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Absorb daily miracles

During a noon-hour rush on a steamy July day, two men were jockeying their way through the crowd on a New York City avenue. They practically shouted as they tried to hear one other above the din. One man, a native New Yorker, the other, a Native American from Oklahoma. The Native American stopped suddenly and said to his new friend, “Listen! Can you hear the crickets?”
His friend was incredulous. “Are you kidding?” he laughed. “How could anyone hear a cricket in this bedlam? You just think you hear a cricket.”
The Native American didn’t argue. They walked ahead twenty yards to where a large clay planter stood in front of a hotel, holding full-sized shrubbery. The Native American pointed toward the dead leaves at the base of the plants. To his amazement, the New Yorker saw crickets.
“You must have an extraordinary pair of ears!”
“No better than yours. It just depends on what you are listening for. Watch this.” The Native American reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of quarters. He threw them into the air. Heads turned at the sound of change hitting the pavement.
“You see. It all depends on what you are listening for.” Or looking for, as the case may be…
I have written before about scotoma, which can be translated, selective blindness. In other words, we see what we want to see. Or, in the story; we hear what we want to hear. (Although selective hearing may have its benefits. My father used to tell me that he didn’t mind his diminished hearing, because what he thought people were saying is more entertaining than what they actually said.)
In the play Through the Garden Gate (based on my book Soul Gardening), English gardener LR Holmes introduces his neighbor, young Lucy, to the possibility of garden fairies.
Lucy: I was wondering, do you think fairies are becoming extinct? You know, like endangered species?
LR Holmes: Oh, no, no. People are just moving too fast to catch sight of them.

Here’s the deal: I am too often, completely unconscious about the effect of this growing world of distractions (or interruptions or exhaustion or commotion).
There is a Hopi (Native American) word “koyaanisqatsi.” It translates “life out of balance.” Of course, it doesn’t take a long, unpronounceable word to know the problem. But it helps to know that it’s been around awhile. Life’s obligations impact us all. They pinch, constrain and put blinders on us. It’s not that I don’t pay attention, it’s just that with my blinders, I don’t even notice.
To complicate matters, we morph into our will-power (fix it) mode; “Okay. I will just quit my addiction to distractions.” No surprise there; falling prey to the temptation that quitting will “fix it” and take care of it.
As if. Remember, quitting only creates a vacuum to be filled by some other distraction. Forgetting that it is not about what is removed; it’s about what we choose to replace it. It’s about what we value. Plato reminded us, “What is honored will be cultivated.” Not what is spoken or believed or taught. What is honored.
The Native American honored listening, or attention without judgment. And I love this: when we pay attention, we create a fabric in our soul which absorbs the gifts of exquisite and diminutive daily miracles.
Which means that we are grounded in the moment—what Jean-Pierre de Caussade (18th Century) called the Sacrament of the Present Moment—seeing each “present moment” as diffused with the sacred.

“Living humanly will be its own reward,” Rabbi Harold Kushner reminds us. “The person who has discovered the pleasures of truly human living, the person whose life is rich in friendships and caring people, the person who enjoys daily the pleasures of good food and sunshine, will not need to wear herself out in pursuit of some other kind of success.”
Absorbing daily miracles takes root in the soil of the simple sentence, “I never noticed that before.” I am welcoming, inviting life in, not allowing internal censors and judges to scrutinize, making certain that this moment passes muster. In moments of amazement, we render our internal scorekeeper mute. There is a good deal of conjecture about who merits this streak of luck and why. Some people get all the moments of astonishment. Or perhaps, like young Lucy, or the man in New York, they’ve allowed themselves to see, and to hear, and to notice.
Multi-tasking is considered a skill set or spiritual gift these days, but it demands a different neurological engagement, causing us to create mental imagery that drowns out the processing of real images, which the scientists call “inattentional blindness.”
In plain English: We sure do miss a lot of life when we’re not looking. Or listening. Or paying attention in any way…
In John’s Gospel, “I once was blind, but now I see.” Maybe we all begin there. To acknowledge our own blindness. To remove the cataracts from our souls, by letting go of what we expect to find before we begin the search. So, if you are up for it, I am going to give us an assignment. For one day (okay, start with one hour), this week, let’s turn off our cell phone. And put away the to-do lists (or work or pile of papers) that beckon.
Let us be still. Let us pay attention. And here’s the gift: We choose from this place, because we are no longer detached, or victims to yesterday or tomorrow.
Yes. Presence is the currency for embracing, listening and reclaiming (with “new eyes” or ears) that which has been forgotten—the fruit of the sacrament of the present moment… light, understanding, kindheartedness, tolerance, gratitude, mercy, second chances, hope, open heart, open mind.

The calendar says this is our last week of summer. Or, a good time to start looking for the delightful changes in color. And cooler evenings. And here, in our neck of the woods: Magical skies, cloud fresco, panorama and mural. And best of all, the way the clouds dance.

Quote for our week: Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. e.e. cummings


Today’s Photo Credit: “Morning Terry, I took this pic last night after a day by the waters edge. This great body of water, Lady Lake Erie as we refer to her her brings much calm, peace, enjoyment, joy and connection to so many. I am grateful for the bountiful gifts she brings each day including amazing sunrises and sunsets. I got knee deep in her waters (56 degrees) to capture this. It was exhilarating to say the least. Thanks for bringing us the good word each and every day!” Maria Perme… Thank you Maria… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… send to 

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Letters that do my heart good…
–Beautifully expressed Terry. Back in 2001 I had suffered with a severe depression. As my brother Jim more or less carried me through as one of my warriors, he left Leonard’s quote of “Ring the bell…” one morning in my desk. His gesture won’t ever be forgotten. Thank you for honoring this day of remembrance with your gentle words. Again, comfort came my way. Fondly, Donna
–Hi Terry, Thanks for the Sabbath Moment about the 9-11 happening. My takeaway came from what was quoted: “It hit me, that even when things get their worst, I know that there is still hope.” And it reminded me of Lahaina. Many going through it right now, and yes…when things get their worst, there is still hope. Aloha Bill
–A message for 9/11 doesn’t get any better than this. Thank you, Terry, for truth and love in a story that is sad beyond words. peace & hope, patti
–Terry, after experiencing burnout during a toxic period as senior lay leader of a small church, I had to walk away. Your ministry has been my refuge. Sunday mornings, a cup of coffee and your Sabbath Moment. Thank you very, very much! Donna


Mysteries, Yes
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
Mary Oliver (Evidence: Poems)

A Clown’s Prayer
As I stumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears,
dispense more happiness than gloom,
spread more cheer than despair.
Never let me become so indifferent,
that I will fail to see the wonders in the eyes of a child,
or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.
Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people,
make them happy, and forget momentarily,
all the unpleasantness in their lives.
And in my final moment,
may I hear You whisper:
“When you made My people smile,
you made Me smile.”

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