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Daily Dose (June 25 – 28)


“God spoke today in flowers, and I, who was waiting on words, almost missed the conversation.” (Ingrid Goff-Maidoff)
This week, we are invited to embrace a transformed heart. Or, another way of saying it, a reconnected and grounded heart.
It is a reconnection that happens when we pause. In order to see. And to savor, and to celebrate.

So, it invites a paradigm shift. Have you read The Little Prince?
“If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, ‘What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?’
Instead, they demand: ‘How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?’
Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
If you were to say to the grown-ups: ‘I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,’ they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all.
You would have to say to them: ‘I saw a house that cost $20,000.’
Then they would exclaim: ‘Oh, what a pretty house that is!’”

And yes, I’m smiling real big about a house costing $20,000. Be that as it may, the story is a wonderful invitation to see the sacred in the very ordinary. And yes, in a flower…
I’m grateful for Marcus Borg’s affirmation, “Given all of life’s ambiguities and the reality of impermanence and suffering, our existence is remarkable, wondrous. It evokes awe and amazement. We need to pay attention. Really pay attention. Lest we become blind to the awe and wonder that fills our days.”

WEDNESDAY JUNE 26 — “God spoke today in flowers, and I, who was waiting on words, almost missed the conversation.” (Ingrid Goff-Maidoff)
And my mind replays a memory, one from many years ago, with garden visitors. My Vashon Island spring garden was in full swing, and I took delight when people took the time to visit our island and stop by for a little tour, or a glass or wine. Or, to just sit on the back deck and watch the dusk settle.
Here’s the deal: that week, I did everything I preach against. I fretted. Because in my garden, you see, there is always still so much to do. It’s not ready for “tours.” What an insidious notion this is, that takes root; that the garden (or conversation, or relationship, or prayer, or liturgy, or encounter) cannot be embraced, until or unless it is perfect.
In the Pacific Northwest that year, we had a mercurial springtime, a stretch of cooler weather, time to mourn lost plants due to this past winter’s snow and cold, and the perennial clash with critters making tatters of certain garden beds.
Even so, we gardeners are notorious. We lament and fuss and apologize. The first words out of our mouths, as you enter the property are, “I’m sorry.”
Because we have “the ideal garden” in our minds. However (and unfortunately), we have “our real garden.” And the two, as it so happens, are never the same.
It’s a cultural war, or so it seems, as we have been inculcated with the assumption that whatever is newer is requisite, and a better, more exciting life than the one we have right now. (It doesn’t help matters, when I wage the internal battle, feeling like a dupe for inviting such thinking.)
Whatever is honored will be cultivated, Plato reminds me. So, it’s an intentional choice, about a value system predicated on wresting-with (moving toward), or one predicated upon perfection.
We walked around the garden, and one of the visitors points to a plant in the native area nearby, admiringly, “What is that?”
“That?” I answered, surprised. “That is a red elderberry.”
I had to laugh. To myself, of course. You see, Red Elderberry is ubiquitous. And where I live to many, it is sooooo pedestrian.
I have a garden with unique plants. One of-a-kind plants. And you notice the Elderberry?
Cherry blossoms get their own festival.
And Elderberry is a wee bit aggressive, needing to be cut down, eliminated, or ignored.
I smile big, playing out this memory. And recognizing the kind of perfection adrenaline that hijacks our mind and spirit. When we obsess with the blemishes and limitations (or our garden and life), instead of seeing the beauty in the ordinary.
No, my garden is not perfect. But then again, who decides perfection? And why does it derail me so?
But it’s not just the garden. This thinking crept in while writing this Sabbath Moment. I read the first draft and thought, “This isn’t going to cut it.”
I’ve been inculcated with the notion that it is not enough to give the writing my best effort. It is not enough to pour my heart—heart being transformed—into the moment.
And when we honor that perfection value system, we cannot find the touch of God in our imperfect moments. Or see, or hear God, yes, in a flower.
So, today, I salute the Common Red Elderberry. Which is another way of saying that I honor the divine spark that lies in those ordinary places I pass by, every day, often unknowing. And (as I write this) looking out at my current garden, flanked by native areas filled with Red Elderberry.  


Many years ago, in a true winter blizzard, my son (at the time very young) Zach and I needed to take the afternoon ferry from Seattle to our Vashon Island. I was cold and ornery. Zach is shuffling along in the snow, past a cluster of waiting commuters huddled together for warmth.
They reminded me of a waddle of penguins, huddled and somber.
Zach is walking unhurriedly, and kicking snow with each step, oblivious to the downside of this weather or this moment. And he is repeating, loud enough for everyone to hear, over and over, “This is soooo great. This is soooo great.”
Here’s what I love. The soooo great is savoring the presence of wonder in the ordinary.

In the 1995 film ‘Smoke’, Auggie Wren manages a cigar store on the corner of Third and Seventh in Brooklyn. Every morning at exactly eight o’clock, no matter what the weather, he takes a picture of the store from across the street. He has four thousand consecutive daily photographs of his corner all labeled by date and mounted in albums. He calls this project his ‘life’s work.’
One day Auggie shows the photos to Paul, a blocked writer who is mourning the death of his wife, a victim of random street violence. Paul doesn’t know what to say about the photos; he admits he has never seen anything like them. Flipping page after page of the albums, he observes with some amazement, “They’re all the same.” Auggie watches him, then replies; “You’ll never get it if you don’t slow down, my friend.” (Thank you Spiritual Literacy)
Auggie lived by the wisdom of Taoist, Chuang Tzu, “One has to be in the same place every day, watch the dawn from the same house, hear the same birds awake each morning, to realize how inexhaustibly rich and different is sameness.”
Yes, and amen. And this from Rabbi Abraham Heschel, “Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.”

“God spoke today in flowers, and I, who was waiting on words, almost missed the conversation.” (Ingrid Goff-Maidoff)


“God spoke today in flowers, and I, who was waiting on words, almost missed the conversation.” (Ingrid Goff-Maidoff)
So, let’s pause shall we? And embrace the paradigm shift invitation.
Gabrielle Roth reminds us, In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
Meaning that at some point I inculcated myself with the notion that it wasn’t enough… to just dance, to sing, to be enchanted, to sit still, or to hear God in the flowers.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ve been asking the wrong questions.

Two wonderful reflections this week that are helping me ask the “right questions.”
The first one from Garrison Keillor yesterday, “The astonishment of mornings on the river last week. I spent my mornings last week at a little white house with a porch overlooking the Connecticut River, astonished by the early morning light, the devout silence except for the twittering of exhilarated birds, and the longer I sat there without opening my phone or laptop, I felt the prospects of the day getting better and better. This is the benefit of going to bed early. It causes concern among others — Is he sick? Was he offended? — but I rise at five and tiptoe downstairs and am dazed by wonder, which is a good thing for a man in the business of humoristicism. Comedy is about incongruity and dissonance and irony but morning light makes a person grateful for the natural world, for quiet and coffee and for the love and friendship of the slumberers upstairs.”

And this from Havelock Ellis (British doctor, psychologist and social reformer, written in 1918 ), “It is one of the first days of Spring, and I sit once more in the old garden where I hear no faintest echo of the obscene rumbling of London streets which are yet so little away. Here the only movement I am conscious of is that of the trees shooting forth their first sprays of bright green, and of the tulips expanding the radiant beauty of their flaming globes, and the only sound I hear is the blackbird’s song—the liquid softly gurgling notes that seem to well up spontaneously from an infinite joy, an infinite peace, at the heart of nature and bring a message not from some remote Heaven of the Sky or Future, but the Heaven that is Here, beneath our feet, even beneath the exquisite texture of our own skins, the joy, the peace, at the Heart of the Mystery which is Man. For man alone can hear the Revelation that lies in the blackbird’s song.”

Prayer for our week…
It’s a shiver that climbs the trellis
of the spine, each tingle a bright white
morning glory breaking into blossom
beneath the skin. It can happen anywhere,
anytime, even finding this sleeve of ice
worn by a branch all morning, now fallen
on a bed of snow. You can choose to pause,
pick it up, hold the cold thing in your hand
or not. Few tell us that wonder and awe
are decisions we make daily, hourly,
minute by minute in the tiny offices
of the heart—tilting the head to look up
at every tree turned into a chandelier
by light striking ice in just the right way.
James Crews

Photo… “Terry. Lone cypress at Pebble Beach, California.” Art Brucks… Thank you Art… And I’m so grateful for your photos, please send them to [email protected]

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