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Daily Dose (May 2 – 5)

Tuesday —

This week we are talking about finding rest for our soul.
And no, it is not easy in a world made for fidgety and restless bodies and minds… and hearts.
For me it is my garden. Where is it for you (garden, nature, art, quilting, writing, walking, pets, reading, cooking)? Where do you embrace the gift of wonder—seeing the ordinary as the hiding place for the holy?
Today, I found soul rest absorbing one of my favorite songs, Peter Mayer’s, Holy Now.

Here are the lyrics… Savor them…
And give it a listen— here is the audio.

When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now
When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don’t happen still
But now I can’t keep track
‘Cause everything’s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything’s a miracle
Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn’t one
When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now
Read a questioning child’s face
And say it’s not a testament
That’d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it’s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can’t be done
This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now
Peter Mayer

Wednesday —

“By means of a diversion we can avoid our own company 24 hours a day.” Pascal
Here is what I know: We live in a world where diversion is real. And easy. Coupled with a need for urgency. Somehow all predicated on our need to tidy up, fix, cope, or overcome. There is something about control, I suppose. Which makes me wonder, what kind of control am I after, and what does it feed? And why am I so afraid of any uncertainty, or unpredictable (translation: messy or incomplete) part of my world?
Because what if… What if, the sacred is alive and well even in those moments?
What if, the gift of enough (to nourish my soul) is alive and well in those moments?

At the Gardens and Grace Conference in Baltimore some years ago, the Cathedral of the Incarnation had a lovely (outdoor) blue slate courtyard, surrounded by shrubs and trees. The setting and marriage of deep green and slate blue (still wet from the evening rain) is calming. The patio is littered with yellow leaves dropped from the nearby trees. The leaves are scattered, random. And exquisite. The impression is playful and whimsical. It does my heart good.
And I hear a noise, all too familiar, as a custodian carries out his assignment of blowing the leaves off the patio. After ten minutes, the patio is “clean,” and ready for use.
So. When he finished, and there was no one else around, I picked up a few handfuls of leaves and scattered them, back on to the patio.
Still smiling at the memory. Later that evening we held a prayer service among the leaves on the patio. With the gift of enough, we’re invited to let go of urgency and diversion, to feed the rest and renewal and nourishment of our soul.
John Killinger once asked Sister Corita Kent, a nun known as a leader of worship, to help lead worship services. He received a postcard a few days later that simply said, “Dear, I am trying to be quiet. S. Corita.”
Why do we need permission to give up diversion and urgency, even for a day?
If you have a patio, scatter some leaves. If you have a pond, sit on a rock and sip your coffee. This is not an assignment. It is all about healing that place where urgency can be born.
Our Jewish brothers and sisters use a prayer beginning, Barukh Adonai, Blessing God, or seeing God in all things, in all places. It is a way of slowing down.
Or, wherever you are, just sit still. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Say the rosary.
Light a candle.
Carry a talisman (a stone or some object from a place) that reminds you of a sacred space.
Walk in a park and enjoy the spring air.

An old man is rocking on his porch, smoking his pipe.
Young people pass by, and ask, “Hey, old man, what are you doing?”
The man keeps rocking and smoking, and says, finally, “How soon do you boys need to know?”
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” Saint Francis de Sales

Thursday —

Just then there was strong wind.
It blew the list out of Toad’s hand. The list blew high into the air.
“Help!” cried Toad. “My list is blowing away. What will I do without my list?”
“Hurry!” said Frog. “We will run and catch it.”
“No!” shouted Toad, “I cannot do that.”
“Why not?” asked Frog.
“Because,” wailed Toad, “running after my list is not one of the things that I wrote on my list of things to do!”
(From Frog and Toad Together)

There have been days in my life when my mind has raced, fueled by my impending checklist. (You know, those times when you are certain that you are “behind”.) When that happens, I wake, steeling myself, ready to tackle whatever waits in the heap on my desk (or in my head).
(Confession: As a ‘P’ on the Myers-Briggs—translated, “deadline means time to get started,”—I give ‘Js’, the list makers, a hard time. But this is not just about list making. It’s about our cultural obsession that production be married to urgency. Like the company whose motto is “we only do rush orders.” So. Our adrenalin is wired to “get stuff done. Now.”)
All this came to mind yesterday when I told the story of scattering leaves on a Cathedral patio in Baltimore. The leaves are scattered, random. And exquisite. The impression is playful and whimsical, doing my heart good, and nourishing my soul. Why? Because it invited me to pause. To pay attention to this moment. To let go of “next” or “if only” and “when”. The sacrament of the present. Not to be checked off a list, but to be savored.
And I found an old picture (above) and my journal notes that day… This morning I step outside and stand on my patio. The air in my garden has an autumn fragrance, which carries a willing acquiescence. It is a visceral, a sense of slowing down, the garden readying itself for dormancy. I take a deep breath. My compulsion (or appetite) for urgency leaves me. And I am glad to be alive.
I drink my coffee sitting on a boulder at the edge of our pond. The lawn and garden are littered with debris from last night’s windstorm. I pick up some of the bigger branches and throw them in the compost heap. I fill the bird feeders, noting a couple of nuthatches on nearby fir trees waiting and a bit bothered. And I remember the Benedictine teaching, that work and play and prayer are all pieces of the same life.
My summer garden carries with it a persistent list (Time is short. So, complete this. Do that. Accomplish this. Take care of that.)
The list loses it urgency in autumn. This is a time to savor. The clumps of Pennisetum grass near our pond, now the color of mustard. Seed heads of the taller Miscanthus are bowed, literally deferential, as if in a posture of prayer. The maple leaves are now a soft scarlet. My worries float up into the autumn air.
A reporter interviewing a 104-year-old woman asked: “And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?”
She simply replied, “No peer pressure.”
She nailed that one.
And it reminded me that worry and urgency are the peer pressures of my world.
If none of this helps, you can always make a list. Item one on the list: Today, I want to lose the list.
“Trust in the slow work of God,” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Friday —

The rich industrialist from the North was horrified to find the southern fisherman lying lazily beside his boat, smoking a pipe.
“Why aren’t you out fishing?” asked the industrialist.
“Because I have caught enough fish for the day,” said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch some more?”
“What would I do with them?”
“You could earn more money, industrialist replied.  With that you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. Soon you would have enough money to own two boats – maybe even a fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich man like me.”
“What would I do then?” asked the fisherman.
“Then you could really enjoy life.”
“What do you think I am doing right now?”

The curse of the world has made for restless hearts, bodies, minds. Our hands fidget, we open and close our emails, we obsess over something we said yesterday.
Today, my prayers begin inviting the gift of a quiet spirit–which enables us to live in the present.  I loved this from Richard Le Gallienne
“I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand–
So what could I do but laugh and go?”

Where did you find rest for your soul this week?

Looking out at the snow covered Sierra-Nevada mountains, I write this in Gardnerville, NV, where I will spend a couple of days with the good people at St. Gall Church.
Enjoy your Cinco de Mayo…

Prayer for our week…
A Blessing
Blessed be the longing that brought you here and that quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to befriend your eternal longing.
May you enjoy the critical and creative companionship of the question “Who am I?” and may it brighten your longing.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and shelter your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the same sureness with which your body belongs to the world.
May the sense of something absent enlarge your life.
May your soul be as free as the ever-new waves of the sea.
May you succumb to the danger of growth.
May you live in the neighborhood of wonder.
May you belong to love with the wildness of Dance.
May you know that you are ever embraced in the kind circle of the holy.
John O’Donohue

Photo… “Hi Terry, Happiness is a California native Iris.” Juli-anne Davis (Palos Verdes, CA)

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