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

Releasing Anxiety: A Spiritual Practice

If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.

Deepak Chopra

Spiritual Practice

Calling forth divine energy I open myself to it’s movements within me, around me, and through me.

May spirit guides protect me.

Breathing in,   I am safe.
Breathing out, I release fear.

Breathing in,   I welcome possibilities
Breathing out, I release judgment.

Breathing in,   I am safe.
Breathing out, I release fear.

Breathing in,   I welcome possibilities
Breathing out, I release judgment.


May it be so.

PHOTO Credit: c. 2014 Shelly “First Day of School” licensed CC-BY sketchport.com

Accumulated Angst

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Edvard Munch, The Scream (1910), from the collection of the Munch Museum, Oslo. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Someone living on my floor walks very heavily on the way down the hall to the recycle room across from my apartment. The footsteps are jarring because there is nothing to fear outside my door, yet I am unnerved by them. I even feel irritated every time I hear them. They put me on edge, as though pending danger waits on the other side. I sit on my chair and wait for the other shoe to drop. The fear surprises me because I am no longer a fearful person. It seems so silly, but…

Unconsciously I am hearing increased gunshots ringing out in many cities all over America. And the footfall keeps dropping. I hear reports of almost 4 million cases of covid. And the footfall keeps dropping. I see federal agents beat a silent, still protestor. And the footfall keeps dropping.

I am on the alert now, unaware before that I flinched with every heavy step I heard outside my door. Flinching fear is a safeguard for which I am grateful. But I don’t want it to wield power over me, influencing my life in unexpected and unconscious ways; so I bring it here into the light.

 

Spiritual Practice For Releasing Fear

 

Breathing in,   I rest in my courage.
Breathing out, I release fear.

Breathing in,   I rest in my power.
Breathing out, I release fear.

Let us pray

May we be content with our own best selves.
May we manage our discontent peacefully.

Amen. May it be so.

Revisiting “CRASH”

The year 2004 brought us an extraordinary film written and directed by Paul Haggis.  Crash won three Academy Awards, Best Picture one of them.  The film deals with every shade of the complex human experience of race in America.  It is on my mind as we wrestle with the reality of George Floyd’s murder. The film calls me as a white person to see the truth straight on, ask the hard questions and work toward conversion and acts of justice.  It calls every race to do that by holding a mirror to the consequences if we continue to ignore our inner work.    Two scenes contain the seed of the whole film.

The first scene, “Pat Down by the Police” will ask you to be brave.  It is not for the faint of heart, containing violent language and action toward a woman of color. Officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) stops a car taking Hollywood director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton) home after an awards event.  Its truth is stark and powerful.

 

 

The second scene, “Car Fire,” turns the previous scene upside down and we are forced to examine the meaning of trust and vulnerability.

 

 

I invite us to gather in living rooms as adults and older teens to view this film for the first time or again.  Open a discussion of how it relates to George Floyd’s death and how we each carry the seeds of racism  buried deep or edging to the surface.  Spirituality is to be born in acts of justice.  We must not hoard it for self-gazing.

Life on the Ledge: Encore

goats

Little did I know when I first posted this piece, that it would become far more haunting and applicable to today’s experience of a pandemic..  I wondered if human beings, like mountain goats, are spiritually coded to stand on the ledges of spirit.  May we not fall off.  And if we do fall off, may we land well.  Godspeed everyone.

Life on the Ledge

A Spiritual Practice For Aging

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
down there
tug at the other end of
the rope?

Jack Gilbert in Refusing Heaven

RESPONSE
(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

Free-Flowing Action

 

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From Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
trans.Anita Barrows and Joanna Macey

1,12
I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

 

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Conflicting Images Emerge:

-No forcing, no holding back

-But rivers can overflow,.wrecking havoc on nearby communities

-“Let justice roll down like a river,” Amos 5:24

-The Colorado river carved out the Grand Canyon over a period of millions of years

-Rivers plunge over steep ledges into pools below. Hear the roar of Niagra Falls and Victoria Falls in Zambia

-The River Dee in Scotland meandering along peacefully, allowing fly fishers the luxury of patience.

I resist the drive to dualize by insisting that I act this way and not that way. What matters, in Rilke’s mind, is that my action be true to itself, authentic.

Afterall,

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” Norman MacLean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: ShinyPhotoScotland N08/24432298457″>Mist in the Carse of Gowrie via photopin (license)

Breach the Beach

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I settled into my meditation on the dock this morning, luxuriating in black bird twitters and the flash of red wings. The sun on my back thawed my winterized bones.  Ahh, how good to be alone with the divine… until the holy muse quietly morphed into a magnificent Great Blue Heron holding vigil in the water lilies.  Her faithful practice spoke to me,”Stand still. Watch and wait.  Your authentic self will catch up with you.”

 

Beach Combing

Bring Us Goodness And Light

 

 

This morning’s news cycle brought me back to that precipice of despair once again, so I begin yet another span of time away in which to allow space for the phoenix to rise again. I spare you the stories which pushed me over the edge so as to avoid putting the negative energy out there again-besides, you know them already.

My spiritual practice for this time came to me from, of all things, the Christmas carol, “Do You See What I See?” The phrase, “He will bring us goodness and light” engaged me. I want to counteract evil by radiating divine light and goodness. I rewrote the verse to reflect my theology and my heart.

Candle lit , I am ready to sing my song. Join me?

 

Listen to what I say
Live for peace, people everywhere,
Listen to what I say
The Christ, the Christ, moving in our world,
Will bring us goodness and light,
Will bring us goodness and light.

May it be so. Amen.

 

 

 

Photo credits:bxccbghcgsrasumofm.com “Phoenix Rising”

indigo aurora borealis photo pin with shadow