There are plans for the day or the week. You know, lists neatly compiled. Everything in its place. Each item awaiting that gratifying check mark.
And then, life happens. And the list goes by the wayside. And something in our spirit tells us that disruptions and intrusions are an aberration. After all, they weren’t on the list.
My friends and I arrived in Paris on Saturday afternoon (after a long drive from the upper Rhone Valley). And the area where we are staying (near de la Bastille), was cordoned off because of protests. Demonstrators protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise France’s legal retirement age (by two years, to 64). And we learned that for France’s protesters, the streets are the ultimate stage.
For us it meant that certain things we had planned (or places we had to be) were no longer optional.
Back to the list. This is a very roundabout way of saying that the subject I had planned for Sabbath Moment can wait for another time.
So. What do you do when life happens, and your list no longer computes?
I write this on Sunday. And there are no demonstrations today. But then, I had already decided that today would be list-free. I’ve walked much of the morning, and am now enjoying a bistro lunch (baguette and pate) on Boulevard Henry IV, a stone’s throw from the Bastille. The atmosphere very different today. At my sidewalk table, I watch people amble and stroll by. Amble and stroll are the accurate verbs for a Sunday in Paris. And this I do know, the pace is restorative and healing to the spirit.
Today, a good day to put the list aside. Today, it is enough to sit. To breathe. To watch, and to wander the amazing Sunday street-markets—the Boulevard Richard Lenoir market an astonishing banquet for all the senses. To amble and be grateful for the realization that interruptions may in fact offer us the gift of a timeout; allowing us to recalibrate, and to remember the stuff that really matters underneath it all.
Which reminds me of a story from a previous trip to France.
I am standing in the Basilica of Saint-Michel (Bordeaux, France—built between the 14th and 15th centuries). I see an expansive painting of the Gospel story about the Road to Emmaus. I overhear a conversation between a father and daughter. “Do you remember that story?” She tells him she’s not sure, and he begins to explain. He tells her about the pair walking with this “stranger,” after the death of Jesus. They do not recognize that the stranger is, in fact, Jesus.. because they are preoccupied with uneasiness, apprehension and fear (you know… interruptions). Jesus is patient with them, explaining the prophecy from the scripture. (He teaches, he explains, he preaches.) Even so, they still don’t see. It is not until he breaks bread with them that their eyes are “opened.”
“But why couldn’t they recognize him?” the daughter asks, incredulous.
“I don’t know,” the father tells her. “All I know is that something happened when they broke bread together.”
Yes. Sometimes the instructions don’t work because we see the moment only through the lens of our expectations (you know, the lens of our list). But here’s the deal: without exception… every single time… wonder and awe coupled with the power of connection (no one of us is on this journey alone) breaks down barriers. And we invited to be in the sacrament of the sacred present. Invited to show up, without the need to put the moment in a box.
So. This week, let us take the permission to pause, and to say thank you for those moments of “breaking bread” together, and let us say thank you to those people who have been “at the table” with us, and have shown up for us.
From Maria Shriver this week, “I’m a big believer in showing up… Showing up is powerful. Don’t ever underestimate what your presence means to another person.”
On our final night here, my friends and I will break bread together, and celebrate the gift in savoring the present. The gift of enough, to be here now.
And tomorrow very early, off to the airport, heading back home. Savor your day my friends.
Quote for our week…
“Let someone love you just the way you are—as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as unaccomplished as you think you are. To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken, out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.” Marc Hack
Today’s Photo Credit: “Dear Terry, SM has been extra comforting and timely this week. Especially for me, she-who-makes-lists and she-who-makes-things-tidy. Well, things haven’t been so tidy these last few months. And it’s really good to know that I’m not the only one who struggles. And it’s really good to be reminded to be present in the mucky mess, to embrace the beauty in living in spite of turmoil. And to be kind when the harsh inner voice starts ranting. And to recognize that even when things feel raw and painful and confusing and unresolved, that these bright and beautiful rays of light and moments of grace continue to break through. That even in all my imperfect brokenness, it’s nice to be reminded that I’m not only one, and that I don’t have to fix everything. I’m just trying to be present, to notice, to listen, to remain open, to love. Thanks, Terry, for walking the walk with all of us. PS–Photo is from my sister’s farm, one of my favorite places” Mary Ajideh… Thank you Mary… Keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
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Letters that do my heart good…
–I love the idea of my soul catching up with my body — and then staying there. I love, too, the photos of the Northern Lights; on my bucket list for years, I may never be able to see them in person. Hope springs eternal! Peace, Jo
–Terry, Thank you for Sabbath Moment. I am finding renewed solace in each one these days as my husband of 60 yrs. passed on Feb 1st. This is a lonely time without my “darling”. We often used the Sabbath Moment as an opening for conversation about things that mattered. Somehow your messages are like talking to him again. Thank you. Sharon
–Hard to get centered this morning…and to concentrate. Thanks for this moment, this Sabbath Moment. At least I took a deep breath and let it go. You are a treasure and probably have no idea how often Sabbath Moment is read or how far reaching it is. Thank you. and love, Lindy
–My heart welcome each days Sabbath moment and todays especially! In my AlAnon meeting we use the phrase “not my monkey, not my circus” Similar to the waitress “Hon’ not my table.” Thank-full, Carolyn
POEMS AND PRAYERS
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Book of Genesis
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but a doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Slow me down, Lord
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory.
Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations
— of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book.
Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.
Wilferd Arlan Peterson