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A Place for Sanctuary. Daily Dose. (May 10 – 13)

Tuesday — Alive Inside is an epiphanic film.
I always wanted to use the word epiphanic.
Dan Cohen, a social worker in an East Coast nursing home, plays personally tailored music via iPod headsets for older residents diagnosed with dementia and other “imprisoning” disorders. The results are simple and striking. The residents awaken and come alive. They move, sing, and dance. They have episodic memory for events associated with the music. They smile and weep with joy. They seem in touch with themselves. Quite literally, they appear to be different people. I emphasize these two words because they stand in stark contrast to the sameness and depersonalization often imposed upon them, blinded by culture-driven presumptions of their dementia.
In the film we meet Henry Dreher. Henry, 94 at the time, had been spending his days sitting in his wheelchair with his head hanging down.
Dan puts headphones on Henry. The iPod plays one of Henry’s old favorites, Cab Calloway.
Dreher’s eyes open wide, his face lights up and he starts singing along with the music. After he says, “It gives me the feeling of love, romance, because right now the world needs to come into music, singing. You’ve got beautiful music here. Beautiful, oh, lovely.”
Watching this scene in my den, I stand and clap and grin from ear to ear. And start to dance. (And then look around, to see who was watching.)
(Thank you RJ Scheidt.)

It touches, it affirms, the song at our core.
Or, as Mother Teresa would say, “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
And if we sit still, we may hear that song.
It is the song that reminds us we are seen, when we feel invisible.
It is the song that reminds us we are beautiful, when we feel ugly.
It is the song that tells us we are whole, when we feel broken.
It is the song that gives us the power to dance, even when we feel shattered.
It is the song that reminds us of the story that keeps our hope alive.

The philosopher Kant reminded us that music is the quickening art. In other words, music brings something to life.
Yes. And that something may be our self.
Like the child in the African tribe story, we know what it’s like to lose our way. And there are times we have no idea how or why.
But somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves to equate our missteps with our very identity. This is the work of shame.
Charlotte Kasl reminds us that “Shame is essentially the degree to which you mistake your labels for your identity. If you draw your labels into the core of yourself, you can no longer see the center.”
We buy the label. We buy the script. Internalize. And we forget our song.
Reading the stories, I think of it this way: Music unlocks the heart, and we are restored to our self.

Wednesday — “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts.” (From Paul’s letter to the Romans)
And yet, when life feels heavy and uncertain, it is easy to forget that each one of us carries this gift of hope, and the capacity to spill it. 

I received an email this week from Sabbath Moment friend MaryBeth Ingram with a short video. Chaplain John Florian singing straight to the heart. The lyrics…
“To love someone
is to learn the song
deep in their heart
and when they have
forgotten their own tune
to play it back
and bring them home.” 

I asked John about the song. And he told me, “The lyrics of the song are based on a quote from a Norwegian writer, Arne Garborg (1851-1924); ‘To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.’…
I usually repeat these lyrics as I sing to hospice patients and families. This and the other spiritual songs I have written all have this simple, mantra-like feel. My hope is to write music that resonates with people’s heart and experience.
Thanks, Terry, for all you do to remind us who we are and bring us home.”
Thank you, John. 

I cannot tell you your song. But I can tell you this: you have one.
Count on it.
The song is a way that the child in each and every one of us knows:
You are seen.
You matter.
It touches, it affirms, the song at our core.
Or, as Mother Teresa would say, “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
And if we sit still, we may hear that song.
It is the song that reminds us we are seen, when we feel invisible.
It is the song that reminds us we are beautiful, when we feel ugly.
It is the song that tells us we are whole, when we feel broken.
It is the song that gives us the power to dance, even when we feel shattered.
It is the song that reminds us of the story that keeps our hope alive.

In our topsy-turvy world, we need the song to bring us home.
And we need the reinforcement to pause, and listen, and learn the song of those we love.

Thursday — My heart smiles and comes alive when I listen to the music from my friend Larry Murante. This is from one of my favorite songs, Hungry Ghost (CD Patch of Sky).
“Everybody is who they are, because somebody loves them…
Everybody’s gotta live their truth, but they need someone who knows it…
Everybody’s got a forgotten song…
You wanta get back your forgotten song.”

I cannot tell you your song. But I can tell you this: you have one.
Count on it.
The song is a way that the child in each and every one of us knows:
You are seen.
You matter.
Music unlocks the heart, and we are restored to our self.

In the desert of New Mexico, in a beautiful home with huge doors open to the outside, Native American musician Ronald Roybal talks with a gathered group of pastors. As he talks, he plays hauntingly beautiful music. He tells them about how missionaries came to his people and how his people received the story of Jesus, absorbing the story into their understanding. He tells the group that Native Americans believe that God gives every creature a dance. The eagle has an eagle dance, the bear a bear dance, the scorpion a scorpion dance, and so forth. However, over the years, we human beings had forgotten our dance. So, we dance the dance of other animals, because we do not know our own. Jesus, however, knew our “human” dance and came to teach us the dance again.

Our “song” offers the gift and permission to be present, to be at home in our own skin, to give up the need to impress or prove, and to make space for others to do the same. It’s a gift every one of us could use.
Speaking of which… my friend Mary Tuel used to write a wonderful column in the Vashon Loop. She talked about her former husband Rick, being clear eyed about the marriage of grief and a realistic understanding that Life is hard. Relationships are hard. And it is easy to feel undone. Mary says, “But we always ended up giving each other enough grace… So today, Give yourself grace.” Amen Mary.

Everybody is who they are, because somebody loves them…
Everybody’s gotta live their truth, but they need someone who knows it…
Everybody’s got a forgotten song…
You wanta get back your forgotten song

Friday — My heart smiles and comes alive when I listen to the music from my friend Larry Murante. This is from one of my favorite songs, Hungry Ghost (CD Patch of Sky).
“Everybody is who they are, because somebody loves them…
Everybody’s gotta live their truth, but they need someone who knows it…
Everybody’s got a forgotten song…
You wanta get back your forgotten song.”

I cannot tell you your song. But I can tell you this: you have one.
Count on it.
The song is a way that the child in each and every one of us knows:
You are seen.
You matter.
Music unlocks the heart, and we are restored to our self.

In the desert of New Mexico, in a beautiful home with huge doors open to the outside, Native American musician Ronald Roybal talks with a gathered group of pastors. As he talks, he plays hauntingly beautiful music. He tells them about how missionaries came to his people and how his people received the story of Jesus, absorbing the story into their understanding. He tells the group that Native Americans believe that God gives every creature a dance. The eagle has an eagle dance, the bear a bear dance, the scorpion a scorpion dance, and so forth. However, over the years, we human beings had forgotten our dance. So, we dance the dance of other animals, because we do not know our own. Jesus, however, knew our “human” dance and came to teach us the dance again.

Our “song” offers the gift and permission to be present, to be at home in our own skin, to give up the need to impress or prove, and to make space for others to do the same. It’s a gift every one of us could use.
Speaking of which… my friend Mary Tuel used to write a wonderful column in the Vashon Loop. She talked about her former husband Rick, being clear eyed about the marriage of grief and a realistic understanding that Life is hard. Relationships are hard. And it is easy to feel undone. Mary says, “But we always ended up giving each other enough grace… So today, Give yourself grace.” Amen Mary.

Everybody is who they are, because somebody loves them…
Everybody’s gotta live their truth, but they need someone who knows it…
Everybody’s got a forgotten song…
You wanta get back your forgotten song

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.
D. Simone

Photo… Irv and Dottie and their three goslings. You know, after the homily, at church coffee hour… Port Ludlow, WA

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