I’ve been asked, too often in my life, what I believe. My favorite variation, is any inquiry about my doctrinal statement. This begins a volley of theological catch phrases, which become de facto passwords for many religious organizations. It’s the way we tell who’s in and who’s out.
Here’s the odd part; I have never once been asked about what nourishes my soul. Or to list what moves me. Or for stories about what warms my blood, sends gooseflesh up my arms, makes me want to dance, makes me love life, or laugh and cry at the same time. I’ve been asked about what is appropriate, but never about what is important. About what really matters.
There are significant issues in our world (in my world) that invite and require investment, care and healing; and I want to show up.
And here’s the deal: I want to bring my real self, my whole self, and spill light in any small way that I can. But today reminded me that I cannot forget, in my fixation to “make sense” of everything… along the way (even the messy way—say, the one with 83 problems)…
I don’t want to miss the small gifts of life,
the serendipitous gifts of grace,
the invitation to look for daily miracles,
and the presence of the holy,
and the gentle dose of the sacred reflected in our everyday,
and extraordinarily ordinary world.
I want to be at home in my own skin, with this gift of enough. Say, on an unusually warm (well, for our neck of the woods, hot) August morning, on my walk, still marveling at the way the smaller clouds create shapes and stories on a cornflower blue sky.
Nature and gardens always bring poetry to mind, in this case Francis Ponge, who spoke of the meaning that is locked in the “simplest object or person,” and “in these terms, one will surely understand what I consider to be the function of poetry. It is to nourish the spirit of man by giving him the cosmos to suckle.”
Yes. And Amen.
Perhaps gratitude, and honoring enough, begins there. Phil Cousineau’s reminder, “What is sacred is what is worthy of our reverence, what evokes awe and wonder in the human heart, and what, when contemplated, transforms us utterly.”
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a very precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone, and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.
However, in only a few days, he came back, to return the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Can you please give me what you have within you, that enabled you to give me this precious stone.”
The gift of enough. What does it mean to embrace (and be embraced by) the “gift of enough”? And is it okay to practice this embrace in gentle ways?
Before we trade in this life, for the life (or “things”) we should have, let us taste this life. Before we decipher life (and wonder what we’re missing), let us see life. Before we wish for another life, let us feel this life. Before we give in to “if only”, let us hear this moment. Before we succumb to “someday;” let us inhale this day.
The gift of enough—to be alive and well in my own skin… Yes. From there we make the choice to be open, available, curious, empathetic, compassionate, and willing to be surprised by joy. To know there is “precious” power in the word “enough.”
It is heat watch weather here in the PNW. We have an Excessive Heat Warning. And I know that I said, before I succumb to needing “more”, I should be grateful for the gifts of today. However, I confess as I write this, I would not turn down the gift of an air conditioner. Just sayin’.
A word about Sabbath Moment deliverability issues. There are some tech issues being resolved. And I am grateful for your patience. Do keep me posted if you do not receive your Sabbath Moment.
The lights were dimmed and the symphony resonates, the hall filled with sound, during the Handel and Haydn Society’s season finale. (One of the oldest and most revered performing arts organizations in the country.)
They are performing a rendition of Mozart’s Masonic Funeral. 2500 people fill the Boston Symphony hall. They are captivated and rapt.
I do know this, Mozart touches the heart. And after a powerful piece of music, at the closing, a pin drop silence fills the hall.
Until the quiet is interrupted, by a voice.
A child’s voice, and it just said one word, drawn out with jubilation, “Wow”.
Oh my. And it captured the heart of all the concert goers. You know, glad to be alive capture the heart…
Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story”…
The audience begins to laugh, and then begin to applaud in total agreement.
You see, “Wow” resonated—not just in the hall, but throughout the classical music community. It was just such a departure from typical audience protocol, which is why the president of the Handel and Haydn Society, David Snead, was absolutely thrilled. He said it was one of the most beautiful moments in the hall. “I was like, ‘That’s fantastic’. There’s a sense of wonder in that ‘wow.’ You could really hear on the tape, he was like, ‘This was amazing.'”
And I love this… one headline reads: Boston orchestra finds child who blurted ‘Wow!’ during performance. Group wanted to reward the youngster’s enthusiasm for classical music (Thank you WCRB and CBC News and with the help of audio of the moment captured by WCRB-FM.)
And, a performing arts group found the child who was audibly wowed. It turns out the child is nine-year-old Ronan Mattin, of New Hampshire. He attended the concert with his grandfather Stephen. Ronan’s grandmother saw a TV report that said the society was looking for the child.
Stephen Mattin said Ronan is on the autism spectrum and expresses himself differently from other people. He said his grandson is a huge music fan.
Handel & Haydn president David Snead said he was setting up a Skype meeting with Ronan and Harry Christophers, the society’s artistic director who was conducting the night of the performance. The society invited Ronan and his family back to the venue in October, when the 2019-20 season opened, for another Mozart performance conducted by Christophers.
We get so caught up with whatever…. and we miss moments of awe.
We live in a world where efficiency is prioritized above wonder.
Where action is prioritized above awe.
Where effectiveness is prioritized above amazement.
So. Let us pause. We are called, to say, wow. Making time for the beauty. And find moments of Wow.
Friday — This week, we are reminded of how easy it is to measure—give value—to the wrong things. And when we do, we carry superfluous and cumbersome baggage.
Craving something we don’t have, that we think we need.
What happens if we give ourselves the permission to savor the gift of today?
Which brings me to Betty. Betty is a character. A member of a writing group I enjoyed hanging out with some time ago. Betty was inimitable and full of spunk and verve. She had raised her children on a fishing boat in Alaska. She was the age where it’s not helpful to guess or ask. (But I’m guessing a good bit north of 80.) Now living in West Seattle, she invited me to visit her garden, a small lot behind her home.
“Come here,” she said, and we walked down the back steps, “I gotta show you something.”
“Yes Ma’am,” I said smiling.
You know how when you create a garden, you begin with a path that is at least 3 feet in width. And over time, as plants encroach, the path narrows. Betty’s was wide enough for us to put one foot in front of the other. Each side of the pathway lined with large pots, filled with plants spilling. As a garden designer, my mind is spinning, and I’m thinking, “I can fix this! I can help Betty.”
We get to the back of her lot. Around the corner at the edge of her garage, a wicker chair. “This is it,” she tells me. “It’s my ‘when the world pisses me off chair.’”
I’m still grinning, and I’m thinking, now that is a great name. “Whenever I need time to regroup, I come sit in my chair,” she tells me.
And I’m thinking, ‘I get it. But why is it back here in the corner?’ And then it occurs to me, surrounding the chair, a garage wall and the neighbor’s tall fence covered with climbing flowers. Betty’s sanctuary.
We’re walking back toward the house. And I’m about to give her advice that will improve her garden. She’ll be sooo grateful. And she asks, “Did you notice the plants along the pathway?” I bite my tongue.
“I hope so,” she continues. “They’re all my favorite herbs. By the time I get to my chair my jeans are covered with the fragrance of the herbs.”
I smile from ear to ear every time I think of my afternoon with Betty.
It does my heart good.
She gave me the permission to savor.
The permission to be here now.
Prayer for our week…
Open me up to the magic and possibility
of living within what my dear friend calls
“the grace of the day”—
where every gift is savored
for as long as it lasts,
like being lost in a song,
swimming in its layers,
fully present, strangely free,
wanting nothing more from life
than dancing into the next tune.
All is a gift from you for me.
Thank you, Lord.