skip to Main Content

A Place for Sanctuary. Daily Dose. (Feb 8 – 11)

Tuesday — This week, the power of Buddy Ball; a baseball league that mixes children with disabilities and able-bodied children.
Every player has a buddy.
Each team has 18 players.
If you can’t hit, a buddy hits for you.
If you can’t throw, a buddy throws for you.
If you can’t run, a buddy runs for you.
If you can’t catch, a buddy catches for you.
A child with cerebral palsy (confined to a wheelchair but allowed to hit for themselves) is pushed around the bases by a buddy.
The Seattle Times writes, “It is what sports can be, children running and jumping and playing because nobody’s keeping score because nobody cares.”

No one of us is on this journey alone…
And here’s why I love (and take to heart) the Buddy Ball story… “The real voyage of discovery,” Marcel Proust wrote, “consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
The paradigm shift reminds us that there are certain gifts that defy and counteract scorekeeping: compassion, empathy, camaraderie, reconciliation, inclusion and kindness.

Let us begin with this admission; living (embracing, honoring) a world where compassion and grace are real and shared, is never easy.
However, “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts,” Henri Nouwen writes, “to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”  

And as I write that sentence, I realize (recognize) that it’s not the sharing (giving) which is most difficult, it is the receiving.
Nouwen said that all his life two voices competed inside him.  One encouraged him to succeed and achieve (now we’re back to keeping score), while the other called him simply to rest in the comfort that he was “the beloved” of God.
Only in the last decade of his life did he truly listen to that second voice. (Thank you Philip Yancey)

It’s easy to not see or hear it, isn’t it?
Yes. In other words, as Rabbi Naomi Levy reminds us, “Finding your way in life is not so much about choosing a direction. It’s about uncovering the voice of the soul, the call that is already imprinted inside you, and then finding the courage to face down your fears and let your true voice be heard. One of my favorite verses from the Song of Songs is when the lover calls out, ‘let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet.’ The ancient rabbis insisted it was God who was speaking those words to each one of us, ‘Let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet.’”
Yes, this voice.
This Terry.

Wednesday — I’m not sure why scripts seem so essential for our wellbeing (as if they determine our meaning and purpose).
It’s another kind of way of keeping score, I suppose; you know, this script or plan has meaning, but is it enough?
As a boy, we were taught to pursue and find God’s perfect will. The irony of course, is that we never did. (I’m smiling because when we pursue perfect, we continually wonder, but is it perfect enough?)
I do know this: never enough is exhausting. The inability to embrace and celebrate the gifts of this wonderfully ordinary exquisitely imperfect day.
And here’s my confession; if I give in to the mental exhaustion, I begin to believe (and internalize) that empathy can be overwhelmed, compassion can seem helpless, suffering can be too much to comprehend (not to mention the level of public quarrel too much to absorb… Mercy).

And it doesn’t help that we continue to look for comfort through orchestrating our world—wanting all ducks carefully and neatly in a row.
And then… life happens.
“Life,” Lucy tells Charlie Brown, “is like a deck chair.”
“Like a what?” asks Charlie Brown.
“Like a deck chair.  Some people put their deck chair at the front of the ship so they can see where they are going.  Some people put their deck chair at the rear of the ship so they can see where they’ve been.  On the cruise ship of life, Charlie Brown, which way is your deck chair facing?”
“I haven’t figured out how to get mine unfolded yet.” says Charlie Brown.
Ahhhh. Wisdom. Bless you Charlie Brown.
And here’s the deal: Tender and fragile is okay. It’s okay.
Limited and broken is okay. It’s okay.
Wonderfully ordinary and imperfect is okay. It’s okay.
There is nothing to fear.
We embrace wholeness there.
We are embraced by grace there.

This week, the Buddy Ball story invites us to “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)
The paradigm shift reminds us that there are certain gifts that defy and counteract scorekeeping: compassion, empathy, camaraderie, reconciliation, inclusion and kindness.

And My Oh My… Senegal declared Monday a public holiday to celebrate the soccer team’s first ever Africa Cup of Nations crown. The celebration was electric. Captivating. A gooseflesh joy to watch.
And I remember the quote about Buddy Ball… “It is what sports can be, children running and jumping and playing because nobody’s keeping score because nobody cares.” Yes, the Senegal football team won because of the score. But the bigger picture is something else. The gifts of joyfulness and celebration and connection (gifts of enough) are so much bigger than the weight from the trials and tribulations the country is now enduring.
And here’s my prayer… that the gifts of joyfulness, celebration and connection find their way into our hearts wherever we may live.

Thursday — “Our true home is in the present moment.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment.
Peace is all around us–in the world and in nature–and within us–in our bodies and our spirits.
Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

And this, from the late Bishop Desmond Tutu… “God has created us, upholding us in being from moment to moment, providing us with our very existence… Despite everything that conspires to deny this truth, each one of us is of immense worth, of infinite value because God loved us. That is why (God) created us. Thus our value is intrinsic to who we are. It comes with the package of being human. It depends neither on extrinsic attributes such as ethnicity and skin color nor on our achievement, however that may be computed. Our worth stems from the fact that we exist only because of the divine love.”

Yes… our true home. Or, in the words of Antoine de St. Exupéry, “Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.”
You see, when we live from this paradigm, this truth (grace is our home)…
…scorekeeping is not relevant,
…shame loses its power
…and the permission to spill light is not an assignment. 

I would hope that would be freeing… but it’s not easy is it?
When one younger friend told me about life’s conundrums (and script changes), I asked, “So what’s next?”
She replied, “I’m just waiting for God to show me what he wants from me.”
Okay. But in the meantime, you know, until you have this life and self figured out (and straightened out and tidied up), I have a suggestion:
Live this day, with this self, without holding back.
Today; savor, doubt, embrace, question, wrestle, give, risk, love,
fall down, get up, accept your incomplete and fractured self,
know that anything worth doing is worth doing badly,
speak from your whole heart, and whenever you can,
lavish excessive compassion and mercy and healing and hope and second chances and grace and restoration and kindness on anyone who crosses your path.
Who knows, we may love one another into existence.
I’m sure God won’t mind.

Watching the Olympics today (snowboarding), and I’m learning new phrases (feeling a wee bit out of touch with younger generations), and then, in the kitchen today, I dropped something, and in trying to catch it I ended up doing a backside 1800 quadruple cork (turning backwards, five full rotations, four inversions). Oh, I thought, laying on the floor, so that’s what they’re talking about. 

Be gentle with yourselves, my friends.

Friday — “Home is a place where you can catch a dream and ride it to the end of the line and back. Where you can watch shadow and light doing a tight little tango on a wooden floor or an intoxicated moon rising through an empty window. Home is a place to become yourself.  It’s somewhere you can close a door and open your heart.” Theo Pelletier

Home is about being “at home” in your own skin. And our Buddy Ball story was about creating a space for being at home, without the need to keep score or compare or dishonor or hide. Honoring and embracing the gifts that defy and counteract scorekeeping: compassion, empathy, camaraderie, reconciliation, inclusion and kindness.

Sometimes we are aware of this need for home when we’ve lost our way. Or when life is too baffling.
And we all know of the many things (weights) that take us away from home… anger, busyness, self-importance, unforgiveness, discouragement, despair, heartache.

And what I’ve learned, in my own life at least, is that in every instance this new weight becomes the definition for our identity. It tells us who we are. And it requires that we focus on the periphery issues, on whatever is needed to impress, or manipulate, or achieve, or use, or hurt, or perform.

We’re back to keeping score. And, we are disconnected from our self.

No, we cannot undo these pesky weights… But we can allow ourselves to fall into the embrace of Grace. That makes all the difference.

Yes, in the words of Antoine de St. Exupéry, “Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.”

There are times when we forget…
Times when we are unsure…
Times when life is upside down…
So, we tell stories to remember.

This from Parker J. Palmer.

Welcome Home

Alone in the alien, snow-blown woods,
moving hard to stay warm in zero weather,
I stop on a rise to catch my breath as the
setting sun—streaming through bare-boned
trees—falls upon my face, fierce and full of life.

Breathing easier now, in and out with the earth,
I suddenly feel accepted—feel myself stand
easy, strong, deep-rooted as the trees,
while time and all these troubles disappear.

And when (who knows how long?) I trudge
on down the trail and find my ancient burdens
returning, I stop once more to say No to them—
not here, not now, not ever again—reclaiming
the welcome home the woods have given me.

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
Dear God,
We give thanks for places of simplicity and peace;
let us find such a place within ourselves.
We give thanks for places of refuge and beauty;
let us find such a place within ourselves.
We give thanks for places of nature’s truth and freedom,
of joy, inspiration and renewal,
places where all creatures
may find acceptance and belonging.
Let us search for these places;
in the world, in ourselves and in others.
Let us restore them.
Let us strengthen and protect them
and let us create them.
May we mend this outer world
according to the truth of our inner life
and may our souls be shaped and nourished
by nature’s eternal wisdom.
Amen!
Michael Leunig 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Back To Top