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Daily Dose (Feb 20 – 23)

Tuesday —

This week we are talking about the permission to let go.
Every single one of us can be owned or possessed by the “things we carry”, sadly, seeing only what we want to see, and our spirit can be tied up into knots.
And even if those things are a life upside down or “unfair” or outside of our script, we are unable to see or embrace the sufficiency at our core. And mirror that to the world around us.

I’m grateful for this story from my friend, Rev. Susan Sparks (NYC) about Beethoven. At the end of his life, he wrote the Ninth symphony (As I write this, I’m playing the Hallelujah chorus in my mind, standing to my feet). I can only imagine that Beethoven wished for (prayed for) other circumstances. After all, his life had its own fragility. He was deaf. He was driven to melancholy. Yes, he wished for relief. And yet, from that place he wrote the Ninth. I love this story because it is about that internal switch. He celebrated the beauty (and sufficiency) that was within.
Beethoven added voice, turning symphony into opera.
And he invites us to engage with the music and beauty inside (“large areas of peace in ourselves”), and to share our own song.
In every single one of us, the music is alive and well. Maybe not the Ninth Symphony; fair enough. Even so, play it. Sing it. Live it.
Don’t worry if it’s a good enough song or if you have the words right, or that you didn’t hear the song earlier. Savor the music. Here’s the good news: when I’m at home in my own skin (no longer needing to “carry” the weight of “should”), I can be on the lookout for those who are derailed and cannot hear the music in their world.

Etty Hillesum’s reminder, “Ultimately, we have just one moral duty. 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.”
I sure did appreciate my time in Anaheim, telling stories, and letting my tears fall, letting those who gathered know that for Lent, I want to let go of a hard (or closed) heart. In our world that often feels upside down, I want to honor a soft heart. And to make choices that spill from a soft heart.

Here’s my question for our week: Do we carry the weight of what we “should” be, or the freeing gift of who we are (the sufficiency at our core) and the light that spills from that place? What if we allow tensions to expand our heart, and invite us to a new appreciation of the sufficiency that is already there, inside. And from that, embrace the capacity to create a community of kindred spirits kindling the courage we need to show up, even in a messy world?

Wednesday —

This week we are talking about the permission to let go. (Or the permission to “set down” that which we carry as a preoccupying weight.)
And we miss the point if we see this as a simple or single gesture: Just let go.
We somehow forget that “empty” spaces fill themselves, if we don’t choose what matters there.
So. We don’t see the invitation to also ask, “what do we hold on to?”
Where am I grounded? I focus on (learn) what I don’t want (to worry about, or carry, or weigh me down) but I forget the foundation.

What really matters here?
It is no surprise, my garden continually teaches me this lesson.
And it is a paradigm shift: it’s the dirt that matters. In fact, the dirt makes all the difference. Think of it this way, the dirt determines what the garden “carries” (holds, produces, shares to the world).

That’s my answer to the question about being alive and well in the present moment (to be here now, in my own skin, not worried about tomorrow or yesterday); here we embrace the permission to absorb daily miracles. We welcome and invite life in, not allowing internal censors and judges to scrutinize.
And yes, gratitude is born here.
Daily miracles (sacrament of the present moment) grow in the soil (the dirt) of gratitude that has been swaddled in grace. Glad to be alive, to see God incognito in the everyday stuff of life.
So. Cerebrally I can have the “correct” flowers (beliefs), but without the right soil (dirt), there is no medicinal nutrient that cultivates and encourages mindfulness, humility, presence, compassion and generosity.
Brother David Steindl-Rast’s affirmation, “When you are grateful, you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share.”

I just reread this prayer and I want to take it with me today and through my week;
Keep my anger from becoming meanness.
Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.
Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.
Keep my anger turned toward justice, not cruelty.
Remind me that all of this, every bit of it, is for love.
Keep me fiercely kind.
(Gratitude for the first three lines, borrowed from Laura Jean Truman)

Thursday —

This week we are talking about the permission to let go. Every single one of us can be owned or possessed by the “things we carry”, sadly, seeing only what we want to see, and our spirit can be tied up into knots.
But here’s what we forget. Letting go is not simply about releasing the weight(s) we carry, it is about reclaiming. Reclaiming those areas of peace in ourselves (thank you Etty Hillesum).
I’m still catching up from my recent speaking trip, so today was reclaiming day for me. (Or, as some remind me, taking my own advice.)
I spent time working in and savoring my garden. Sheer bliss. Worked and dug and planted some Iris Siberica, Light of Heart, and a few Dicentra “bleeding hearts”. And savored the blooming Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (the photo above).
I’m smiling big, because here’s what the garden helps me remember (and reclaim). That the invitation of my garden is a paradigm shift, inviting me to ask different questions, letting go of what weighs me down.

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 regaining what has been lost in the shuffle when life has been relegated to keeping score and making waves.
To be human is about cultivating the nourished and replenished life.
To be human is about gardening the soul.
It’s a paradigm shift, and because of that, my questions have changed:
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? Are you comforted by the sound of rain of your roof? And have you watched the hummingbirds dance?
Is your heart glad in the presence of compassion and grace and mercy?
I love to watch the hummingbirds dance. I loved to put on my “dancing shoes”.
I love the smile that fills my face when I hear anyone playing old time rock and roll. I love to stretch out on a garden bench on a warm summer day.
I love books, delight in poetry, and find sustenance in writing.
I love small gestures of generosity, witnessing the extraordinary number of big hearts there are in this world.
I love prayers that begin with the words, “Thank you…”
I love friends who remind me that I’m not on this journey alone, and that my opinion of myself needs some work.
I love it anytime someone says, “Let’s have a moment of silence,” and then makes it two.
I love cleansing tears that don’t need to be explained away. I love it when I make decisions from a soft heart.
I treasure the certainty that grace gives us all many second chances. And I love to lose track of time in my garden.
This is important. To be human (open to awe and wonder, and to stay hydrated in our soul) is a spiritual endeavor.

For those who receive Sabbath Moment audio, I am sorry for the tardy email yesterday.
And if you want to watch my presentation, The Gift of Enough from last week’s Religious Education Congress, you can find it here. Please pass it along.

“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty. 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.” Etty Hillesum

Friday —

A recent newspaper headline, “We are hardwired to hate uncertainty.”
And I’m smiling because it is true. Please just tell us the answer or solution or box to put the problem in.
This week we’ve been talking about the permission to let go. But that’s not easy when we need closure (certainty, life in a box). It is no surprise that every single one of us can be owned or possessed by the “things we carry”, sadly, seeing only what we want to see, our spirit can be tied up into knots.
Why? Because it is easy to be derailed or hindered by our notion that destination matters more than journey. I’m guessing it is measured by and fueled by whether or not we are able to check things off our list.
“Are we there yet?” “Are we done now?”
And we forget the journey.

I love the uplifting story Sue Monk Kidd tells about her grandfather. My grandfather was a lawyer, a judge, and a farmer. He was frequently busy and conquesting, but I remember also that he sometimes entered the golden moments of wu wei. He and I used to go fishing at one of the little ponds on his farm. He would sit and hold his cane pole over the water, becoming as still as the stumps that jutted up from the water. I usually tired of fishing fairly soon and went on to other things, like dandelions.
One day having given up on the fishing, I was playing in his old black truck when I noticed that his fishing bait was still on the seat. I remember being surprised that my grandfather had been out fishing an hour or more without bait. I grabbed the bait basket and raced over to him, “Granddaddy, how can you fish without bait?”
He tilted back his hat and smiled as if he had been caught in some delicious secret. “Well, sometimes it’s not the fish I’m after,” he said, “it’s the fishing.” (Thank you Sue Monk Kidd)

Sign me up. Although, it’s not easy in a world where we are reminded to live life faster, bigger and newer… in order to claim the “life we deserve” (something about arrival being more important than the journey).
In the meantime, of course, life is full, complicated, messy, frustrating and demanding. We are—take your pick—exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed, frazzled, plum tuckered, drained, sapped, running on empty, done in, overbooked, gummed up, stuck, trapped… and at times, we are without a clue.
For Sue’s grandfather, fishing means, “be there, when you are there.” Is that it?
Am I afraid to simply be?
Whatever that may be: infatuated, uncertain, hopeful, empty, optimistic, lost, delighted, lethargic, sanguine, sad? The vicarious gratification watching someone fall into the moment (literally to fall into life), and to be buoyed by the power of the dance.

Prayer for our week…
Let us pray that as we begin the season of lent
we embrace the opportunity to:
Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and have trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill our hearts with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so we can listen.
Attributed to Pope Francis

Photo… Welcome home to Port Ludlow, WA. My primroses greeted me in the rain. Made me smile real big. The flowers, not the rain… 

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