Be A Clean Well Lighted Place

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Recently I wrote that one “Celtic tradition holds that some persons are themselves a “thin place.” I know these persons to be the true deep listeners among us. We come away from an encounter with them knowing that we have been seen, knowing that we are known.”  I offer another pondering of this piece posted three years ago.  We needed to be clean well lighted places for one another then.  We need to be now, more than ever.

It is time to revisit Ernest Hemingway’s poignant masterpiece, “A Clean Well Lighted Place.” It is a short story about a cafe which shelters the lonely and distraught, affording them safe harbor for a few hours. A clean well lighted place where one can feel at home. A place where “everyone knows your name.”

An older waiter is convinced that all is “nada,” nothing, meaningless and that his elderly customer is there to push the nothingness away for a while because “This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves.”

Isn’t that all each of us desires, to sit with someone in the light when “nada” starts closing in? Let’s do that for one another when we feel hopeless, when panic pushes up from our gut threatening to take over our lives. Be that clean well lighted place, a safe haven for one another.

 
Surviving

An old codger on a bar stool
Spins victory vignettes.
He sways in sync
With the melodies of stories
That play in his head,
Hoping for a listener to relieve him
Of the nothingness that calls him
To the warmth of the cafe.

RIta H Kowats 1-27-2017

Photo Credit:  https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-road-nature-night-1163/

 

 

Revisiting “CRASH”

The year 2004 brought us an extraordinary film written and directed by Paul Haggis.  Crash won three Academy Awards, Best Picture one of them.  The film deals with every shade of the complex human experience of race in America.  It is on my mind as we wrestle with the reality of George Floyd’s murder. The film calls me as a white person to see the truth straight on, ask the hard questions and work toward conversion and acts of justice.  It calls every race to do that by holding a mirror to the consequences if we continue to ignore our inner work.    Two scenes contain the seed of the whole film.

The first scene, “Pat Down by the Police” will ask you to be brave.  It is not for the faint of heart, containing violent language and action toward a woman of color. Officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) stops a car taking Hollywood director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton) home after an awards event.  Its truth is stark and powerful.

 

 

The second scene, “Car Fire,” turns the previous scene upside down and we are forced to examine the meaning of trust and vulnerability.

 

 

I invite us to gather in living rooms as adults and older teens to view this film for the first time or again.  Open a discussion of how it relates to George Floyd’s death and how we each carry the seeds of racism  buried deep or edging to the surface.  Spirituality is to be born in acts of justice.  We must not hoard it for self-gazing.

Respite

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How do we cope with the pace of covid 19?  This poem was my outlet.  It is heavy, but the times are heavy and allowing myself to feel puts me in solidarity with the suffering of others, and my own suffering.  I hold all of you in my prayer.

 

Respite
(Upon seeing Aid Units take neighbors to hospitals)

Last night
Lopsided Luna
Had shrunk to a sliver
While I rested safely
In the crook of her crescent elbow.

Yet today, as sometimes happens here,
Sol soars above the Salish Sea
In full, bold brilliance
Prompting squints to soothe and temper.
But try as we might to temper traffic-
The Aid Units keep on coming.

How I long to stagger the relentless surge
Of this viral onslaught.
Let me linger longer in that calm crescent cave
Where raw sadness can live its way back to hope,
Where I can hone the creed
That all is well-
Regardless.

C. Rita Hemmer Kowats 4-20-2020
Birthday of my father George J. Kowats +1988

 

www.etsy.com/shop/AbstraxStudio?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=724710159

This sculptor does poignant, skillful work.  You might enjoy visiting this website.

 

Life on the Ledge: Encore

goats

Little did I know when I first posted this piece, that it would become far more haunting and applicable to today’s experience of a pandemic..  I wondered if human beings, like mountain goats, are spiritually coded to stand on the ledges of spirit.  May we not fall off.  And if we do fall off, may we land well.  Godspeed everyone.

Life on the Ledge

Regardless

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Quarantine
Day four

 

Sleep paces in the lobby
Of my soul

 

The waning supermoon
Rises to eye level
Dispersing divine light
Over Under Around Beyond

 

Ahh
Welcome, lopsided Luna.
All is well
Regardless

 

c. Rita H Kowats 4-10-2020

Managing Our Dis-Ease

So many of you either have already, or are now experiencing the fallout of Covid-19. I am a seventy-five year old with a compromised immune system, recovering from flu and sitting in the epicenter of the outbreak north of Seattle WA,USA. I think of you all much more lately, believe me! Your courage and faithfulness to spiritual practice sustains me and lifts me up.

I have developed the practices below as a way to remain at peace and to balance the lack of control with the power of spiritual action. My list of people and places to protect grows with each day. These are the people and places I hold in light:

Thank you for whispering a quick blanket protection for us.

My sister and her husband
My nieces and nephews
My sister-in-law and everyone at her memory care center, including the families
My spiritual director and soul sister
My church campus, staff, our neighbors there without a roof over them
Members of my geographical house church
Life Care Center in Kirkland where nine have died and others are infected
The hospital where my friend works and my friend and herself
The 50+ Apartment building where I reside
Myself
My friends

Protection Ritual For This Time Of Epidemic

Ground yourself using whatever ways help you. Begin when you are ready:

Spirit of divine, cauterizing light,

Surround this place (name) and/or person (name) with your brilliant, healing light. Above, below, behind, in front, around and around.

(Imagine the swirling light banking and building heat and sending it throughout this person and/or place. Imagine that this spirit light is brooding in the center of this place/person)

Spirit Light, brood within them. Generate healing light and warmth. May they be free of all dis-ease. May they be free from harm. May they be happy and peaceful. May they be strong and healthy. May they take care of themselves with joy.

May it be so. Amen.

Protection Ritual For Yourself If You Are Sick

Susanne has recommended the Insight Timer free meditation app on Google play. My favorite music is “Delta Waves and Oceanic Sounds.” I like it because I can sync my breathing with the ebb and flow of the waves and because it is unobtrusive.

Inhaling, I breathe in healing energy. Exhaling I send it to every place in my body that needs healing (to my mind as well, in an effort to dispel fear and anxiety). Inhaling I gather up all sick energy from my body. Exhaling I send it down to the earth where it can be renewed.

photo Credit: https://www.transparentpng.com/details/hose-grey-hurricane-transparent-images-_3092.html

Finding Truth

 

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For Light

Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death
In its own way turns into life.
In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.
That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.
That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are driven by false desire.
When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.
That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
Glimmering in fugitive light.
When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.
When we become false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.
When we love, that dawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.
As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure
In the fields of memory.
And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found world.
– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us:
A Book of Blessings

Star Date 6-13-18

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My postage-stamp-sized floors shine,
Reflecting my clean and polished soul
(“Cleanliness is next to godliness?”)

Sitting still I bask in the shine while I can-
Before splotches of spinach and sin
Soil soul and floor yet again.

Alas, the leaf blower beneath my window
Is the bell calling me
Back to mindfulness
(I hate this infernal cacaphony of chaos)

Breathing in, I welcome peace
Breathing out, I release this edginess.
Breathing in, I rest in Presence.
Breathing out, I release anger.

Giving thanks for this day humanly lived.

© Rita H Kowat 6-13-18

 

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photo credits:  mop and bucket <a href=”http://worldartsme.com/”>WorldArtsMe</a&gt;

leaf blower https://unhealingmedic.deviantart.com/art/Leaf-Blower-289176773

star http://simpleicon.com/star-2.html

Breaching The Divide

o is for open

 

Simple-song
Marge Piercy

When we are going toward someone we say
you are just like me
your thoughts are my brothers and sisters
word matches word how easy to be together.

When we are leaving someone we say
how strange you are
we cannot communicate
we can never agree
how hard, hard and weary to be together.

We are not different nor alike
but each strange in our leather bodies
sealed in skin and reaching out clumsy hands
and loving is an act
that cannot outlive
the open hand
the open eye
the door in the chest standing open.

 

 

This poem drew me into meditation this morning and I have strolled through its many nuances throughout the day. We allow the other’s difference to grow a wedge between us because we don’t understand it, and we can’t control what we don’t understand. We would rather muck around in the divide than risk the outstretched hand and the open door in the chest.

In their book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greewald describe their study which concluded that every human being fills in what we don’t know with what we think we know. In observing myself, I see that it is my ego that fills in what I don’t know, rather than the self that lives in divine presence. This self is strong enough to welcome that which is strange in the other, that which reaches out with clumsy hands.

My spiritual practice comes in the form of a pause. I pause before I judge. I breathe in respect and release fear. I breathe in love and release judgment. Once in a while it works. Our human instinct is to protect our ego, but the pause interrupts the knee-jerk impulse to insert it into the strange, unknown spaces of the other. The pause lets in the Spirit who places clumsy hand in clumsy hand.

 

Photo Credit: Photopin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Michael W. May <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/14609664@N06/5376777351″>o is for open</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;