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A Place for Sanctuary. Sabbath Moment Daily Dose. (Nov 9 – 12)

Tuesday — This week, our invitation is from the movie Mao to Mozart.
Isaac Stern stops a young student (playing her violin skillfully), and says with his enigmatic smile, “Okay. Now. Sing the beginning to me.”
“Don’t be afraid,” Stern says gently. “Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be afraid.”
So, the young violinist sings, haltingly, the first few bars of the piece.
It is mesmerizing.
And she gets it.
And we get it.
What a gift…
This is no longer about precision
…or technical brilliance
…or playing the right notes
…or making an impression.
This is now about the music that is in our heart.
This is about the gift of enough (in this present moment, in this ordinary present moment)… that spills from our heart.

Have you seen Mr. Holland’s Opus? Another movie good for the heart.
It is the story about Glenn Holland’s lifetime of teaching music to a high school band. In one scene, he is giving a private lesson to Gertrude. She is playing clarinet, making noises that can only be described as, well, other-worldly. He is clearly frustrated. As is she.
Finally, Mr. Holland says, “Let me ask you a question. When you look in the mirror what do you like best about yourself?”
“My hair,” says Gertrude.
“Why?”
“Well, my father always says that it reminds him of the sunset.”
After a long pause, Mr. Holland says, “Okay. Close your eyes this time. And play the sunset.”
And from her clarinet? Music. Sweet music.

Yes… This—to be here now—is no longer about precision
…or technical brilliance
…or playing the right notes
…or making an impression.
This is now about the music that is in our heart.
This is about the gift of enough that spills from our heart.

Here’s the deal: If we are too focused on evaluating, we cannot embrace the moment–any and all of it… the joy, the discomfort, the uncertainty, the generosity, the pain, the pleasure.
If we are measuring and weighing, we cannot marvel at little miracles.
If we are anticipating a payoff, we cannot give thanks for simple pleasures.
If we feel guilty about not hearing or living the music, we cannot luxuriate in the beauty of the heart. The beauty of our heart.  

I’m back home on the west coast. The rain paused, at least for today, and Mount Baker welcomes us, regal with a majestic fresh snow cover.

Wednesday — This week, we’re invited to embrace the gift of the music that is in our heart. Now.
Life is no longer about precision
…or technical brilliance
…or playing the right notes
…or making an impression.
This is about the gift of enough (in this present moment, in this ordinary present moment)… that spills from our heart.
But let’s be honest. We don’t always (or easily) hear the music.
We don’t always (or easily) hear or embrace “the gift of enough.” 

So. Stories are good reminders. Sabbath Moment friend Dave Zumeta reminded me of this wonderful anecdote from the late Vanguard founder John Bogle. About an exchange Bogle witnessed at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island in New York.
The late novelist Kurt Vonnegut informed his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22, over its whole history.
Heller responded, “Yes, but I have something he will never have… enough.”
This story is retold in Bogle’s book, fittingly titled, “Enough.”

And, as it turns out, the story is framed in a delightful Vonnegut poem.
True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in Peace!

Quote for your day… Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. Saint Francis de Sales

Thursday — This week writing and thinking about hearing (embracing and living) the music that is inside each one of us. And I smile (well, shake my head actually) at how easy it is to focus only on the right notes, instead of the music. (“How am I doing?” And “Who’s noticing?” and “Did I get that wrong?”)
Yes… How easy it is to question or to doubt, that the music is alive and well inside.
Every one of us. “There is a song that only you can play,” Yo Yo Ma reminds us.

And I do know this… the doubting is fueled by depletion (exhaustion, fatigue, annoyance, aggravation); you know, the stuff we tend to lug from the weight of daily life.
And yet.
When we’re focused only on the depletion, our Sankofa (selective blindness) focuses only on what we are “missing”, and not on what we have…

So. Or affirmation and reminder and blessing today is from Thomas Kelly (Quaker mystic 1893 – 1941).
“Deep within us all, there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return.
Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto itself.
Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life.
It is a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us.
It is a Light Within which illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the face of humanity.
(A Testament of Devotion)

Quote for your day…
“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart.
The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”
Carlos Santana, musician (b. 20 Jul 1947)

Friday — This week writing and thinking about hearing (embracing and living) the music that is inside each one of us. Not easy when we obsess when expectations or need for perfection or fear of disappointment get in the way. It’s not easy to be gentle with ourself, is it?
When James Finley was a young monk at the monastery of Gethsemane, he shared with Thomas Merton (who was his spiritual director) his frustration at his seemingly inept efforts to experience God’s presence. Merton responded: “How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.”
Not that we don’t need to continue to seek God, but by our own efforts alone we cannot achieve spiritual maturity. We must bring ourselves to the Light (to that gift of enough), where God’s grace seasons us… into a sweet, flavorful ripeness. And the music spills…

The garden has been for me, that gift, to embrace the gift of enough in the present moment.
I once asked my analyst why I was in therapy. He told me it would make me a better gardener.
Gardening can be strong medicine—an elixir that nurtures and shapes the soul. For that reason, it is a tonic seldom taken straight with no ice.
Gardening has a way of seeping into your soul, and one day you find yourself, in the words of poet May Sarton in Plant Dreaming Deep, spending the first half hour of the morning “enjoying the air and watching for miracles.”
That’s the way it happened to me.
Fortuitously, these are not lessons learned from books or classes. You are compelled to meander, if only in the garden of your mind. Better yet, the process demands putting your hands in the soil, letting the sun sedate your disquiet and warm your face, feeling your lungs fill with the honeyed sweetness of winter jasmine, or the rambling rector rose, watching a re-tailed hawk surf the currents, savoring the chamomile scent of crushed cedar leaves, allowing the garden to render its power and magic. In a world where we are enamored with image, it is in the garden we are slowly weaned off our steady diet of the spectacular, and the “real story,” in order to revel in the daily, the ineffable, the sacred, the surprising.
In other words, the garden—the everyday in our wonderfully ordinary world—is a place where the music inside comes alive, and it feels good to be alive.

And to our veterans, on this day, we raise a glass, and our voices, in gratitude.

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs:
to question, explore, experiment, experience,
walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell,
listen, speak, write, read, draw, provoke,
emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray,
bow, rise, stand, look, laugh,
cajole, create, confront, confound,
walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek.
Terry Tempest Williams

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