Posts Tagged ‘Original Blessing’

“Original Blessing”, a poem.

August 12, 2017

I have been thinking a lot about spiritual things, and this poem keeps coming up to the surface.  It was originally published in “Pitcher of Moon”, Amazon.com, 2015.  That was my fourth book and perhaps the one I struggled the most over.

Lady Nyo

917ce-pitcher

 

Original Blessing

 

I am dizzy with love,

Standing in the rain,

This cosmic blessing

Pouring on my head,

Mingling with tears of gratitude

Til one stream

can not be deciphered

From the next.

 

I am an Original Blessing,

As are you,

And we are not born in sin,

But brought into the light of life

In great joy and anticipation.

 

Our first bellows are not of pain

But surprise at the roominess of the Cosmos,

As we kick our feet, flail our arms

And finally open our eyes at the glorious colors

Of Nature.

 

Original sin would have us

Born rotten,

A theological monkey on our back–

But I know no God of the Cosmos

Who would scar these tiny blessings

With such  a heavy burden.

 

Original Blessing is a deliverance,

A deliverance of hope, trust and pride

A heritage where we can discern and save

Ourselves,

Walk in harmony with the Earth,

Stride with God across the span of life–

For this Earth is our cradle,

And all in it our kin.

 

For a truly wise person

Kneels at the feet of all creatures

And is not afraid to endure

The mockery of others.

 

And when the day sidles up to night

I will settle into the nest of the Earth,

Draw the dark blanket of the Cosmos

Across me,

Pillow my head upon stars

And know that the blessings I have been

Graced with today and always

Have come from the womb of God.

=

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

 

“Original Blessing”, for dversepoets pub.

December 1, 2016
My beautiful picture

 The east in the morning. with promise.

 

I am dizzy with love,

Standing in the rain,

This cosmic blessing

Pouring on my head,

Mingling with tears of gratitude

Til one stream

can not be deciphered

From the other.

.

I am an Original Blessing,

As are you,

And we are not born in sin,

But brought into the light of life

In great joy and anticipation.

.

Our first bellows are not of pain

But surprise at the roominess of the Cosmos,

As we kick  feet, flail  arms

And finally open eyes at the glorious colors

Of Nature.

.

Original sin would have us

Born rotten,

A theological monkey on our back–

But I know no God of the Cosmos

Who would scar these tiny blessings

With such  a heavy burden.

.

Original Blessing is a deliverance,

A deliverance of hope, trust and pride

A heritage where we can discern and save

Ourselves,

Walk in harmony with the Earth,

Stride with God across the span of life–

For this Earth is our cradle,

And all in it our kin.

.

For a truly wise person

Kneels at the feet of all creatures

And is not afraid to endure

The mockery of others.

.

And when the day sidles up to night

I will settle into the nest of the Earth,

Draw the dark blanket of the Cosmos

Across me,

Pillow my head upon stars

And know  the blessings I have been

Graced with today and always

Have come from the womb of God.

.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

“Original Blessing”

August 2, 2016

Garden July 2

 

I am dizzy with love,

Standing in the rain,

This cosmic blessing

Pouring on my head,

Mingling with tears of gratitude

Til one stream

can not be deciphered

From the other.

 

I am an Original Blessing,

As are you,

And we are not born in sin,

But brought into the light of life

In great joy and anticipation.

 

Our first bellows are not of pain

But surprise at the roominess of the Cosmos,

As we kick our feet, flail our arms

And finally open our eyes at the glorious colors

Of Nature.

 

Original sin would have us

Born rotten,

A theological monkey on our back–

But I know no God of the Cosmos

Who would scar these tiny blessings

With such a heavy burden.

 

Original Blessing is a deliverance,

A deliverance of hope, trust and pride

A heritage where we can discern and save

Ourselves,

Walk in harmony with the Earth,

Stride with God across the span of life–

For this Earth is our cradle,

And all in it our kin.

 

For a truly wise person

Kneels at the feet of all creatures

And is not afraid to endure

The mockery of others.

 

And when the day sidles up to night

I will settle into the nest of the Earth,

Draw the dark blanket of the Cosmos

Across me,

Pillow my head upon stars

And know that the blessings I have been

Graced with today and always

Have come from the womb of God.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012-16

“Original Blessing” was published in “Pitcher of Moon”, Amazon.com, 2014

 

 

 

 

“Original Blessing”

May 18, 2016
Kohut-Bartels-BOP-8

“Sea Eagle”, jane kohut-bartels, watercolor, 2001

 

I have been fighting theological issues my whole life.  I come from a family who has a stance on theology  I just can’t tolerate.  It’s mean, oppressive, fundamentalist and especially misogynistic. There is no room in my life, in my belief system for this kind of ‘theology’.  It is abhorrent to me.  Having said that, I have struggled to come to what I do believe, and it has been an uphill climb my entire life. Organized religion is a sham to me, as I have seen the falsity of much of it.  Baha’is, Quakers, the different churches have left me numb and still an unbeliever. 

I  feel the necessity of Gratitude, and for this I am strong, though my target is not what others in the religious communities would consider the ‘correct’ target.  Too bad.  I am grateful for the beauty of Nature and the random kindnesses I have received, and I am grateful for a place of relative safety.  Perhaps there is little more in life to expect.

Lady Nyo

Original Blessing”

 

I am dizzy with love,

Standing in the rain,

This cosmic blessing

Pouring on my head,

Mingling with tears of gratitude

Til one stream

can not be deciphered

From the other.

 

I am an Original Blessing,

As are you,

And we are not born in sin,

But brought into the light of life

In great joy and anticipation.

 

Our first bellows are not of pain

But surprise at the roominess of the Cosmos,

As we kick our feet, flail our arms

And finally open our eyes at the glorious colors

Of Nature.

 

Original sin would have us

Born rotten,

A theological monkey on our back–

But I know no God of the Cosmos

Who would scar these tiny blessings

With such a heavy burden.

 

Original Blessing is a deliverance,

A deliverance of hope, trust and pride

A heritage where we can discern and save

Ourselves,

Walk in harmony with the Earth,

Stride with God across the span of life–

For this Earth is our cradle,

And all in it our kin.

 

For a truly wise person

Kneels at the feet of all creatures

And is not afraid to endure

The mockery of others.

 

And when the day sidles up to night

I will settle into the nest of the Earth,

Draw the dark blanket of the Cosmos

Across me,

Pillow my head upon stars

And know that the blessings I have been

Graced with today and always

Have come from the womb of God.

=

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012-2016

(“Original Blessing” was published in “Pitcher of Moon” , Amazon.com, 2014, by the author)

 

 

 

“Original Blessing”….a poem

May 15, 2014
PItcher of Moon, available from Createspace, Amazon.com

PItcher of Moon, available from Createspace, Amazon.com

Paperback: http://goo.gl/RzFRj4
Kindle e-book: http://goo.gl/cOh8Ww

Every so often, I get challenged by someone as to my religion. To me, religious or spiritual beliefs are personal, and I am not one to sally forth and try to convince anyone to believe as I do. Of course, this has led to much shunning and ridicule in my birth family. But they are extreme fundamentalists, and there is a heavy ‘hate’ issue (which is really fear) in their beliefs. I hope all these years I have lived have allowed me a more tolerant and broader picture of spiritual issues. I don’t go for dogma, whether it is clothed in liberal trappings, nor do I want to sit on a hard bench, or mumble prayers in devotion to some strange, dead prophet. But still….there is a pull towards gratitude. Sitting outside and watching the twist of huge oaks and pecans, the passing of clouds and all the bounty of nature pulls me into a profound gratitude for life.

Lady Nyo

“Original Blessing”

.
I am dizzy with love,
Standing in the rain,
This cosmic blessing
Pouring on my head,
Mingling with tears of gratitude
Til one stream
can not be deciphered
From the other.
.
I am an Original Blessing,
As are you,
And we are not born in sin,
But brought into the light of life
In great joy and anticipation.
.
Our first bellows are not of pain
But surprise at the roominess of the Cosmos,
As we kick feet, flail arms
And finally open eyes at the glorious colors
Of Nature.
.
Original sin would have us
Born rotten,
A theological monkey on our back–
But I know no God of the Cosmos
Who would scar these tiny blessings
With such a heavy burden.
.
Original Blessing is a deliverance,
A deliverance of hope, trust and pride
A heritage where we can discern and save
Ourselves,
Walk in harmony with the Earth,
Stride with God across the span of life–
For this Earth is our cradle,
And all in it our kin.
.
For a truly wise person
Kneels at the feet of all creatures
And is not afraid to endure
The mockery of others.
.
And when the day sidles up to night
I will settle into the nest of the Earth,
Draw the dark blanket of the Cosmos
Across me,
Pillow my head upon stars
And know the blessings I have been
Graced with today and always
Have come from the womb of the Universe.
.
Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2012

Published in “Pitcher of Moon”, Createspace, Amazon.com, 2014

Stolen Poetry and the issue of Creativity. Some preliminary thoughts….

March 24, 2014
My new book, “Pitcher of Moon” is available from Amazon!
Buy paperback: http://goo.gl/RzFRj4
Buy Kindle e-book: http://goo.gl/cOh8Ww 
 

I’m supposed to announce that “Pitcher of Moon” has just become a KINDLE e-book.  thanks, Nick!

Crabapple/Peach Tree in back yard, Spring

Crabapple/Peach Tree in back yard, Spring

( I posted this a year ago, but since the issue still exists for many of us on line, I am posting it again. I add a few thoughts on this issue of creativity, but these aren’t complete thoughts. I am preparing a paper on this, based on some reading I have done over the past year. When it is finished (hah)…I’ll post it on this blog.)

 

A while ago I received news a poem of mine had been ‘stolen’. Actually, a poet on an unknown poetry website had taken my poem, changed the title and a few lines in two stanzas, and published my poem on this website under her name. What was especially galling was she was no poet, and her revisions were horrible, awkward…an attempt to make something ‘more’ erotic by adding cheap and tawdry phrasing.  Confronted, she said that ‘she was inspired’ by other poet’s work. The webmistress contacted me and asked if this was my poem. I was surprised, because I didn’t know without the proper title how one would go about tracking the original poet. Apparently, she had her suspicions, and googled the first couple of lines and my name and website came up. She was deleted from this website.  No apologies at all, and she is still a thief.

I was rather dismayed. Poetry generally comes from some of the deepest places in our beings: it’s an outward form of some very personal experience, or something like that. This poem was written in 2009, at a difficult time in my life. I was going through some physical and emotional changes and a year later, it received an award, (up until now, the only one….) as “Poem of the Year” on a particular website. I had left that website, but was grateful for the award. Still am.

This had happened a few years before, when I first started writing in earnest. A major poem and a short story was lifted from a website and published without permission on a website in England.  At that time I was rather flattered.  The lawyers and advisors at this home website where the pieces were lifted were rolling their eyes:  don’t be flattered, this isn’t good.  Well, the owner of the English website pleaded that he just so admired the writing (he lifted a number of us poets and writers work from the original website) that he just couldn’t help himself.  hah!  The lawyers got everything back but I did feel sorry then for the guy.  I’ve learned better.

This ‘news’ about the plagiarized poetry came at a point when I was reading a chapter about creativity. In Fox’s “Original Blessing”, this third path, Via Creativa, speaks of the hard labor necessary to produce artistic works, regardless of the medium. It is not an activity of ‘letting it all hang out’ as we have been told by certain cultural ‘standards’ but one of a deep discipline. To attempt to bypass this hard labor is not only stupid, but robs the person of a deep meditation with oneself and an internal growth from this activity. It is also hard to trust those images that come to us at the beginning of our creativity. We are very judgmental towards our attitudes of our own self-expression. We have to develop an attitude of trust, a trust that that out of our silence, our waiting, our openness, our emptiness…that these images can come. I do know that after 30 years of painting, each blank canvas, each clean piece of watercolor paper sends me into anxiety. I don’t ‘trust’ that I can again, produce something that comes from that relay from the brain, through the eyes to the hand. I forget that I have 30 years of technique behind my painting, and feel like I have nothing to build upon for the next piece of work. But I do, I just don’t trust myself. It takes my ‘letting go’ of my judgmental attitude towards myself, towards my expectations, and settling down into the work and knowing that ‘something’ will come of it. But it still is always a struggle to trust myself to be able to do something in this creative vein.

And as a counter thought, I know a couple of good poets who have been writing for decades. They never publish or post their poems online because they are ‘afraid’ that they will be stolen.  Good God!  Like misers, they clutch their poems (volumes actually) to their chests and few ever see them.  Well, Hell’s bells.  I would rather them stolen (and this is actually pretty rare) than nobody ever having the joy of reading them. What are they amassing their poems for?  You can’t take them with you.  A central joy in my life is that everyday, across the world, somebody is reading the poetry on the blog.  And sometimes strangers contact me (besides the friends who graciously read the poems…) and we are able to engage in discussion about poems…both sides.

One of the problems for most creative people is to pick the image that sings loudest to us. Perhaps because we fail to choose the strongest image, we give up creating anything. The (dead) Zen artist Kenji Miyazawa said this:

“You experience something deeply. Later, you picture it in your own mind; you idealize it; you coolly and sharply analyze it; you throw all your passion and power into it. Then you fuse all these things together into one. If you do this without self-consciousness, the depth and the power of creation will be much greater.”

In tanka, especially the classical medieval Japanese tanka of the 8th and 9th century I see this. I also see this in Basho, Issa and before them, Saigyo. This lack of self-consciousness, where the poem is infused with the power of creation and the poet is not presenting a focus of ego. This is something you will recognize with enough reading of this period.

In music, I have come across this ‘without self-consciousness’ terms as ‘getting out of the way’.

Somewhere Meister Eckhart talked about the ‘bridle of love’ that we need to steer our passions. Not to control or abuse them, but to make them work for us. This is discipline, done respectfully towards ourselves, for our developing and revealing creativity. We suffer enough abuse, by ourselves and society, so adopting an environment of hard work, of sweat, of exhaustion, of joy and of discipline will only push our creativity further along. This wannabe poet who didn’t trust herself enough to settle, look deeply within and create, is more to be pitied than scorned, but perhaps put in stocks??? She stole other poet’s poetry because she did not love or honor herself. Hopefully she will learn to love herself enough to become truly creative. Hopefully, she will not rob herself of this wonderful process.

The American psychotherapist, Rollo May wrote a book “The Courage to Create”. On page 41 he says something I find interesting in general.

“Escapist creativity is that which lacks encounter”. Dr. May had a patient that reminds me somewhat of this poet/thief above. He would come to an idea, an excellent creative idea, flesh it out in his mind, and then he would stop there: he would write nothing down. It was as if the experiences of seeing himself as one ho was able to write, as being just about to write, had within it what he was really seeking and it brought its own reward. Hence he never really created.

These distinctions between talent and creativity are especially important. I believe that talent is given to many people; what they do with it evokes whether it is a passive gift or an active ‘act’ of creating. One is passive, and one is active. I also believe our creativity is directly linked to our encounter with opposition. I know this to be true of myself, though I never saw the pattern until later in life. My mother said 25 years ago that ‘no one would ever publish me.” That was an opposition to get over. Yes, I was published by numerous literary magazines, ecological magazines, etc. I also decided to self-publish with Lulu.com and now with Createspace, from Amazon.com. I had so many things to publish that it made up more than 5 books…and I wanted them out of the way and into the world fast. Nothing wrong with this issue, though people do look down their long noses at those of us (and we are legion~!) who do. Now? I have 4 or so novels to rewrite and publish and probably will go the same route. I don’t care about the ‘status’ at all, whether I am published by the ‘big’ (and overblown) publishing houses or not.

To add to this above, Rollo May also said this: “Creativity,” to rephrase our definition, “is the encounter of the intensively conscious human being with his or her world.” In my experience, there are a lot of writers, poets out there who are not ‘conscious’ or encountering enough. Perhaps sleep walking.

To plagiarize or steal outright a poem or a piece of work robs the poet of the greatest gift they can give to themselves: the deep research, the formation, the joy that comes from an original thought that manifests into art. They rob themselves most. They are just….lazy.

The small poem below was inspired by these words of Daichi-zenji (1290-1366) “and bring back a pitcher containing the moon’. Just those words set my brain on fire. There is nothing wrong with ‘being inspired’ by the work and words of another poet: just be sure that inspiration is true to your own vision and abilities and you are not putting your chop on the work of another.

Lady Nyo

 

Pitcher of Moon

 

 

I dip into the pond

And gather a pitcher of moon.

Above, it glimmers

Smiles at my efforts,

This late- winter moon.

 

It is just a bowl of cool water

I am holding

But the magic of the cosmos settles

In this plain clay vessel.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2013 

This poem was published in “Pitcher of Moon”, February, 2014

By Createspace, Amazon.com

http://goo.gl/RzFRj4 

 

Buy Kindle e-book: http://goo.gl/cOh8Ww 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Original Blessing”, poem

June 9, 2013

"Eagle" Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2005

ORIGINAL BLESSING

I am dizzy with love,
Standing in the rain,
This cosmic blessing
Pouring on my head,
Mingling with tears of gratitude
Til one stream
can not be deciphered
From the other.

I am an Original Blessing,
As are you,
And we are not born in sin,
But brought into the light of life
In great joy and anticipation.

Our first bellows are not of pain
But surprise at the roominess of the Cosmos,
As we kick our feet, flail our arms
And finally open our eyes at the glorious colors
Of Nature.

Original sin would have us
Born rotten,
A theological monkey on our back–
But I know no God of the Cosmos
Who would scar these tiny blessings
With such a heavy burden.

Original Blessing is a deliverance,
A deliverance of hope, trust and pride
A heritage where we can discern and save
Ourselves,
Walk in harmony with the Earth,
Stride with love across the span of life–
For this Earth is our cradle,
And all in it our kin.

For a truly wise person
Kneels at the feet of all creatures
And is not afraid to endure
The mockery of others.

And when the day sidles up to night
I will settle into the nest of the Earth,
Draw the dark blanket of the Cosmos
Across me,
Pillow my head upon stars
And know that the blessings I have been
Graced with today and always
Have come from the womb of the Universe.

‘Original Blessing’ to be published soon in “Pitcher of Moon”,
Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2013

The Inquisition Once Again….and there is a poem in this pile.

January 13, 2012

“Nobody expects the Inquisition”….. Monty Python

But what is it we do expect with the Inquisition?

When I speak of the Inquisition, I am not speaking of the rack, torture (sort of….) or autos de fe (originally “articles of faith” but that meaning fell by the wayside, and autos de fe became the burning of ‘heretics’.)  I am thinking of intolerance and some other nasty stuff that goes along with the behavior of fundamentalists, or maybe their world view.

I have an extreme dislike of fundamentalism, be it Christian, Jew or Muslim.  Actually, I fear them.  Perhaps because I have had dealings (too many years) with a political cult that allowed no room for deviation from the ‘plan and politics.’ Perhaps because there was a definite stratification of peons and princes.  I was not a prince. This cult functioned in the real world much like fundamentalists:  there was no room to breathe.

Lock step applied.

Recently I have been reading Matthew Fox, the former Dominican priest who became an Episcopalian priest.  Funny, to think he stepped into this pile of manure rotating through the Episcopal Church over the issue of ordination of gay priests.  But as a gay Episcopal priest told me very recently when I asked about the exodus of Episcopalian members:  “If it wasn’t about gays, it would be about the ordination of women.”  And it probably was, too.

Matthew Fox is an interesting theologian.  He is very much involved in Creation Spirituality, a broad ecumenical movement that starts with Original Blessing, rather than Original Sin.  Original Blessing regains the understanding that our original and true nature, the original and true nature of all things, is “very good.” That’s encouraging. Although stuff happens, we do bad and sometimes terrible things in life–  it is still our authentic self.  It’s very much the opposite of the fall/redemption thing.  With that we are born rotten.

Creation Spirituality is nothing if not ancient: it harkens back to the great mystical traditions of Hasidic Judaism, Sufism, Buddhism, Taoism, mystics  like  Hildegarde of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, etc.

There is much out there about Creation Spirituality, and I’m not going into a blow by blow here. I’m learning myself.  People can read where they are interested and intrigued.  I know I was and it was a theological/spiritual answer to many decades of dismay as to what I saw in the Christian theology of the fundamentalists.

But for some reason, and probably a good one, I will forever think of the Inquisition when I think of fundamentalists:  the same issues of power and control, the same patriarchal behavior, the lock down on expanded theological thoughts and ideas,  ‘evolutionary’ ones, because for fundamentalists, if it ain’t in the Bible, it doesn’t belong in your head.

Let the rest of us get on with building a less mean humanity.

Lady Nyo

(Some readers have asked me to write about our Christmas: Perhaps it is best to relate our Christmas dinner, something that was a ‘first’ for us, and now I realize how really extraordinary.  Seven guests around the table: a Hindu, a lasped Catholic, ex-Jevohah’s Witness, a Mormon, a child raised (ours) in the Quaker faith and then the Episcopal Church, and two going towards Creation Spirituality. Two guests gay.  An unexpected blending of religions that made our Christmas dinner a joyful one.)

The Rites of Spain 

Canto 1

Sharp azure skies

Rusty brown earth,

Black women’s shawls,

Goat dung flung by boys

At passing soldiers,

The Inquisition churns onward

Like the great mandala

Crushing bodies under wheels

Burning witches in great pyres

Ignited by ignorance

Of blessed padres.

.

Time of terror,

overtime superstition.

Of hidden manuscripts

under floor boards,

and investigations

Seeded by the envy of neighbors.

.

Goya colors flung in

the black of night,

Red of Blood

White of Death

Green of decay

Duller grays of corruption

Shiny blues of greed

Exchanging favors,

Cardinal to Cardinal–

Madrid to Rome,

And back again.
.

These are the colors

Of the Inquisition.

Holy-Terror-of- God in

Man’s hands

where nothing is safe,

Humanity defiled.

.

Soldiers force Rabbis

to spit on the Torah,

A diversion,

for the net holds much room,

All ‘thought’ is open to this furor,

For terror reigns.

The banality of evil,

Which words belie the results

Fashions such existence.

.

Dark shawls drawn

Over frightened faces,

only the

Whites of eyes

gleam outward like hooded lanterns,

faces cast downward

when the Cardinals pass.

No one wants to be noticed,

There is Death in the

Very air,

A pox of hopelessness.

.

Gossip is gone

From the full rose lips

Of  women.

They huddle

Together,

Though no safety

In numbers.

Wearing an early shroud

To cover their

Beauties,

A slight sway of

Curvaceous hips

Could draw the Holy Terror

Upon their innocence

Condemned by black lipped priests-

Whores worthy of fire.

.

Cruelty and censure is the mantra of the day.

.

Breathe in the

Moisture of the drowned

Catch the blood

Flayed from bodies

Hear the sharp screams from

Those tortured,

And the

Sharper silence to follow.

.

Hope is gone

From the heart

Of Spain.

.

Now fear is the mantra of the day.

.

The disdainful eye

Of the Church

Informers,

Circling the

Spanish masses,

Like herding goats

From a horse,

Whip held easy

In the hand,

Ready to strike,

And strikes when not.

.

How many died

Who could give

Birth

To Enlightment?

Fear replacing

The Intellectual future of Spain.

How many aborted

By this

Scourge of Mankind?

Compassion forgotten

Humility distorted.

Lies the particular coin of the day.

.

The Inquisition

Rolls onward,

Tearing up

Soil watered by

Clotted blood.

Black tentacles

Of Power

Ripping

The heart

Of Spain

Asunder.

.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012, revised

The Power of Love, Vulture style…..and a Poem.

January 6, 2012

I have a sisterinlaw, who has a sister  I have never met.  This is not unusual, as many  families today are not in close contact or have knowledge except  for those in some immediate circles. My husband and I are not in a particular immediate circle because we don’t believe like some in our family.  We are not religious fundamentalists, hence we don’t belong.

But this  ‘unmet’ woman expresses more of what I have come to believe  what God calls us to do: attend to those who are abandoned, unfed, unclaimed, unwanted, and not socially ‘acceptable’ or with value. 

Yesterday I stepped out in some sort of faith and called this sisterinlaw.  We had not talked in two years and I didn’t know whether she would or not. My birth family is wanky like that, full of hurts, bruises and perceived insults.  Some of them finding their marks, too.  But talk we did, over the course of the day.  It was good,  it was a ‘reclaiming’ of a particular part of family, if only limited to her.

She is a fundamentalist Christian, and I am not. She is very much involved in the arguments of church and theology.  She attempts in her own way to build paths to  human hearts.  She is what I would consider a ‘good’ theologian for a fundamentalist: she doesn’t beat you over the head with such finely wrought arguments that you are left dizzy.   I believe she proceeds from love. I found, in talking to her, that I had missed our discussions, even if they are limited to her attempts to get me to her side of religious arguments.  And then she told me about her sister in Florida, Diana.

Diana is just about my age, and lives in an area where there are many homeless and abandoned animals.  She feeds probably two dozen cats, some of them hers, most of them not.  She also feeds dogs, stray dogs, ducks that come from the nearby pond, a mother racoon and her kit, and Frank.  Frank is a vulture, and Frank has been coming around for kibble for four or five years.  Sometimes, Frank brings his friends to the porch for feeding.

I am left in a state of awe, wonder and amazement.  Right now I am also left in a weakened state of tears: whether this is because it is early, and tears are a normal part of being overwhelmed by the beauty of the morning or because of what I am writing about, Frank and Diana and all her ‘the least of us’, I don’t know, but I’m not ashamed.

I have been giving a lot of thought recently about my own state of faith.  We’ve just passed a season of outward love, and I am wondering how much of that really sticks.  Churches are embroiled in theological issues, much beyond my simple understanding, or my wanting to be involved in; it seems that we have put aside, along with the Xmas tree and tinsel, our ‘good tidings’ to our fellow men, and what are we now left with?  The  forecasters of economical  ‘good tidings’ are mostly happy with the glut of merchandise and the money spent on the Xmas season but still, where is the ongoing love and message of this season?

I have a particular problem with fundamentalism: to me it is anti-creativity, not respecting the individuality of a person, demanding compliance and conformity in a particular religious dogma.  This goes for Christian, Jewish, etc. doctrine. I believe that we, those who think otherwise, should leave the churches to these fundies: give over the buildings, the candles, the properties, the altarcloths, etc.  Give them what they are fighting for, as is shown in so much of the Episcopal brouhaha right now across our country, and outward. The rest of us should drop these battles and get on with developing our own beliefs and developing a community that is inclusive, not exclusive.  I think we have a fine precedent in creation-based spirituality.  We have Hildegarde of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Francis of Assisi, and these are just a few of the Christian ‘mystics’.  People most fundamentalists never learned about. 

We also have our own modern mystic, Father Matthew Fox, a former Dominican priest who is now an Episcopalian. People interested in this  movement of Creation Spirituality should read him.  It is inclusive, deep and to me, a joyful spirituality that proposes ‘original blessing’ rather than ‘0riginal sin’.  Redemption comes to us, not as a power alien to own natures but as an ‘aha’ experience that transcends.

Diana is not a rich woman. She makes sacrifices to do what she does.  I called  just to introduce myself and to find out more about Frank and the rest of her flock.  We talked and I am so deeply moved.  I am  impressed that this woman has cut through  the arguments in life and just does what she does as an article of faith.  She puts her actions where many put  just their mouths, words.  Oh, there are dangers to her and to Frank and all those she feeds and loves.  The locals are not generally happy, and have threatened her and Frank and company, but Frank thankfully is protected by laws down there.  So the taunts of shooting him would get the humans in deep trouble.  As they should.

I was told by my sisterinlaw that when it gets cold down there in Florida, and it does, Diana puts a heater outside for those abandoned to huddle against and keep warm. It does take hours to feed everyone, and the miracle here is this is a real “Peaceable Kingdom”.  Frank is eating from the same bowl that cats are eating from, and ducks are coming from the pond to join the table: It must be something to see a bunch of vultures eating quietly (??) with a bunch of cats.  I would definitely call this God’s Miracle.  I would rather sit and watch this miracle than listen to a book of sermons.

Sometimes Frank will eat from a bowl held out by Diana, and then he turns sideways and watches her.  She is not afraid of these huge birds, carrion eaters, and I believe she is a special agent of God’s love.  She has to be.

As we go into this season of Silence, Stillness, Scarcity and bone-numbing cold, I see the hope of life and love that is real in Diana’s actions.  To some, foolhearty, dangerous, a ‘waste of time’, but to me, Diana expresses exactly what we are called upon to do: to set aside our own comfort and extend ourselves to others, even those who have no ‘value’ to most. Diana is a real example of God’s love, and what we are called upon this earth to do.  We can froth at the mouth about all the theological arguments we want, but this is all about the head and a too-worldy ego.  What Diana does cuts through to the real message we are called to embrace. 

She cuts through to the heart of the matter, and that is good.

Lady Nyo

Ode to a Coopers Hawk

Come to me.

Come to me,

Winged celestial beauty.

Come to me with your notched

Mermaid tail,

Your silken roll of feathers.

Fly down into my hollowed-out soul,

Fill me with your sun-warmed glory

Nestle in my arms

And bring the curve of the horizon

Embraced in your outstretched wings.

I need no white bearded prophet,

No mumbled prayer, no gospel song

No hard church bench, no fast or

Festival to feel close to the Divine.

The glory of the universe,

Is embodied in your flight

As you tumble through heavens,

Ride the invisible thermals

Screech with joy at freedom

Fill your lungs with thin air

And play bumper car with an Eagle.

I, earthbound,

No hollowed bones to launch me,

Just tired soul to weigh down,

No soft plumage to feel the course

Of wind through glossy feathers

No hunting call to herald my presence.

Still my soul takes flight

The breeze lifts my spirit,

My eyes follow you,

And we will find that glory

Transcend a sullen earth,

Transcend a mean humanity

And soar together into the blue eye of God.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011


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