Daily Dose (Dec 6 – 9)
Contentment is not about changing, or needing power, it is about being alive and well in our own skin.
That’s not easy when we see only the “labels”, reminding us that some part of us unsightly, unrefined, or broken. Prodded to spend our life trying to be “somebody,” creating a persona, or an artifice of achievement (and control, or power).
Novelist Susan Howatch calls it our “glittering image.”
Sometime ago, walking through the lobby in an upscale hotel, I found myself carried along by a stream of people dressed in formal wear, on their way to an “event.” Off to the side, I watched a father fussing over his young son’s tie. The boy–maybe three or four–is dressed in a full suit replete with bow tie, his blonde hair neatly parted and combed. I hear his father say, “Okay. Now remember. This is very important. You need to be on your very best behavior.” The little boy nods his head, wanting to make certain that he makes his Daddy proud.
Somewhere along the way, we buy the notion that our very identity hinges on how well we keep that promise. I can tell you that I know this is how it happened in my own life. “Whatever you do,” the voice in my mind still whispers. “Don’t ever let anyone see how uncomfortable that suit really is.”
So, we wear it, the suit or role or label or mask (often to hide our fear and exhaustion), and eventually grow accustomed to it. Of course, my “suit” changed, as I grew older. Just like that minister, I did my best to create an image of togetherness, well-being, and success. And above all else, control.
No wonder brokenness unnerves me. No wonder I pretend I have my act together (even when I don’t). No wonder I’m tired at the end of the day.
“I always wanted to be somebody,” Lily Tomlin mused. “I just should have been more specific.”
Because we see the broken and the “lowly” only as detrimental, and we miss the beauty and light that resides there (even and especially there). This little light of mine… The freedom that comes when we no longer need to pretend we have our act together. We give up our need to be perfect and our need to be in control. And Grace meets us there.
We are wired to savor. To live awake and attentive, present in the moment… “being spontaneously surprised by the goodness and beauty of living” (Ron Rolheiser).
What is not a surprise is that savoring is also good medicine for our blue moods.
But I forget that. Well, that’s not quite accurate; let’s just say that I get distracted, exhausted and too often, live numbed… or with scotoma, seeing only what I want to see, unable to embrace the gift of now.
A young man boarded an overnight train in Europe. He was told, “There have been a lot of recent thefts. We take no responsibility for any loss.”
This worried the young man, because he carried a lot of stuff.
So, he lay awake, fearing the worst, staring at his stuff. Finally, at 3 am, he fell asleep. Waking with a start twenty minutes later, he saw that his stuff was gone. He took a deep breath. “Thank God,” he said. “Now I can sleep.”
Here’s my question; What is it that we carry (so dutifully) that keeps us from savoring? From living awake and present? The list seems longer these days (including things we didn’t sign up for).
During this season, let us pause, shall we? To be replenished by gratitude, and to savor the journey without focusing on where we “should be”.
Today, savoring the warmth of Tucson, AZ. Although, even at this temperature, many of the locals are wearing coats and sweaters.
And the winter sky here is a magical canvas, clouds telling stories with their characters and silhouettes unfolding above the crisp demarcation of the Santa Catalina mountains. A storyline that makes you look up and point, and smile real big.
This week we’re invited to change our paradigm for success.
Not always easy to do in a world with the temptation that in order “to be somebody”, we need to arrive somewhere other than where we are now.
In so, we forget (or do not see) the beauty and light that resides inside. Now. This little light of mine… I’m going to let it shine…
I return often to this affirmation and encouragement 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.”
That’s enough to carry into our day.
And as today is my birthday, time for a wee bit of golf in the Tucson desert.
When we see, we allow ourselves to care, to be invested. To see around us a profusion of “raw, unalloyed, agenda-less kindness” (David Foster Wallace).
That’s easy to forget. Gallup released a recent poll on success, about what we value and the disconnect between personal views, and our perception of how society views success. The results are no shock. We think society honors fame and money. But personally, we would choose trustworthy, considerate and helpful.
It’s a reminder that we measure the wrong things. And when we do, we carry superfluous and cumbersome baggage.
When I savor, grace comes to life.
Grace allows us to risk loving, to be unafraid of a life that can be messy.
To make a space for something less than perfect in ourselves and in one another.
To offer kindness and compassion. In a glance, in a word, in a touch.
To create spaces, sanctuaries, where healing and hope are offered.
To believe in goodness after harm. And to know that this light and love will always spill to the world around us.
So grateful for all the birthday wishes… It was a grace-filled day. And yes, playing golf in view of the Tucson Mountains made me smile big.
Prayer for our week…
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 Creighton.edu)
Photo… “Good morning Terry… Sending along some photos from a trip to beautiful Cambria coastline. I can never get enough of God’s beauty in creation!” Cathy Roby