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A Place for Sanctuary. Daily Dose. (July 19 – 22)

Tuesday — Healing our broken world. Finding and seeing connection even in the midst of pain. We begin with a paradigm shift: it’s not about comparison or performance or competition. Instead, the invitation to see that wholeheartedness and healing flows even from the broken places. And yes, wholeheartedness and healing flows from places where we may feel (and be) fragmented and vulnerable.
I hope that we can learn to embrace the gift.
Our temptation is to guard our hearts.
But this week, we’re learning that the easiest way to take care of our heart, is to give it away.
Even broken, we can take off our scarf, to bind wounded paws.

I am glad for the reminder that we are connected, on this journey together.
Let us be glad for any reminder of the capacity to be fully human, tender, vulnerable and kindhearted.
Let us be glad for any reminder that we are connected to something larger than our fear or anxiety or our ego.
Let us be glad for the permission and freedom to be gentle with ourselves.

Jacob, almost 70, finds himself in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s. For over 20 years a clinical psychologist and mediator, Jacob is now acutely aware that his faculties are deteriorating. On occasion his mind and recall are totally blank. At times he needs help with rudimentary physical tasks. Even so, Jacob’s spirit does not break.
At a retreat with Tara Brach, Jacob is asked, “How can you be so accepting toward your disease?”
He said simply, “Because it doesn’t feel like anything is wrong. I feel grief and some fear about it all going, but it all feels like real life.”
Jacob told Tara a story about an experience at an event–which happened in the earlier stages of the disease–when he traveled and gave talks about Buddhism. On one occasion, a hundred meditation students (alert and eager) gathered. He looked out at the expectant faces, and suddenly didn’t know what to say or do. He didn’t know where he was or why he was there. With his heart pounding and his mind spinning in confusion, Jacob put his palms together at his heart, and began naming, out loud, what was happening inside; “Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I’m failing, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.” In time he relaxed and grew calm. He lifted his head. And apologized to the audience.
Students were in tears. “No one has ever taught us like this,” said many.
Which begs the question, “What exactly did he teach?” And what lesson is to be learned here? “Surely Eternal Being is in this place; and I did not know… Awakening is always the intrusion of the greater meaning into the present moment.”
So… Let us be awake to the invitation to make a space, to embrace what is authentic, and to embrace the gift of being beloved, even in our brokenness.

Wednesday — Even in cacophony and uncertainty and untidiness, we are still connected to one another. Let us not forget than we live in a human world of helping. And that makes a difference. 

So. Today I am glad for any reminder that we are connected.
I recommend the movie Last Flag Flying, the story of a Vietnam vet who visits two of his fellow Marines to ask them for help in bringing the body of his son, a fallen soldier in Iraq, to Arlington. “I was wondering if you guys could come with me,” he says softly.
No one of us is one this journey alone. But it takes vulnerability and honesty to admit that.

And today, I am glad for any reminder of the capacity to be fully human, tender, vulnerable and kindhearted. And to see that human tenderness in those around us.
Osheta Moore is a pastor and peacemaker committed to following the nonviolent path of Jesus in her work for racial justice. “I’m interested in the peacemaking North Star of the Beloved Community… that holds us accountable to be in right relatedness to each other and create an environment where we can all thrive.
The whole of Jesus’ ministry was to establish a community so convinced of their Belovedness to God that they proclaim the Belovedness of others. Belovedness is a massive act of owning and accepting your humanness as a gift from a God who deeply loves you. As we adjust our thinking of this work as rehumanizing those who have been dehumanized, Belovedness is essential in our anti-racism peacemaking.”
(Thank you Center for Action and Contemplation)

Oh. And this did my heart good. Our connection makes a difference. Pass this one on…
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 C… compassion;
some need D… direction.
And if they still don’t seem to shine…
simply sit with them quietly and share your light. (Thank you Rachel Dansby Freeman)

Thursday —

Always try to leave people better than you found them. Hug the hurt. Kiss the broken. Befriend the lost. Love the lonely.
I want to live in that kind of world.
But when I see only the obstacles, hurdles and acrimony, I miss seeing the humanity that is alive and well. Yes, connections alive and well with the capacity for compassion and redemption.
There’s a good deal of conversation about what to believe or stand for, these days. And yet. When discussion or debate turns into argument meant to divide, we miss the opportunity to be human with one another.

In gratitude, this blessing from Kate Bowler
A blessing for being someone’s person
(here or gone, we love you)
Blessed are the noticers.
The ones who see the story in its fullness.
Blessed are the attend-ers.
The witness-bearers.
The story-holders.
The ones who tiptoe to the edge right alongside us,
knowing that the very act will break their heart in pieces too.
Blessed are those who are amazed by a life lived
in its fragility, its brevity, its beauty.
Blessed are the ones who stand close enough to say: “BEHOLD.”
BEHOLD.
This is their love.
This is their dumb hobby.
These are the people they loved through every hilarious failure.
These are their bad habits and favorite songs.
This is the marvel I get to know.
Behold. This is not a problem to be solved. This is a person to be loved.
And how lucky are we?
These people.
These loves.
These precious, precious, precious days.
Thanks be to God.
Amen.
Kate Bowler

Friday —

Let us never forget: no one of us is on this journey alone.
Always try to leave people better than you found them. Hug the hurt. Kiss the broken. Befriend the lost. Love the lonely.
I want to live in that kind of world.

Or as Stuart Scott put it, “Our life’s journey is about the people who touch us.” (ESPN Anchor awarded the 2014 Jimmy V Perseverance ESPY Award)

Two other reminders this week that did my heart good. Let’s take these with us into our coming days…
Rosemarie Freeney Harding (1930–2004) was a spiritual leader in the Black Freedom Movement of the 1960s. Her Mennonite faith shaped her commitment to radical hospitality, healing, and transformation. She describes the interracial community she and her husband Vincent formed at Mennonite House in Atlanta.
In the early 1960s, Mennonite House was one of the places, perhaps one of the few, where interracial conversation and community was being consciously created in the South.
Freeney Harding’s activism was inspired by her abiding and mystical experience of God’s love and justice. Rachel Harding recalls her mother’s vision: “There is no scarcity. There is no shortage. No lack of love, of compassion, of joy in the world. There is enough. There is more than enough. Only fear and greed make us think otherwise. No one need starve. There is enough land and enough food. No one need die of thirst. There is enough water. No one need live without mercy. There is no end to grace. And we are all instruments of grace. The more we give it, the more we share it, the more we use it, the more God makes. There is no scarcity of love. There is plenty. And always more. This is the universe my mother lived in.” (Rachel E. Harding, “Daughter’s Précis,” foreword to Remnants, by Rosemarie Freeney Harding) (And thank you Center for Action and Contemplation)

And this from Sister Joan Chittister.
What we need, what we want, what we now lack, in other words, is “community”…
Religious know that community is not undisciplined chaos. It is communal care.
Community gathers us for a purpose. It gathers to enable us to do together what we cannot possibly do alone.
Community is not conformity. On the contrary, community — the different gifts that we bring and the lifestyle that grows us all together — makes us stronger than we could ever be without the others.
Community is not control. Community encourages each of us to grow to the acme of our best selves.
Community is not allowing myself to be carried. It is about my carrying all the others, as well…
What this new age needs most are people who seek with the poet Basho the wisdom of community — both in religious communities and in society at large.
Community is the glue we so badly need to hold society together — if we are ever going to revitalize this one.
(National Catholic Reporter)

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
Gardener God
Forgive us for the times we have kept our seeds in the packet
For the times we’ve been too scared to risk, too selfish to love, too embarrassed to try
Gardener God, have mercy on us
Forgive us for where we have let weeds grow in the soil of our lives
For the times we have forgotten to pray,
for the days when we don’t bother to listen,
for the moments when we neglect the stirring of your spirit
Gardener God, have mercy on us
Forgive us for when we have trampled on the seedlings of others
Through careless words or outright criticism,
through envy or feeling threatened,
through being insensitive or wrapped up in ourselves
Gardener God, have mercy on us
Forgive us for when we think it’s all down to us
When we forget that to grow we need the earth of our community,
The water of other people’s contribution,
The sunshine of your favour,
The nutrients that come through conversation and challenge
Gardener God, have mercy on us
Amen
Jonny Baker

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