An Alternate Field Of Energy: Deep Listening

Avalokita, the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening

I have been listening to Anderson Cooper’s 360 podcast this week. Reluctantly.  I want in-depth coverage so I know where to direct my prayers, but I’ve been tempted to turn it off several times.  As the reporters narrate, the background plays a steady, unrelenting stream of protesters shouting.  The energy is too much for me to take in and I want to escape to the silence of my privileged white anchorage and chant “All shall be well.”

I keep listening because those protesters in Minneapolis and elsewhere around the US and the globe, deserve the respect of deep listening.  Not listening and analyzing words; rather, a deep listening for feelings that describe experiences.This is the kind of listening that can bring a just peace. Hundreds of oppressed citizens have literally put their lives on the line to tell me they can endure no more. The least I can do is listen.

In his book Silence: The Power Of Quiet In A World Full Of Noise, Thich Nhat Hanh tells of Avalokita, the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening. The name means “the one who listens deeply to the sounds of the world.” “Bodhisattva” refers to someone with great compassion who works tirelessly to mitigate the suffering of others. I, we, can be a Bodisattva of deep listening by willing ourselves to take in the energy of those who are crying out for justice. We can send back a sound of peace and healing.  We can send back a commitment to act for a just peace.

May it be so.

Synchronicity: Divine Presence

Vignette 1: Jung Recounts the Story of the Golden Scarab Beetle

“A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since.”

Synchronicity: Jung recounts the story of the Golden scarab beetle

Vignette 2: Rita’s Beetle

I have honored the place of synchronicity in my life for a very long time. Five years ago my explanation of Carl Jung’s theory was met with incomprehension by a spiritual companion, so I gave her the example of Jung’s scarab beetle at the window. When I finished the story my companion reached into her bag and pulled out a photo of a beetle which she had taken the day before. “And here is your beetle,” she said.

Vignette 3: Yesterday’s Synchronicity

I began my writing session as I always do, with an invocation to Spirit, a request to show me the greatest good for myself and my blogging community. I came upon Mary Oliver’s poem, “Prayer” about casting the ashes of a beloved one upon the wild foam of waves. An hour after publication I heard from a friend I had not heard from for a while; a friend who had just cast precious ashes upon waves.

And the only thing I did was pay attention. We are profoundly connected. Listen.

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

Respite

My candle batteries are still lasting. They’ve brought me light since Wednesday, but this morning I need more. So I curled up in the embrace of the two gigantic angels who always stand at my back, have my back. More than one person who has eyes to see such beings has pointed them out to me. At first I kept asking them for their names but they never told me, so I called them “Frick and Frack.” It stuck. So this poem is for them.

Respite

Standing at our backs,
Your expansive wings enfold
These unfledged humans
Who recoil from the miasma of hate
That now pollutes each breath we take
In this land of the once free.

Recoil or cower,
Which is it?

We shelter within stalwart wings waiting
For healing and spirit-washed air
To fill our lungs.

Then
We repair the breach.

c. Rita H Kowats 1-9-21

Photo Credit: https://www.jing.fm/idown/iimxihw_clipart-chromatic-angel-wings-within-angel-wings-clipart/

Find Life. Celebrate it.

Crow Wisdom

Crow Wisdom
(An Irreverent Rumi-like Ramble)

The incontinent crow
Flying over my window
Bids adieu and screw you
To this year without cheer.
Crow wisdom:
Let go,
Let hope in,
Live.

2020/29/12
rita h kowats

Honor the Blooming

This poem by Wendell Berry, simple in the stark power it offers, has become the center piece in the Advent rituals of Seattle Mennonite Church (https://seattlemennonite.org). This season is offering me the opportunity to identify what is blooming in me now. Not what will bloom when covid passes. What booms now.

Berry’s poem invites us to fear not those ubiquitous travelers, dark feet and dark wings, for they are the essence of our humanity. They are the redeemed coals that smolder in the cauldrons of our souls, the sparks of light we bring into the dark and out of the dark.

Spiritual Practice

Breathing in I become the dark.
Breathing out I disperse light.

Breathing in I receive the bloom.
Breathing out I release despair.

Breathing in I am peace.
Breathing out I release anxiety.

May it be so.

Embracing the Dark

Sometimes the sanctity of our homes has felt instead like a jail cell in this pandemic. At times, we have collapsed into despair. Yet, other times we are embracing the dark creatively.

In addition to these thoughtful poems from Wendell Berry and Jan Richardson, I recommend Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor.

Photo Credit: https://lmw.org/gods-light-shines-in-the-darkness/