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A Place for Sanctuary. Sabbath Moment Daily Dose. (Dec 14 – 17)

Tuesday — “You know Dad,” 10-year-old Zach is talking with his mouth brimful of cereal, “I think my life has been pretty full.”
“Really?” I say to my son.
“Yeah. I mean, think about it. I have actually held a Serval Cat. In my lap. I have touched a real NASCAR race car. I have been on an Aircraft Carrier. I have ridden in a real Ferrari. I have touched the actual Spruce Goose. And I have been within one foot of a Crossbill. Not bad.”
No, son, not bad. Even better that you see it that way.

Remembering this exchange, I smile real big, realizing that Zach is channeling Rabbi Abraham Heschel, “We teach children how to measure, how to weigh. We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe. The sense of the sublime, the sign of the inward greatness of the human soul and something which is potentially given to all men, is now a rare gift.”

And this week, we’re talking about spiritual hydration and the gift of enough.
It is something that happens when we tear up the scorecards and live from love. And from enough. When we find ourselves knee deep in delight… often gladly in something that wasn’t even on our list.
This is a paradigm shift. I invite you… instead of asking, “What did you do (or accomplish) this week?”
How about, “What made you smile real big?”
“What did your heart good?”
“What made you grateful for the gift of enough?”

It’s been a long travel day, from the AZ desert back home to Port Ludlow. And, there is something in the AZ sky that seems to be missing up here, at least this time of year. But I think that’s why our trees are so majestically tall. Even when they can’t see they sun, they are still gladly reaching for it.

Wednesday — This week we’re talking about spiritual hydration and the gift of enough.
It is something that happens when we tear up the scorecards and live from love. And from enough. When we find ourselves knee deep in delight… often gladly in something that wasn’t even on our list.
In other words, being spiritually and emotionally hydrated isn’t an assignment. Or a test to ace. Or a contest to win. This isn’t about control or adding that “something”, that may be “missing”.

When we live for something that may be missing, when we live FOR love, we feel the need to put every moment (or encounter or conversation) through its paces, evaluating it, judging it for significance and worth. We want to know if it measures up, and then, and only then will we embrace it, and make it a part of our lives. It is not surprising that it is easy to live lives and relationships based upon comparison, and in the end, shame or regret.

Two images come to mind… One of my favorite children’s book is Somebody loves you, Mr. Hatch. (Well, we call it a children’s book. It’s really for the child in every one of us.)
The theme of the book: living whole hearted and healthy relationships begin when you live as if you are loved. As if this you, is enough. There’s a lovely scene when Mr. Hatch discovers that an open-heart spills laughter and music and parties and giving and helping and dancing.

The other, a conversation with a younger friend who wanted to know what to do about their emotional hydration, weighed down by a sense of shame, feeling unable to “move forward”. I asked, “So, what is next for you?”
She replied, “I’m just waiting for God to show me what he wants from me.”
Okay. But in the meantime, you know, until you have your life and self, figured out, I have a suggestion:  Live today. Live this day, with this self, without holding back. Today… savor, doubt, embrace, question, wrestle, give, risk, love, fall down, get up, accept the exquisite beauty of your incomplete and fractured self, know that anything worth doing is worth doing badly, speak from your whole heart, and whenever you can, lavish excessive compassion and mercy on anyone who crosses your path.  Who knows, you may even love someone “into existence.” Live from love and not for love. And if you practice all of this while you’re still waiting for God’s “instructions”, I’m sure God won’t mind.

Oh yes… don’t forget our paradigm shift. Instead of asking, “What did you do (or accomplish) this week?”
How about, “What made you smile real big?”
“What did your heart good?”
“What made you grateful for the gift of enough?”

Thursday — Whenever I lecture about gardens (and occasionally I still do), I’m introduced as an expert. But I do not consider myself so.
Years ago, I wrote Soul Gardening as a call for amateurs, those of us who enjoy the air and watch for miracles. Amateur, that is, from the French: “one who loves” or “for the love of.”
Amateur is that part of us still thrilled by the miraculous sweetness of a freshly picked strawberry, or by the way the wind drifts through the wind chimes, heartfelt as a prayer, or by the reassuring strains of contented chatter coming from the finches that convene at the stream feeders.
Somewhere along the way, there is something that gets under our skin. And that something begins to slowly transform us from the inside, regardless of whether we’ve ever planted a garden, or whether we know a Delphinium from a daisy.
Letting the gifts in the ordinary seep into your soul, and one day you find yourself, in the words of the poet May Sarton in Plant Dreaming Deep, spending the first half hour of the morning “enjoying the air and watching for miracles”.

I’m smiling, because even watching for miracles can turn into an opportunity to hammer guilt. As in, why haven’t I done this sooner? And what’s the list and when is to be completed? And now I’m back to accomplishment and productivity… Lord knows, it is essential to have something to show for my day.
There are two sides of this coin. One, we are susceptible to the cultural hook that what we are paid for, is who we are. And we park our identity (worth) there. “So… what do you do (as in accomplish and / or get paid for)?”
Two, we sell our passion short. And we never ask (or want to be asked), “So, what fuels you? What makes you glad to be alive?”

I like Scott Russell Sanders’ take, “For the enlightened few, the world is always lit.”
In other words, we begin by letting go (of all that inures and numbs and quashes, of all that is corrosive to our spirit) in order to embrace what is wonderfully alive inside. In order to celebrate what is already there.

It is PNW winter here, which means mostly gray, as if our sky is a canopy cinched down at the four corners. People from other sunnier necks of the woods wonder how we “live with it”. Well, gray isn’t all that we see. We’re always on the lookout for the gift of the non-gray. Like today, the western sky opened, and the Olympic Mountains shaped a majestic panorama, freshly snow covered, now shimmering in the sun.

Friday — Today I learned a new word. Derecho, which means a line of fast, widespread and intense windstorms. They took a toll as they raced across a good swath of the middle of our country, with weather threats never before recorded in December. And to all of you who were in the path, we hope and pray for gentle recovery days.

This week we’ve been talking about choosing knee deep in delight, which isn’t easy with a derecho.
And yet… even when life is catawampus, we learn that the kingdom of heaven is within. And is here. Now.
A small art gallery near Lake Galway in Ireland holds an exhibition with local art. A poet of no small renown drops by to view it. As he finishes his perusing, a local farmer arrives. Once a year, the farmer visits the gallery. He lives on the shores of Loch Corrib. The gallery owner introduces the men.
The poet gladly revisits the exhibition with the farmer, pointing out intricacies and hidden symbolism. The farmer listens carefully. When finished, the farmer says, “Thank you. That was interesting, and you showed me things I would have never noticed. You have a wonderful eye. It is a great gift. I envy your gift, I don’t have that gift myself. But I do have Teannalach.”
“What is Teannalach?” The poet asks.
“I live beside the lake,” the farmer tells him. “And you always hear the ripple of the waters and the sound of wind on the water; everyone hears. However, on certain summer days when the lake is absolutely still and everything is silent, I can hear how the elements and the surface of the lake make magic music together.”
A week or so later, the farmer’s neighbor comes in the gallery. The owner asks about the word Teannalach. “Oh yes, they have that world up there. I’ve never seen it written down, so it’s hard to say what it means. I suppose it means awareness, but in truth it is about seven layers deeper.”
(Story adapted from John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace)

And this excerpt from Mary Oliver’s Terns… did my heart good…
The flock thickens
Over the rolling, salt brightness. Listen,
Maybe such devotion, in which one holds the world
In the clasp of attention, isn’t the perfect prayer,
But it must be close, for the sorrow, whose name is doubt,
Is thus subdued, and not through the weaponry of reason,
But of pure submission. Tell me, what else
Could beauty be for?

Peace to you all… Oh yes… “What made you smile real big?”
“What did your heart good?”
“What made you grateful for the gift of enough?”

A great conversation with the geese today as they gathered around the pond near my home. I told them I’ll be trying out some new homily material in the New Year. Not sure it impressed them, but that’s okay.

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
I know a cure for sadness:
let your hands touch something that
makes your eyes smile.
I bet there are a hundred objects close by
that can do that.
Look at beauty’s gift to us–
her power is so great she enlivens
the earth, the sky, our
soul.
Mirabai
(Hindu mystical singer)

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