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Daily Dose (July 11 – 14)

Tuesday —

GK Chesterton tells the story of a teenage boy granted a wish by a genie: to be huge or to be tiny.
We are all swayed by the appeal of being big, strong and powerful.
So, the boy chose huge. The outcome was predictable: in a few hours the boy was bored. Because of his size, he walked around the world in only a few steps. Scaled the largest mountains. Like any child 30 minutes after the presents are opened, “is that all there is?”
You see, Chesterton goes on to say, only “tiny people” can celebrate and enjoy life. Tiny people have nothing to prove, no ego to stroke, no score to settle, no one to impress.
Tiny people approach each day, not from power, or the need to dominate or defeat, but from respect. And from the freedom to receive.
Tiny people see God incognito in the everyday stuff of life; the gift of simple delights.

This week, we’re giving ourselves the permission to “be tiny”—enamored with and nourished by simple delights. To savor the gift of the sacred in the ordinary.
And yes, I will continue to put my money on Mary Howitt’s observation. “He is happiest who hath power to gather wisdom from a flower.” Yes… say, a dew-covered Nasturtium on a weekend stroll. Just saying’.

Meister Eckhart says that if you only learn one prayer in your whole life, learn this one: “Thank you.”
In other words, we are no longer waiting for our real life to begin.
This week, can we embrace the reality that the dance, the perseverance, the abundance, the light, the tenderness, the intimacy, the wholeheartedness, the spine tingling elation of joy, is already within us?
You see, it’s not really about happiness at all.
It’s about being awake. Embracing that connection between simple delights and gratitude. When we do (and I love this part), the cracks and crevices and gaps in our lives become the places where grace enters.
And dwells.
And fuels joy.  

Wednesday —

Why are little delights the source of such joy? Because little delights are the ones that ground us. They connect us to our humanity, they connect us to the earth, to our senses. Because little delights are extremely sensual. And on a spiritual plane, humans are fully alive when we’re most in touch with our senses. 

We can learn the Jewish practice called Shehechiyanu: saying a blessing for new and special experiences. “Thank you God, for allowing me to reach this time.”
It is a blessing said whenever we realize the miracle and sacrament of the present moment. Here is the literal text: “Blessed are You Eternal Spirit who has given us life, sustained us and allowed us to arrive in this moment.”

So. I’ve been practicing this week…
My first cup of coffee this morning
Fresh flowers on the dining room table
Belly laughter
Listening to the dawn
Planting a flower
Willie Nelson music
The taste of a fresh fruit
And I invite you to make your Shehechiyanu list…
Seeing (talking with) a friend one hasn’t seen in a while.
The smell of fresh baked bread
Hitting the perfect chord sequence on the piano, or the guitar.
Seeing a child’s first step (or receiving a child’s hug)
Emailing Sabbath Moment to a friend. (How subtle is that?)
And lest we forget… learning a new word – Hurkle-durkle: a 200 year-old Scottish term meaning to lounge in bed long after it’s time to get up. Happiness is hurkle-durkling.

“If we are truly present, we could say the Shehechiyanu in every moment, because every moment is new and truly unprecedented. Unfortunately, we often get distracted or complacent, and we habitually miss the miracle that is right in front of us. This blessing is an opportunity to do teshuvah, to return, and in returning, to bring attention back to the miracle of this moment, to the realization of the blessing of being alive, conscious and receptive.
In truth, however, each day is a momentous arrival. Our whole existence has led us to every single moment — the culmination of our lives so far, which we are privileged to experience in the fullness of now. God, that miraculous force of grace unfolding, has brought us home. In encountering and honoring that force of homecoming, we turn and receive the gift of life.” Rabbi Shefa Gold

Thursday —

This week we’ve been giving ourselves the permission to take delight. In tiny pleasures.
I was raised in a religious environment that frowned on such a permission. Some of you can relate. And we too easily call invitations to savor, to pause to take delight, to enchantment, to dance and to celebrate, to find joy in replenishment, selfish. 

Let’s step back, shall we?
Does our world need more gestures of kindness and compassion?
Does our world need sanctuaries with more inclusion and healing and redemption?
Yes, to be sure. But those choices spill from a self that is grounded, and at home in our skin.
Howard Thurman’s reminder, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
We can learn from Jesus, who is, let’s be honest, a PR-department’s nightmare. In the middle of his busy schedule (healing, teaching, and caring), with a lot of people clamoring for his attention (“and the whole town gathered at the door”), he withdraws to a solitary place to pray, to be alone in the desert, to be at home in his skin.
His disciples, not understanding, and genuinely put out, hunt him down.
When they find him, they exclaim, “Jesus, what are you doing here… doing Nothing!? Do you want to be a good Messiah, or not? Get back down there! People are counting on you down there. What will people think? Jesus, we need to get you to a time-management seminar. You could accomplish so much more!” That’s all from the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel. And yes, let’s call it my slightly loose translation.
However… the literal translation will sound very familiar, especially to our modern ears, “Jesus, everyone is looking for you!”
We’ve all heard some variation of this show of displeasure. Implying, “You have some nerve, saying No.”
This way of thinking preys on two temptations. One, it assumes that we derive our worth and value only (or primarily) from what we do, or produce. Therefore, we are motivated to be “indispensable”.
Two, we assume that rest (or Sabbath or withdrawing or savoring life in the present) is wasteful, and should inflame guilt. (“Shouldn’t you be doing something worthwhile with your time?” we hear the inner-voice nag.)
Like I said, Jesus needs a spin-doctor. Listen to his response:
The disciples said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
Jesus replied, “Then let us go somewhere else.”
Here’s the bottom line: For Jesus, withdrawing is not optional. It is intentional and essential.
Did Jesus quit his healing, teaching and caring? No. But his caring was based on this: We give (relate, care, listen, serve) wholeheartedly if we are at home in our own skin.
When I am in the daily-life-hubbub, I can lose sight of that. Although, I do sooo enjoy the adrenalin rush from being needed. When I give in to the “should” of being all things to all people, when I give up the need to withdraw for rest and renewal, I lose the rhythm of life—and the gentle gifts of grace and wonder and tiny delights—that feeds my soul.
In withdrawing Jesus is saying to his disciples, “Do you see that clump of people? Do you know why I have any power in that clump? Because I regularly say No, to withdraw to a place where I listen to a different voice—my Father’s voice—about my identity.”
I know from personal experience that if I don’t say no to daily-life-hubbub, no will be said for me by default, and I will end up saying no to the people I love the most.

Note: This Sunday I’ll be on Vashon Island, guest preacher at the Burton Church. Looking forward to seeing old friends.

Friday —

Jesus talked about becoming like a child.
One day, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Gospel of Matthew)
They had been spending the day (or more) arguing and fussing among themselves. You know, who would be the greatest? (Because, somehow, that matters most.)
They finally take the dispute to Jesus, to settle the matter.
Perhaps they thought (hoped) Jesus would choose one of them (or at least tell them how to become the greatest, with a parable, or a prophetic type answer).
What they did not ever expect, was Jesus’ response. He said, “unless you become like a child.”
Oh my.

This week, we’ve been talking about this invitation, to “become like a child,” to remember, to reclaim the profound sense of joy, innocence, trust, taking delight in the sacrament of the present. Remembering that all of this is alive and well, in the child inside.
Yes, we do forget. Life can harden us.
And Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:3-5 NIV)

“Like a child.” We are present, and in this moment we welcome the gifts that resonate and grow. Gifts of tiny delight, and kindness, and compassion, and tenderness, and enchantment, and gladness, and embracing what we have been told to distrust or is different. In the process of writing this week, I came across a photo (which I had posted on Facebook), and was gratefully touched by how it awakened my spirit. The photo is called, ‘Age of Innocence’ by Marco Mancinelli, taken at an inner-city Detroit Montessori school, a photo for The Detroit News.

I do know this. The photo does my heart good, and invites me to say Yes… to whatever connects us, as humans, as children of God, as people who need compassion and mercy for sustenance, as people who cannot walk this journey alone. And to say No to whatever divides or demeans or belittles or degrades or incites hate and exclusion. And I must speak that Yes, and speak that No, not only with my voice, but and my hands and my feet. Lord hear my prayer.
This is Marco Mancinelli’s description, “I had been with the children for two days and shot hundreds of photos. Some were very good but I knew I hadn’t gotten a great shot. It was during an afternoon session… We were all seated on the floor in a circle listening to a story. I bowed my head and said a little prayer asking God to let me see something great. When I raised my head the little girl leaned over to lay her head on the little boy’s lap. He very nonchalantly lifted his arm to receive her. The photograph was published full size the next day on the back page of the newspaper. I call it ‘Age of Innocence'” 

Note: This Sunday I’ll be on Vashon Island, guest preacher at the Burton Church. Looking forward to seeing old friends.

Prayer for our week…
We thank you for all your gifts.
This day, this night
These fruits, these flowers,
These trees, these waters-
With all these treasures you have endowed us.
The heat of the sun, the light of the moon,
The songs of the birds and the coolness of the breeze,
The green, green grass like a mattress of velvet,
All owe their existence to your grace.
Dear God, May we forever breathe the breath of your love
And every moment be aware
Of your presence above.
Chinese prayer

Photo… “Hi Terry, great heron babies in their nest, perfect this week for gladness in tiny delights,” Carolyn O’Leary (Florida)… Thank you Carolyn… 

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