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Daily Dose (Aug 22 – 25)

Tuesday —

“We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight,” is our reminder this week, from Poet Jack Gilbert.
The gift in our story yesterday, the delighted child in the Post Office, waiting for her Mamma, savoring her enterprise, placing her penny in a different location, until she has found five pennies, each one of them “brand new”. Yes, the infectious dance that says, “Look mamma, I found another penny!”

And Jesus is unequivocal. “Unless you become like children, you will not experience the kingdom of Heaven.” For children, wonderment grows in the soil of surprise.
It is all about our capacity to receive.
A capacity not yet obstructed or clogged.
So, here’s my prayer;
Let’s never lose sight of the child within
that see the world with a whole and vulnerable heart.
Let us never lose sight of the gifts;
of wonder, connection and wholeheartedness.

The little girl understood and embraced—in the words of George Fowler—the “unmined gold” that is inside.
Wonder and delight and the gift of grace, all go hand in hand.
Today, let’s remember and embrace the gift of wonder.
“To pray is to take notice of the wonder,” Rabbi Abraham Heschel writes, “to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all being, the divine margin in all attainment; prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.”
And yet, sadly, we wean our children from wonder.
That’s why I love this practice in Jewish tradition; children are given a taste of honey on their tongues during the celebration of the Torah. This is to remind them that the word of God is “sweet as honey” (Ezekiel 3:3).
And let us take Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s reminder into our week, “We teach children how to measure and how to weigh. We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe.”
And, let us not forget, the child inside of each one of us, is still alive and well.
And delights in finding pennies.

Wednesday —

May Sarton put it best (and now my daily mantra). “I spend the first twenty-minutes of my morning walking the garden looking for miracles.”
I am struck by the rootedness that comes with investment.
Literally giving a damn about this life, and this world.
And gratefully, it is the place where delight bubbles up, a “praising of the mysterious and tender touching we are so often in the midst of.” (Thank you Ross Gay, The Book of Delights.) Joseph Campbell’s observation, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive—of the rapture of being alive.” Yes, the sacrament of the present moment…

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 reclaiming childlike delight.
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 gardening the soul.
Now, I want to do less, and live more. I want to simplify. So. Now, my questions have begun to change: Instead of, what have you done to make you “somebody”, I ask…
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?  And when do your irises blossom?  Are you comforted by the sound of rain of your roof?  And have you watched the hummingbirds dance?
I love to watch the hummingbirds dance.
I love the magic and sweet enchantment of fresh blackberries from the vine (on today’s walk two handfuls, sun warmed).
I love garden dirt under my fingernails and bees in the flowers.
I love Adirondack chairs on summer days.
I love books, delight in poetry, and find sustenance in writing.
I treasure the certainty that grace gives us all many second chances.
I love the way the morning sun plays a sky melody through the tall firs.
And I love it when the geese return to our neck of the woods. I’ll be glad to see them. I have stories to tell.

Thursday —

I sat down to write a Sabbath Moment Daily, about the gift and healing power of delight, but my mind, apparently, had other ideas. A song continued to dance, cathartic and resolute. And it didn’t take long. I was smiling big, and singing to the ducks on the pond.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver-white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things
Yes, I do love the musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. And yes, I do sing along. Let’s just say it’s one of my favorite things.

And I like the song because it’s not about fixing a scary world per se. It doesn’t deny scary. But it helps us with our paradigm. In other words, the places where we choose to look (to pay attention or focus). And in this case, places of delight. And awe.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s reminder, “Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.” Yes and amen.
True, life can be quite scary. Daunting. But these things that delight us, and warm our hearts and spirit are real. And there is power in naming them. Because it grounds us, connects us to what is present, and in front of us. (Interesting that the first task given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was to name the animals.)

So. A few of my favorite things… (Well, I could quote Julie Andrews… Daffodils, green meadows, skies full of stars… or…)
Morning dewdrops on flowers
Clouds that smile and draw and dance in the sky
Garlic in butter on the stove
Music that invites my heart to open
A moon that smiles and comforts
A kind word
A gentle spirit
A compassionate heart
And this, from William Martin (a good one to take into our day). “Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.” 

Friday —

I’m writing this on a flight today, heading to Cleveland, Ohio. This weekend, leading a men’s retreat at the Jesuit Center in Parma. And yes, if you’re curious, my mind is still humming, “these are a few of my favorite things.”
And I know from experience, it’ll be there for a few days (appreciatively). And no, I’m not sure whether singing that song will be a part of the retreat. We shall see.
I do know that we’ll be talking about the gifts and power in taking delight and awe. As these gifts quite literally connect us to this present moment. We have the permission to pause. To see. To pay attention.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s reminder, “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in this air but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

And speaking of miracles, awe is the soil for connection. In my reading on the flight, I was grateful for this from Diana Butler Bass. “When I was growing up in church, I often heard people minimize the experience of awe with comments like ‘navel-gazing is self-centered’ or ‘some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.’ Turns out that experiences of silence and meditation (‘navel-gazing’) and staring at the stars or listening to a great symphony (‘heavenly mindedness’) enhance ‘prosocial tendencies’ — wanting to help, assisting those in danger, care for those who are suffering, sharing resources, and collaborating and cooperating with others for the greater good. That’s because these great things make us feel small, give us perspective, and find richer meaning in connection with nature and our neighbors… It is our very insignificance in this awe-inducing, boundless, ever-surprising and expansive wonder of an existence that can compel us to save each other and save this tiny world we inhabit.”

Landing today, the sun reflection-patterns dance and shimmer on Lake Erie. What a gift.
Savor moments of delight in your weekend my friends. A good reminder from Rachel Carson. “One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?’”

Prayer for our week…
Loving God,
I sense that all is your creation
and everything, and all of us,
are being drawn back toward your loving heart.
Help me to be a person of peace,
To speak about it in an uneasy world,
And to live it among the people
you have put into my life every day.
Light in me a desire to prepare for your coming
to stand in the darkness, waiting, eager and filled with joy.
(Thank you

Photo… “Hi Terry, I’m visiting Desert Aire, Washington. This is from my brother’s front porch,” Leslie Ann Webster… Thank you Leslie Ann… I’m so very grateful for your photos, please send them to [email protected]

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