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Daily Dose (Sept 5 – 8)

Tuesday —

This week we are taking Jimmy Buffett’s lyrics to heart…
“And there’s that one particular harbour
Sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within”

We need to remember and be embraced by the healing power in sanctuary.
Sanctuary is a dose of grace because its gifts—stillness, gladness, calm, mystery, delight, resilience and peacefulness—are bestowed. This is not easy or predictable, because when it comes to personal or spiritual growth, we spend our energy chasing and / or anticipating. (Like a four-year-old five minutes out of the driveway on any family trip, “Are we there yet?”)
Here’s the good news: we can’t orchestrate these gifts. Or procure them. Or magically make them appear through heroic will power. What we can do, is make space to receive them… one particular harbor…

“Well that’s too good to be true,” my mind swoops in, balance sheet in hand, to hijack the merriment, and rain on the parade of any celebration.
“Can I do anything?” I beseech (meaning “Can I do anything to deserve this?”) anyone listening in the heavens.
“Yes,” whispers a voice. “You can say thank you. You can receive the gifts. And you can live accordingly.”
My friend Jinks teaches me treasurable Hebrew words. Like the word Mashpia, derived from the word shepha, which means, “to overflow” or “to pour abundantly.” Literally a channel or conduit. (In Kabbalistic terminology, shepha refers one who channels Divine radiant energy.) And I think of the sanctuaries, particular harbors, in my life. And here’s the deal: if I let the grace of sanctuary take root, it spills from my life. I am a Mashpia.
I can tell you the weeks when I do not get my recommended dose of sanctuary—or in my case, garden time. And I can tell when I do; it’s a restorative, a dose of grace mainlined straight to the heart.

So. Let’s begin with a paradigm shift. We are wired to ask (and even to quiz ourselves), “What do you do?”
Or “What did you do (accomplish) today, or this week?”
What if we ask, “Today, where did you smile big? Where were you glad to be alive? Where did you take delight in moments of joy? Where was your heart and spirit replenished?”

Wednesday —

“And there’s that one particular harbour
Sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within”
Thank you, Jimmy Buffett.

And I can tell you where one of those harbors is (now in memory) for me.
In the latter years of her life, in the back yard of her home in northern Florida, my grandmother had a porch swing. She liked to sit, and swing, and hum old church hymns. “Rock of Ages, cleft for me…” I can still see her there, wearing a white scarf over her head, a concession to chemotherapy’s unrelenting march. When I visited her, as a young adult, she would always ask me to sit with her on the swing, for a spell. She would pat my leg and call me “darlin’.”
As long as my grandmother lived—and in spite of her pain—there was always a place for me on the swing. 
If I were asked to explain grace, I would paint the picture of my grandmother’s swing. There, I never had to deliberate or explain or worry regardless of the weight I carried. The swing—my grandmother’s presence—existed without conditions.
And I am here today, because of that swing.
A sanctuary is a dose of grace. A sanctuary is a place that restores us. Renews us. Nourishes us.
In this renewal, we are reminded, once again, of what is really important.
And what is really important, is that there is sufficiency: Grace is real. And we are enough.

What I loved about my grandmother is that this sanctuary grace spilled from her heart and life. Although Southern Baptist born and bred, she didn’t cotton to folks in her church who played the judgmental-eternal-damnation-card just to feel good about themselves, or for the sake of proving a point. She understood that in her church’s “theology,” there were many kinds of people “on the outside.” (Truth be told, in her church, “most” people were “on the outside.”) But my grandmother lived by an overriding imperative: “Anybody is welcome at my dinner table, no questions asked, no matter what.” Amen. Her dinner table (just like her porch swing)… “one particular harbor, and all are safe within.”

Thursday —

“And there’s that one particular harbour
Sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within”
Jimmy Buffett’s lilting reminder about places (and relationships) where sanctuary is alive and well. Places for replenishment and healing. Places where most deeply, we are present… embracing the sacrament of the present.
No, this is not easy at all, in a cacophonous world.
When the daughter of artist Howard Ikemoto turned seven years old, she asked her father, “What do you do at work?”
Ikemoto told her, “I work at a college, where my job is to teach people how to draw.”
She stared back at her father, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?”
Yes indeed, we do forget to find sanctuary. Pascal’s reminder, “By means of a diversion, we can avoid our own company 24 hours a day.”

And one of the gifts of being present is the permission to pay attention. Jim Harrison’s reminder, “Paying attention is the only game in town.” In other words, paying attention allows for a holy place to serve the soul.
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. There is a good deal of conjecture about who merits this streak of luck and why. Some people get all the moments of astonishment. Or perhaps, they’ve allowed themselves to see, and to hear, and to notice.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s reminder, “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment. Peace is all around us—in the world and in nature—and within us; in our bodies and our spirits.” 
I’ve always loved this from May Sarton (in Plant Dreaming Deep), she talks about spending the first half hour of the morning “enjoying the air and watching for miracles.”

Let’s just say, it changes the way we see, and go about our day. Let’s take this prayer in our day…
Dear God,
Our problem is not simply that we work too much,
the problem is that we are working for the wrong reward.
We are paid in the wrong currency.
Help us to expand our definition of wealth to include those things that grow only in time–time to walk in the park, time to take a nap, time to play with children. 
Time… to read a good book, to dance, to put our hands in the garden soil, to cook playful meals with friends, to paint, to sing, to meditate, to keep a journal without a need to edit, to savor and take delight. Amen.
(Adapted from Lynn Twist)

Friday —

“And there’s that one particular harbour
Sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within”
This week we’ve been grateful for those harbors, the places (and relationships) where sanctuary is real. (Thank you, Jimmy Buffett.)

For me, it is my garden. And this is important: the gift is knowing that sanctuary is not a test to pass, but a gift of grace, where we can be held “safe within”. In sanctuary, my spirit settles, my anxiety is ratcheted down, my heart smiles real big. I embrace the gift of now. And the gift of enough.
In the garden I love quoting Kurt Vonnegut, “I don’t know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment.'”

This week I was introduce to Melina Rudman’s writing about gardens in Sacred Soil. “Yesterday I stood barefoot in the warm grass, gazing upon a wall of blackberry blossoms while the sun massaged the knots from my back. It had been a week of worry in life, and I always carry concerns between my shoulders.
I decided to listen to the words of Jesus and not worry so much. I stood quietly and prayed with gratitude. I stood still for a long time and felt the weight drop from my back and the scales fall from my eyes.
The blackberries came alive. The sun’s rays warmed the air around the flowers, causing them to release their light, sweet scent. The pollinators responded by gathering in all their diversity: fat bumblebees, tiny green bees, hover flies, wasps, and moths, all moving busily from one white petaled flower to the next, slurping nectar and moving pollen that will result in hundreds of tart, juicy blackberries by the end of next month.
I was entranced. I moved closer and the insects made room for me, buzzing and tumbling in the air around my head. I was on holy ground. I was in the presence of God manifesting as bug and bloom, sun and shadow, human and hummingbird moth. We were all life living itself—plant, insect, and animal—different but not separate, all holy, all held in grace.
This state of grace is. Always. It isn’t here or there or limited to a certain day and time: It just is. Always. My attention to it is what waxes and wanes.
My friend Maiya gave me the gift of the phrase ‘stand in your grace.’ The great Sufi mystic and poet Rumi teaches that God gave Moses this instruction: ‘Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.’ That both Maiya and Rumi use the word stand is not lost on me. Standing implies a grounding, a being right where I am. That my mind is so often somewhere different than my feet is not lost on me either. It is my prayer that I might dwell, wholly and fully, in myself, in the grace of God.” Savor your sanctuary places my friends. Take time to be replenished and renewed.

Prayer for our week…
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry

Photo… “Dear Terry, I’m always grateful for the words you begin my day with. I wasn’t quite a Parrothead, but Jimmy Buffet certainly left impressions on my heart. We’re spending the week at Sunset Beach, NC, where the Sunset Beach Sand Artists left this beautiful memorial–a shelter in the sand! With love,” Mary Jo Clancy

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