Loving Kindness for February 8

“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.”

Gracious Goodness
by Marge Piercy

On the beach where we had been idly
telling the shell coins
cat’s paw, cross-barred Venus, china cockle,
we both saw at once the sea bird fall to the sand
and flap grotesquely.
He had taken a great barbed hook
out through the cheek and fixed
in the big wing.
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.
He felt good in my hands, not fragile
but muscular and glossy and strong,
the beak that could have split my hand
opening only to cry
as we yanked on the barbs.
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.
Why is there nothing
I have ever done with anybody
that seems to me so obviously right?

___________________________________________________

I offer this poem once again because it speaks to the place many of us find ourselves in today, “pinned to ourselves to die,” and waiting for some one, some event, to unpin us. I have added new lines to my meta prayer:

May we be content with our own best selves.

May we be open to receive the help that we need.

May we recover those who are pinned.

May it be so.

“Why is there nothing
I have ever done with anybody
that seems to me so obviously right?”

Photo Credit: Media Tweets by Teresa Fernandez (@TeresaF35309694) on Twitter

Waiting

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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.

 

Heron Patience

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.
And waits.
And waits.

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

 

https://divination.com/iching/lookup/5-2/

https://tricycle.org/magazine/finding-patience-2/

 

Photo Credit: Photo by Hilary Halliwell from Pexels

A Spirituality Of Aging

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I stand here
Outside of myself
And watch as I commence
the journey
Into venerable vulnerability-
At least that’s what the young call it;
It doesn’t feel venerable yet.

I watch with surprise
That this old body that once
Could stave off
All manner of ailment
Bouncing back stronger,
Now fights a succession of infections
On a pilgrimage to commune
With the bones
Of my once stately cathedral.

I stand here
Outside of myself
And watch as I
Cry through the loss
Like an ancient willow wailing
Over limbs taken by thankless winds.
I feel the phantom sensations
Of my coveted limbs tingle
With strength, endurance and joy.

If I stand here
Outside of myself long enough
I will see green-leafed limbs
Poke through the paneless windows
Of my bone cathedral,
Stretching toward
patience, acceptance and resignation.

I stand here
Outside of myself
Awestruck by this holy episode
We call life.

c. Rita H Kowats May 18, 2020

Photo Credit: Wikipedia  Commons

Wedding Patience With Longing

The reflections of Jan Richardson always delight and enrich me. This piece I meditated on today seems particularly apt nourishment for us now.

Richardson reflects on Hildegard von Bingen’s work, Scivias, in which the mystic personifies virtues. “Longing stands next to Patience,” says Hildegard, and Richardson reflects, “Yes, and I am wedged in between them. How do Patience and Longing live together in you?”

A question for us to ponder as well.

“Longing stands next to Patience”

Longing would sometimes like to be assigned a different spot.
Would like to be less near this one who approaches everything with such equanimity. Would like some distance from the measured way that Patience marks time,
holds herself with such politeness toward its passing.
Patience knows this about Longing. Accepts it, even loves it about her.
This makes Longing crazy.
Patience has not told her she has some envy of Longing’s perfect ache
or that she thinks it must be an art to hold oneself
so perpetually poised toward the horizon.
For her part, Longing has not confessed that there are days
she finds Patience restful. Soothing. A relief.
Meanwhile, by little and by little,
so slowly its appearance will startle them both,
a horizon is drawing near.

Blessing

May Longing and Patience teach you by turns:
not just the fire but the tending of it,
not just the well but the digging;
not just the vision but the enduring it asks,
by day and by darkness drawing us on.

In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection and Prayer by Jan L. Richardson

Photo Credit: https://everydaypower.com/patience-quotes/

Disposable

Quarantined Italians Sing To One Another Across Empty Sreets

False alarm, everybody…turns out the coronavirus only kills old people.” @ahleuwu


Laura Dorwart, Ph.D. on Twitter: “Trying to claim disabled people aren’t regularly and systemically devalued, disposed of and dehumanized is pretty tough given all the “don’t worry, Real People won’t die, only Non-People like old and disabled people will.”


Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday 3-11 Seattle in response to a reporter’s question about the penalties for those who ignore social distancing mandates. “Penalty is you might be killing your grandad if you don’t do it.”

Elderly and disabled persons, among other groups, are often considered disposable. I do not refer to the medical community which has to make necessary decisions about who lives and who dies in extreme emergencies. I mean us. Let’s take the word “only” out of these discussions about covid-19. Instead, we could say, “primarily affects…”


Disposable

The Common Good lurks
Under a subterfuge of denial:

Only the old die.
Only the disabled die.
Only the poor die.

Come back, Common Good.
Cast your expected aura
Of empathy-energy around us.
Redeem our frightened and frazzled spirits.

c. Rita H Kowats 3-13-2020

Kissed By A Frog

“Joy comes into the world through gentle means, but springs from a solid inner base. ….that which brings joy into the world is a source of considerable power.” 

I Ching 58 Joy

 

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I wave hello with one hand
While holding my face with the other- mirror images-
Isn’t that what it’s all about-
Or is it one image, one pondering?

I want to climb into your lap
And cling to the last vestigages
Of ponderable possibility-
Fonder, I am, more of possibility
Than hostility.

“Oh, it’s escape you seek,” says the frog.
“No. I seek wonder,
That moment of ecstasy,
Remedy for hostility
When sheer joy is possible.
I cling to that.”

c. Rita H Kowats 2-26-20

 

WAITING PRACTICE

Lynn Schooler DAWN

 

I come to you on  my knees this early January morning huddled in a heap of conflicting emotions over the prospect of war between the United States and Iran.

The Reality…

Continuous War Sabers

 

The Prayer….

Rough Translations by Jan Richardson

Hoping against hope, he believed.
—Romans 4:18

Hope nonetheless.
Hope despite.
Hope regardless.
Hope still.

Hope where we had ceased to hope.
Hope amid what threatens hope.
Hope with those who feed our hope.
Hope beyond what we had hoped.

Hope that draws us past our limits.
Hope that defies expectations.
Hope that questions what we have known.
Hope that makes a way where there is none.

Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come.

by Jan Richardson from Women’s Christmas Retreat

 

 

Photo Credit:  https://www.facebook.com/lynn.schooler

I am grateful to Lynn Schooler for permission to use this exquisite photo experience of today’s dawn in Juneau Alaska.  You have a rich experience awaiting you at his facebook page.  Thank you, Lynn.

A Spiritual Camino de Santiago

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I am reminded of these earlier musings as I feast on the book, Walking in Wonder, a gathering of Johm O’Donohue’s poetry and philosophising by his friend John Quinn.  It is O’Donohue’s discussion of Meister Eckhart that brought me to this place again.

I first coined the phrase “genes of our souls” in this poem I wrote in 1989 after experiencing the deaths of my parents.  It brought me some comfort.

November

At 75 I am coming closer to understanding and accepting the import of the phrase.  O’Donohue relates Meister Eckhart’s conviction that there is “a lonely edge to our lives” that can only be filled by God, and that if we want to come into God’s presence, we must let go of all images to make that journey.  And it is the journey, the process that matters. For me the journey entails a stripping down to the very genes of my soul where Presence lives unfettered by the images I have created.  In those moments of nothingness I experience fullness.

This has become my Advent meditation. My journey is less toward a babe in a manger and more toward an expansive divine presence gestating within my spirit.  As I move along the path I throw out all the clutter that blocks my way. It comforts me to be companioned by you on this sacred camino de santiago.