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A Place for Sanctuary. Sabbath Moment Daily Dose. (Nov 23 – 26)

Tuesday — In the Gospel of John, Jesus encounters a man who has been lying on a mat for 38 years–with a physical disability–waiting to be healed. Jesus asks him a simple question, “Do you want to get well?”
So. Let’s rephrase Jesus’ question, “Do you want to be fully present to This Life?” Do you want to live a life focusing on “I can’t?” or on “I can”?
In the words of Gerard May, “the courage and fundamental human competence to taste the full flower of every particle of life, and to respond with absolutely fierce risking-trust to what is needed to every moment.”
Jesus’ question is not a quiz or test, but an invitation; the permission to be bigger than the label that confines (or buries or derails) us. 

I never like to ‘fess up to it, but there is so much I see and read that derails and unhinges me. And yet… so much I see and read that replenishes me, and makes me glad to be alive.
So, this week, let us “taste the full flower of every particle of life,” a way of living whole heartedly fueled by gratitude.
In the days of my youth in southern Michigan, this time of year saw plenty of church buffets. (Couldn’t wait to count the number of three bean salads. Not really. But it makes me smile even thinking about it.)

And now, in this Thanksgiving week, I want to say that I am so grateful for our Sabbath Moment circle…
And in memory of buffets of old… let us pull up a chair to create our own gratitude buffet…
Today’s offerings from Mary Oliver and Mirabai…

Don’t Hesitate
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Mary Oliver

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)

Wednesday — We heal—we find our grounding in wholeness—when we are given the permission to embrace the sacred in each moment.
Because healing is deeper than changing the limitations, physical or emotional.
And here’s the deal: Hope sees the sacred in the ordinary moments of every day… even in those moments that may break our hearts. The ordinary, the hiding place for the holy.
Awareness: the permission to embrace life as it is, with all of its challenges and risks, to see beauty and wonder regardless of the vessel.
And when the blinders are lifted. We see, and can embrace, Hafiz of Shiraz’s affirmation, “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”
Now, instead of shutting down (“I can’t”), I open (“I can”).
I can spill that astonishing light.
I can be a place of sanctuary, kindness, inclusion, acceptance and forgiveness.

“I can” is born in, and fueled by, gratitude.
In affirming that, this Thanksgiving week we’ll be pulling up our chairs around a table to create our own gratitude buffet… (Although, I must confess, the church buffets of my youth were called potlucks. So, take your pick, potluck or buffet, there’s still plenty to go around.)

Today our offerings are from Pádraig Ó Tuama and Rev. Tish Harrison Warren…
“In this hour, Elizabeth (Gilbert) — or Liz, as she’s known by — speaks about living with what you can’t fix. In 2018, her partner Rayya died of cancer… “I hope more and more to become a person who can live in the world as it is,” Liz says, noting that the world as it is can be a tough place to be. It requires practice to maintain this presence. One of the practices that’s sustained her has been to write a letter to love. While it’s something she’s done on and off for many years, she’s come to it more particularly as a daily practice in the last few years. Writing to love helps her imagine how love would write back to her, and it keeps her attention on what’s happening in the day. In this way, writing, imagination, reality, reflection, and listening are all part of being present to her life. “Writing was my first prayer,” she says, reminding us of how writing — perhaps especially the form of a letter — is a powerful way to access what’s deep in us. (The On Being Project)

“The practice of gratitude is central to nearly every religious and spiritual tradition. And all of us have much to be grateful for. We get the shocking privilege of living on this planet that is uniquely crafted so that humans can be born, breathe, grow, work, harvest and create. We have bodies that know the pleasures of strawberries, guacamole and buttery popcorn. We hear laughter and breathe in the steam of hot coffee.
The practice of gratitude teaches us, as the theologian Christine D. Pohl put it, “the giftedness of our total existence.” This posture of receptiveness — living as the thankful beneficiary of gifts — is the path of joy because it reminds us that we do not have to be the makers and sustainers of our life. Gratitude is how we embrace beauty without clutching it so tightly that we strangle it.
To receive life as a gift is to acknowledge that we do not — and indeed cannot — hold our world together out of our sheer effort, will and strength. Most of the best things in life can only be received and held with open hands. Like the story of the Israelites receiving manna from God in the desert, we receive what we need as sheer mercy, but it cannot be hoarded, clung to or clutched. Instead, understanding all of our existence as a gift allows us to see that we are limited in our own capacity to control the world and yet we are given what we need, day by day.” (Rev. Tish Harrison Warren)

Thursday — In the words of Gerard May, “the courage and fundamental human competence to taste the full flower of every particle of life, and to respond with absolutely fierce risking-trust to what is needed to every moment.”
Fierce risking trust invites redemptive stories, because this we remember; When you love something, you ask, How can I care? Give? Make a difference?
And the bottom line in all three questions; I get to choose.
Today, did I show up (all of me)?
Today, did I speak and act from my heart?
Today, did I make choices to help create a healthy, safe and sustainable world?
Today, did I make space for forgiveness, healing, compassion and inclusion?
Tasting the full flower of every particle of life… indeed…

Thanksgiving week and all of Advent are unsullied reading weeks here, to hunker down by the fire and let your minds take wings. This week, Of Fear and Strangers: A history of xenophobia, George Makari, Sebastian Junger’s Freedom, and Mary Oliver’s Devotions.
A blessed Thanksgiving celebration to all…

And for our gratitude buffet… this from Mary Oliver…
I Happened To Be Standing
I Happened To Be Standing
I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.
While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.
Mary Oliver (A Thousand Mornings)

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
Blessing for the Fullness of This Day
I bless this day in the fullness of good it already contains,
in the many occasions it offers to listen deeply,
to be of service to others,
to express gratitude moment by moment
and to keep my mind so filled with love, beauty and joy that no negativity can find even the tiniest crack in which to set foot.
I bless this day in the infinite opportunities it gives me to love:
to love and bless every human I meet,
every beast or bird I pass by, every plant I behold,
for all are but the manifold expressions of the infinite Life that undergirds all.
Truly, I bless this day for the wonderful adventure it can become
as I walk through it with the eyes of wonder rather than boredom,
use every opportunity to express peace rather than irritation,
and chose love over fear.
Thank you, Life, for this day.
Pierre Pradervand

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