The light in August
shoots linear lines
of spun gold
into the gardens of our souls
producing unique, varied fruit
a joy to behold.
I love this time of year in Western Washington. I wake up to autumn mornings, followed by summer afternoons, culminating in still-long, warm evenings bathed in shafts of nuanced August light.
May gratitude become my daily practice, it’s shafts of nuanced light become the grace I need to believe that all is well. Regardless.
Photo Credit: pexels.com
The virtue of patience often eludes me. Today I am longing to return to the swimming pool in the worst way. The confines of covid don’t bother me, nor do long periods alone, because it is my intentional lifestyle. But my poor old body can barely wait to get back to the pool.
A meditation on I Ching 5 hexagram this morning is helpful, especially this line:
It is only through patience that you can
become the bridge between the fickle fish
and the eventual feast.
I send you the gift of graceful waiting today.
The Great Blue Heron
Lurches from side to side
Scouting succulent salmon
Twitching in the tide.
Settling on a spot in which to spy
She turns her head sideways
To see salmon swimming.
In my dotage
I too lurch from leg to cane to leg,
Longing for the feast, but missing it,
Too intent upon ego offerings
That clamor for attention.
The wait is too long;
“Succulent salmon, slither hither!”
c. Rita H Kowats 5-28-18, revised 7-7-20
Photo Credit: Photo by Hilary Halliwell from Pexels
A web of webs
connects bar to bar
on the lanai railing,
its silver threads catching
the subdued September sun
as it inches its way across the eastern sky.
Early autumn wind cools
the coffee hoarded in my hands-
a comforting respite from the nocturnal
ego storm that ensnared insectile what ifs
in the web of my soul, exhausting me
with their raging
against the storm.
out here in healing sun,
wind and real webs
a Spirit-Web of trust
has neutralized the what-ifs,
calling me back to rest
in the center of my own best self.
© Rita H Kowats 9-9-19
This post goes back a few years. I was reminded of it now while much of the world is burning up from forest fires. The earth does renew herself, as witnessed in the terrain of Mt. St. Helens in Washington state, USA. If we renew our souls as faithfully as nature renews herself, there is hope for us.
In an effort to protect our egos, we leave in our wake a destructive landscape of regret. Our acts of protection are as much an animal response as protecting their physical lives is for other animals. The difference, of course, is that we can strengthen our egos sufficiently to withstand attacks and move beyond them for the sake of the common good. The process of moving beyond ego creates a soul-landscape rich in variety. Remnants of ego caught on jagged crags, conjure memories of lies to self and others; charred skeletons of timber stand in witness to courageous suffering endured, and hopeless suffering self-inflected.
Our soul’s geography resembles the terrain of active volcanoes years after they have exploded. Destructive lava flow has given way to affluent bursts of bold, bright, wildflowers- the acts of justice and compassion sown as seeds alongside germs of ego. Patches of green miraculously inch their way through the bowl of impenetrable metamorphic rock.
Just as rock can be intrinsically altered by the flow of hot lava, so is the soul dramatically altered by the movement of the Spirit, and our response to her. If we trust the Spirit, and trust ourselves to grapple with our instinct to protect our egos, seedlings will dot the horizon. Wildflowers, once extirpated by fear, will burst forth like fireworks on Independence Day.
I recommend frequent road trips through the terrain of our souls.
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.
Photo Credit: pexels.com
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