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Daily Dose (Feb 27 – Mar 1)

Tuesday —

Our invitation this week, Sacred Self-care.
The permission to literally, pause, to feed, replenish and nourish our soul and spirit.
But no, it is not easy.

My pedigree is good. Raised in religious environment and trained in religious colleges and seminaries, I came well equipped to see the world the “right” way. But at the age of twenty-five, I became an ordained protestant clergyman, the fulfillment of a lifelong call: that thorny mixture of skill, desire, and parental pressure (which began its germination at the age of four in my case, when I was prompted and paraded as the “preacher boy”–all of it heaped with lavish and addictive accolades). At the time, of course, it did not seem unforeseen. Molded from Calvinist clay, I knew my place in this world. And I knew the path expected of me. Life was as it should be: intact and well contained. I pursued my calling with a vengeance. And there is no doubt that I was a success. The bigger the church, the bigger the crowd. The bigger the crowd, the greater the applause. The greater the applause, the bigger the plaques to hang on my office walls. And the preacher boy grew up, and made good.
There is one caveat. To find success doesn’t necessarily mean that you gain health. We go about our merry and hectic way, accumulating and weighing, measuring and posturing, hoping that the balance sheet of life judges us with kindness. Until that one day when you look into the mirror and ask yourself, “Why?” and you decide then and there to set about reclaiming that which has been lost-namely, you.
I do know this. I did not set out to find answers, health, the good life, or even God. I did not “set out” at all. I know only that my soul felt malnourished. Then one day I found myself in the garden, and quite without fanfare, the journey began.
Joseph Campbell’s reminder that we must “have a room, or a certain hour (or so) a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be… if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

So. What is saving you today?
Tell me, where is your sacred place?
This is non-negotiable.
And here’s the good news:
We do not go there merely to fulfill an obligation.
We do not go there just to be a good person.
We do not go there to impress people we know.
We go there because if we don’t go, we lose a part of our soul.
For me, it is my garden. 

And if you want to watch my presentation, The Gift of Enough from last week’s Religious Education Congress, you can find it here. Pass it along.

We’ll soon be making my Power of Pause audio book available to all. Please enjoy the first few chapters here.

Wednesday —

We are wired to be replenished and renewed. It is in our DNA.
We are wired for sacred self-care and sanctuary; the permission to literally, pause, to feed and nourish our soul and spirit.
One of my favorite questions to ask in conversation and at events is this, “Can you tell me where this week you found replenishment and sanctuary? Where you were glad to be alive, and grateful for the sacrament of the present moment?”
Working on a project today, I was going through old writings and found this (the paragraph below). I remember when I wrote it. And the reminder did my heart good.

On the patio, I watch the birds bicker about rights to the feeders, and some avoid the skirmish thinking time is better served bathing in the stream. The roses have ended their first pageant and some of the vibrant summer perennials have begun their showcase—including Crocosmia Lucifer, a fire-engine red.
But my mind is still on my morning walk—a little past 5:30 a.m., not a car or soul or sound, except for the footsteps and the soft wingbeats of a bird 50 yards in front of me, gliding down the middle of the road (a wingspan over three feet, with some kind of prey in its beak), flying only 4 feet off the ground. Straight toward me. I froze. Just before me as he veered into the trees and headed for a branch, his head swiveled and he looked at me, as if to say, “Walking kind of early, aren’t you?”
I stood and watched (and cherished) this Barred Owl—my first ever sighting—until he decided it was time to begin his day, and he flew away.
The sacrament of the present indeed.

Joseph Campbell’s reminder, “Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it.”

I’ll give Maria Popova the final word, “Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Thursday —

We are wired to be replenished and renewed. It is in our DNA.
We are wired for sacred self-care and sanctuary; the permission to literally, pause, to feed and nourish our soul and spirit.
And the gift of being at home in our own skin. Literally, at home in the embrace of grace.

Although, some of us still wonder if that embrace is possible.
For whatever reason, we (well, many of us), are not comfortable in our own skin. So, we edit who we are. Looking for a persona or role that fits.
Okay. I’ll personalize this. It means that I am at odds with certain parts of me—the unkempt, the untidy, the wild dogs (“To become wise you must learn to listen to the wild dogs barking in your cellar.” Nietzsche).
So, here’s my question: How can I do that—live in the present moment, fully and wholeheartedly—if I am still learning to be comfortable in my own skin?
And life’s distractions don’t help, when our mind is living in yesterday or tomorrow. I tell the story about the young boy who says to his mother, “Momma, momma, listen to me, but this time with your eyes.”
And SM reader Ruth sent me this, “One of my sons, when he was a couple of years older than this, took my face in his hands and said to me: ‘Mom! You’re not at home in your eyeballs!’” (I’m still smiling big.)

Here’s the deal: We are, every one of us, on a journey (process) that can be beautiful and messy, exhilarating and confusing. And we are derailed when we are unable to trust or embrace this journey from a place of not knowing.  A place of uncertainty. A place without closure. A place of risk and discomfort.
And yet, here’s the good news: a place of exquisite grace-filled beauty.
At home, in the embrace of grace.
Today, let us pause, and hear that affirmation.

Speaking of pause and sacred self-care, March 1-2 (sundown to sundown) is Global Day of Unplugging 2024. In other words, let’s focus on spending time with people or alone.
And our new word for the day: Telephonophobia. So many people — young adults, in particular — have anxiety around talking on the phone these days. Go figure.

And we celebrate today because it doesn’t take exactly 365 days for the Earth to complete an orbit. It takes about six hours more than that. So, we have leap years, with an extra day added to “catch up” to the length of time the Earth takes to orbit the sun. Fun fact: people born on Leap Day are called ‘Leaplings’.

And here’s a prayer to take with us today.
Dear God, Grant us the strength to embrace solitude and feel worthy of our own company. Help us also be instruments of healing and hope for others as well. Amen. (Maria Shriver)

Friday —

Sanctuaries are those sacred spaces (those places), where we stop, and pay attention. Think of it as a way of sanctifying time. Sanctuaries release time from the demand that it measure up or produce, from the requisite questions:
“Did you use your time wisely?”
“Why are you wasting so much time?”
“That wasn’t a very good use of time, was it?”
Sanctuaries are those spaces, those places, in which, as Maya Angelou observed, “no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
Yes. In this space we focus on replenishment.
Sacred self-care.
Literally, at home in the embrace of grace.

The invitation here? The permission to be here now.
What does the invitation allow? For starters, we can let go of our wiring, that sees any endeavor as a transaction, or tactical devise to “improve” one’s life, propelled to best in class. A need to perform or achieve attracts fear-based or self-interested people, and life calls for lovers.
Franciscan teacher John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) helps here.  He tells us that God did not create genus and species. God only created “this-ness,” (in Latin haecceity). He said that until we can experience each thing in its specific “thisness,” we will not easily experience the joy and ubiquity of Divine Presence.
Thisness; to embrace (and be embraced by) the sacrament of the present moment, the here-and-now in all its ordinariness and particularity. In other words, I can’t be present in general. I’m invited to be present to this person, this conversation or event or conundrum or sorrow.
Right here, right now.
Here’s the deal: Thisness invites savoring, and gives birth to wholeheartedness, joy, empathy, compassion and connection.
In the sacrament of the present, fear and striving do not own us, and we welcome our imperfect parts.

Let’s take this sanctuary poem (prayer) into our weekend.
Three generations back
my family had only
to light a candle
and the world parted.
Today, Friday afternoon,
I disconnect clocks and phones.
Then night fills my house
with passages,
I begin saving
my life.
Marcia Falk

Prayer for our week…
Beloved Presence on my path of life,
thank you for the footprints left on my heart:
the soft and gentle ones that brought comfort,
the deep and lasting ones of enduring friendship,
the lightly passing ones conveying kindness,
the heavy ones causing necessary change,
and the impressionable footprints swept away by time.
Even though lost, forgotten, or not recognized,
these visitors have led me to live more fully
the innate goodness residing deep within me.
How grateful I am.
Abundant peace,
Joyce Rupp

Photo… “Terry, So enjoy your Sabbath Moments. Near the edge of our woods, a daffodil bathing in the morning sun. Second picture of crocus nestled in nature’s glory amongst liriope grass.
Spring is beginning to burst forth here in Athens, Georgia. Blessings to you,” Bruce Middendorf 

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