skip to Main Content

A Place For Sanctuary. Sabbath Moment Daily Dose. (Aug 31 – Sept 3)

Tuesday — Here’s the deal: all the while we are looking for the revelation, we miss the flower.
What does the flower represent? Well, that’s just it. I don’t know.
Perhaps it’s the heart. Or being present. Or awareness. Or openness. Or vulnerability. Or most likely, all of the above.
But I do know this to be true: when I require certainty (tidiness or resolution) it is easy to be drained, and I will most assuredly miss the moment, the sacred, the serendipitous, the delightful, and the unfeigned. Or, in the words of Paul Tournier, spend my entire life indefinitely preparing to live.
It may be that we miss the point that our spiritual nature is enhanced precisely when, for these precious moments, we are able to shake that voice and find ourselves knee-deep in the colors, smells, and emotions of the day.
What does it mean to rest in beauty?
Not tidiness, beauty… the sacrament of the present moment?
It is a gentle reset button about what truly matters.

This week was grueling for so many this past week; fires, hurricane, floods.
Real life… So, tell me; where’s the flower?
Fair enough. I may be gratefully out of harm’s way for each of those, but let me tell you a story…
Some time ago, I spent a day with the good members of a Seattle area garden club. A woman approached me to say, “I don’t know if you noticed that I was nodding off during your lecture. Don’t take it personally. I just had my radiation treatment.”
And of course, I had noticed. And made assumptions. Not good ones. “When?” I asked.
“This morning,” she told me.
I am surprised, at her admission and at the fact that I had seen her doze, and confess that I had made judgments about her before I knew any of the facts.
And before I can talk, she continues, “It gives me a new perspective on the kind of things that really matter.”
It stops me. And I take a deep breath.
As we continue talking, a glass of sparkling cider is spilled, on the tablecloth, and onto parts of her dress. “Like what just happened,” she smiles and tells me matter of factly, “that’s not important.”
We laugh. And I tell her that I’m so glad I met her. And that she made my day. And I wished for her moments and days of healing and replenishment and sanctuary.

“it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world”
“Nice,” one of the geese asked. “Did you write that?”
“No,” I didn’t. “I borrowed it from one of our saints, Mary Oliver. It’s from her poem ‘Invitation’.”
I start to walk away, but turn and tell them, “Oh yes, here’s one more that will do your heart good. ‘Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.’” (Thank you Rabbi Abraham Heschel.)

Wednesday — This week we’re talking about the power of a flower. More specific; the invitation to be here now, fully alive in the present moment. The permission to awareness. And openness. And vulnerability.
I know that when I require certainty (tidiness or resolution) it is easy to be drained, and I will most assuredly miss the moment, the sacred, the serendipitous, the delightful, and the unfeigned.
What does it mean to rest in beauty?
Not tidiness, beauty… the sacrament of the present moment?
It is a gentle reset button about what truly matters.

This past weekend, I was in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, at Mary and Joseph Retreat Center. Our theme: This Is The Life.
On my walk early Sunday morning, down to Del Cerro Park. The park is situated high atop a bluff at the southernmost end of Crenshaw Boulevard. It’s hard not to be grateful, with its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.
On Sunday morning, a layer of fog covers the ocean, as if our cloud cover is now underneath us.
A young couple are walking back toward their car. “Wait,” she tells him. She stops at a dandelion, now in full seed, a ball of white. She picks it and, “First we need to do this.” And she blows the seed head, watching the mini seed parachutes float away, carrying smiles and a giddy heart.
I smiled real big. And it does my heart good, because I’ve been on both sides. A young boy in southern Michigan, loving every opportunity I had to send dandelion seeds sailing to the heavens. And then as a gardener… oh my… dandelions. An irritating weed, invasive and obstinate.
And yet; so wonderfully charming. And I learned this as a gardener; the dandelion is edible. Every bit of it. In Latin, Taraxacum. Dandelion, from French dent-de-lion, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’. And as every child knows, the flower heads mature into spherical seed heads (sometimes called blowballs).
Let us not miss opportunities (invitations) to stop and savor the sacrament of the present.

Remind us again, please, Mary Oliver…
“it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world”
(From Invitation)

Thursday — The invitation of the flower is to, quite literally, be here now. This is the sacrament of the present moment.
I’m smiling because (of course), we throw a monkey wrench into the invitation when we see it as an assignment. We want to make sure we do it correctly.
It’s not always easy it it? To embrace the gift of today.
“Attention is the doorway to gratitude, the doorway to wonder, the doorway to reciprocity.” Thank you Robin Wall Kimmerer.

The invitation of the flower is a paradigm shift, inviting us to ask different questions.
Late in her life, May Sarton was questioned about what she wanted to be when she “grew up.”  She replied, “To be human.”
Not bad. To be human is about regaining what has been lost in the shuffle when life has been relegated to keeping score and making waves.
To be human is about cultivating the nourished and replenished life.
To be human is about gardening the soul.
It’s a paradigm shift, and because of that, my questions have changed:
Are there butterflies in your garden?  Are there dandelions in your lawn?  And when was the last time your house smelled of paper-white narcissus?
Do sunsets make you smile?  When was the last time you stood in stocking feet just to stare at the moon?  Have you ever seen a sunflower bloom?
Does the laughter of children do your heart good?  At what angle does the sun enter your house?  Are you comforted by the sound of rain of your roof?  And have you watched the hummingbirds dance?
Is your heart glad in the presence of compassion and grace and mercy?
I love to watch the hummingbirds dance.
I loved to put on my “dancing shoes”.
I love the smile that fills my face when I hear anyone playing old time rock and roll.
I love to stretch out on a garden bench on a warm summer day.
I love a hot shower and drying with an expensive oversized cotton towel.
I love books, delight in poetry, and find sustenance in writing.
I love small gestures of generosity, witnessing the extraordinary number of big hearts there are in this world.
I love prayers that begin with the words, “Thank you…”
I love friends who remind me that I’m not on this journey alone, and that my opinion of myself needs some work.
I love it anytime someone says, “Let’s have a moment of silence,” and then makes it two.
I love cleansing tears that don’t need to be explained away.
I love it when I make decisions from a soft heart.
I treasure the certainty that grace gives us all many second chances.
And I love to lose track of time in my garden.
Let us take to heart Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s reminder, “We teach children how to measure and how to weigh. We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe.”
This is important. To be human (open to awe and wonder, and to stay hydrated in our soul) is a spiritual endeavor.

Friday — I gladly confess that I am unabashedly addicted to golf. For most of my life, because of travel, it wasn’t easy to find time to play. Now, I have more opportunity.
I love that fact that I am able to walk for a few miles among a calmative cathedral of Western red cedar, Douglas fir and Western hemlock, with a view of the Olympic Mountains.
For most of the course, there are no homes, and wonderfully, reliable visits from deer and geese. (And I hear tell, a cougar or two.)
To play golf well (actually, to play golf in any way shape or form) is not about the score, but about enjoying the experience, literally investing in (resting in) the moment.
Golf is an invitation “be here now”.
However, if you’ve ever tried golf, that’s not easy is it?
You’ll be inflicted by, harassed by, “swing thoughts”. “I should do this.” I shouldn’t do this.” “I should focus here.” “I’m too contorted, what was I thinking??” And before you know it, your blood pressure is a wee bit too high. (Just for the record, this happens in more than just golf.)
Swing thoughts carry the pressure of perfection and never enough.
Golf is a gift of gladness when we learn to let go of that multitude of swing thoughts, and learn to focus on just one at a time. 

Ahhh, and now we’re back to the gift of a flower.
The permission to be here now.
What does it mean to rest in beauty?
This is not about tidiness. Beauty and gladness—the invitation to the sacrament of the present moment—is a gentle reset button about what truly matters.

This morning I was eavesdropping on the golf driving range. I always eavesdrop. (It’s my best homily material.)
“Did you figure something out?”
“Making minor adjustments.”
“I think I found it.”
And then this, pointing to a friend, “He looks like he’s enjoying life today.” Oh my…

This week we’ve talked about the power of a flower.
More specific; the invitation to be here now, fully alive in the present moment. The permission to bring my heart. And awareness. And openness. And vulnerability.
I know that when I require certainty (tidiness or resolution or perfection) it is easy to be drained, and I will most assuredly miss the moment, the sacred, the serendipitous, the delightful, and the unfeigned. 

Charles Dickens commented once about being in a gathering of divines in a very ecclesiastical setting, and the meeting extended itself a long, long time, droning away on unimportant subjects treated without feeling. Mr. Dickens interrupted the proceedings by saying, “I have a suggestion. Why don’t we move to a table, and sit around the table and hold hands, and see if we can make contact with the living.”

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
Amazing God,
there is more to life than we can see or fathom.
Yet how often we try to shrink the mystery,
tame the dream, limit what is possible.
Remind us that the Spirit of always blowing new life
into our days, surprising us with wonder and blessing.
Forgive us for dull awareness and hesitant witness.
Let us be made new again and again, no matter our age.
And let us hear again and again, of your mercy and your grace…
Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Back To Top