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A Place for Sanctuary. Daily Dose. (June 7 – 10)

Tuesday — This week we will be helping one another hit a reset button for emotional and spiritual hydration, in a world than too often, feels upside down.
Ironically, this reset button isn’t an assignment or a class to pass. It begins quite simply with the invitation to wonder, and savor life in the moment. To be here now. To find replenishment in the sacrament of the present.
I remember a statement made in the Irish Times by a Connemara man after he was arrested for a car accident. “There were plenty of onlookers, but no witnesses.” Hmmm.
This is replenishment fueled by (or using my gardening metaphor… grown and nurtured in the soil of) daily miracles. Finding the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Yes: The ordinary, the hiding place for the holy.

We told the story of the boy who wanted to buy an hour of his Father’s time.
But these Sabbath Moments are not about “time management” (or about a skill set for “getting stuff done”). Even if that stuff is spending another hour with your son.  It is more about our perception. What kind of time–or experience of life–is literally, “of value.”
My mind goes back to a scene in Antigua, Guatemala (where I would spend time each year). I loved spending afternoons just sitting in Parque Central.
On the afternoon in my memory, the park is filled with “activity,” meaning people milling, sitting, talking, reading.
All of this “activity,” however, is different from what I am used to. There is a distinct, non-western-world air. I have been watching people for over an hour, and I calculate that the fastest pace to be an amble. Perhaps a saunter. The air is suffused with music and laughter and the fragrance of street vendor fare and the damp from last night’s rain.
A preacher is telling us—in Spanish—that God loves the whole world. He stops his sermon, for a photo op with tourists. I don’t disagree with the preacher—about the loving the whole world part. But today, I want to learn (and practice) loving just one particular part of the world. The world I occupy now. The world I see, taste, touch, smell and hear.
Participation.  If you are reading this, now is a good time to pause. Look up from the screen (or page if you’ve printed it out). Give yourself the permission to pay attention to this moment.
What do you notice?
What do you see, hear, smell, taste, touch?
What is it that makes you glad to be alive (in this very ordinary present moment)? 

Wednesday — Our reset button for emotional and spiritual hydration isn’t an assignment or a class to pass. It begins quite simply with the invitation to wonder, and savor life in the moment.
To be here now.
To find replenishment in the sacrament of the present.
This is replenishment fueled by (or using my gardening metaphor… grown and nurtured in the soil of) daily miracles. Finding the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Yes: The ordinary, the hiding place for the holy.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard once wrote.
Many years ago, I attended a writer’s workshop in Well, a village on the southern border of Holland (near Germany). The workshop took place in a real, honest to goodness twelfth-century castle, with genuine moats to protect us from marauders and pillagers. The setting was idyllic, of course, a memorable backdrop for my two week stay. Sitting by the river, nursing German beer, and watching the barges float by, we swapped stories, fed the insistent ducks, told tall tales, and laughed from the gut.
One evening at dusk I sat alone by the river. The sun was just above the horizon, a dying shimmer. With the harsh light of day dissipated, the contrasting aqua blues and greens of water and foliage melded into four dimensions—lucid and penetrating. I hopped on my bike and rode by a wall where a villager was finishing her evening gardening chores. I stopped and watched.
She held a hand tool and was bent from the waist as she scratched the soil around a lilac shrub, her gestures a mixture of fussing and coddling. She didn’t seem to be aware of my presence and went about her business lovingly, as if she had all the time in the world.
The wall surrounded a rectangular lot, stone walkways through emerald grass patches flanked by borders of late summer blooming hollyhocks and monkshood. It didn’t look like any home I’d ever had, but brought tears to my eyes nonetheless, and filled me with a yearning for something deep and still unnamed. And for some reason, I felt giddy and alive. I wanted to hug the woman and thank her for the gift.

“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Thank you Maya Anjelou.

This is replenishment fueled by (or using my gardening metaphor… grown and nurtured in the soil of) daily miracles. Finding the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Yes: The ordinary, the hiding place for the holy.

Thursday — Our reset button for emotional and spiritual hydration isn’t an assignment or a class to pass. It begins quite simply with the invitation to wonder, and savor life in the moment.
To be here now.
To find replenishment in the sacrament of the present.
This is replenishment fueled by (or using my gardening metaphor… grown and nurtured in the soil of) daily miracles. Finding the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Yes. Or, in other words, it might be good for whatever ails us.

When the world is heavy, we forget the way that small gifts help rebalance our world.
Parker Palmer’s observation this morning, “Alongside the hard realities we must deal with, life offers a million moments of delight—and they, too, are real. Staying in touch with delight as it comes and goes will help us do our share of the world’s heavy lifting. What brings joy to you?”

These moments (of wonder and delight) are sacred because they allow us to embrace the day, our life—this life—in all its fullness, with its disparities, its quirkiness, it demands, its unfairness, it’s pain, and its wondrous serendipities.
These are sacred because they do not lodge themselves on the surface of life.
They enter into it, give life its spice, its flavor, its fulness, its richness, its punch and its power. Enabling us to draw from the well of wonder, and help us recover whatever may have been lost along the way.

This, from poet Czeslaw Milosz does my heart good…
A Gift
A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

So. What brings you joy today?

Friday — Let us remember that our reset button for emotional and spiritual hydration isn’t an assignment or a test to pass. It begins quite simply with the invitation to wonder, and savor life in the moment.
To be here now.
To find replenishment in the sacrament of the present.
This will be a paradigm shift for how we see our education (our way of learning about life).
One paradigm assures us we learn in order to play the right notes.
But there is another way, a different paradigm. What if we learn (and are invited) to ask the right questions? What if we are invited to pay attention to the voices that teach us how to see, to hear, to savor, to play, to cry and to laugh and to dance to the music?

It is the same if you want to learn about me. My resume doesn’t really help, unless we’re discussing parental pride or some kind of bragging rights for a vocational turf war. It is not enough to say that I am fond of reading, addicted to golf, a reclusive gardener mostly at home ambling among perennials and roses or through towering cedars and firs, or that I served such and such parish in church ministry. They are all true facts about me, but not the whole story. I would need to tell you about the time I was unraveled by an iris. Or about the time my heart stopped, watching a bald eagle soar only a few feet above my head. Or the sheer delight of listening to my son sing and dance to the Beatles’ All You Need is Love.
Given the choice, I choose to see life a bit catawampus. Life is not about playing the right notes. It’s about recovering the questions that allow us to hear the music. A father is concerned about his son’s education at the new public school. They are considered a “back woods” family, far away from civilization and without any formal education. Still the father wonders about this new school and its curriculum. “What will they learn you?” he asks his son, “Will they learn you why the river makes that singing sound when the moon is right?”

Yes. Our invitation to hear the music, begins quite simply with the invitation to wonder, and savor life in the moment.
The poet Mary Oliver takes it a step further in her poem:
What did you notice?
What did you hear?
What did you admire?
What astonished you?
What would you like to see again?
What was most tender?
What was most wonderful?

Maybe this weekend, we can make this our topic for a dinner time conversation. Just sayin’
“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Thank you Maya Anjelou.
This is replenishment fueled by (or using my gardening metaphor… grown and nurtured in the soil of) daily miracles. Finding the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Yes, and Amen… the ordinary, the hiding place for the holy.

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
Bless to me, O God,
Each thing mine eye sees;
Bless to me, O God,
Each sound mine ear hears;
Bless to me, O God,
Each odour that goes to my nostrils;
Bless to me, O God,
Each taste that goes to my lips;
Each note that goes to my song;
Each ray that guides my way;
Each thing that I pursue;
Each lure that tempts my will;
The zeal that seeks my living soul,
The three that seek my heart,
The zeal that seeks my living soul,
The three that seek my heart
Celtic Prayer

Photo… “Terry, Walk toward the light… (in the Redwoods near Sea Ranch, CA) a reminder to always head toward the light / God.
Blessings,” Madeleine Gallagher… Thank you Madeleine… I’m so very grateful for your photos, please send them to tdh@terryhershey.com


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