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Daily Dose (April 30 – May 3)


This week, the permission to embrace our inherent beauty.
We do know that being told we are seen, and loved, often feels too good to be true.
And we do know that inherent beauty can be easily hidden.
And this I know, when we hide our own beauty, we bury (literally, entomb) our courage (to be at home in our own skin).
Sadly, when we bury our courage, we disconnect from faith and hope and love.

So. This is about the paradigm (or glasses, or eyes) that we use to see where our well-being is grounded. And too often, we use the glasses or paradigm which sees only our shortcomings, and we do not see our beauty.
We do not see Grace. We do not see Love.
We choose selective blindness. And with that paradigm, we carry a script that is not the whole truth. And such a script (or label or narrative) will always influence or persuade us, to play small.

When the Shawnee and Chippewa (and other early people) went on hunts or vision quests or long journeys, each traveler would carry in a small rawhide pouch various tokens of spiritual power—perhaps a feather, a bit of fur, a claw, a carved root, a pinch of tobacco, a pebble or a shell. These were not simply magical charms; they were reminders of the energies that sustain all of life. By gathering these talismans into a medicine pouch, the hunter, traveler, or visionary seeker was recollecting the sources of healing and bounty and beauty. (And the tokens are known only to the wearer.)
I’m smiling big, because next to my desk hangs a rawhide pouch. A gift from a Native American retreatant, after I told the Hopi story. A pouch, now gratefully, filled with “tokens”.
And what if? What if the “tokens” in that pouch are not a magic wand to undo life, but instead, the power and the freedom to embrace the life we have been given, this life, and to create sanctuary and replenishment for those around us.
My invitation today: what would you carry in your pouch?
To remind you of sources of healing and bounty and beauty?


This week, the permission to see and embrace our inherent beauty.

One of my very favorite movies is The Mission. In the movie, Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro) loses his lover to his brother, and then kills his brother in a pique of rage. His world is on tilt.  He is visited in his cell by Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons), who is told “He won’t see anybody. I think he wants to die.”
In the cell Mendoza tells Fr. Gabriel, “You don’t know what I am.”
Fr. Gabriel, “Yes. You are a mercenary. You are a slave trader. And you killed your bother. I know. But you loved him, although you chose a strange way to show it.”
Mendoza, “For me there is no redemption.”
Some of us have felt that way. Like there is no reason to go on.
It is made all the more thorny, if we see our imperfection as an enemy (predicament or obstacle) to be overcome.
And made all the more self-conscious, if we see only our imperfection as the only badge of our identity and worth.

For most of my life, I can say that I didn’t trust grace.
Or, I didn’t believe that grace was available to me.
Let’s just say, that in the church of my upbringing, grace came with fine print. You had to read the disclosure that you will not benefit, if you do not measure up. Which meant, with my scarcity paradigm, grace was always out of reach.
Let’s just say, embracing my inherent beauty, was out of the question.

So, I do understand Mendoza’s response.
And I love that Fr. Gabriel isn’t about weighing and measuring. He literally is inviting Mendoza to be awake to the present moment.
Yes, awake to a conflicted, difficult, sinful, pain-filled moment. But if that’s all we see, we miss the powerful invitation, and permission, and yes, “coupon” of being awake to this present moment. Let’s call it the “coupon of Grace”…
Meaning the sufficiency of Grace.
And forgiveness.
And honoring our inherent beauty.


This week, the permission to see and embrace our inherent beauty.
But what if? What if we don’t see it? Or know how to embrace it?
In her extraordinary book The Drama of the Gifted Child, Alice Miller writes, “What would have happened if I had appeared before you, bad, ugly, angry, jealous, lazy, dirty, smelly? Where would your love have been then? And I was all these things as well. Does this mean that it was not really me whom you loved, but only what I pretended to be? The well-behaved, reliable, empathic, understanding, and convenient child, who in fact was never a child at all?”

I revisit William Sloane Coffin’s affirmation habitually. Because we live in a world where it is easy to forget. “God’s love doesn’t seek value, it creates value. It is not because we have value that we are loved, but because we are loved that we have value. Our value is a gift, not an achievement.”
Grace is the embrace that tells us someone knows us, and sees us, and is willing to open their arms wide no matter what.
Grace is the embrace that does not waiver or diminish.
Grace does not depend upon our response, performance, attitude, faith or checkered past.
Grace just is.
Why?  Because Grace heals not by taking shame away, but by removing the one thing our shame makes us fear the most: rejection.
I have tried to write honestly about my own journey, acknowledging that it’s not easy to remove the hunger.
A need to know that we count. That we matter.  So, we scan the “crowd” for that gaze. And the embrace that follows.  Because somewhere deep down is the message, grace is too good to be true. Somehow still hooked on the need to impress or prove or earn.
But here’s the deal: Because we are loved we have value.
That someone knows us, and sees us, and is willing to open their arms wide no matter what.   

A blessed May to all. In the Celtic tradition, Beltane (May 1) is the midway point between spring and summer. The earth is coming alive, and it is a gladly passionate time to celebrate new life with dancing, maypoles and bonfires. Let us celebrate our new growth bursting into bloom.


“Make a place to sit down. Sit down. Be quiet.” Wendell Berry
So. Before we mount our steads to slay the dragons of discontent, let us rest. Did you know that the first thing God called holy was not a place? It was time. The time to rest. In rest, in quiet, in Sabbath, we may be able to see prayer as living the moment with open hands and open heart. Open and awake to the wealth of life’s quirky offerings.
In that space my heart can expand, to receive those parts of my life, all those parts… the messy, the uncertain, the doubts, the insecurity, the shadows. Just as Jesus made space for the disenfranchised. So too, there is room in my life and heart for the fragile things. And the permission to see and embrace our inherent beauty—to be embraced by the gift of grace.

When I think of grace, I remember my friend, Fr. Lee Jaster, who died some years ago. I miss him. He was one of my greatest cheerleaders and a conduit of consistent grace. He used to list his “vocation” as “broken things fixer.” He made me smile and I loved Lee because he still channeled the boy inside with an insatiable curiosity; who thankfully never grew up. (He asked to be buried with sand—from Honeymoon Island—in his pocket, and a Celtic cross around his neck.)
I don’t know where you find (recognize, embrace) Grace in your life.
I do know we don’t cut ourselves enough slack.
And I do know that when Grace appears, it’s best if we don’t analyze it, but just… pause, and let it seep into the core of our being.  The reality of true Grace is that it does not waiver or diminish.  It does not depend upon our response, performance, attitude, faith or checkered past.
It just is.
Why?  Because Grace heals not by taking shame away, but by removing the one thing our shame makes us fear the most: rejection.
Yes… Because we are loved we have value.

And I’m grateful for the ministry of poems from Steve Garnaas-Holmes;
“God, teach me to love myself
as you have loved me:
to cherish myself, to delight in my soul,
to appreciate my journey, to care for my well-being,
to commit to my wholeness.
Give me grace to respect and nurture myself,
to offer myself both challenge and rest.
Teach me to forgive myself, to be gentle with myself,
to believe in myself and your hidden greatness in me.
Trusting in my belovedness, I am free and at peace:
in need but not not needy, not compulsive, not afraid,
not easily seduced by either pride or despair.
Teach me to love myself
even as you do.
Deep Blessings,”
Pastor Steve

Prayer for our week…
Bless to me, O God,
Each thing mine eye sees;
Bless to me, O God,
Each sound mine ear hears;
Bless to me, O God,
Each odour that goes to my nostrils;
Bless to me, O God,
Each taste that goes to my lips;
Each note that goes to my song;
Each ray that guides my way;
Each thing that I pursue;
Each lure that tempts my will;
The zeal that seeks my living soul,
The three that seek my heart,
The zeal that seeks my living soul,
The three that seek my heart
Celtic Prayer

Photo… “Good morning Terry – I love starting each morning with your Sabbath Moment! Thank you for sharing the stories and wise words. Thought you might enjoy this picture of the first sunflower in my backyard here in Dallas. Here comes Summer!
Thanks for being you.” Marge Austin…. Thank you Marge… And I’m so grateful for your photos, please send them to [email protected]

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