Tuesday — “I am one, but still I am one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
And just because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Helen Keller
This week, we are talking about the shift from the big world (raw, dark, overwhelming and beyond our capacity to make a difference) to the small world, which is right in front of me. The small world that invites me to be present for the sacred (even in brokenness). The small world that reminds me, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” (Thank you Eleanor Roosevelt)
Sam Kinsella (Somerset UK) needed some extra cash, so he decided to work at a residential home for the elderly. He wasn’t expecting to open up a time machine. What did I say about finding ordinary people and real superheroes?
Well, Kinsella quickly struck up a friendship with 93-year-old Edward Hardy, who was suffering with severe dementia. Edward’s mental state left him withdrawn and depressed, virtually no contact with the staff. He had essentially, given up.
At some point during a discussion, Sam told Edward that he was in Somerset because he was a member of a band in the area. Mr. Hardy’s face lit up. He told Kinsella that he also had played in a band. A bond was born.
A keyboard was brought in. Edward’s face lights up. The old jazz tunes cascade back. His fingers dance on the keys. Hope is alive.
Sam posted an online ad inviting jazz musicians to come and play with Edward. More than 80 musicians answered the appeal including Hardy’s former band mates. They had played together in the 1960s.
Their concert this time around? A communal rebellion against gloom and despair. They played, they danced, and they filled the air with music, a sliver of hope and heaven.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts.”
And the music of hope… it never dies.
In the small world, “Every day I know there is something I can do to help, something great or small: showing up, being counted, attending the meeting, making my contribution, saying my prayers… Something I can do to spread the word, great or small: make some ripples, open hearts and minds, change the world for the better.” (Thank you Steve Charleston)
Quote for our week… “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.” Robin Wall Kimmerer (Braiding Sweetgrass)
Wednesday — Some weeks the stories in our world feel too raw.
We read the stories, but cannot wrap our mental arms around them.
And here’s the deal: When we see only stories with an overhanging darkness and dread, we miss the stories about navigating the dark precarious world.
Stories about ordinary people who speak truth and shine a light, a reminder that even in the darkest times, there are stories about ordinary people and real superheroes.
Everyone is fighting his or her own battle. So, we need one another, whether we like it or not.
Have you read Old Turtle and the Broken Truth, by Douglas Wood? The children’s book tells an imaginary story of how the world came to be so fragmented when it is meant to be whole, and how we might put it back together again.
In a far-away land that “is somehow not so far away,” one night a truth falls from the stars. And as it falls, it breaks into two pieces–one piece blazes off through the sky and the other falls straight to the ground.
One day a “truth” falls from the sky and breaks.
One day a man stumbles upon the gravity-drawn truth, and finds carved on it the words, “You are loved.”
It makes him feel good, so he keeps it and shares it with the people in his tribe. The thing sparkles and makes the people who have it feel warm and happy. It becomes their most prized possession, and they call it “The Truth.” Those who have the truth grow afraid of those who don’t have it, who are different than they are. And those who don’t have it covet it. Soon people are fighting wars over the small truth, trying to capture it for themselves.
A little girl who is troubled by the growing violence, greed, and destruction in her once peaceful world goes on a journey—through the Mountains of Imagining, the River of Wondering Why, and the Forest of Finding Out—to speak with Old Turtle, the wise counselor. Old Turtle tells her that the Truth is broken and missing a piece, a piece that shot off in the night sky so long ago.
Together they search for it, and when they find it the little girl puts the jagged piece in her pocket and returns to her people. She tries to explain, but no one will listen or understand. Finally a raven flies the broken truth to the top of a tower where the other piece has been ensconced for safety, and the rejoined pieces shine their full message: “You are loved / and so are they.”
And the people begin to comprehend.
And the earth begins to heal.
Thursday — The Daily Dose I had started to write, can wait for another day.
Mostly I cried, grieving the alarming shooting in Texas.
I Googled Uvalde Texas. It’s known as a city of trees and Matthew McConaughey’s birthplace. And now, a soul crushing mass shooting. Robb Elementary School. Pictures of children and teachers with faces and names.
And I don’t want to get numb.
I want it to hurt.
When the world feels crazy…
Our anger is real, and it needs to be.
Our grieving is real, and it needs to be
Our sense of rawness is real, and it needs to be.
And our invitation and our need to navigate this precarious world, in order to make life-giving choices, and create spaces for sanctuary, healing and compassion, is real.
We begin by moving our focus from the weight of the big world, to honoring the small world, where we can still care, grieve, give from our heart, visit, see, feed, hug, make sanctuary space for someone in pain and on edge. Remembering that we can still spill light, even when we may be the one in pain and on edge. Because the light, the light is still there.
Let us never forget.
I’ll give John Roedel the final word…
when the world
become wildly kind
~ you can’t control
but you control how
you treat others
in these breaking news
when nothing feels
let your raw kindness
be a certainty
allow your compassion
to become a North Star
stamped up in
the sky for
others to follow
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
St. Teresa of Ávila
Friday — The plain fact is that the planet does not need
more successful people.
But it does desperately needs
more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers,
and lovers of every kind.
It needs people who live well in their place.
It needs people of moral courage
willing to join the fight
to make the world habitable and humane.
And these qualities have little to do
with success as we have defined it.
(Thank you David Orr)
Here’s the deal: this isn’t an assignment or obligation. It’s an invitation; to spill the light that lives inside. Every one of us.
So. The question is this… where do we hang our hat for well-being, in a broken and overwhelming world?
As Ashley Judd noted when talking about her mother
“You can pretend to care
But you can’t pretend to show up.”
I can almost hear my hero’s voice (Mr. Rogers)… “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” (Thank you Fred Rogers)
I confess that the recent social media squabbles (clashes) have unnerved me.
I don’t need to win an argument. I do want to be on the lookout (on the ready to show up), to be gentle and kind, and honestly, on the lookout for gentleness and kindness in return. It fills my depleted tank. Just saying’. And there’s not a person alive who doesn’t need a splash of gentleness and kindness and grace. Let’s begin there, shall we?
“But what difference will this make?” a social media comment yowled.
And my answer, is a story…
As the old man walks the beach at dawn, he notices a young man picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up to the youth, he asks a simple question, “Why are you doing this?’
The boy answers that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun.
“But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish. How can your efforts make any difference?”
The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it to safety—into the ocean past the breaking waves. “It makes a difference to this one,” he said.
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
To live content with small means,
to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion,
to be worthy, not respectable,
and wealthy, not rich,
to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly,
to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart,
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely,
await occasions, hurry never,
in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common, this is to be my symphony.
William Ellery Channing (1780-1842)