Tuesday — Well, there is no doubt, for Sabbath Moment, August has been dance month. We’ve been telling dance stories.
More than ever, I’m drawn to, inspired by, motivated by, encouraged by, stories where the heart and spirit are alive and well.
Where healing is possible.
Where hope is real.
Where joy finds a place in our world and spills even where heaviness is real.
If you ask me what makes a good sermon or homily, I’d say that making space for the first strains of Glenn Miller isn’t bad. Or Mozart. Or Cab Calloway. Or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Just sayin’.
But it’s not easy to avoid life’s sadness is it?
So, this is important; the stories we tell are not about silver bullets. Or about any cure-all.
But they are stories about healing—and grace, and kindness. And about what is alive (even though) deep inside.
So, this week… when I am sad or despair, I want to know that the people who love me ask, what will invite him to dance?
You see, all healing begins with an invitation.
Even while looking for a cure, let the healing float on the strains of Glenn Miller to soothe the spirit. Or in the beauty and fragrance of a flower and a garden.
And sometime this week, just start dancing. If anyone asks, tell them it’s called “preventative dancing,” prescribed for healing heart and the soul.
Like four-year-olds, who live fearless. Just ask them;
Can you sing? If we don’t know the words, we’ll make them up.
Can you play music? A cardboard box and a stick will do.
Can you dance? Watch this!!
Ask an adult; Can you sing? Only in the shower, and then off-key.
Can you play music? That was years ago.
Can you dance? Not without people laughing.
Easy for you to say Terry, you’re not suffering.
I confess that I may not know what I’m saying. Except this. I’ve had dark days. I need stories of grace because my heart is susceptible to cynicism and numbness.
No matter how dark the days, we can still invite one another to dance.
And yes, the circumstances are very real. But I want you to know that I see the dancer in you.
Fourteen hundred years ago Saint Isidore of Seville wrote that dementia shows that life goes on, even without the spirit. However, sometimes the soul—the anima—remains in spite of the loss of mind. That no matter how demented, deep within, there is still anima in his soul. When life turns left, no matter how demented (or disconnected, or lost, or adrift, or broken), deep within there is still light—anima—in our soul.
Or to put it another way.
Even when we don’t have a cure, we can still find healing. Let’s pause and hear than again: Even when we don’t have a cure, we can still find healing.
And it may be that in our quest for a cure, we often miss the healing.
Thank you, friends. I’m very grateful for the emails and prayers for my friend Phil Cushman who died while walking from a hit and run accident. And I’ll pass these prayers on to Karen, Phil’s wife.
Let us be gentle with one another my friends. And let us be places of sanctuary and healing.
I confess than I am unabashedly addicted to golf. And to the reliable three-to-five-mile exercise walk each day. It’s all good for the heart. And the spirit.
Speaking of good for the heart. And dancing for that matter… Today, I made a hole-in-one.
Let’s just say, it’s a golfer’s aspiration. My Oh My.
And yes indeed, it awakens the dancer inside.
Or, in my case, the balterer.
To balter is to dance without particular skill or grace, but with extreme joy. Often performed by teenagers at parties, but can be enjoyed by a person of any age… say a middle-aged guy who made a hole-in-one. “Hey, that is some sweet baltering you’re doing!” (Balter, it’s definitely my stay sane word.)
Ahh yes. And here’s our reminder… to stay open to the steady invitations that keep the child, the dancer, in us alive and well.
When life is heavy, we forget the hope that comes (and grows) when we are free to behave and embrace childlike. (Jesus seemed to think it was a good thing—something about entering the Kingdom of Heaven and all that.)
Childlike behavior may even help one stay pure at heart, and to live life simply. Simplicity is always a wonderful thing. And it just may be that we’re not childlike enough.
(Today, we’re grateful for Betsy’s photo of her grandson Lachlan.)
Carl Jung called it the “Divine Child” and Emmet Fox called it the “Wonder Child.” Some psychotherapists call it the “True Self” and Charles Whitfield called it the “Child Within,” and someone later coined the phrase, “the Inner Child.” Whatever name you use, it refers to that part of each of us which is ultimately alive. It is where our feelings come to life.
When we experience joy, sadness, anger, fear, or affection, that child within us is coming to life.
Not in order to be measured or to impress, but simply to embrace and to be embraced.
To breathe the holy air of the present moment, in laughter, wonder, open-heartedness and unabashed baltering.
Is it possible that we don’t trust our own wholeheartedness?
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention,” L.R. Knost reminds us. “So, go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
I am so very grateful for waves of unprovoked delight.
These are moments to grab hold of.
These are moments when life dances.
Moments with we know that grace is alive and well.
Moments when we know that kindness to the self (even when our spirit feels defended and guarded) is alive and well.
…The photo of a young boy muddied and smiling ear to ear, holding a frog.
…An “older” man, baltering, after a hole-in-one.
…A stroll home after golf, taking a wee bit longer than normal, stopping frequently for a few handfuls of plump sun sweetened blackberries off the vines.
…A world where even dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s cannot stop the music or the dance.
…Add your own moments here…
I do get the itch, you know, to make sense of it all. Somehow, we want to find the words. To figure out such moments. To categorize them.
With the hope that understanding the recipe of any adversity will allow us to find the ingredients that are treatable.
Of course, restoration (replenishment, wholeness) is never an easy or short process.
So. Let us pause, shall we? And let us embrace (and be embraced by) these moments of the sacrament of the present.
Yes, these moments of prayer, allowing us to simply, be here now, where the sacred is alive and well.
My friend Bob had cancer. The bad kind. (Are there any good kinds?)
And, no, the diagnosis wasn’t good. And my heart hurt for him. So, what do you do? Well, you fight, and look for a cure, some ways to treat what devastates.
With treatment Bob is fatigued, but his wife Holly still took him on a daily short walk, around the block. There’s a house on the corner with a charming garden. And in spring (Chicago area), there is something new every day. After the walk, Bob tells her, “That garden makes my day.”
Oh my. Unprovoked delight. Grace is alive and well.
Not expecting Bob’s profession, I love Holly’s response, “Now I know. Every day, we will take that walk.”
And to the end of Bob’s life, they walked.
Thank you for dancing you two…
Or as J.R.R. Tolkien stirred us,
“From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring;
renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
(The Fellowship Of The Ring)
In our hearts, we are all dancers. Yes. Every single one of us.
But we forget. Or we lose our way. Or the “bushel” (from life’s heaviness, or from our fear, or shame) covers our light.
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,” we sang passionately as children.
“Let your light shine,” Jesus said.
Here’s what we miss: Jesus never said, “Create the light. Or make the light. Or even, be good at light shining. Or, join the light shining committee at your church.” Jesus said, Let… meaning allow, meaning get out of the way, because the light is already in you.
Yet for whatever reason, we don’t think of ourselves as shine the light material. (In the same way that we don’t think of ourselves as dancers. Feel familiar?)
I do know this; when we give in to anger or victimhood or resentment or the assumption that I’m shining the light to win someone’s approval, we put a bushel over the light. And that never works out so well… Meaning that we are no longer in our own skin, literally giving over our identity to something unrecognizable.
That’s why I’ve loved the stories this week, inviting the dancer to “let” light spill. Stories about people at home in their own skin, who spill light in a world that needs it.
Reclaiming this (dancer, light spilling) self is not an assignment, or about getting our act together.
And gratefully, I believe that the light shines precisely because there are broken places. So, it’s important to remember that we are not on this journey alone.
A Sabbath Moment reader passed this one to me and it hit home. When a flashlight grows dim or quits working, do you just throw it away? Of course not.
You change the batteries.
When a person messes up or finds themselves in a dark place, do you cast them aside? Of course not.
You help them change their batteries.
Some need AA… attention and affection.
Some need AAA… attention, affection, and acceptance.
Some need compassion some need D… direction.
And if they still don’t seem to shine, sit with them quietly, and share your light.
Savor your Labor Day weekend my friends.
Find moments to pause.
Find moments to dance.
Find moments to embrace delight.
Find moments to spill light to those around you.
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
May God the Gardener bless you.
May God the Gardener bless you.
May you be planted in God’s deep rich earth,
nourished with God’s grace and wisdom
and refreshed by the dew of God’s love.
May you know the experience of breaking through
and of flowering with compassion, justice, and mercy.
May God the Gardener be with you.
Maxine Shonk, OP