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Daily Dose (Nov 29 – Dec 2)

Tuesday —

This week the invitation and the permission to unplug.
Which for me means fessing up to the odd satisfaction I get from the rush. And yes, even the stress. And the mental gymnastics; if I stop, if I slow down and unplug, where will I find my meaning?
What if someone told me (and this is indeed the scandal of Grace) that everything I am ever going to “amount to”, I already am right now?
We’ve missed the point if we don’t see that unplugging and refueling is a laboratory for forgiveness, which begins with self-forgiveness. An invitation to befriend your scattered and wounded self.
Grace, it turns out, is WD40 for the soul.

What if unplugging is the permission to let go of the wrestling match (internal tussle) where even sitting still is a place to earn, or where we need to perform, or to prove it is something we deserve.
So much for the befriending gift of grace.

SM friend Michael Bader told me about going to hear Anne Lamott speak in Chicago. “She talked about love being at the heart of the matter. In answer to a woman’s question about how to help her 17-year-old daughter who was consumed by various body-dysmorphic social insecurities, Lamott said that we have to, instead, see and treat our kids, and each other, as ‘pre-approved.’ I loved that and it made me think, of course, of your words about the gift of enough.”
Smiling big… Pre-approved… the befriending gift of grace.
And this is important: Our unplugging is not for us to earn this grace, but to hear and be embraced by the gift of grace. 

And this from my friend Susan Sparks, “To me, grace is not necessarily a thing, but a place—a place of grounding and belonging where you feel special, like you are wrapped in an inordinately long, squishy hug, eating the filling out of a pie.
We all need to find that place. Every day we are bombarded by corrosive voices from the world outside and from inside our own hearts. We are assaulted by words that slowly tear us down, bend us over in shame, make us feel less than the beloved children of God that we are. We need to find that place called grace.” (From her book, “Miracle on 31st Street”)

I have two new words this week. Coddiwomple. To travel purposely toward an as-yet-unknown destination. Yes. And to do so with grace, dignity, mercy and love.
And Opelske. It means loving up, cultivate and encourage. “Loving your flowers, cherishing them into health and vigor purely through adoration.”
There are too many times when I’m unable to celebrate this gift.
On Amazon, I read the 1-star reviews, out of curiosity. This one made me laugh out loud. “The book was a gift, so I never looked at it.”

Wednesday —

When I think of unplugging, I hear my Grandmother’s voice inviting me to “sit a spell” with her on her porch swing. I loved that phrase… a spell. Her invitation was about making space without measurement.
That’s grace.
That’s why my time on my Grandmother’s swing allowed me to let go of the wrestling match (internal tussle) where even sitting still was a place to earn, or where I needed to perform, or to prove it was something I deserved (that tussle alive and well in my young clergyman spirit–and yes, a wee bit still today).

Today, when I need a reminder about the befriending gift of grace, I remember my Grandmother’s invitation. And I’m grateful for the paradigm reset, about how I weigh and measure time and connect it to my sense of value or worth.
It’s common in our world. Do you ever get this question, “Did you get anything done?” (As in, “Was your day of value?”)
As if sitting, swinging, humming old church hymns, listening to the birds, and breathing deep doesn’t count.
After retreats (you know, places where we unplug), people tell me it’s a common question they receive, “Was the retreat worth it?” Translation: “Did you waste your time?”
Let’s try this… I love John Muir’s reframe about hiking. “I don’t like either the word or the thing,” he wrote, “People ought to saunter in the mountains–not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so, they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
Oh yes, the permission to pause.
To stop. To savor. To receive. 

Thursday —

In my early clergy years, I was wound a wee bit tight, moving fast, making things happen. You know, working on that long list we carried; what we hoped—no, planned—to accomplish.
I lived in Southern California and my friend from seminary, Paul Ford, introduced me to St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, a Benedictine monastery and retreat center in the high desert.
It became my “go-to” place for renewal, where I would spend three days a month on retreat.
But, let’s just say, unplugging and renewal takes some rewiring.
On my first visit, I meet my spiritual director. At lunch we talked, and I told him I would be there for three days, on a “Sabbath Retreat”.
And then, outlined my plans. (You know, you can get a lot done in three days. I had sermons to write, editing on a book, and of course, books to read… I smile still remembering it all.)
We spoke again right after Vespers. And he asked, “How’s your Sabbath Retreat going?”
“I think I failed my Sabbath,” I told him.
He laughed and laughed. It’s what spiritual directors are good for, to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.
“How did you fail?” he asked.
And I told him that after lunch I went back to my room and laid down, for “just a minute”, and the next thing I knew, it was five p.m.
He laughed, and said, “I’m so glad you slept. You rested. You needed that. And while you slept you’ll be glad to know you were held in the arms of God’s love.”
My oh my.
We’ve missed the point if we don’t see that unplugging and refueling is a laboratory for forgiveness, which begins with self-forgiveness. An invitation to befriend your scattered and wounded self.
Grace, indeed, is WD40 for the soul.
And the permission to let go of the strange measurements we lug around for self-worth.
Bottom line: When I lose sight of who I am (or where I am grounded), I forget to be here now. The gift of enough in the sacrament of the present. As long as I’m preoccupied with apprehension of where I need to arrive, I’m unable to pause, or care, or give, or weep, or mourn, or savor. 

This morning we woke to four inches of fresh snow. A lovely landscape and a big deal here. No comparison to our friends in Buffalo, but then, they have more plows than we do.
And I’ve been watching the stories and pictures of this week’s first eruption in 38 years of Mauna Loa — the world’s largest active volcano — near Hilo, on Hawaii’s Big Island, watching lava flow down the mountain at about 1 mph.

Friday —

Think of unplugging (pausing, replenishing, taking a Sabbath rest) as an aerobic choice. In other words, a choice we make regardless of how well the previous “workout” went. There will be another aerobic workout. And that’s the point: This isn’t a contest or a race.
And when we give up our need to weigh and measure, we let the gift of rest and nourishment and gratitude settle into our heart and soul… and into our bones. The gift of enough. The gift to be here now.
This week has been about giving ourselves the permission to stop, to unplug, to “sit a spell”, and receive that gift of grace. 

Mark Twain was once asked, “Do you believe in child baptism?”
“Believe in it,” he responded. “Hell, I’ve seen it.”
I’ve lived so much of my life wired to get somewhere (achieve or succeed or attain), because I bought into the assumption that only when I get somewhere, will I be somebody.
Grace from unplugging, as WD 40 for the soul, as a reminder of sufficiency, even in a world of hurry, distraction and anxiety…
At one time I believed in it.
But now, gratefully, I have seen it. 

Savor your December my friends. Here’s a good prayer to take with you…
Loving God,
I sense that all is your creation
and everything, and all of us,
are being drawn back toward your loving heart.
Help me to be a person of peace,
To speak about it in an uneasy world,
And to live it among the people
you have put into my life every day.
Light in me a desire to prepare for your coming
to stand in the darkness, waiting, eager and filled with joy.
(Thank you

Prayer for our week…
Come Into The Quiet
As we enter into the quiet stillness of this present moment,
we awaken to everything around us,
without and within,
as if for the first time,
seeing with new eyes,
with an open heart,
resting in peace,
flowing with joy,
in the loving radiance
of our Beloved…
Seeing as if from our heart,
with eternal eyes.
Bob Holmes

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