Tuesday — This week let’s help one another navigate the stormy waters in our broken and pain-filled world.
Let us never forget: No one of us is one this journey alone. We still need one another (even if we haven’t figured out all the hurdles). So. Let us continue, together, to grow and learn, and repent and heal.
We begin with, and must continue to return to, our need to stay emotionally and spiritually hydrated.
Because care (service, generosity, ministry, upkeep) of any kind begins with self-care.
I stand by that, more than ever. Depletion and exhaustion are rampant.
Not that many years ago, I spoke to a group of hospice care workers, about emotional and spiritual hydration. I started this way, “What I’m about to tell you is very selfish. I want you to be replenished. Because one day I will need one of you.”
Too often, when I see acts of courage I see heroism, and I don’t see myself. Or I see how far I have to go. Or I see how far short I have fallen. Perhaps you can relate?
But I do understand tired. And I do understand discouraged. And I do understand the end of my resources. And I remember with gratitude the story of Mother Pollard.
Mother Pollard was one of the elders of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, during the bus boycott of 1955-56. When her pastor Dr. King, suggested she go back to the buses because she was too old to keep walking, she told him, “I’m gonna walk just as long as everybody else walks. I’m gonna walk till it’s over.”
King marveled. “But aren’t your feet tired?” he asked.
“My feet is tired,” she replied. “But my soul is rested.”
Tired is one thing. Being soulless is something else altogether.
Mother Pollard knew this. I doubt she went to a workshop to figure it out. She just knew in her bones; that she is whole, and filled with grace and sufficiency.
Which meant that for Mother Pollard, her rested soul allowed her to live fully into this life. (I read that the best beauty product is to actually have a life.)
She walked toward, and not away from, life. This life, her life, with its contradictions, frustrations, weariness, tired feet and injustices.
Mother Pollard knew who she was. Her strength came from that place. Because she did see herself as a victim, she could live with intention, beyond circumstance or public opinion. In other words, tired feet was not an impediment. And from that soul flows tenderness, tenacity, compassion, joy, passion, healing, restitution and justice.
So, today, let’s begin here: How’s your spirit? What can we do to replenish it today?
Wednesday — My apologies for the technology snafu yesterday with Daily Dose. It didn’t go out as planned. Technology and I have always made odd bedfellows, as I’m consistently befuddled.
Growing up in Southern Michigan, many of my neighbors were Amish. I admired their way of life. Still do. And when it comes to technology, I confess (gladly) to being somewhat Amish at heart.
This week we’re unpacking the affirmation: no one of us is one the journey alone. So important to remember in our broken world.
And it did my heart good to read this from Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis.
“In its truest sense, religion should reconnect human beings—bind them again—to the creation, to one another, to the divine, to love. Religion should reveal to us how much we need one another to survive and thrive. Religion should be revelatory and revolutionary, helping us see how our biases about color, gender, sexuality, and class cause deep hurt to both body and soul…
The teaching of rabbi Jesus is simple: Love God. Love neighbor. Love self. Love period…
At a lecture in Israel, I heard one of my favorite rabbis, Donniel Hartman, say, “A life of faith isn’t just about walking with God, but how one walks with humanity. The core feature of a moral life is to see. Choosing not to see is immoral. The goal of religion is to improve our willingness and our ability to see.” A spiritual life is supposed to help us see better. The aim of Love, and any God worth worshipping, is improved sight…
An ethical and moral life is about letting go of indifference and learning how to see. It’s about waking up to love ourselves, love our posse, and love our world. Imagine love as our shared spiritual practice, binding us to one another, enabling us to see our connection—that we are kin…
In order to live a moral life, a good life, an ubuntu life, we must commit to a life of love that means seeing all the things. See your neighbor suffering and do something about it. See a stranger laboring under a heavy load and help out. See lies spoken and shared in social media and call foul. See a friend soaring, and say, ‘I see you, beautiful creature!’ to build their self-love tank…
Friend, you are the only one standing where you stand, seeing what you see, with your vantage point, your story. You are right there for a reason: to have, as my dear friend Ruby Sales says, ‘hindsight, insight, and foresight.’ I want us to learn to see, with our eyes wide open, how best to be healers and transformers. I want us to really see, to fully awaken, to the hot-mess times we are in and to the incredible power we have to love ourselves into wellness…
I want us open to revelation, not afraid of it, and open to the ways that it will provoke us to believe assiduously in how lovable we each are, and in the love between us and among us because, actually, believing is seeing.
Believing is seeing our connection: We are one.
(Jacqui Lewis, “The Spirit of Ubuntu.” Thank you to Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, 2/7/22)
Thursday — This week we’re on the lookout for the helpers.
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)
And maybe, just maybe, that helper is one of us…
You see, hope comes from ordinary people who care.
From ordinary people, where the light still shines, and spills.
Ordinary helpers who try and give; and work to make safe places where we can grow and heal.
Because no one of us is on this journey alone.
Today, this came to my email from Kate Bowler… and I say Amen…
A Blessing For Being Human
“It is therefore a great thing to be little.” Thomas Merton
Blessed are we, living in this small space, in these
bodies we now inhabit, within the walls of
circumstance, in these short years and finite strength,
and with these eyes that see only so far. We are
fragile, contingent beings.
Yet blessed are we, recognizing that it is our limits as
well as our gifts that can shape the natural contours
of what is possible, that guide us to what is ours to do.
Blessed are we when it is not our greatness that
speaks, but our littleness. For it is our vulnerability
that is the truest thing about us, the place where
mutual connection is possible, where competition
ends and community begins.
And oh how blessed are we in our fragility and
dependence and brokenness, knowing that You, O
God, hold all things together.
There is no cure for being human…but for each other, we
are all good medicine.
Friday — Not long ago, a gift arrived in the mail that made me smile real big; from Mary, a Sabbath Moment reader. I Am You: a book about Ubuntu.
Ubuntu means “I am, because you are.” From Nguni languages, it embodies the idea that a person is a person through other people. We share humanity, compassion and oneness.
Nelson Mandela often spoke of Ubuntu, a recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.
Bishop Desmond Tutu would say of Ubuntu “I am human because I belong, I participate, I share.” Yes… even in, and especially in, our brokenness.
And yet, these days I can see how it is easy to feel otherwise; divided, disconnected and disheartened.
So. Let’s go back to what we know: No one of us is on this journey alone.
I hope we can see this as an invitation. In other words, my identity (wellbeing) is not tied up with any need to perform or impress. Or demean others or distance myself.
Being “somebody” (becoming whole and letting my authentic self breathe) is not about winning and losing. There’s something bigger here…
And here’s the good news. Instead of venting (doing whatever to try and get out from under the weight we carry), let us give ourselves the permission to slowly unmask, and remove the glittering image we hide behind, unafraid of the grace that embraces our broken places.
Instead of venting, can we embrace ubuntu, and not only do we find redemption (and sanctuary and hope and mercy), but freely offer these gifts to those whose paths we cross. Where we can create spaces that honor human dignity, and say no to whatever diminishes or destroys.
Instead of venting, we can bring this self to this day. Unafraid. And without apology. No longer diminished by the broken places. Because even (and especially) there, the light still shines. And spills.
Instead of venting… let us pause, in the enoughness of this moment… and Grace meets us there.
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
May God bless you with discontent with easy answers, half-truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live from deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy.
May God bless you with the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.
If you have the courage to accept these blessings, then God will also bless you with:
Happiness—because you will know that you have made life better for others
Inner peace—because you will have worked to secure an outer peace for others
Laughter—because your heart will be light
Faithful friends—because they will recognize your worth as a person.
These blessings are yours—not for the asking, but for the giving—from One who wants to be your companion, our God, who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.
Sister Ruth Fox, OSB
Photo… “A stone and wood blessing. On the beach, Marrowstone Island, WA,” Nancy Pendergast…