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Daily Dose (Nov 21 – 24)

Tuesday —

In one encounter with a teacher in India, Donald Hall asks him to define “contentment.”
“Absorbedness,” the teacher replies.
Now, I can’t find absorbedness in any dictionary. But here’s my best guess: “Let life in.”
Let life in… in the wonder.
Let life in… in the complications and the disagreeable.
Let life in… in the unfeigned moments.
Let life in… in the suffering.
Here gratitude is born. And joy gives our heart a hug.

“Today, we have practiced loving life. We have practiced living our lives the way God created us to live, intentionally breathing each breath as if it were our most precious. We have practiced living the life that we have been given in the fullest way possible, aware of the Presence of God in each moment.
Today, we have been nourished with an awareness or our own life. We have felt happiness and sadness, jubilation and despair, realization and wonder, and with each thought, God has made us more alive. Today God has showered us with grace and we have again been recreated into who God intends us to be.
Let us now, celebrate the sacrament of the Blessed Present.
Let us now intentionally dance to the music that God plays just for us, hearing each note and feeling each beat in rhythm with our lives.
Let us dance, sometimes waltzing, sometimes two-stepping, sometimes feeling a little rumba in the beat; sometimes jitterbugging, sometimes salsa dancing, sometimes fox-trotting; and sometimes resting our bodies long enough for our souls to once again feel the beat.
Let us each day intentionally listen for the chords of music in our own lives and know the music by heart… and let us always dance with the Blessed Present. Amen.”
(Thank you, St. Paul’s UMC, Houston, TX)

And today, remembering Rosalynn Carter. She was considered a “full partner” with her husband in all activities of The Carter Center, which they founded in 1982 with the mission to “prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.”
To end the stigma attached to mental health. The healing power of removing labels… amen.
The longest-married American presidential couple tied the knot in 1946 in their small hometown of Plains after knowing each other almost their whole lives.
Jimmy Carter’s mother, who was a nurse, helped deliver baby Rosalynn.
The couple returned to Plains after leaving the White House and remained based there ever since — in the same house they built in 1961.
Asked once how she would like to be remembered, Rosalynn Carter said: “I would like for people to think that I took advantage of the opportunities I had and did the best I could.”
A grace that touched everyone she met.

Wednesday —

This week, we’re practicing “Absorbedness.”
Yes, the invitation and permission to “Let life in.”
Let life in… in the wonder.
Let life in… in the complications and the disagreeable.
Let life in… in the unfeigned moments.
Let life in… yes, even in the suffering.

You see, here’s the power… fully alive, absorbedness, is a gift even when there is darkness, or confusion, or gloom.
When I lived on Vashon Island, some years ago, outside Engel’s gas station, a portable marquee with ill-spaced black letters read, “Elderly man is safe  Listen to 1650 am.”
The entire island knew its significance. A week prior, islander Andy Jovanovich thought it strange when he saw an elderly man in red pajamas walking in a heavy rain late at night, but thought, “This is Vashon. People do a lot of weird stuff.”
In the days that followed, our island was gripped by the drama of Jack Randles, an 83-year-old Vashon resident with Alzheimer’s disease who walked away from the home he shares with his son and vanished—for nearly three full days—until he turned up in a million dollar waterfront home two miles away, asleep in one of the beds.
A former Marine, Randles spent the last quarter of his working life at Boeing, moving to the island to help his son Marty build a home. An avid walker for the years he lived on the island, Randles could be seen savoring the day along one of Vashon’s back roads.
Ironically, Marty was gearing up to help his father with the next difficult transition—moving into a full-time specialized care unit—when he disappeared. Marty, a Metro bus driver, couldn’t help but wonder if his father’s remarkable journey was the last hurrah of a man who had lived life fully. “I’m sure he sensed it,” Marty said.
Randles’ disappearance triggered a valiant search effort, with dozens of islanders forming search parties.
That he survived made Jovanovich feel nothing but awe for the elderly man.
“What a resilient guy,” he said. “He may have Alzheimer’s. But he knows he wants to live.”

Or, in Joseph Campbell’s words, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive… of the rapture of being alive.”

For those traveling for Thanksgiving, I recommend you pack some patience. Airports hectic, and weather predictions a bit dicey. Stay safe my friends. And savor the moments.

Thursday —

A blessed Thanksgiving to all.
Our Thanksgiving Prayer from Diana Butler Bass.

“God, there are many days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we feel alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world or with our neighbors. When the news is bleak and confusing. When there are threats, injustice, violence, and war.
We struggle to feel grateful.
But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude.
We choose to accept life as a gift from you, and as a gift from the unfolding work of all creation.
We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.
We choose to thank our ancestors, those who came before us, for their stories and struggles; we receive their wisdom as a continuing gift for today.
We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, accepting them for who they are. We are thankful for our homes, whether humble or grand.
We choose to appreciate and care for our neighbors whatever our differences or how much we feel hurt or misunderstood by them.
We choose to see the world as our shared commons, our home now and the legacy we will leave to the generations to come.
God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it.
We will make this choice of thanks with courageous hearts, knowing that it is humbling to say “thank you.” We choose to open ourselves to your sacred generosity, aware that we live in an unending circle of gratitude. We all are guests at your hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received.
We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we embrace grace, unconditional love, the giftedness of life everywhere. In this choosing, and in the making of this meal, we will pass gratitude onto the world.
Thus, with you, with all those gathered at this table, and with those at tables far distant, we pledge to make thanks. We ask you to strengthen us in this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around our family table. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.
We choose thanks.
Diana Butler Bass
Adapted from “Grateful” (2023 version)

Friday —

A man dies.  An angel is escorting him around.  (There is, apparently, an “angelic hospitality committee” on the other side.)  The angel takes them to places where the scenery renders the man speechless.
“I had no idea,” the man says.
Emerald green valleys, rushing rivers cascading over boulders the size of VW buses, sunlight dancing along the landscape, shapes and forms created from the shading in hillside folds playing itself out as a compelling stage show.  An endless palette of blues, in the sky and in the sea. The man tastes the invigoration of the bracing air, and drinks in majestic vistas, imposing mountain peaks and dramatic sunsets, and fills his lungs with the salt and earthiness of the verdant forest floors.
“I am ecstatic!” he tells his host.  “So… this… is… Heaven?”
“No,” the angel replies.  “I just wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to see all the things you missed while you lived on earth.”

Granted this is an easier story to appreciate if you had the opportunity to catch sight of our recent Harvest moon.
It seems redundant, but who does not see beauty, or the sacred, or God, in moments of splendor or grandeur?  (Then again, I suppose, at one time or another, most of us do not.)
Pause. Savor the moment. Notice. And yes, point, and say, “Looook.”
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is Thank You that will be enough.” Meister Eckhart

I am grateful for smiles.
And laughter.
And kindness.
For empathy, tenderness and soft hearts.
I am grateful for arms, to hug and to be held.
For people who don’t give up.
People who lift up those who need a hand.
I believe in second chances.
And I am grateful for the healing power of grace.
For tiny delights that make me smile real big.
For enchantments that take me by surprise.
That the ordinary is the hiding place for the holy.
For books, and really dark coffee.
And French wine.
For flowers and bouquets.
For gardens and trees, and pathways and parks and vistas
on this wonderful globe we call home.
And the color blue.
Ahh yes… for Thanksgiving leftovers… especially pumpkin pie.

Prayer for our week…
For the expanding grandeur of creation, worlds known and unknown, galaxies beyond galaxies, filling us with awe and challenging our imaginations:
We give thanks this day.
For this fragile planet earth, its times and tides, its sunsets and seasons:
We give thanks this day.
For the joy of human life, its wonders and surprises, its hopes and achievements:
We give thanks this day.
For our human community, our common past and future hope, our oneness transcending all separation, our capacity to work for peace and justice in the midst of hostility and oppression:
We give thanks this day.
For high hopes and noble causes, for faith without fanaticism, for understanding of views not shared:
We give thanks this day.
For all who have labored and suffered for a fairer world, who have lived so that others might live in dignity and freedom:
We give thanks this day.
For human liberty and sacred rites; for opportunities to change and grow, to affirm and choose:
We give thanks this day.
We pray that we may live not by our fears but by our hopes, not by our words but by our deeds.
We give thanks this day.
O. Eugene Pickett

Photo… “My brother is loaning me his camera for an upcoming trip, and we took a walk to practice using it. This is an American Lady butterfly on a Groundsei tree. I learned that nature’s beauty is constantly calling me to take notice!” Nanette de Andrade (Durham, NC)… Thank you Nanette… And I’m so grateful for your photos, please send them to [email protected]

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