Between Seasons

 

 

 …when I lean over the chasm of myself—
it seems my God is dark and like a web:

a hundred roots silently drinking.
This is the ferment I grow out of.

from The Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke
trans by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy I, 3

 

I live in the Seattle area where spring is a mixture. One hour we are treated to sun and blossoms, blue sky, mountains and shimmering water. Literally, the next hour we are plunged into gloom and doom, whipped about by wind and drenched by an onslaught of rain, hail and snow. Natives, accepting this show as a struggle for primacy between winter and spring, don their coats and await the next hour.

I write on the Monday after Easter and the sun and blue sky reign. The blossoming trees surrounding my home call me to emerge from my writing-table and walk. Some traditions call this Emmaus Day and the expectation is to go walking where one can “meet Jesus along the way” and break bread with him, as described in the gospel story.

Our spring weather lately has awakened me to the experience of many who are stuck in the hour of doom and gloom surrounded by blossoms and blue sky and the expectation that they just get on with it and move into that hour of new life. They may be asking, “What is wrong with me that I cannot celebrate,” and they feel strangely out-of-place in this Eastertide.

Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being, recently aired interviews with persons who experience depression and who professionally work with persons who straddle emotional seasons:

On Being https://onbeing.org/programs/parker-palmer-andrew-solomon-and-anita-barrows-the-soul-in-depression/
I found the podcast inspiring, comforting and helpful. If you do as well, be sure to pass it on.

May the promise of Easter enfold you,
Rita

 

 

Photo Credit: jcolman N00/3475838105″>The Olympic Mountains in morning sunlight via photopin (license)

Good Friday 2018

 

 

. . . Whom should I turn to,
if not the one whose darkness
is darker than night, the only one
who keeps vigil with no candle,
and is not afraid—
the deep one, whose being I trust,
for it breaks through the
earth into trees,
and rises,
when I bow my head,
faint as a fragrance
from the soil. [II, 3]

Rainer Maria Rilke from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macey

Larry Payne Was A Man: In Memoriam

 

One day In February 1968 two sanitation workers,  Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death in a garbage packer in Memphis Tennessee.  They were African American men working for starvation wages and under dangerous conditions:

From Taylor Branch’s On Canaan’s Edge (ISBN 978-064857121), page 684:

“It was a gruesome chore to retrieve the two crushed bodies from the garbage packer and pronounce them dead at John Gaston Hospital. Echol Cole and Robert Walker soon became the anonymous cause that diverted Martin Luther King to Memphis for his last march. City flags flew at half-mast for them, but they never were public figures like Lisa Marie Presley, whose birth at 5:01 PM was being announced. . . . Cole and Walker would not be listed among civil rights martyrs, nor studied like Rosa Parks as the catalyst for a new movement. Their fate was perhaps too lowly and pathetic.”
For the sanitation workers in Memphis enough was enough.  They began organizing a union and marched for their rights on March 28, 1968,  Dr. King joined them.  Frustration erupted in rioting and looting, and one person was killed, a child who became a man that day:  Larry Payne.  He had come to the March with friends.  He was sixteen years old.  Stories differ, but one historian reports that after having left the March, later in the day, a police officer shot and killed Larry in front of his housing project.  He was unarmed.  The officer has not been prosecuted.  Very recently, the FBI has reopened this cold case which was lost in the event of Dr. King’s assassination.
The sanitation workers carried signs that simply stated, “I am a man.”…not a “boy,” not a “nigger.”…A MAN.  On the anniversary of his death today, I want to remember Larry and his family who still grieves.  I remember all the sanitation workers who sacrificed so much to advance the cause of civil rights even in the face of Jim Crow.  The exclusion of any person diminishes our humanity.  I hope that we can intentionally develop spiritual practices which create space for all.

Start Here For More Information on the Memphis Strike:

mlk-­kpp01.­stanford.­edu/­index.­php/­encyclopedia/­encyclopedia/­enc_memphis_sani­tation_workers_s­trike_1968/­

Ruth Uprooted

 

photostudio_1521829907493

 

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God”. Ruth 1:16

 

Imagine this. Your father is eighty years old and his wife of 55+ years has just entered a Memory Care Unit. Every visit to his wife is a painful death. The added stress of learning how to manage his household and care for his own aging body is quickly depleting him of energy.

Like the biblical Ruth you hear a call that is more than duty. The call to loving compassion sounds clearly and insistently across Badlands and Cascades: Uproot. Go. Your people shall be my people. So you leave everything to make a new home with your father.

Who does such a thing? I am in awe of the courage and aware of the challenges. May I someday learn to be this selfless.

close-up-daylight-environment-762679 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Call
vibrates along every vein in every root
pulsing and pulling
tapping the primal tattoo heard by Ruth before you:
GO

You scoop up your scattered roots,

clutch them close and set out.
Without control
Without guarantee
With trust.
Welcome, sister.

                                                     ©Rita H. Kowats March 23, 2018

 

The Badlands Photo Credit: Thomas James Caldwell <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/81643710@N00/15497697471″>Erosive Effects</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Cascade Mountains Photo Credit: jcolman N00/3475838105″>The Olympic Mountains in morning sunlight via photopin (license)

Tree: Photo by Daniel Watson from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-trunk-green-leaf-tree-beside-body-of-water-762679/

Looking For Cindy Lou Who

CindyLouWho

 

Cindy Lou Who
not asnooze
eyes alight with wonder

Waits
Expects
Believes.

Where wonder waits
Awe follows
Grace grows
Hope arrives.

Look within.
You will find her tucked
Between memories
playing with the possibilities
Of what might be

Shimmering
Sheer
Joy.

© Rita H Kowats 12-19-17

 

Photo Credit: http://seuss.wikia.com/wiki/User:Rickdrumz

Thanksgiving

To all my American bloggers, Happy Thanksgiving!  To everyone else, may you also find a way today to celebrate the richness of your culture.  I am grateful to all of you for your presence here and wish you abundant blessing.

 

Thanksgiving Card with Poem

 

In Search Of Two Sticks

photostudio_1510266311548

 

Feet firmly planted in the starters’ block,
Hands holding the weight of my body
I await the starter’s gun with expectation
Couched in taut trepidation.

We’re off!
Find two sticks to rub together,
An ideology and a firebrand will do nicely.
Hurry. Rub fast before-
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

Furtive fumbles in decaying underbrush
Uncover the piece de resistance-
The twin sticks of wealth and prestige,
a toxic fast-fading conflagration
No phoenix rising here.

Energy waning, desperation draining
I plod on in search of fire fodder,
Stumbling upon the sure-fired kindling
Of dogma and Nirvana fizzling out incompatible

At last, the finish line.
I collapse with hands empty and spirit vulnerable
Rubbed raw and flame flashing
God rekindled.

 

 

© Rita H Kowats November 9, 2017

What If?

Louise Penny November quote

 

But

What if
we remembered
that the drama of mottled clouds
stirs the iffy places in our souls?

What if
we remembered
that skeleton trees create space
for soul seeing?

What if
we remembered
that the snare drum dissonance of leaves
crunching underfoot
announces the death of misconceived decisions
and promises life conceived in hope?

What if
we remembered
that the pungent odor of garden leftovers
wafting on crisp autumnal air
promises a resurrection like none other?

What if
we remembered
that the threads of November’s spider webs
emanate from the same spiritual fiber
that weaves one soul to another soul to another?

What if
we remembered.

 

© Rita H Kowats
November 2017

 

Calling All Prophets

pexels-photo-209135

 

“The Sound Of Silence”

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silenceIn restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dare
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence”

Photo Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/search/art/  CCO license