In the perfume shop show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: Do You Suffer From Freckles?
“What does the sign say?” asks Pippi Longstocking. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.
“It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?'” said Annika.
“Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.”
She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. “No!” she said decidedly.
“What is it you want?” asked the lady.
“No,” said Pippi once more.
“I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.
“No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi. Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, “But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”
“I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.”
She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and said, “But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.”
(Pippi Goes on Board, Astrid Lindgren)
When Ellen Meloy’s younger brother painted Jesus’ face purple as a youngster in Sunday School, he learned three lessons quickly…
One, Jesus can never be purple.
Two, freckles, of any kind, are frowned upon.
And three, there are a few Sunday School teachers who may need more roughage in their diet.
So. Sometime, at a young age, we create filters that tell us how to pick and choose.
This is sacred, that is secular.
This is beautiful, that is ugly.
This is valuable, that is worthless.
This is meaningful or useful, that is wasteful or lavish.
This is spiritual, that is purple (and therefore definitely not spiritual).
We learn to find security (unbending though it may be) in compartmentalizing life. In an odd way, we rob ourselves (putting our mind through the paces, “Am I supposed to be savoring this?”). It operates like some kind of governor on our capacity to experience delight (to savor the sacrament of the present moment).
We, like Pippi, are invited to live in a split world.
Using a metaphor from the world of golf, we get too technical. We see our golf game (and the world) only through our “critic mind”.
Only focused on what is “correct,” we forget to “just swing.” And, in the words of Bagger Vance, we lose “the true authentic swing in all of us.”
When our identity (well-being and capacity) is connected to a label (do you have freckles?) we lose sight of the precious sacred life that is alive and well inside.
Unable to embrace what is.
Pippi understood this power of grace.
A blessed Easter to you all. Today’s Sabbath Moment a reminder that our identity and worth is bigger than any label.
The resurrection is bigger than any tomb.
I hope you hear that affirmation, and live today with resurrection eyes.
Because here’s the deal: That affirmation spills to those around us. Listen to John O’Donohue, “On this Easter morning, let us look again at the lives we have been so generously given and let us let fall away the useless baggage that we carry – old pains, old habits, old ways of seeing and feeling – and let us have the courage to begin again. Life is very short, and we are no sooner here than it is time to depart again, and we should use to the full the time that we still have. We don’t realize all the good we can do. A kind, encouraging word or helping hand can bring many a person through dark valleys in their lives. We weren’t put here to make money or to acquire status or reputation. We were sent here to search for the light of Easter in our hearts, and when we find it we are meant to give it away generously. The dawn that is rising this Easter morning is a gift to our hearts and we are meant to celebrate it and to carry away from this holy, ancient place the gifts of healing and light and the courage of a new beginning.”
Let’s not forget; when our objective is to eliminate the freckles, we also remove what is unique or original or passionate or zealous or sacred or questioning or inimitable or idiosyncratic or authentic or particular or unorthodox… or even heretical.
Pippi can be our teacher today. We need only the permission to see…
…Freckles can be beauty marks.
…Ordinary days and events and conversations, are containers of grace. What Huston Smith called “grace notes.”
…The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. (Robert Louis Stevenson)
My heart is still racing from last night’s sensation in the Gonzaga basketball game. Mercy. What is thrill ride. It you don’t follow March Madness College Basketball, no worries, but it’s worth watching the replay of the final basket.
I told the geese about it today. And speaking of freckles, I hear people say that all geese look alike. I’m learning that’s not quite accurate. Each Canada goose is recognized by their white cheek patch (called a chin strap). But I’m learning that it is slightly different on each goose. So, I’m getting to know the couple that have claimed the pond in front of our home. We’ve named them Irv and Dottie. And we’re waiting to see if there’s a nest on the horizon.
Quote for your week…
If we have learned anything this past year, it’s that our lives are precious. I hope you can wake up and feel alive on this day. I hope you feel your breath. I hope you feel the beat of your heart. I hope you feel your worth. You are not here to numbly walk through your life. You are not here to feel unworthy, unloved, or unseen. So, just for a moment today, close your eyes. Imagine yourself rising up in your life. What does that look like? Imagine how you want to feel, not just today but every day. Hold that feeling and believe that it’s yours. Every day of your life belongs to you. That’s your birthright. It’s your life. Aren’t we so lucky to be alive? Maria Shriver
Note: One year ago, I began writing Sabbath Moment Daily Dose. In part because my life was changing, with no travel and events cancelled. In part because I was looking for ways to navigate a new world. And in part because I knew that most of us are eager to find places where our souls and spirits can be nourished and refueled. I’m grateful for those who have joined us– Sabbath Moment Daily Dose. Tuesday through Friday. A quote, a paragraph and a prayer to refuel us. Daily nourishment. This is in addition to Monday’s Sabbath Moment.
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In the mailbag…
–Terry, Thank you for helping me get off the train of “to do”. Here’s the deal: I look to Monday. Your message this last year has helped me regain the idea of enough and has made me very grateful for what is. Blessings to you. Gail
–I often “hear” her voice as I remember hearing you sharing this time at RE Congress. When I do, I look around me and am humbled by the beauty of God’s world around me—be it be a daffodil or flowering tree or snowfall or small child playing in the new playground down the street. Thanks! Brian
POEMS AND PRAYERS
We Shake with Joy
We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
Praise What Comes
Surprising as unplanned kisses, all you haven’t deserved
of days and solitude, your body’s immoderate good health
that lets you work in many kinds of weather. Praise
talk with just about anyone. And quiet intervals, books
that are your food and your hunger; nightfall and walks
before sleep. Praising these for practice, perhaps
you will come at last to praise grief and the wrongs
you never intended. At the end there may be no answers
and only a few very simple questions: did I love,
finish my task in the world? Learn at least one
of the many names of God? At the intersections,
the boundaries where one life began and another
ended, the jumping-off places between fear and
possibility, at the ragged edges of pain,
did I catch the smallest glimpse of the holy?