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Daily Dose (Aug 8 – 11)

Tuesday —

This week, E.B. White’s wonderful reminder, “Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first.” 

I often end my emails with the complimentary close, “Be gentle with yourself.”
And I do my best to practice what I preach. Not always easy. So, when the news overwhelms and my world tilts, I turn to poet Mary Oliver and warm to the invitation to embrace “our wild and precious life.”
I like the idea of a wild and precious life;
to give no heed to public opinion,
to walk on the edge,
to dance as if no one is watching,
to give the child in me a wide sky,
and to love as if I’ve never been hurt.
(Thank you, Mary Anne Radmacher)
That’s not stress-free, when parts of me feel too broken (brittle), or tucked away for safe-keeping.

Let us begin here: we can reclaim those parts of ourself that feel detached (or disengaged, or lost—our light under the bushel). We can reclaim the gift and power of Sankofa (in the Akan language of Ghana), associated with the proverb, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”
“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty,” Etty Hillesum wrote. “To reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”
Thank you Etty. And let us remember, Etty did not write that sentence from a dispassionate distance. Speaking of a world tilting, Etty was a young Jewish woman who lived in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation and who died in Auschwitz, one of the millions of victims of the Holocaust. We didn’t know about her meticulous diary until decades after her death. From the day when Dutch Jews were ordered to wear a yellow star, up to the day she boarded a cattle car bound for Poland, Etty consecrated herself to the wholehearted task of bearing witness to the inviolable power of love. To honor the sacred present with sensitivity to human suffering and gratitude for beauty in the everyday.
Yes. From a place of groundedness, I can savor this sacred present, and my light can spill…
to dance as if no one is watching,
to give the child in me a wide sky,
and to love as if I’ve never been hurt.

Wednesday —

“Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first.” Thank you E.B. White, for our conversation starter this week.
So. What does it mean to savor this world?
Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s reminder, “The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.”
And, how does this savoring ground us—yes, to be here now, and, to make a difference where we live and breathe?

In her poignant memoir, Eat This Bread, Sara Miles writes, “There was an immediacy of communion at St. Gregory’s, unmediated by altar rails, the raw physicality of that mystical meal. There was an invitation to jump in rather than official entrance requirements. There was the suggestion that God could be located in experience, sensed through bodies, tasted in food; that my body was connected literally and mysteriously to other bodies and love without reason.”
One of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius is “Finding God in All Things”. Yes indeed.
In both prayers, and in the broken and fragile places.
In the serendipitous, and in the blunders.
In the loved one, and in the outcast.
As St. Benedict was led to write (in The Rule), “Let everyone that comes be received as Christ.”

Here is what I am learning.
We are invited to (and learn to) savor being present with the “seven wonders of the world—to see, to hear, to taste, to touch, to laugh, to love, to belong”.
And, from that place, we begin to savor the connection with one another, as we walk this journey together.
To me this sounds like savoring and connection is pretty good soil for cultivating compassion. “Compassion” in Henri Nouwen’s words, “means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

Speaking of savoring and full immersion, today is supposedly National Raspberries and Cream Day, but I’d prefer to make it all about blackberries. Yes, they are among our most plentiful “weeds” (here in the PNW), but they are ripening right now. On my walk this morning my first handful of ripe, getting ready for cobbler blackberries. My Oh My.

Thursday —

“Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first.” E.B. White has given us our conversation starter this week.

And let’s be honest, savoring is not easy in an upside down world, where we are hurried, distracted and stressed. A world where efficiency is too often prioritized above wonder.

So. Let’s start today with this Jewish Prayer, “Days pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing. Let there be moments when your Presence, like lightning, illumines the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns, unconsumed. And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder, ‘How filled with awe is this place and we did not know it.’”

An affirmation that when we stop, when we see, we can be filled with awe. Now, we are grounded and present. And that, my friends, is transformation (yes, conversion), which brings with it, an extraordinary gift.

I was raised in a religious tradition that mandated conversion, which basically punched my ticket for the afterlife. I was frequently asked what I would do if I died today. I was never once asked what I would do if I lived.

But what if conversion is about living this life, today, with my whole heart?

“We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full,” Marcel Proust wrote. So, we wake up to this life, fragile and exquisitely beautiful (awe filled), embracing the sacred present.

“When old patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” Tuli Kupferberg wrote. In other words, when I’m not preoccupied (held captive by angst), I notice, I pay attention, I see.

Yes. And in taking ownership of my life, this life, I am available. Not frightened by scarcity, I’m not enticed to ask, “what do I need today?”

Rather, I can ask, “what do others need today?”

You see, grounded I have both resources and assets to give… Listening ear. Empathy. Calm demeanor. Shout out to a friend. Words of consolation and compassion. Light to spill.

Now we’re talking. And I love Henri Nouwen’s invitation, “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

Friday —

“The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.” Rabbi Abraham Heschel.

Yes. And to face sacred moments, is our invitation to savor. Gratefully, savoring grounds us—in other words, to be here now (the sacrament of the present). And, the good news, from this grounded place, we quite literally can make a difference in the small world where we live and breathe.

But first things first. Like the little boy who said to his mamma, “Mamma, Mamma, listen to me. But this time with your eyes.”

The permission to be here now.

Which begs the question: What stops us? Is there something we are afraid of?

Apparently. More so than we realize.

I was doing a conference where people were sharing their opinions about life. One woman stood and said, “Life is so… (she was struggling to find the right word) life is so… life is so… daily.”

Ahhh. There’s the rub. Life is so… daily.

No wonder we’re pitched and tempted with so many ways to avoid the daily (you know, filled with the mundane and tedious).

But here is what I believe…

In our rush to avoid the mundane, we miss the miracles of the ordinary. (The ones that can make our heart smile real big.)

In our hurry to find the secret of a life not yet lived, we miss the power of the sacred in the life we have now.

In our haste to be noticed, we fail to notice the gifts we carry with us and have not yet delighted in.

In our eagerness to please and join the crowd, we trade the life we have, for the life we think we should have.

And we don’t see the light. We don’t see our light. When we see the light, we change the way we measure what really matters. I love David Orr’s reminder, “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”

This is the power of healing sanctuary. The power of kindred spirits. Let us be these places for one another.

Speaking of wonder, on Saturday night the Perseid meteor shower peaks into the wee hours of Sunday morning. We’re told it is sure to be one of the best cosmic shows of the year (with somewhere between 40 and 50 visible meteors per hour if you’re away from city lights).

And our hearts are with the people in or near Lahaina, Hawaii, where at least 36 people have died from the decimating fire, and dozens more are wounded. Search and rescue teams are making their way through the area hoping to find more survivors. Peace go with you.

Prayer for our week…
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 the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Mary Oliver

Photo… “Hi Terry, we were gifted with this beautiful butterfly as we took a moment to pause on our walk in the North Carolina mountains. In much the same way we are gifted with your daily Sabbath message. Thank you,” Sandy Jamieson

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