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Daily Dose (Sept 19 – 22)

Tuesday —

This week, we are invited to absorb daily miracles. The permission to honor listening, or attention (seeing) without judgment. And I love this: when we pay attention (“Wow. Did you see that?”), we create a fabric in our soul which absorbs the gifts of exquisite and diminutive daily miracles.
This all begins not so much as a principle (or task or assignment), but a paradigm shift. In other words, it’s not about what we believe, but where we look. And what we’re looking for (what we see, or hear, or touch). Plato’s reminder, “What is honored will be cultivated.”

However, we do live in a world that likes to keep score, so it is no surprise that we easily miss daily and little miracles, because bigger is always “better”. But here’s the deal: As long as life (living wholehearted and fully alive) is measured by keeping score, we lose track of most everything that makes us human and soft and vulnerable, and blessedly awe-struck… and therefore, glad to be alive…
Reveling in the gifts of the senses, and being present.
Resting in a moment of gratitude; say, an English Rose bloom that makes you weak in the knees (or the beauty and fragrance of a Sweet Pea blossom, photo above).
Savoring the sacrament of the present moment, watching clouds dance across a severe blue sky.

And this I know: when we live in the present, we can rest in gratitude and the gift of enough, and we can see the connectedness… with the earth, and all the critters and trees and plants… and all our brothers and sisters who inhabit it. Yes. We are on this journey together.
So. Gratefully, seeing small daily miracles spills… into small gestures of kindness (smiles, touch, hug, helping hand).
Into sharing laughter, camaraderie, dancing (baltering) or joy (or all of the above).
Into acts of inclusion or community to someone left out, or someone on the fringes.
And into extending a hand of healing or acceptance to someone who hurts.

Wednesday —

This week, we are invited to absorb daily miracles. And being fully alive is a sensual fiesta. Being alive in this world—squarely in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this day. Irenaeus got it right a long time ago. “The Glory of God is man (or woman) fully alive.”

Let us pause. And take this to heart: simple pleasures are the source of joy, because they ground us. They connect us to our humanity, they connect us to the earth, to our senses. To the sacrament of the present moment. And, because simple pleasures are extremely sensual. On a spiritual plane, humans are fully alive when we’re most in touch with our senses. The ordinary is indeed the hiding place for the holy. (And thank you St. Francis, who encountered God in all things.)

So, yes… Brother sun and sister moon, listening to the dawn, planting a flower, hugs from a child, the fragrance of a new sweet pea bloom, belly laughter, a phone call from a friend, a glass of Bordeaux after a long day, the comforting sound of bird song (Nightingale and Hermit Thrush), the rich smell of the earth after a spring-rain, tears during a good movie, the consoling purr of a docile cat and filtered sunlight through the morning bedroom window. Oh, and memories of childhood, bacon frying, lilacs in May, Sunday pot roast, and the aroma from my grandfather’s pipe… (Or, emailing this Sabbath Moment to a friend… how subtle is that?)
Okay. How do we re-train our own eye (or mind) to appreciate simple pleasures? Is there a spiritual practice that we can incorporate into our lives, that opens our eyes to the abundant simple pleasures that surround us? (Granted, it would be easier with a book, Simple Pleasures for Dummies.) Answer this: Can you tell me a simple pleasure (daily miracle) that happened, that you enjoyed, in the past day?
Rediscovering wonder takes root in the soil of the simple sentence, “I never noticed that before.” I am welcoming, inviting life in, not allowing internal censors and judges to scrutinize, making certain that this moment passes muster. In moments of amazement, we render our internal scorekeeper mute.
In other words, it wouldn’t hurt to change the way we talk. We ask, of each other, daily, “What do you do?” Or, “What did you do?” Why not ask, “What delighted you today? What made your heart glad? Today, where did you see God incognito?”
This we know for certain. There is a connection between daily miracles and gratitude. Meister Eckhart says that if you only learn one prayer in your whole life, learn this one: “Thank you.”

And this week, let us learn the Jewish practice called Shehechiyanu: saying a blessing for new and special experiences. “Thank you God, for allowing me to reach this time.”
What does it matter? Because being glad to be alive (and yes, even in the midst, of turmoil and noise, or grief, or broken dreams,), allows us to spill light to a world hungry for grace. 

Thursday —

This week, we are invited to absorb daily miracles. The permission to honor listening, or attention (seeing) without judgment. And I love this: when we pay attention (“Wow. Did you see that?”), we create a fabric in our soul which absorbs the gifts of exquisite and diminutive daily miracles.
Absorbing daily miracles takes root in the soil of the simple sentence, “I never noticed that before.” I am welcoming, inviting life in, not allowing internal censors and judges to scrutinize, making certain that this moment passes muster. In moments of amazement, we render our internal scorekeeper mute. 

I love the way Jesus taught. He told stories (parables). Stories that were sparked by, and connected to, the present moment. In other words, where he (and his listeners) stood.
In my imagination, I see Jesus with a group (small or large) of people. And he pauses, and says, “Did you notice that?”
And he points to whatever was nearby, and the story spills…
“Did you notice that?” The lilies, the sparrows, and the hairs on their head.
“Did you notice that?” A fig tree, a mustard tree, yeast, salt, a vineyard, a well, a camel, a candle, a fishing net, and yes, even money. Things from ordinary and everyday life, that hold (and hide) the sacred.
Yes, it is here and now, all around us, in the most ordinary things, that we find the Kingdom (which Jesus reminded us, “is here”), and that we are in the divine presence.
He obviously wanted us to look closely at this world, not some other one.
GK Chesterton’s reminder, “At the back of our brains, so to speak, there is a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life is to dig for this sunrise of wonder.”

So. Let us remember: our well-being, emotional and spiritual, is more than an achievement, a contest or a beauty pageant. (Referring back to the stories Jesus told, they were not cerebral lectures to teach the correct answer… but the permission to absorb the sacrament of the present moment.)
For me, I put my money on Mary Howitt’s observation. “He (or she) is happiest who hath power to gather wisdom from a flower.” (You should see the new buds on our rose bush today. Roses for Autumn. Just saying’.)
Savor simple pleasures. What Rudolph Otto referred to as, “Mysterium Tremendum.” Translated, it means “the bare mystery of simply being.”
I hope you absorbed and savored a daily miracle today. Or paused to say, to no one in particular, “Did you notice that?”

Friday —

This week, we are invited to absorb daily miracles. And the garden is my teacher here. In designing gardens, budget discussions are never stress-free. “What is your flower budget?” I ask.
They tell me.
“You’ll need to double it on dirt,” I tell them.
“Excuse me?”
That wasn’t in the cards.
“Tell me how this will give me a great garden.”
Well, here’s the deal: The dirt matters. In fact, the dirt makes all the difference.
That’s my answer to the question about absorbing daily miracles—where we welcome and inviting life in, not allowing internal censors and judges to scrutinize.
You see daily miracles grow in the soil (the dirt) of gratitude that has been swaddled in grace. Glad to be alive, to see God incognito in the everyday stuff of life.

This is a good reminder, as yesterday was World Gratitude Day.
So. Cerebrally I can have the “correct” flowers (beliefs), but without the right soil (dirt), there is no medicinal nutrient that cultivates and encourages mindfulness, humility, compassion and generosity.
Brother David Steindl-Rast’s affirmation, “When you are grateful, you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share.”

And this week from Diana Butler Bass, “Gratitude is resilience of sorts, the defiance of kindness in the face of anger, of connection in the face of division, and of hope in the face of fear… Gratitude empowers us. It makes joy and love possible. It rearranges the way we see and experience what is all around us. Gratitude makes all things new. It transforms how we understand what is broken and gives us the ability to act more joyfully and with hope. That is why gratitude is central to all the world’s religions. As a practice, it embodies the wisdom of humanity’s greatest spiritual teachers: the love of neighbor. Gratitude takes us from abstract belief to living compassion in the world. Gratitude is strongest, clearest, most robust, and radical when things are really hard. Really hard. All-is-lost hard.”

Happy Autumn to all. The Autumn Equinox, just before midnight in our neck of the wood, tonight at 11:50 PM. And speaking of daily miracles, Albert Camus’ reminder, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Prayer for our week…
Making Our Souls Great
To pray is to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings,
the divine margin in all attainments.
Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.
It is all we can offer in return.
Who is worthy to be present at the constant unfolding of time?
Here we are admist the meditation of the land, the songs of the water, the humility of the flowers,
flowers wiser than all alphabets –
Suddenly we feel embarrassed,
ashamed of our complaints and clashes in the face of tacit glory.
How strange we are in the world!
Only one response can maintain us:
gratefulness for the gift of our unearned chance to serve, to wonder, to love life and each other.
It is gratefulness which makes our small souls great.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Photo… Speaking of daily miracles, outside our front door, this sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus (a flowering plant in the genus Lathyrus in the family Fabaceae, native to Sicily, southern Italy and the Aegean Islands). I just call it, “makes me smile real big” plan… And I’m so grateful for your photos, please send them to [email protected]


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