Pam Bowen's Portfolio-Blog

August 7, 2014

“Abba, Here I Am”, Song 15 for Fifty-Ninety, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — pambowen @ 7:53 am

ABBA, HERE I AM

Abba, here I am

Lying in the dark

Lost in dead despair,

Fearing you’re not there.

Abba, here I am

Kneeling by my bed,

Crying in the blanket,

Feeling so abandoned.

Abba, here I am

Silent in my room,

Listening for your voice

Floating past the noise.

Abba, here I am

Empty hands wide open,

Ready to receive

The grace you send to me.

Abba, here I am

Standing in your love,

Shining like a star

Reflecting who you are.

Abba, here I am

In you as you in me.

Lord, I’m ready to

Do what you’d have me do.

© 2014 Pamella Bowen (BMI)

pam@bowen2.com

August 4, 2014

Song #13 for the 2014 Fifty-Ninety

Filed under: Uncategorized — pambowen @ 7:55 am

CRACKED VESSEL

Verse 1:

A cracked vessel is the mind

What goes in leaks out in time:

People’s names and people’s faces,

What took place in certain places,

All the science, all the math,

Memories of the distant past.

CHORUS:

YOU CAN’T ADD MORE TO A FILLED-UP CUP,

YOU NEED TO LET SOME OUT.

THAT CRACK IS A BLESSING

YOU CAN BE GLAD ABOUT.

Verse 2:

A cracked vessel is the heart:

Passions, fashions all depart,

Tastes change, love grows cold,

Old obsessions lose their hold.

Why cling to the overrated?

What you treasured gets donated.

CHORUS, REPEAT

Verse 3:

But when God’s love rains, it pours.

If some seeps out, there’s always more.

Mind and heart and soul fill up;

A holy torrent floods your cup.

Overflowing, leaking too,

That’s how much your God loves you.

CHORUS:

YOU CAN’T FIT GOD IN A FILLED-UP HEART;

YOU NEED TO LET SIN OUT.

THAT CRACK IS A BLESSING

YOU CAN BE GLAD ABOUT.

© 2014 Pamella Bowen (BMI)

pam@bowen2.com

August 21, 2012

Reflection on a Dead Dog

Filed under: Meditations and Reflections — pambowen @ 8:48 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

This morning my friend Tanya posted on Facebook about a violent incident she witnessed in her neighborhood. A man was kicking his dogs with his children crying and screaming nearby. He kicked one into the street where it was run over by a car and “died instantly.” Afterwards he returned laughing to the house.

More disturbing to me were the follow-up comments by Tanya’s Facebook friends who said things like, “I would like to be the one to kick him into the street and laugh as he got run over,” “People who abuse dogs should be tortured,” and “Guys like that don’t deserve to live.”

The scenario has lingered in my mind all morning, and I feel called to reflect on it. I posted, “I am enjoined to love my enemies.” What does that mean? I certainly am not called to approve of the man’s actions. I am, however, challenged to have compassion. Father Tom said the other night that “compassion” was “invented” by early Christians. I don’t know if I buy that. However, compassion is the kind of love I think Jesus means, so I am going to explore my compassion for the principals in the story: the dead dog, the children, the other dogs, the driver of the car, the man, and the Facebook posters who want revenge.

The dead dog: If indeed the dog “died instantly,” then my compassion for it is small. In fact, the dog is better off out of a household where it gets constant abuse. Ironically, the posters seem to value the dog more than any of the others in the story and want to commit murder and torture to avenge it.

The children: One of the most shocking memories from my childhood was the day I heard my dad yell the word “Fuck” and slam the door of his Jeep, angry that he had forgotten to set the parking brake. I will never forget how ugly his face looked at that moment. He was transformed into a stranger, a monster. The children who had to see their father committing this ugly cruelty will probably never forget that day. The image of their daddy as their protector and model is forever shattered (if it hadn’t been shattered before). Whether or not they follow their father’s example and perpetuate the cycle of violence, they get my compassion.

The other dogs: I feel more for the other dogs than for the dead one. They seem doomed to a life of fear and pain. Perhaps some mature adult in the family will try to find better homes for them.

The driver of the car: I feel compassion for the innocent bystander drawn into this horror story just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I hope that he can avoid feeling guilt for the accident.

The man: Now here’s the hard one. Tanya says she can “feel sorry” for the man but not “love” him. I think she is saying “compassion” in different words. Anger can be the result of loss of control in our lives. The man had clearly lost control of his dogs when they ran away. But chances are the man has lost control in other areas: he has a low-paying job and a manager who treats him disrespectfully, his wife is distant since he has become so abusive, his kids are withdrawn or rebellious, and he has taken to drinking more than is good for him. The one place where he has always been boss is with the dogs, and today that all fell apart, too. When he ran amok, kicking the dogs, he lost control of himself. Addiction to power and control separates us from Love. We think we are God and we run the show. When the falsity of that stares us in the face, we get angry. The man couldn’t control the dogs; my dad couldn’t control the Jeep; they both got angry and ugly. I have compassion because I have done this myself many times, though not to a dog. When I feel loss of power, I get angry.

The Facebookers: For Tanya I feel much compassion because she witnessed the event. Though there may be some truth that we have become inured to violence on TV and in films, I am still shocked by violence in person. People are never more ugly and sub-human than when they are hitting each other or kicking animals. I hate seeing this side of us, and Tanya can be compassionated for her emotions and her desire to get away from there.

Some of Tanya’s friends are in the same boat with “the man.” They are angry that they can’t control the actions of others, so they are willing to act out their anger in violence. Perhaps violence was modeled for them in their childhood. It is modeled for them on television and other media. Don’t like someone’s actions—kick his ass! Also, Facebook tends to escalate emotional posts. Since you are not face-to-face with the person you are answering, you might feel free to use more inflammatory language than you would use in person. Your violent words may touch off a powder-keg of divisive replies that lead to people saying things they would never say in a different context. Also, people talk big. It’s easy to say you would torture someone or push them laughing in front of a car, but can you actually see yourself doing so?

Thank you, God, for laying this incident so heavily on my heart. I hope that my reflections are in line with your gospel. You made us in your image and you love us all, even the man who killed his dog. Only love, which you are, can heal this whole scenario, and I pray that your will be done. Amen.

May 29, 2012

They Also Serve

My title comes from the sonnet “On His Blindness” by John Milton in which he laments that his blindness now keeps him from using what he (rightly?) considered his greatest talent: writing.  He wonders why God would give him such a gift and then block its use.  In the end he hears God’s answer:  “They also serve that only stand and wait.”

The two lessons I am learning from my experience as a writer are patience and humility.  I have not learned them yet.  I struggle with one or both daily.  Since I used to get attention for writing plays in elementary school, I have fed my ego with writing.  I was labeled “gifted” and set on the path of self-aggrandizement.  God seems to be using this “gift” to teach me that it IS A GIFT,  not my doing.  Ego separates us from God.  If we can let our pride go, we will have more room for God in our hearts. 

How hard it must have been for the proud Milton to “stand and wait”  humbly.  It is hard for me.  Dear Lord, give me strength to wait patiently and not to despair.  I want to trust that it will all be right in the end.  And to quote from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,  “If it is not all right, it is not yet the end.”   Amen.

 

May 13, 2012

Meditation on Psalm 18:30

“The promise of the Lord proves true”

The word “proves” shows that we can’t know whether God is fulfilling his promise until LATER. It is in hindsight, after we are out of the period of desolation, that we can see God’s redemption.  This comforts me because when I’m in a low place I always feel far from God and abandoned.  I need to relax, knowing that God’s promises always prove true, in hindsight.

I am listening to a ten-hour lecture on the Rules of St. Ignatius on a DVD Miriam gave me for Christmas.  Ignatius confesses that life will be a rollercoaster of consolation (spiritual good times) and desolation (dark times).  PERIOD. However, armed with knowledge of this and of his rules, we can make the dark times shorter.  This is very helpful.  A happier life is the result.  You store up God’s love in the good times to get you through the bad.

“WHEN you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord” says the same thing.  You can’t prevent it forever; you can only turn to the Lord when it happens.

May 12, 2012

Incident at the Pink Motel (12-minute exercise at Boomers)

I was reading The Pink Motel during silent reading in the fifth grade.  It belonged to Alice Goldstein.  She had loaned it to the classroom library.  Alice had told all the fifth grade girls how good it was, and I had finally gotten my turn to read it.

Now I wasn’t much of a reader back then.  I was good at reading, but I wasn’t book crazy like so many of my friends.  I didn’t seem to be able to find books that grabbed me, until I started The Pink Motel.  I looked forward to silent reading time so I could get further into the story.

Today, though, I wasn’t feeling so good.  Mama had given me orange juice at breakfast and sent me to school though I protested I was sick.  Unfortunately, during silent reading, with my head bent over the beloved Pink Motel , all the orange juice came up and splattered over the book, my desk, my lap, and the floor.

“Eeeewww” burst out from my classmates, and Mr. Harrington, the teacher, walked briskly over, gingerly picked up The Pink Motel with finger and thumb and dropped it in the brown metal trash can by the door.

I went to the nurse, then home, and I never finished The Pink Motel. I was also never really friends again with Alice Goldstein.  Either she never forgave me, or I was never brave enough to approach her after barfing on her book.

May 11, 2012

Summer Feet (a 12-minute exercise at Boomers)

Filed under: Uncategorized — pambowen @ 9:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

My mind goes immediately to feet when I think of summer.  When you start walking around barefoot or put on sandals, summer is here.

To get to the mailbox to mail a letter for my mom, I had to cross Lincoln Avenue.  Now this was no problem during the cooler months when I was shod in my Keds, but barefoot in summer it was a challenge.  The concrete sidewalk was cool enough to walk on, but the black asphalt road burned.  The solution was to walk on the white-painted crosswalk lines, not between them.  They felt smooth and cool under my bare feet, even cooler than the sidewalk.

If I wasn’t barefoot, I was slapping along in thongs.   My cousins called them zories, and nowadays they are called flip-flops. (Thongs are something else:).  Mom bought us a new pair of zories at the start of summer each year, usually one or more sizes bigger than the year before.  The new ones felt funny for the first week or so until they got stretched, squished, and worn, in just the right places to fit your feet perfectly.

My brother discovered that the center thong of the sandal would collect tiny rocks, sticks, and shells in the space where the rubber passed through the sole, and if he pushed the thong’s cap through the sole, he could clean out the debris into a little pile.  When we were bored in the back seat of the car or in front of the TV, we would empty out our zories to see who had the bigger pile of gravel and twigs.  The things kids will find to amuse themselves.

May 10, 2012

Meditation on Psalm 118

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”

I want to think about the builders. Humans are the builders. God is a maker—things “come into being” at his command, but I don’t think he is portrayed building. Jesus says he can “rebuild the Temple”, but he is a human, too.

Humans built the Temple. Humans built the Tower of Babel. What does building represent? We build for protection because we are fragile (houses, forts). We build for worship, trying to honor but also to contain our God (The Temple, the three buildings the disciples proposed for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah). And we build to aggrandize ourselves (Tower of Babel, pyramids). God doesn’t need to do any of these things, so he doesn’t need to build. Builders, then, are humans.

And Builders are in the Rejection Business. They pick and choose, rejecting offhand any material that doesn’t please them. A flaw in a stone?—Out. A prophet that lays it on the line?—Beheaded. A messiah that doesn’t fight Romans?—Crucified.

Our ability to judge puts us in the rejection business. This immediately sets us against God who is in the Mercy Business. We want to throw things out. God wants to redeem them from the scrap heap and put them to good use, foundational use.

Humans like competition because it lets us choose ONE (the winner) and throw out THE REST. The rest are marvelously made, but because of the accident of being in competition with the ONE, they go onto the scrap heap. This is the way humans think.

God does not think this way. When he sees ALL he has created, he declares it ALL VERY GOOD—none of it belongs on a scrap heap. That is why he keeps sending himself to us in love, telling us we are his, we are good, we are loved, and asking us to stop rejecting all the time. When we all hear this message, the Kingdom of God will be fully here.

Dear Lord, help me to stop rejecting and to see the rejection of ME for what it is—a human thing.

May 3, 2012

Bats and Losers

Filed under: Uncategorized — pambowen @ 9:24 am

Here is a five-minute exercise on Late Evening and a 90-second one on Crossing the Finish Line

Up above the tops of the tall pines, bats swooped. The sky still glowed with a remnant of blue light so we could see the bats. Before us at he center of the fire ring, the ranger was feeding a bonfire and the smell of burning pine reached our noses. I shaded my eyes from the fire to watch for the sudden flit of bats in the twilight. Sharp squeaks accompanied the swoops as the bats caught their supper of insects. The light slowly drained from the sky, bats were hidden, the bonfire ruled the night.

Never a runner, this is how I see crossing a finish line:

“Yay! Go Go Go!” people are shouting on the sidelines of the track, for the fast girls running a half length ahead of me. My heavy shoes slap slap slap on the gravel, pushing to the finish line, last to cross, forgotten

May 2, 2012

Curb, 5-min object writing

Filed under: Uncategorized — pambowen @ 8:04 am

I didn’t like the exercises I wrote today, so I’m putting up this one from 4/26:

No benches or planters near the Baskin Robbins, so we sat on the curb of the parking lot. My cone was nutty coconut, pure white and sweet with huge chunks of walnuts and almonds protruding from the surface. His was cookies and cream. We sat side by side in a red zone, our knees up under our chins, licking around the cones to catch the drips. They came fast on a hot August evening in Claremont. As the ice cream shrank down into the waffle cones, the conversation turned serious.
“So, shall we get married?”

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