerful poem. If we can get to the point of recognizing how evil intention lives in ourselves, perhaps we can get to the point of forgiveness and reconciliation with the perpetrators of evil deeds. Thank you, Thãy.

Call Me by My True Names
by Thich Nhat Hanh

From: Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

In Plum Village, where I live in France, we receive many letters from the refugee camps in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, hundreds each week. It is very painful to read them, but we have to do it, we have to be in contact. We try our best to help, but the suffering is enormous, and sometimes we are discouraged. It is said that half the boat people die in the ocean. Only half arrive at the shores in Southeast Asia, and even then they may not be safe.

There are many young girls, boat people, who are raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many countries try to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, sea pirates continue to inflict much suffering on the refugees. One day we received a letter telling us about a young girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate. She was only twelve, and she jumped into the ocean and drowned herself.

When you first learn of something like that, you get angry at the pirate. You naturally take the side of the girl. As you look more deeply you will see it differently. If you take the side of the little girl, then it is easy. You only have to take a gun and shoot the pirate. But we cannot do that. In my meditation I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, there is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate. I saw that many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam, hundreds every day, and if we educators, social workers, politicians, and others do not do something about the situation, in twenty-five years a number of them will become sea pirates. That is certain. If you or I were born today in those fishing villages, we may become sea pirates in twenty-five years. If you take a gun and shoot the pirate, all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs.

After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it, there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate, and me. Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other? The tide of the poem is “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have so many names. When I hear one of the of these names, I have to say, “Yes.”

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Dharma Writing Workshop

The Dharma Writing Workshop http://www.quietspaces.com/dharmawriting.html

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Coming Home In The New Year

Pexels.com by Mo


Beannacht (New Year Blessing) – John O’Donohue

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green,
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

by John O’Donohue
In To bless the space between us: A Book of Blessings

November: Bare, Not Barren

Death follows naturally from old age. For John, it was not to be feared. It would be “a very beautiful meeting between you and yourself” and there would be “a great fiesta time ahead.”

Walking in wonder: eternal wisdom for a modern world / John O’Donohue and John Quinn.


Climate And The Common Good

Los Angeles Times

In solidarity with the climate change summit, I offer this musing from a previous post. May we have a change of heart and habit.

“…This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened.”

http://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-is-chaos-theory/

Down Here
Wispy tendrils of hazy smoke
from Canada’s forest fires
Lasso branches of not-so-evergreens
And the aberrant heat drapes
its humid blanket over this bed
We now must lie in.

Over There
Adam lies drowning
In a pool of lethal despair
While in Bahrain more mundane matters
Press on Ahmad and the butterfly spirals down
To The Boneyard of Indifference.

©Rita H Kowats August 3, 2017

The Light Bearers

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Carry your light into the dark.
Swing it wide 
Into the hidden cupboards
Tucked away 
Under the staircases of our souls.

Illuminate
The shadows that loom 
And shatter peace
By piece by piece,
But gentle your swings-
Don’t show us all at once
Lest you send us scampering
Deeper into the cupboard.
Illuminate.

Carry your light into the dark.
Swing it wide 
Into the hidden cupboards
Tucked away 
Under the staircases of our souls.

Cauterize.
Bring your light beside our wound
To staunch the steady stream of negativity 
That threatens our well-being;
A slow burn, endearing and enduring.
Cauterize.

Carry your light into the dark.
Swing it wide 
Into the hidden cupboards
Tucked away 
Under the staircases of our souls.

Heal,
Lightbearer.
Ignite us with love
And stoke it, until transformed,
We bear the light to others.
Heal.

Carry your light into the dark.
Swing it wide 
Into the hidden cupboards
Tucked away 
Under the staircases of our souls.


c. Rita Hemmer Kowats
    November 5, 2021


photo credits: Pexels.com

Holding Vigil in a Pandemic

Vision After The Sermon by Paul Gauguin

Recently I submitted this video-essay to my faith community’s talent show. A friend suggested that some of you might relate to its message, so here it is. I think it may be especially helpful to those of you who suffer with a loved one. It matters profoundly if we are there with them in their struggle, whether or not they know we are there. Blessings to you. May we receive what we need this day.