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A Place for Sanctuary. Daily Dose. (Jan 4 – 7)

Tuesday — What is honored will be cultivated, Plato reminds us.
Honoring means, quite literally, to weigh heavy. To give regard. I pay attention and in so doing, give this moment a name.

So. This week is about the invitation to live wholehearted. To breathe the amazing. It is not easy. And yet, even in daunting and overwhelming, we can choose wholeheartedness. Embracing the gift of enough.
I mentioned the article by Deborah Farmer Kris; “Awe might be our most undervalued emotion. Here’s how to help children find it.”
In in, she helps with the honoring part…
“‘How do you find awe? You allow unstructured time. How do you find awe? You wander. You drift through. You take a walk with no aim,’ Dacher Keltner says. ‘How do you find awe? You slow things down. You allow for mystery and open questions rather than test-driven answers. You allow people to engage in the humanities of dance and visual art and music.’
Noticing systems and patterns, such as musical harmony or the formation of geese in flight, can also be awe-inspiring.”
(I had to read this one to the geese this morning…)

Mary Oliver is my teacher here…
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
(The Summer Day)
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
(When Death Comes)
Every day
I see or I hear
something
that more or less
kills me
with delight
(Mindful)

Tell me what did your heart good this week…

Quote for our week…
“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.” L.R. Knost

Wednesday — I have smiled real big at the emails and notes today in answer to my Sabbath Moment invite: tell me about a moment of awe this week…
Yes… We are invited to live with our whole heart.
But it’s worth repeating that the invitation to wholeheartedness; wonder, awe, amazement, delight, gladness is not an assignment.
Or a test. We go off the rails as soon as we attach a scorecard to living in the present.
Without the scorecard; We invite.
We embrace.
We welcome the gift of enough.

My Lord told me a joke.
And seeing Him laugh has done more for me
than any scripture I will
ever read.
Meister Eckart (1260-1328)

The gift of enough.
And this is where it is so easy to get tripped up. We ask for the list (as if there’s still a scorecard). What are the steps to live wholehearted? How many days will it take? And what will it cost?
So. We’re back to who’s watching and what is there to prove.
And here’s the deal: when I see only scarcity (what I lack or how far I need to go), I miss the fact that every single one of us has been gifted with creativity, abundance, heart, love and passion. This is not to mention that we have been gifted with everything that goes with wholeheartedness… gentleness, helpfulness, caring, kindness, tenderness and restoration. Yes, this is also a story about sufficiency.
And in the cacophony of daunting, it’s easy to forget that.

People living from this strong sense of love and connection (well-being) are whole-hearted. What they have in common is a sense of courage, Brené Brown tells us. “I want to separate courage and bravery. Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language, it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart, and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart… and wholehearted folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others. Because as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last is, they had connection–this was the hard part–as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were.”

I’ll give Tara Brach the last word… “The biggest illusion about a path of refuge is that we are on our way somewhere else, on our way to becoming a different kind of person. But ultimately, our refuge is not outside ourselves, not somewhere in the future—it is always and already here.” 

Thursday — I learned a new phrase today; Confusional state (sometimes referred to as encephalopathy or delirium, is a state in which the level of consciousness is depressed, but to a lesser extent than in a coma). Bottom line? I’m disconnected (or wish to be disconnected) from now.
Lord have mercy… because here is what I do know: when I am disconnected from the present moment (from being here now, the ordinary as the hiding place for the holy), I focus (and see and concentrate) only on where I “should” be, taking some kind of refuge in “if only” and “when”. And life is lived predicated on a kind of scorecard, letting us know when we arrive. (And feeling bad if I’m not there yet.)
Patricia Madson writes about the shock of losing a teaching job at a university. Thinking she had done everything flawlessly, until it occurred to her that she had been working only “to be worthy of tenure.” So, she writes, “I had not been true to myself. I need another way of living that doesn’t require a script. I need to listen to and trust my self.”

Amen. So. In what ways can we embrace the permission to be here now? Embrace the gift of enough in this self?
Okay. It’s paradigm shift time again…
I’m having a conversation with an old friend. And we’re talking about things middle-aged men talk about; receding hairline, expanding waistline and loss of virility. And he asks me, “Is there anything in your life that you are passionate about?” I must admit that the question kind of stumps me. Being a good Midwestern boy, passion was not exactly something we talked about. It was akin to boastfulness; which means it made it on that sin scale somewhere between card playing and dancing. But the more I thought about it, the easier the answer came, “Yes, there is something I feel passionate about, gardening.”
Of course my friend is incredulous, “Gardening,” he said, “gardening is so, so self-centered.”
I thought about it, but didn’t like the alternatives. And then it hit me. I remembered the first time when I really knew I was a gardener. And I realized that for the first time in my life I was non-self-conscious. Completely non-self-centered. For the first time in my life, I cared about something bigger than my own little petty issues. I cared about the health and well-being of our air and our water, the health of the planet we call home. I cared about the dirt, for healthy roots and healthy food. I cared about the bird and the insects, pollinators and seed deliverers extraordinaire. I cared about the animals who call the forest around my garden home.
I was with something Very Big.
In other words, gardening wasn’t something I did; gardening was something that was done unto me.

Now, we are back to the topic for our week: what is the gateway to embrace this gift of enough? Awe.
Not advice or completing an assignment… but breathing in amazement.
Exactly. Being passionate will keep you alive. And more than ever, it seems to me that we live in a world where our whole heart is required. Where we come to feel the depth of life even in the smallest of activities. We trust that we are intended for wholeheartedness, that each day we are meant to be steeped in mystery, and so to remember our true lives. Because from that place, we can truly care. We can be present. And from that place, we can make a difference.

Friday — I was supposed to be writing this Daily Dose from a comfortable chair, on the beach, watching the sunset, in Manasota Key, Florida. I had a vacation scheduled and that was the plan. However, several dozen cancelled flights (in and out of Seattle, including mine), altered my plans.

“Interruptions” (altered plans, a new normal) can indeed bring irritation, discomfort, and at times, pain. Some of it imagined (say, cancelled flights). Some of it very real (no job, lost loved ones, health care gone, health care workers strained, “attending” a funeral on zoom). None of that can be diminished.
Even so, our invitation doesn’t change. In Parker Palmer’s words, “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
So. What is next?
Mother Teresa was asked where she found her strength, her focus, her fuel. The fuel, she explained, is prayer. “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” To be replenished is to be reminded of what is true, of the values that tether us.
–Let us honor that capacity (inner core), fueled by grace and sufficiency and not scarcity.
–Let us honor our capacity for mindfulness. To embrace now, the gift of awe, and the sacrament of the present moment.

This is not just someone saying, “you’ll be okay.” But to know, at our core, that we are home, and we are safe.
Now we have something to draw on. Which means (and here’s the good news) we have something to give. This sanctuary is not just for solace, but also indispensable as deterrent. In other words, we build immunity; to not be as easily susceptible to fear, or to being at the mercy of every threat. We can do this because there are two gentle hands of grace that hold us, no matter what.

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s reminder, “Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.”

And I’ll give the last word to Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Here are bits of his prayer at the Vigil tonight on the DC Capital steps…
“Lord, We come before you because we need your help. We need your help in these troubled times…
We ask you now to help us. Help all those who are traumatized. Help all of those who have lost loved ones. Help those who are struggling.
Help us to be instruments of your peace. Instruments of your love and instruments of your healing…
Precious Lord please take our hand. Lead us on, let us stand.”

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
A Prayer For The New Year
God,
Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart. There will be much to test me and make weak my strength before the year ends.
In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true and do the thing of which I am ashamed. There will be errors in the mind and great inaccuracies of judgment.
In seeking the light,
I shall again and again find myself
walking in the darkness.
I shall mistake my light for Your light
and I shall drink from the responsibility of the choice I make…
Though my days be marked with failures, stumblings, fallings, let my spirit be free so that You may take it and redeem my moments in all the ways my needs reveal.
Give me the quiet assurance of Your Love and Presence.
Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart. Amen
Howard Thurman (Meditations Of The Heart)

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