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Daily Dose (May 28 – 31)


Storms upend days. And lives.
And most storms, in our life and world, are not even weather related, though the effect feels the same. Times when relationships unravel. Health deteriorates. Beliefs crumble. Hope evaporates.
And this much is undeniable: sometime in our life, every single one of us needs a storm-home. A place for sanctuary. A place for restoration. A place for healing.

Which bring me to one of my favorite stories—which I wish had been our go-to textbook for my seminary’s class on pastoral care.
“Today was a Difficult Day,” said Pooh.
There was a pause.
“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Piglet.
“No,” said Pooh after a bit. “No, I don’t think I do.”
“That’s okay,” said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.
“What are you doing?” asked Pooh.
“Nothing, really,” said Piglet. “Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don’t feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either…
“But goodness,” continued Piglet, “Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you’ve got someone there for you. And I’ll always be here for you, Pooh.”
And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs… he thought that his best friend had never been more right.”
(Thank you A.A. Milne)

Let us embrace this gift: The power of presence. Yes, the healing gift of “storm homes.”
Storms, mental and emotional, take a toll. And you never know when reaching out makes a difference. A kind gesture or word. A gentle tone. Or just, being there.
And I love Piglet’s skill set necessary for being a “storm home” (safe place) for someone having a “difficult day”: Sitting together, quietly, swinging your legs.
Gratefully, at some time, we come face to face with the reality that no one of us is on this human, or faith journey, alone. Life is fragile and therefore, we are connected.
This week we will remember that it is in our DNA to be, and to need, storm homes.
To offer storm homes to others.
To ask for a storm home when we struggle.

And our hearts go out to the communities where “tornado scars” decimated homes and took lives yesterday. And we hope for places where healing can begin.


Storms upend days. And lives.
“The inevitable vicissitudes of life, no matter how well gated our communities, will visit us all. Grief is a part of life, and if you explore its painful precincts, it will make you stronger.” (Thank you, Ken Burns, commencement speech at Brandeis University)
And this week, we remember that sometime in our life, every single one of us needs a storm-home. A place for sanctuary. A place for restoration. A place for healing.
Let’s just remember, that this isn’t a test to ace. It is an invitation to be present.

I love the story Chris Hedges writes about his father (Losing Moses on the Freeway). It does my heart good. And an affirmation that every one of us, whether we know it or not, has the capacity to be a storm home.
“But what struck me about him most,” Chris writes, “as I grew older, is that he did not have to embrace difference. Charming, good looking, endowed with an infectious sense of humor, it would have been easier to go along.  He could have simply been ‘nice.’  He could have avoided the confrontations that tore him apart.  But he understood the message of the gospel, although I suspect his actions were less intellectual than instinctual.  I asked him once when I was a teenager what he said to bereaved families when he went to the farmhouses after the funerals of loved ones.  Surely, I thought, even my father with his close proximity to disease and death and grief would have some wisdom to impart. ‘Mostly,’ he answered, ‘I make the coffee.’
It was his presence, more than anything he could say, which mattered.”
That’s it?
Yes, that’s it.
We do find a way to complicate things, no doubt about that—by turning whatever he did (or had, or offered) into a program on “presence.” You know, with a sure-fire title like “Discovering the Five Steps to Presence.” Or requiring “advanced presence certification.” Churches, to be sure, would oblige the formation of a “presence committee.”
But here’s the deal: presence is not a skill set. Presence is what spills from one who is unafraid to be at home in their own skin, even with a sore heart. Or at the very least, one who has given up the need to impress or jump hoops for laurels.
You see, presence does not distinguish.
Or judge.
Presence just is.
Or mostly… just makes the coffee.


Storms upend days. And lives. And this week, we remember that sometime in our life, every single one of us needs a storm-home. A place for sanctuary. A place for restoration. A place for healing.
But we don’t always believe it. Or we wonder if it is possible in the storms in our life and world.
I may not be able to persuade you, but I can tell you a story. Because sometimes we need stories more than food to stay alive. They remind us what really matters and allow us to see with our heart. Stories save us. Yes, stories can be storm homes…

And to my memory, a story from my time when I spent the year preaching to the sheep on Vashon Island.
On my walk this morning, I stop at the fence. My congregation, the sheep, are reclining contentedly in the grass. “Well,” their look asked me. “Do you have a story this week or not?”
“It’s an old story,” I tell them. “It’s about a lost sheep.” And that seemed to perk them up. (But then, we preachers always see what we want to see.)
“This shepherd had one hundred sheep. And one of them was lost.” I stood silent a little while, wondering if the story would make them uncomfortable. “And the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to go out and find the lost one. He brings him home.”
This was another hard week for me. The news, yes. And many conversations (phone and email) about our world (and our place in it), and how it is easy to feel, or to be, quite literally, lost. And lost is not just a GPS malfunction. Too many know what it means to be disconnected, discounted, diminished, demeaned. Lost.
In the story, the shepherd doesn’t blame the lost one. Or give advice. Or admonish. Because to the shepherd, that sheep is not just a number, but a face, a name and a story.
The shepherd knew that some stories are too heavy to carry alone. That every one of us at some time in our life will need the loving arms of justice, mercy and unmerited grace.
And here’s the deal: some days we are the one lost. And some days, we are the hands and feet of the shepherd.
Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
People: I will, with God’s help. (The baptismal covenant in the Episcopal Church.)
Because some stories are too heavy to carry alone.
My very good friend Ed Kilbourne wrote a song called Promised Land. I can’t carry a tune, so I read it to the sheep. They didn’t seem to mind.
“There’s a place they call the promised land where people live by grace
The leaders are their servants, the last ones win the race
And those who love are wealthy and those who hate are poor
And honor’s won by making peace, not by making war
And everyone’s invited when the kingdom feast is spread
They remember how they got there in the breaking of the bread
They pass a cup around the room to every tear stained face
And drink a toast to Jesus as they sing Amazing Grace.”
Some days we are the one lost.
And some days, we are the hands and feet of the shepherd.


I am so grateful for the people and places that have been storm home in my life.
Times when my world (and my emotional wellbeing) has felt upside down.
There’s always a part of me that wants answers. Or resolution. Or at least explanation. And when I mentally scamper off looking for the “enlightenment”, I miss the gift of sitting still, and the gift of grace, and gift of enough, in the presence of a friend.

It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.
“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.
“Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet,” said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.
“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”
Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”
Pooh looked at Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.
Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”
“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”
“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.”
And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better. Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less.
(This is not A.A. Milne. But a big thank you to blogger Kathryn Wallace, whose parodic versions channeling Winnie the Pooh are the perfect vehicle for remembering the gifts those characters give us in our often hassled and hurried world.)

As I was writing, the song in my mind, from The Highwaymen…
“You fathers and you mothers
Be good to one another
Please try to raise your children right
Don’t let the darkness take ’em
Don’t make ’em feel forsaken
Just lead ’em safely to the light
When this old world is blown asunder
And all the stars fall from the sky
Remember someone really loves you
We’ll live forever you and I”
(Lyrics Billy Joe Shaver, Eddy Shaver)

Prayer for our week…
Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Rabbi Harold Kushner 

Photo… “Many years ago my husband was working on the foundation of our garage and in the process this clematis got almost destroyed. But every year as the tiny shoots came up I tried to nurture them with a little extra care and propping. Steve planted a climbing rose there in case it never revived. But this year, hard to believe, it is covered with flowers and beautiful. A life lesson–sometimes things take a while to ‘bloom again!’
I so appreciate your blog. I have a friend who is feeling quite overwhelmed by life and I sent her the one from May 20th. I’m hoping it helps. Thank you.” Beth Hayward… Thank you Beth… And I’m so grateful for your photos, please send them to [email protected]

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