“Restoration Area Stay Off”

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I have been feasting on the book, Whispers in the Wilderness by Erik Stensland.  That it was a gift from a friend who has great respect for restoration areas inside and outside, makes my stroll through its pages all the more poignant. In this book Strensland has compiled poignant photographs and reflections from hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. He says this about restoration areas

These [signs] are placed in areas that have been heavily visited, where the feet of far too many people have worn down the grass and flowers to bare dirt, turning a place of lush beauty into an area that resembles a well-used football field….I find great hope in these restoration signs.  After years of watching them, I’ve seen these places spring back to life when they are given the space they deserve.

I learned how to give that space to a high school senior once.  Her parents had a brief get-a-way on the Labor Day weekend. You can leave a trusted eighteen-year-old alone for two days.  But this time a man broke into her home, raped her and forced her to drink poison.  Thus began her coveted senior year.  After a couple of months of constant police interviews, survivor support group, counseling, compassionate hovering of friends, parents and teachers she put up the sign for me to see, “RESTORATION AREA: STAY OFF.” I had seen her sitting on the floor before her locker and sat down beside her, asking the dreaded question, “So, how are you doing?”  She was in desperate need of being left alone for a while, to restore, to find her center and get back to it.

I could relate.  I was twenty-seven in 1976 when the group I was a part of gave over all of our power to an abusive psychologist who experimented with “Disclosure-Confrontation” marathon sessions. At one point in that journey I thought I was losing my mind, I so desperately needed space away from the others.  I found the courage to plant the restoration sign in the ground of my soul, and was gradually restored.

It’s a matter of timing and we need to discern what time it is.  Is it time to reach out with physical presence and words, or is it time to hold vigil in the quiet space we give the other? May we listen compassionately and wisely.

 

https://books.google.com/books/about/Whispers_in_the_Wilderness.html?id=5rbEAQAACAAJ

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: pexels.com

In Search of Abundance

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In another post I told the story of this photo, 

On my walk along the lake I spotted a maple leaf, dried to death by the intense summer heat, stunning in its aridity.  Unable to ignore its call, I snatched it up and carried it home to await the muse.

It called to me again as this season of Lent commenced, but I wasn’t prepared to receive its unexpected power.  The liturgical artists from my spiritual home, Seattle Mennonite Church, extended an invitation for us to engage our lenten theme, Parables of Abundance: “We are interested in creating a visual piece that reflects both the abundance we experience in trying to live with less, as well as our feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” We are invited to bring our image or our written piece to the sanctuary to create a rich collage of our experiences of abundance.

As the photographer, I instinctively positioned the leaf one way and have only seen it from that direction.  Until now. I decided to let the photo speak to me from all four possible positions.  I invite you to do the same.  You have my permission to position it as the spirit urges.

 

Lenten Meditation One

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Max Musing

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2-21-19

Resting beside Echo Lake

in the waning winter sun
I spot His Majesty Maximiliano Mallard
and chat him up from a distance.

“Oh, you exquisite gift! Look at that magnificent head gleaming
now emerald, now sapphire in the sun. Your rich chestnut chest
precedes you, as well it should. Thank you, friend.”

He waddles close, quacking in time to kissing sounds
(surely sounded by some silly passerby)
He turns his head sideways to check me out.
Then called away by the flock,
He collects his mate who waits patiently
(in the shadows)
and they are off…

too soon.
Your visitation is the recurring echo of lessons offered
heeded, exceeded and ignored.
I wanted to ask, “What is your lesson today Your Majesty?”

His voice comes to me
In the peaceful quiet of Echo Lake:
“Be content with your own best self. Strut your own stuff, girl!”

© Rita H Kowats

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/Capri23auto-1767157/

 

 

 

Rose Petals Floating Downstream

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I recommend this lovely new book of Anita Neilson’s spiritual poetry:

https://anitaneilson.com/2018/12/07/its-raining-rose-petals/

Ordinary Time


Yesterday, to save time, I took the E-line bus which runs through the non-Amazon side of Seattle.  It is a route which usually leaves me depleted of psychic energy.  However, this time the E-Line gifted me with the blessed ordinariness of life.  It was a holiday and folks were basking in their liminal time. Gentle smiles graced the faces of the poorest of the poor.  An aging woman who still walked well gave her seat to an aging man who no longer walked well.  I was unaware of my need to see ordinary folks going about their lives with courage and joy.  Today this poem emerged.


Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/349447/ by Eugenia

A Spiritual Practice For Ragged Souls

 

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So much is too much when it happens within a tight time frame. When I caught myself sitting still in a stare choking on emerging emotions I pushed my body out to the earth. The ritual that brought relief to my ragged soul follows. I hope you will also find it helpful.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE TO RELEASE AND RECHARGE ENERGY

Sit with feet planted firmly on the ground and breathe naturally while you gradually take in your surroundings (“Wherever you are be the soul of that place.”- Rumi)

Imagine that a cord stretches from the base of your spine down into the earth acting as a channel through which all accumulated unwanted energy passes into the earth where it can be reconstituted and positively recharged. With each deep exhale send this energy downward until it no longer has a hold on you.

As you gather this unwanted energy from your body let your prayer be this or something else meaningful to you:

Divine spirit moving in the universe, I release this energy into the earth.

You will know that this energy has left your body when it feels lighter and less dense.

Now imagine that a second cord extends from the base of your spine into the earth; its purpose is to carry positive energy from the earth into your body. With each deep inhale bring healing energy into every part of your body.

As you gather healing earth energy into your body let your prayer be this or something else meaningful to you:

Divine spirit, let this energy awaken me and flow through me to others for our greatest good.

When you feel balanced and grounded slowly bring your consciousness back to present time and place. Know that you may feel a little spacey, so move slowly and intentionally.

Now you are ready to receive again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: pexels.com

Let Not Swollen Cities Suffocate

 

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Like a Metal That Hasn’t Been Mined

by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, mountain, here since mountains began,
slopes where nothing is built, peaks that no one has named,
eternal snows littered with stars,
valleys in flower offering fragrances of earth….

Do I move inside you now?
Am I within the rock
like a metal that hasn’t been mined?
Your hardness encloses me everywhere….

Or is it fear I am caught in?
The tightening fear of the swollen cities in which I suffocate….

The Book of Hours III, 2

in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

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Call me a pantheist. I don’t mind. I am one with my cat, so why not with a mountain? Sherlock just jumped onto the table and has boldly pushed his way into my arms. I lay my head on him and feel the deep resonant purring. Our breaths synchronize and for that moment all is well. It isn’t enough that I observe momentarily. To become one with nature takes time. Time enough to blend breathing.

When I feel suffocated in the city, and all the politics that come with it, I need to immerse myself in nature to the point of saturation. Only then can I return to the city strong enough not to lose my self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: diana_robinson <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/62501682@N00/41437040220″>Seattle skyline from Kerry Park, Seattle, Washington</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: Onasill ~ Bill Badzo <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7156765@N05/40223073965″>Mount Hood – Oregon – USA</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Can We Care Again?

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The headline in the Seattle Times reads “For third day, grieving orca carries dead calf in water.” (July 26, 2018). As I write this morning it is the sixth day the mother has carried her dead baby on her nose, diving down deep to retrieve it whenever it slips off. I don’t have words to express how I feel. The photo says it.

Elephants also mourn, holding wakes for fallen elephants. In a PBS production I saw a herd come across the remains of a bull elephant. They circled the skull caressing it with their trunks, even lingering over it. Around and around they went, emitting those low rumbling sounds humans cannot hear by ears alone.

I mourn that many humans no longer hear. We seem to have forgotten how to care enough for one another to hold vigil.
My practice:

Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release indifference
Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release hate
Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release fear of the other.

Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release indifference
Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release hate
Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release fear of the other.

May the merits of this practice extend to all sentient beings in the universe.

Amen.

Photo Credit: Seattle Times

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/puget-sound/for-third-day-grieving-orca-whale-carries-dead-calf-in-water/