For an enlightening read on this practice, see:
For an enlightening read on this practice, see:
…solitude is the practice of creating an inward autonomy within ourselves, an inward freedom from the power of these overwhelming thoughts and emotions.
It was totally enforced — 27 years of his life, his most active adult life, in solitude, and yet, he’s the kind of person who, rather than just becoming lonely and depressed, which I suspect would’ve been a very reasonable way of reacting to that incarceration, he saw it as an opportunity. And what he discovers in the silence and the solitude is the power of words and how powerful words are, because this is what he’s been cut off from, is the capacity to be able to speak. And rather than just feel frustrated and limited, he reflects back on how valuable words are in being able to address people’s real needs and concerns. And so he seems to have transformed that imprisonment, at least at one level, into a deeper resource within himself. And I think when he is released from jail, and you hear him speak, there’s a gravity and a maturity and a depth — it almost doesn’t really matter, almost, what he says. There’s something in his tone of voice, something in his whole being that has been nurtured and enriched, it appears, from this long period of enforced solitude and reflection.
This is Mandela. He says: “It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact upon the way people live and die.”
Another video essay:
Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/solitude
This gift of wisdom came to me this morning and reminded me of a poem I wrote earlier. I invite you to meander between the words, between the lines.
A clear radiant unselfishness at the core of your being is a vital source of power and influence. It spreads as surely as ripples on a pond when a stone is tossed into the center. A sincere reliance on your own integrity generates supreme good fortune. I Ching 61 Centering in Truth
“SoulCards” by Deborah Koff-Chapin. The technique Deborah has created is called “touch drawing.” The cards come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools. They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with. www.soulcards.com
Used with permission from the artist
Can hopeless Americans regain hope by personifying their country as the Prodigal Son?….
Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)
The Parable of the Lost Son
I am depressed about the behavior of my country towards its most vulnerable citizens and towards world citizens. These juxtaposed readings, however, give me hope that it is possible to return to more compassionate behavior. We have flown the coup and out there we are testing the limits of some of America’s cherished values: independence and freedom. Hopefully we will learn again to be interdependent.
While my country is away from itself, my job is to “become more of the change I want to happen,” to learn and be interdependent. My job is to continue to hold up a mirror to my country about how selfish behavior affects others. My job is to trust that my country can and will come home to itself. My job is to welcome and forgive when she is ready to come home.
Photo Credit: http://sonorannews.com/2017/06/29/enjoy-cool-safe-fourth-july-scottsdale/
Dove: “God Through Anne Terri With The Holy Spirit <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/32289838@N04/39537614341″>Dove in Theo Sur Mer</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
infant leaves emerge
tentatively from buds on stark white winter-limbs
like tentative souls
emerging from the dark night
© rita h kowats 4-7-18
In meditation on this magnificent Rilke poem given to me by my soul-friend, I realize that it is both an echo and a fulfillment of my own attempt to grasp the depths of our spiritual journey.
God speaks to each of us as she 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.
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.
Rilke’s Book of Hours
I have friends who are dealing with the worst of cancers and the death of a loved one. Earthquakes, flooding, wars and hurricanes displace thousands of people. Yet, many of them endure. Not just endure. They endure creatively. How do they do it?
They learn these truths:
Photo Credits: Raw silk- http://www.wormspit.com/degumming.htm; -wood_uncut_by_borysses.jpg
Sometimes we all get into an obsessive space over a perceived or real wrong done to us. Around and around, out and in our egos spin on the rim of that hurricane, covering the same territory ad nauseum even while we long to catch hold of the Eye where we can be drawn down into Presence for as long as that gift lasts.
Here are some tools I find helpful:
I surround you with divine light
May you be safe from harm
May you be happy and peaceful
May you be strong and healthy
May you take care of yourself with joy.
Breathing in I am peace
Breathing out I release anger
Breathing in I am power
Breathing out I release dominance.
May it be so.
Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day
into the answer.”
Time and again I have become aware of how profoundly connected my psychological self is to my spiritual self. One day as I worked at my desk I began musing about my childhood and realized how keenly ashamed I was of the limitations of the little girl I had been. I felt surrounded by spirit and as if pushed in the direction, I began walking downstairs to the little chapel in our convent. I lay down on the floor before the altar in a fetal position and held “Margaret” like I had never held her before. I promised to love and cherish her. I thanked her for all the good things she brought to me. I forgave her imperfection. I offered her gifts to God. At seventy-three years old I am finally living into those gifts.
I think that faith development is both spiritual practice and psychological practice. My experience with Margaret was both a psychological practice of becoming conscious of my vulnerabilities and a spiritual practice of letting them go and resting in the divine. When we have doubts about faith we sometimes go into “The Dark Night of the Soul,” described by the mystics.
“It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness….the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.”
Elkhart Tolle See the full description here: https://www.eckharttolle.com/newsletter/october-2011
So we begin to ask questions, often feeling guilty about it. Some give up all faith in the end; for others doubt brings them closer to God. Why this paradox? To paraphrase Jesus, whoever finds faith will lose it, and whoever loses their faith for my sake will find it. After living in our faith for a while we take the risk of separating what is authentic about it from that which encloses us in a spiritual safety deposit box. If we come to a faith in which we have no need to be controlled, we come to an experience of the holy that is real and which has no need to control us.
Why do we sometimes feel closer to God when we doubt God? Because we dare to seek the real God who lives outside the sometimes immature and unhealthy images we conjure. Faith is not something that can be pinned down with very specific and concrete language. Those who express faith are often mocked in our “enlightened” western society. When we have begun to develop the right side of our brain we can see into the spaces between words and know that those spaces contain real truth. Some of my heroes are scientists who dare to make the connections between science and spirituality: Brian Swimme, mathematical cosmologist, Albert Einstein, and to some extent, David Bohm. They have risked being laughed out of the sacred halls of academia.
Many of you are by now sick of the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory; however, it can be a profound spiritual awakening. A person who scores as a high thinker and sensate can use spiritual practices to develop his/her intuitive gifts. As a traveler I could stop photographing a myriad of details for a few minutes and just sit and drink in what the scene means and how it affects me. Practices like this bring us into the spaces between words where the experience of the holy happens. Churches celebrate the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle annually by telling the story of how he doubted the resurrection of Jesus. Poor man. He never had access to the Meyers–Briggs.
At the end of his life the great scholastic theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas said about his many treatises, “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” His fine mind and the questions he asked of it led him to rest in divine presence. They served him so well that in the end he didn’t need them anymore.
You Are Invited
A sincere welcome to you recent companions on this blog, and gratitude to long-timers.
A word about the process I use to write my post. All of it emerges from my own human condition, the status of my own soul, if you will. I spend time in meditation asking the spirit moving in the universe to offer connections to us. “Show me what my reader’s hearts long to hear and need to hear,” I ask, and usually that’s what I write about.
So, let’s not be ships passing in the night. If you have a topic about the spiritual life, something that is bringing you close to your center or away from your center bring it to me and I will hold vigil with it and offer a reflection. No catch. No money involved. Just one human being blessed with the privilege of education and experience extending a heart to other human beings. (see my page Spiritual Companion Ministry).
Shoot me an email at:
It can be from Mickey or Minnie Mouse if you like, and I would respect that anonymity in my post.
Blessings on you and on those whom you love,
“This image shows a photograph from the early 1920s, probably in Portland, in which robed and hooded Ku Klux Klan members share a stage with members of the Royal Riders of the Red Robe, a Klan auxiliary for foreign-born white Protestants. A large banner reading “Jesus Saves” occupies a prominent position on the wall at the rear of the stage and testifies to the strong role that Protestantism played in the KKK philosophy of “100 percent Americanism,” an ideology that developed during World War I as a reaction to the perceived threat to national unity posed by the influx of non-Protestant, non-English-speaking immigrants.”
While reading the Washington Post this morning I was accosted by this photo from the Oregon Historical Society. Although the story it tells about the Pacific Northwest is familiar to me, the stark truth of the paradox depicted shook me to the core. I read it as “Jesus Saves, but only white people.” I invite the photo to go viral as a warning to all that we are again confronted by the “KKK philosophy of ‘100% Americanism’.” Let the warning go out that espousing a warped brand of Americanism in the name of a warped brand of Christianity calls for an iconoclastic revolution. Perhaps Meister Eckhart’s most puzzling statement is, “I pray God that he may quit me of god.” This is the time to throw out all profane idols and embrace the real God devoid of all ego clammoring for power.
This poem from a few years ago speaks to this experience once again:
Photo Credit: https://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/portland-kkk/#.WT77sWjyvIW
Photo Credit: Nature’s Stained Glass Window overlay Lynn Scholar