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Daily Dose (Dec 26 – 29)

Tuesday —

This week we remember, “Peace is our gift to each other.” (Elie Wiesel)
Knowing that peace is always, always small steps.
And sometimes I wonder if even small steps of peace are possible. I only know that when I see (or focus on) only the unsettled, I view life and the world with suspicion or mistrust. And it colors the choices I make—compromises my emotional and spiritual immune system—and I forget my capacity to choose peace… yes, with small steps of generosity, kindness and compassion. As if the enemy (darkness) consumes my well-being, and I live wearied.

For Star Wars lovers, in The Last Jedi, the story of finding hope in a world where it looks like the dark side will win. Rey (woman who shows signs of the Force) says to Luke Skywalker, “Something inside me has always been there, but now it’s awake and I need help.” And that something? A candle called hope.
Hope for peace…
Hope for the healing power of restoration (inclusion and hospitality and forgiveness)—the simple gifts of grace that spill from peace—the power of a smile, a kind word, the sound of laughter and a hug.
And this healing power is alive and well in every one of us. However, I do need to let go of making this an assignment, or thinking of peace and hope as proficiencies given only to the fortunate few.

Sue Monk Kidd writes the story about her daughter, coming home from school in early December, telling her mother she got one of the great parts in the Nativity Play.
“What part did you get?”
“I’m the Star of Bethlehem!” the daughter says proudly.
“Well, what will you do?” Sue asks.
“I just stand there and shine.”
The little girl gets it.  At some point, from the Star of Bethlehem to adulthood, we obstruct the light inside—with restrictor plates, with fear, with a need for perfectionism, with prejudice.
During this holiday season my friends, I do hope you found dollops of grace.
And please keep shining (and spilling) your light.
And Peace be with you…

Wednesday —

I began writing my Sabbath Moment today, but then stopped, to take a look at the National Weather Service update, for the Northern and Central Plains. Heavy snow and strong winds could topple trees and power lines and bring whiteout conditions. And their choice of words, “make travel difficult to near impossible,” unambiguous.
We do wish for safety for all in the path.

So, back to writing, and I’m shifting gears, as we do with emergencies.
And I think about our Seattle Office of Emergency Management website, which has a plethora of information on preparing for hazards—including earthquakes, windstorms, tsunamis, floods, bomb threats and power outages. Emergency planning, it tells me, “saves lives”.

Amen to planning. And I realize that it is no different with the need—and yes, the invitation and admonition (counsel)—to regularly nourish and replenish my soul.
Let’s think of it this way: “Emergency planning”… in other words, self-care, mindfulness, the power of pause, rituals, finding sanctuary, and yes, joining the society of childlike grownups, saves lives.

A recent report says that 68% of us is stressed to the point of feeling “extremely fatigued and out of control.” (Apparently the other 32% were too tired to respond.)
Which means that when I do get around to “taking care of my soul,” it’s already at the critical stage. And yes, critical care (picking up the pieces) emergencies are necessary and vital. However (and this is an important however), if I notice only the urgency for critical care, I miss the necessity of maintenance-soul-care (practices that promote protection, safeguarding, fortification and stopping to replenish).
Yes, life is chock-a-block full. And our world is acclimated to speed and a crush of information. Literally, a deluge. Some meant to inform and enlighten, some to peddle, some to obfuscate, some to infuriate, some to settle scores. The result? Disquiet.
That’s why we need (more than ever) maintenance-soul-care.
So. Let us make space for awakening,
generosity of spirit,
and respect for all life.
And yes, let us make space for peace… Because “Peace is our gift to each other.” (Elie Wiesel)

Thursday —

On Monday, we told the story of Hope in No Man’s Land, where on Christmas Eve in 1914, during WWI, in a place of mud and cold and bloodshed, something unexpected and extraordinary occurred.
A reminder that sometimes we need stories more than food to stay alive. Stories to remind us what really matters, and allow us to see with our heart.

And my friend Doug Tanner sent me this song—Christmas in the Trenches, written and performed by John McCutcheon. So very grateful. Listening to the song, and reading the lyrics, reminded me of the power that peace is indeed, our gift to each other.
Enjoy the lyrics below.
And you can listen to the song here.

My name is Francis Tolliver. I come from Liverpool
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear
It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung
The frozen field of France were still, no Christmas song was sung
Our families back in England were toasting us that day
Their brave and glorious lads so far away
I was lyin’ with my mess-mates on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound
Says I “Now listen up me boys”, each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear
“He’s singin’ bloddy well you know”, my partner says to me
Soon one by one each German voice joined in in harmony
The cannons rested silent. The gas cloud rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war
As soon as they were finished a reverent pause was spent
‘God rest ye merry, gentlemen’ struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was ‘Stille Nacht”. “Tis ‘Silent Night'” says I
And in two toungues one song filled up that sky
“There’s someone commin’ towards us” the front-line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
As he bravely strode, unarmed, into the night
Then one by one on either side walked into no-mans-land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave ’em hell
We traded chocolates, cigarettes and photgraphs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men
Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wonderous night
“whose family have I fixed within my sights?”
It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they’d kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone for ever more
My name is Francis Tolliver. In Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas come since World War One I’ve learned it’s lessons well
That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we’re the same
John McCutcheon “Christmas in the trenches”

Friday —

Peace is our gift to each other. (Thank you, Elie Wiesel)
But, this reframe is important. Peace, not as in instruction, advice or answers.
Peace, as in, presence. It is a gift we all carry, whether we know it or not.
Rabbi Elliot Kukla once described a woman with a brain injury who would sometimes fall to the floor. People around her would rush to immediately get her back on her feet, before she was quite ready. She told Kukla, “I think people rush to help me up because they are so uncomfortable with seeing an adult lying on the floor. But what I really need is for someone to get down on the ground with me.”
Kukla pointed out that getting on the floor can be anxiety-producing and, when someone is in deep despair, even dangerous to the strongest caregiver. But sometimes you just get on the floor.
We all need witnesses — to witness others, to be witnessed, to draw inspiration from each other.
(Story from David Brooks, How to Know a Person)

My friends. We are (and can be) witnesses.
I see you.
Peace, one encounter at a time.
This from Henri Nouwen does my heart good. “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

This week Tom Smothers died. RIP Tom. Smiling big when he said this in a recent interview, “People laughing is holy. And if you can be a part of that, it’s the best thing ever.”
Our year comes to a close. Let us move into our New Year with generosity of spirt and the permission to give dollops of the gift of peace in our encounters (including with ourselves). I look forward to walking with you, with Sabbath Moment.
And this New Year’s Eve, a palindrome (the same backwards as forwards)—12/31/23 (123-123). Some call it, Angel numbers.

For a New Year Resolution, I’ll take Howard Thurman’s reminder with me…
“When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart.”

Prayer for our week…
Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day. What had been done has been done;
What has not been done has not been done; let it be.
The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.
In your name we pray.
New Zealand Prayer Book

Photo… “Sunrise today in Manhattan. Wow! No words. Except…. Blessings of a Pre Christmas sunrise to you Terry; and all! Thank you for walking with us daily. We look forward to your daily inspiration in 2024!” Lina Plantilla (and our prayer group–8 friends who have gathered daily, since April 2020; finding support and solace in prayer and one another)

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