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Daily Dose (April 9 – 12)


This week, we embrace the healing power of presence.
And yes, we wonder if we have what it takes. As if hand holding and presence is a gift given to the special anointed few. But what if…
Presence does not distinguish. Or judge. Presence just is. Or mostly… presence makes space for healing and restoration and grounding.
And here’s the power: In presence, we savor the permission (and gift) to be here now. Which is the freedom and the power of the incarnation: the immediacy of the present moment. That the Holy (the sacrament of the present moment) has skin on it. Bottom line? This changes the way we live and relate. We pause. We see. We hear. We pay attention. Think of curiosity as a birthplace for compassion.

Here’s what I am learning in my life. The sacrament of the present creates a place for honesty and confession and empathy and healing.
And I begin to embrace the gift that no one of us is on this journey alone.
Do you know the word Ubuntu? A Nguni Bantu term meaning “humanity” often translated as “I am because we are,” and also “humanity towards others”, but is often used in a philosophical sense “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.” As chairman of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Desmond Tutu used descriptive words to speak about Ubuntu intimately binding it within Christian principles of goodness. He describes the person true to Ubuntu as one who is “generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate.” He says it as a state in which one’s “humanity is caught up and inextricably bound up” in others. Tutu says of Ubuntu “I am human because I belong, I participate, I share.”
We are on this journey together.

Reading yesterday’s Sabbath Moment, some of you did wonder, “Can Terry afford a proofreader?” I’m smiling because yesterday’s typo was a hoot. “As the sun begins to sin, he grows increasingly afraid.” Smiling because it sounds like the line from a revival preacher in the church of my youth.

And today’s eclipse. Wow. We forget that the sun is a star. Our closest star. And although the Moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, it still “blocked” it.
Legend has it that a solar eclipse once ended a war between ancient kingdoms. And some scientists think the power of awe could work wonders in our divided country today.
This part is certain: Today’s solar eclipse brought millions of people across our country together to experience the phenomenon. Including those of us who enjoyed watching it on the NASA live feed.
This did my heart good. One of the NASA commentators, “You can study it, and then you see it with your own eyes. Let us cherish these moments.” 


This week, we embrace the healing power of presence, making space for connection and healing and restoration and grounding.
So. Before we “fix” anything (or resolve it or move on), let us live it—bring my whole heart to feel it, see it, know it, and taste it in all its messy, quirky, complicated, problematical and confusing richness and fullness. Why? Because God (or whatever name you choose for the holy) is here.
In this moment.
In this conversation.
In this embrace.
In this connection.
In this relationship.
And yes, even in the confusion.
Even in the untidiness.

So. Our invitation? The permission to be here now. Because this life, this moment, this connection is a sacrament. The ordinary the hiding place for the holy.
And what is one of the gifts of this sacrament? We are reminded that we are on this journey together.
I love Sister Joan Chittister’s confirmation, “There are two ways to do anything. We can do it in order to make life better for me, or we can do it in order to make life better for someone else, as well as for me. The first way gets the thing done; the second way gets the thing done and makes life a sacrament.”

Let us savor the permission (and gift) to be here now. Which is the freedom and the power of the incarnation: the immediacy of the present moment. And the reminder that the Holy (the sacrament of the present moment) has “skin on it” (in our connections with one another).
Bottom line? This changes the way we live and relate.
We pause. We see. We hear. We pay attention.
(Mother Teresa’s reminder, “One reason we don’t have peace is that we have forgotten that we belong to one another.”)

And I was buoyed, reading this; “Yesterday I had a good morning. Once again when I recollect myself, I again find the same simple demands of God: gentleness, humility, charity, interior simplicity; nothing else is asked of me. And suddenly I saw clearly why these virtues are demanded, because through them the soul becomes inhabitable for God and for one’s neighbor in an intimate and permanent way. Hardness and pride repel, complexity disquiets. But humility and gentleness welcome, and simplicity reassures.” (Raissa Maritain’s journal entry from the early 1900s) Ahh yes, the gift spills…


This week, we embrace the healing power of presence.
And we all know the power of presence. In those times, when someone simply sat with us. To hold our hand. To listen, to care, to see us, to make space, to honor our dignity, and was not afraid of any messiness.
Yes, presence—not the impulse to find answers or to fix—makes space for connection and healing and restoration and grounding.

However, life can be very hectic and often upside down. And it is easy, to miss moments when presence is real and necessary.
Scottish minister George MacLeod tells the story about his young daughter’s first day of school. “I was busy. I was writing letters. I was self-important. My little daughter was going to school that morning for the first time. She came into my room, in her first school uniform. I said, ‘Your tie is not quite straight.’ Then I looked at her eyes. She wasn’t crying. She was unutterably disappointed. She hadn’t come for tie inspection. She had come to show she was going to school for the first time. A terrific day, and I had let her down… I ran downstairs. I said all the right things. I crossed the road with her. I went to school with her. I had missed the moment, missed the point. I will always see these eyes. Sometimes when I am very busy. Sometimes when I am writing letters. I am forgiven, but I won’t forget.”
I can relate. And to be honest, so much of what I wish for is the unmessy. Forgetting the wonderful power and gift of empowerment from simply stepping into the fray, to make a bond with skin in the game.
My confession is this: my need for control prevents me from seeing. If it is only about accurate answers or approved solutions or correct theology, I concentrate on having a better faith, or enviable devotion or superior morality. And, like George MacLeod, I too easily remove myself from the moment. And when that happens, I do not see. Or more accurately (to quote St. Benedict), I do not “Listen with the ear of my heart.”

Here’s what I love about the MacLeod story. Presence doesn’t require much. A smile and a hug go a long way.
Dawna Markova’s affirmation, “The practice of kindness is the daily, friendly, homely caring form of love. It is both humble—a schoolboy bringing his teacher a bouquet of dandelions—and exalted—a fireman giving his life to save someone else’s. Kindness is love with hands and hearts and minds. It is both whimsical—causing our faces to crack into a smile—and deeply touching—causing our eyes to shimmer with tears. And its miraculous nature is such that the more acts of kindness we offer, the more of them we have to give, for acts of kindness are always drawn from the endless well of love.”


“Loitering laws prohibit lingering in a public area without a purpose.” I smile bit at this explanation from a random legal document. We certainly don’t want to encourage lingering. It might invite us to literally savor the moment. You know, to be here now.
We do indeed fret (and give ourselves grief) about anything that feels non-production. (No doubt, with our skewed view of productivity—which requires output, performance, accomplishment, as in somehow measurable.)
So. It is no surprise that we miss the gifts of presence. Listening, caring, seeing, making space, lingering and unafraid of messiness.

“Years ago I had the experience of sitting around in a living room with a bunch of people and singing and playing. And it was like a spiritual experience. It was wonderful,” Emmylou Harris says, on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band CD, Will the Circle Be Unbroken. “Over the years of making records we’ve all gotten a little too technical and too hung up on getting things perfect. We’ve lost the living room. The living room has gone out of the music. Today, we got it back.”
Most of us can relate… you know, the itch (or burden) to make things perfect. The enigma weight from needing to keep score. And the question lingers, “Did we do it right?”
Gratefully, we resonate with the return to the sanctuary of the “living room,” that place of replenishment, where we can listen to our heart, regain our soul, hear the voice of grace… and let the music (the gift of the present moment) spill.
The power of presence, making space for connection and healing and restoration and grounding.
Count me in. How about you?
And yet, there’s a part of us that wants to ask, “So; what exactly do we need to do, to get the living room back?” It is our knee jerk response, from a western mentality which finds solace in the five steps that allows for some resolution.
Here’s the deal: Where there is a place to be seen, to be heard, to be valued, sanctuary is real, and presence is the soil that makes restoration and healing grow.
Restoration happens when we allow ourselves to feel, fully and wholly without a need to defend, justify or explain.
Restoration happens when we allow ourselves to receive love, compassion and kindness without suspicion.
Restoration happens when we find life without being afraid.
Restoration happens when we are free to embrace an extraordinary core of strength and courage that resides inside of us… and without even realizing it, let it spill to those around us.

I looked at the calendar and realized that April 13 is the 45th anniversary of my ordination. My Oh My. And, it would have been my father’s 90th birthday. Good memories and big smiles.

Prayer for our week…
Rest in Rest
Holy leisure
Airtight Time
Creation slowing
Eyes open
Ears hearing
Sacred rhythms
Guiltless feasting
Heaven hugging
Nothing doing
Nowhere going
Work unknowing
John David Walt

Photo… “Hi Terry, Lupinus texensis, Texas bluebonnet season,” Kent and Joan Bohls (Bastrop, TX)… Thank you Kent and Joan… And I’m so grateful for your photos, please send them to [email protected]

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