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Daily Dose (Mar 28 – 31)

Tuesday —

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thank you, Thornton Wilder.
Even still, we ask, “What does that look like?” Hoping for the map, or instructions, or list.
The persistent lure, you know, if we’re going to be conscious of our treasures, let’s make sure we get it right. (It’s not easy to let go of the notion that life and well-being is somehow a test, or a race, or a contest.)

There are times in writing Sabbath Moment when I’m derailed, and get worked up because I haven’t quite captured the theme. (Unable to check off all the numbers on the list…)
One time some years ago, at dinner I ask for input, “Any ideas about being so focused on our bucket list we miss the moment?”
“Pass the blackberry cobbler,” my son says. Well, at least I tried.
Later, Zach brings me the book The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy. “Here Dad, this might help.”
In the rewrite by John Muth, a boy named Nikolai thought that if he only knew the answers to three questions, he would never stray in any matter.
What is the best time to do each thing?
Who are the most important people to work with?
What is the most important thing (the right thing) to do at all times?
In Tolstoy’s version the emperor issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer these questions would receive a great reward. Many who read the decree made their way to the palace at once, each person with a different answer. The hermit stood up and looked at the emperor. “But your questions have already been answered.”
“How’s that?” the emperor asked, puzzled.
“Yesterday, if you had not taken pity on my age and given me a hand with digging these beds, you would have been attacked by that man on your way home. Then you would have deeply regretted not staying with me. Therefore the most important time was the time you were digging in the beds, the most important person was myself, and the most important pursuit was to help me. Later, when the wounded man ran up here, the most important time was the time you spent dressing his wound, for if you had not cared for him he would have died and you would have lost the chance to be reconciled with him. Likewise, he was the most important person, and the most important pursuit was taking care of his wound. Remember that there is only one important time and it is Now. The most important person is always the person with whom you are, who is right before you. The most important pursuit is making that person, the one standing at your side, happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.”
Only one important time, and it is Now… And I say, Amen.

Wednesday —

You can tell you’ve given yourself the permission to pause, to be here now, when the little things bring a big smile to your face and heart.
And I am grateful that someone passed on this story from Nate Kojun Hayes…
I was taking a break at work the other day when a stern-looking woman stopped near her car and watched me briefly before saying, “What are you doing?”
I looked up from the ground. “What does it look like I’m doing?”
She waited a moment, then said, “It looks like you’re picking up rocks from the ground, looking at them closely, discarding some, then keeping a few.”
I smiled and said, “Spot on! Don’t you ever pick up rocks you think are interesting and pretty?”
She said, ‘Well, yeah, I did that as a kid.”
I motioned for her to join me by the rocky slope. “Well, go ahead! It’s still just as fun as when you were little.”
She paused a moment, and I went back to my activity. Soon she began picking up stones, looking at them and then asking my opinion about the ones she liked. Soon we were showing off the ones we thought were pretty, agreeing on the rocks that needed to “try harder” and “be more interesting”, and giving each other stones that the other person liked.
Her smile faded slightly as she brushed off her blouse and stood up. “Well, have a good day.”
I said, “Thanks for playing with me for a little bit. This was fun!”
She looked briefly shocked and said, in a voice full of wonder, “Yes, it was fun to play a bit.”
She sat in her car for a moment, held up a rock in her hand, gazed at it, and then drove away.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thank you, Thornton Wilder.
And today, I spent a delightful afternoon with Sophia’s Circle (a study and support group of women who’ve been friends 40plus years–Poulsbo, WA) talking about mindfulness and embracing being glad to be here now. It was the perfect reminder that “those moments when our hearts are conscious” come alive, when we savor the opportunity to “play with one another”. Yes.
Because gratefully, no one of us is on this journey alone.

Thursday —

A man lost his keys.
On his hands and knees, he searched frantically.
Another man saw his predicament, and asked, “Can I help?”
“I lost my keys.”
“Where did you lose them?”
“Over there,” the man answered.
“Then why are you looking here?”
“Because the light is better over here.”

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” (Thornton Wilder)
Another way of saying that it can be easy to miss those moments if we are not conscious (looking, aware, present, seeing). It can happen for a number of reasons… expectations about where life is to be found, fretting, distraction.

I loved my garden on Vashon Island. But even there, sometimes we miss the treasures. It is a garden that took its time, which meant that for years, behind my house was a large hole. “It’s going to be a pond. You know, someday,” I would explain.
When people visited my garden, I directed traffic so that we enjoyed the charming areas, making sure that no one would notice the eyesore. On one visit, a young woman broke from the pack, and stood at the abyss… now, from years of neglect, a hole filled with dandelions. An amphitheater of dandelions. As if a five-gallon bucket of butter yellow paint were poured, creating a river to where the waterfall will begin, 140 feet away. I walked over to apologize for the “unfinished” garden.
But she stood, mesmerized. “What a remarkably creative idea, to make a river and pond of dandelions. I never would have thought of that. It’s peaceful and beautiful! Genius! What ever made you think of it?”
“Oh,” I said (modestly), “It just came to me.”
What I saw as blight or indictment or shortcoming or deficiency or scarcity, she saw as genius. She saw as treasure. Go figure.
And that is where spirituality and growth begins; with acceptance: “Look. I never noticed that before.”
In other words, I begin here. In this moment.

Speaking of noticing… this week a very cool and rare spectacle; five planets—Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Uranus and Mars—almost in a line with the moon. Look to the west when the sky is dark. (And this is wonderfully stupefying; Uranus is 1.8 billion miles away.)

Friday —

A good conversation today with my friend Charlie Hedges (for his podcast—Next Chapter with Charlie). Our subject? Awe.
Now we’re talking. And I mentioned one of my favorite quotes from Rabbi Abraham Heschel, “We teach children how to measure and how to weigh. We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe.”

This week I’ve been taking Thornton Wilder to heart, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
And taking to heart is about pausing—to see, pay attention, allowing awe to take root.
I recommend Lewis Hyde’s The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World. These encounters or connections (whether our art or our work) is called a gift because it cannot be treated as a commodity. Or hoarded. Or bought and traded. It can only be given, bestowed, offered and shared. It is always on the move, lightening the load of fellow travelers and open shutters and blinds that have been closed for too long.
…for sitting still,
…for listening,
…for giving and sharing,
…for making music,
…for savoring the moment,
…for wonder and awe,
…for laughing with friends.
Every religion has a story about a man who leaves his home looking for treasure, or the meaning of life (sorry, but it is true, most religious stories are about men; and they are always getting lost, so what does that tell you?). The man travels many miles and any months, only to return home discouraged, where he finds the treasure he frantically sought under the floorboards of his own house.
While there is a part of us that knows this to be true (that which we seek is inside of us, around us, near us now), we know it would wreak havoc with the advertising industry.
Rilke once wrote of how he learned to stand “more seeingly” in front of certain paintings. That’s what I want. To live this moment more “seeingly.”
So, here’s what I know: We simplify our lives not by theory or a 7-step-program for life management. We simplify when we follow the example of the old man on his back deck. His wife asked, “What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” he said.
“But that’s what you were doing yesterday,” she told him.
“I didn’t finish,” he answered.
Sitting allows us to See. It’s another way of saying that we are practicing the sacrament of the sacred present. 

Prayer for our week…
The Sacraments
I once spoke to my friend, an old squirrel, about the Sacraments–
he got so excited
and ran into a hollow in his tree and came
back holding some acorns, an owl feather,
and a ribbon he had found.
And I just smiled and said, “Yes, dear,
you understand:
everything imparts
His grace.”
St. Francis of Assisi
Translation by Daniel Ladinsky
Love Poems From God: Twelve Voices from the East and West

Photo… “Terry, Thank you for your work. It is valued beyond measure. This photo was taken from a boat ride along the St. John’s River in Florida. Here’s some info on the river–310 miles long. Mangroves are found all over Florida of course.” Carolyn O’Leary

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