This week we’re invited to let go of the cravings (or wish) for whatever we’re sure we don’t have, but are sure that we need for life to be okay (well, tidy, at least).
Here’s my list: My need for closure (to tidy things up).
My need for answers (for security I’m guessing).
My need to be right (for others to be wrong, of course).
My need to be in a hurry or to be distracted.
My need to be noticed (to impress those around me, even those I don’t even know;
fueled by my fear of failure or being a disappointment).
Like the farmer (in our Sabbath Moment story looking for his cows), we can live distraught (preoccupied, and dissatisfied with our ordinary days, and we miss the exquisite gifts of grace).
Because here’s the deal: we can too easily pay attention to the wrong stuff.
And when we do, we’re not at home in our own skin.
We can learn from Sally, Charlie Brown’s sister, who went to Summer camp.
She was supposed to be gone a week. Peppermint Patty asked her why she returned home the day after she went.
“They said if I went to camp it would be good for me. They said if I went to camp, I would find myself,” Sally told her. “Well, I got off the bus, and there I was. So, I came home.”
You go girl.
So. What if being at home in my own skin (or being present, or being authentic, or being whole-hearted) is not about adding anything?
What if being at home is about making space and receiving gifts of grace?
What if being at home is about emptying (letting go of the cravings), entering into, letting it be (being loved for being “this me”)?
What if we don’t register on the justification meter, that meter of public opinion (or maybe just some tape in our head) which proffers approval for accomplishment?
(And the young Terry at heart is smiling as I write this…) What if this is not about homework stars on my refrigerator?
Today we pause… and listen to this invitation… “Come unto me all who are weary and burdened. I will give you rest.” Jesus
Thomas Merton was once asked what he considered to be the major spiritual disease in the Western world. His answer: “Efficiency. The major spiritual disease in the Western world is efficiency because from the government offices down to the nursery we have to keep the plant running and, afterwards, we’ve no energy left for anything else.”
Yes, there’s a good argument to be made for whether we even do efficiency very well, but I do agree with this; when our energy is only on T’s crossed and I’s dotted, we’ve no energy for what really matters to the well-being of our spirit and soul.
Like the farmer (in our Sabbath Moment story looking for his cows), we can live preoccupied, missing the exquisite ordinary gifts of grace). So yes, we can too easily pay attention to the wrong stuff. And when we do, we’re not at home in our own skin.
One choice here is to give ourselves more grief for any too-busy, too-stressed, too-tired weight we carry (as if we need another weight of guilt or shame… just sayin’).
Let’s begin acknowledging that those weights (distraction and being drained) can be real, and also allow ourselves the permission to let go of the need to allow them to be the whole of our identity (self-worth).
You see, now we’re back to the gift of Sabbath. Where our identity is no longer predicated on doing, accomplishing or impressing.
The Sabbath—the permission to stop, sit still, wait—allows us to hear the voice of Grace saying simply, “You are accepted. Period. Deal with it.”
On the seventh day, God rested. God savored. Living in the present (savoring) is rooted… In Sabbath. In Enough. In Grace.
You know you are enough without any extra cows, right?
I grew up on Country music (and writing this makes me miss my Father). My favorites were Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves. Oh, and Willie…
Speaking of Willie, and the invitation to let go and tether our identity to a place where we can stop and savor… I heard this yesterday…
So baby, let’s sell your diamond ring
Buy some boots and faded jeans and go away
This coat and tie is choking me
In your high society, you cry all day
We’ve been so busy keepin’ up with the Jones
Four car garage and we’re still building on
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love
Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’ got us feudin’
Like the Hatfield and McCoys
(Thank you Waylon Jennings)
We live in a world where we can too easily pay attention to the wrong stuff, living preoccupied, missing the exquisite ordinary gifts of grace. And when we do, we’re not at home in our own skin.
So. A funny thing happened on the way to writing today’s Sabbath Moment. Playing golf (this morning with my stocking hat and long johns on) I stood on the tee looking down the hill at a par three. Near the green, stood a young coyote pup. And he wasn’t in any hurry to move. So, I hit a shot that wasn’t bad, just on the edge of the green. The coyote ran over to the golf ball, picked it up, danced around and then rolled on the ground. Then he drops the ball. It was the same dance my dogs performed when I played catch with them.
Enjoying the theater, I’m smiling real big. So, I hit another shot, and the coyote does the same playful dance with that golf ball. And I hit one more for good measure. Again, the coyote dance. And I shout to him, asking if he can drop the ball closer to the hole.
As I walk down toward the green, the pup is standing there, staring at me. I tell him he made my day, and thanked him for being alive in his own skin, and then he darted off toward another part of the golf course.
Ordinary gifts of grace awaken the dancer inside.
Or, in my case, the balterer. To balter is to dance without particular skill or grace, but with extreme joy. Often performed by teenagers at parties, but can be enjoyed by a person of any age… say a middle-aged guy who wants to dance with a coyote pup. “Hey, that is some sweet baltering you’re doing!” (Balter, it’s definitely my stay sane word.)
Ahh yes. And here’s our reminder this week about paying attention to the stuff that really matters: let us stay open to the steady invitations that keep the child, the dancer, in us alive and well.
When life is heavy, we forget the hope that comes (and grows) when we are free to behave and embrace childlike. (Jesus seemed to think it was a good thing—something about entering the Kingdom of Heaven and all that.)
Speaking of grace, let’s give Paul Tillich the final word, “You are accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not seek for anything. Do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.”
Some days I need to hit the pause button on my worked-up mind, and return to the basics that keep me grounded, and at home in my skin.
This is my go-to, from David Orr, “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.”
Yes, and amen. I’m so grateful for this reminder and affirmation… necessary in a world where striving to “be somebody” or find success, is narrowed to an individual (or solitary) endeavor, forgetting that no one of us is on this journey alone.
Connected we remember, “The moment we cease to hold each other… the sea engulfs us, and the light goes out.” James Baldwin
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.”
Thich Nhat Hanh’s reminder, “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
Our power is out again in Port Ludlow. Not bad if you want to read by candlelight and head to bed early. Not easy when you need internet. So, I’m down the road in a town with power and a pub.
Let’s keep walking one another home, my friends. So grateful for all of you.
Prayer for our week…
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day,
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus”.
Henri J.M. Nouwen