This week, find ways to pay tribute to our heart.
I know this for certain: when we do not pay tribute, without even knowing it, we settle for less. So much less. So, it is not just a question of what holds us, but of what holds us back… from being wholehearted, true to our self, fully alive, unafraid of uncertainty, and grateful for the gift of this moment—to be here now.
I’m at Hinton Retreat Center this week (Hayesville, NC), leading a retreat, and tonight we talked about this invitation to be here now. A lesson we learn from The Little Prince.
If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. Grown-ups love figures.
When you describe a new friend to them, they never ask you about the important things. They never say “What’s his voice like? What are his favourite games? Does he collect butterflies?”
Instead they demand “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much does his father earn?” Only then do they feel they know him. If you say to the grown-ups: “I’ve seen a lovely house made of pink brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they are unable to picture such a house. You must say: I saw a house that cost a hundred thousand francs.” Then they cry out: “How pretty!”
Again, you might say to them: “The proof that the little prince existed is that he was enchanting, that he laughed, and that he was looking for a sheep. When someone wants a sheep, it is proof that they exist.” The grown-ups will merely shrug their shoulders, and treat you like a child. But if you tell them: “The planet he came from is Asteroid B 612,” then they will be convinced, and will spare you all their questions. That is how they are. You must not hold it against them. Children have to be very indulgent towards grown-ups. (Thank you Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
When we honor our heart, we make space for emotional and spiritual hydration. Staying replenished, unafraid to be at home in our own skin, even if our heart is sore. Remembering that meaning is not about the need to impress or jump hoops for laurels.
At the retreat this week, I told the story about my grandmother, who became that place of replenishment for me.
My grandmother—Southern Baptist born and bred—didn’t cotton to folks in her church who played the judgmental-eternal-damnation-card just to feel good about themselves, or for the sake of proving a point. She understood that in her church’s “theology,” there were many kinds of people “on the outside.” (Truth be told, in her church, “most” people were “on the outside.”) But my grandmother lived by an overriding imperative: “Anybody is welcome at my dinner table, no questions asked, no matter what.”
My grandmother understood the power of presence.
In the latter years of her life, in the back yard of her home in northern Florida, my grandmother had a porch swing. She liked to sit, and swing, and hum old church hymns, like Rock of Ages Cleft for Me. I can still see her there, wearing a white scarf over her head, a concession to chemotherapy’s unrelenting march. When I visited her, as a young adult, she would always ask me to sit with her on the swing, for a spell. She would pat my leg, and she called me “darlin’.”
As long as my grandmother lived—and in spite of her pain—there was always a place for me on the swing. If I were asked to explain Grace, I would paint the picture of my grandmother’s swing. There, I never had to deliberate or explain or worry regardless of the weight I carried. The swing–my grandmother’s presence–existed without conditions.
And I am here today, because of that swing.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Thank you Leo F.Buscaglia.
Today, driving the mountains in southwestern North Carolina, the trees have begun their pageant. Leaves claret red, gold, butter yellow, amber and rust highlighted and framed by trees still forest green.
We finished our retreat today at Hinton Center in Hayesville, NC, on our way with the prayer…
Hineini (Hebrew, “Here I Am”)
On this day may I be present to the Miracle of being alive.
May I reach out to those who are suffering and may I use my voice as a force for good.
May I have the courage to do what is right, not what is easy.
May I have the strength to shine a light in the darkness.
May I not distance myself from myself.
When we honor our heart, we make space for emotional and spiritual hydration. Staying replenished, unafraid to be at home in our own skin, even if our heart is sore.
Today, driving from Hayesville, NC to Asheville, escorted by sun-drenched mountains in part through Nantahala National Forest (with more than 27,000 acres of designated wilderness). The mountain slope forest trees looked as if bespattered with red and gold paint. (The artist was having a delight-filled day.)
On such a vista drive, be on the lookout for turnouts (vista points). This is not a bad idea on our life journey, places to stop, and look, and stretch, and breathe. And unplug (from the pressure of the “destination” or the clock).
To honor our heart, it is a good thing to unplug, now and again. Let me rephrase that… It is a good thing to unplug on a consistent basis.
This from Tara Shannon…
“Nothing’s working.” said Rabbit.
“Have you tried unplugging?” asked Bear.
“I don’t plug in anywhere.” said Rabbit.
“Yes you do.” said Bear. “You’re plugged into the world around you.”
“Oh.” said Rabbit, giving this some thought. “How do I unplug then?”
“Close your eyes, let your muscles relax and listen only to the sound of yourself breathing in and out.” said Bear. “After a while, when you feel ready, plug back in, and try again.”
Unplugging (pausing, self-care, sabbath) gives us the permission to rest, wait, re-set, see, pay attention, listen, savor and find replenishment for our heart and spirit. Remembering the sacrament of the present moment.
There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became…
The early lilacs became part of this child…
And the song of the phoebe bird
Prayer for our week…
Circle me O God
Keep hope within
Circle me O God
Keep peace within
Keep turmoil out.
Circle me O God
Keep calm within
Keep storms without.
Circle me O God
Keep strength within
Keep distress out.
Celtic Caim Prayer
Photo… “Dear Terry,Every time I read your sabbath moment or your daily sabbath moments I relive a moment when, through tears, I tried to express to you my appreciation for your gifts. I had a very difficult and personal decision to make… and I couldn’t. I was both surprised and embarrassed by my tears… But your reminder to be in the present was what I needed in order to move forward… no regrets… I think of that moment every time I have to make a big decision… even a small one! This time the decision was about staying an extra day with my family rather than return to the shoulds of my busy life… an unintended consequence of just one more day was to witness this beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in Sandbridge, VA. ‘I thank you God most for this amazing day!’ e.e. cummings. With abundant gratitude,” Mary Chapman… Thank you Mary
Prayer for our week…
Thank you for the gift of today.
Refresh me. Invite me to discover your presence
In each person that I meet
And every event that I encounter.
Teach me when to speak and when to listen
When to ponder and when to share.
In moments of challenge and decision
Attune my heart to the whisperings of your Wisdom.
As I undertake ordinary and unnoticed tasks,
Gift me with simple joy.
When my day goes well, may I rejoice.
When it grows difficult, surprise me with
When life is overwhelming, call me to
To restore your Peace and Harmony.
May my living today reveal your Goodness.
Pat Bergen, C.S.J.