Standing in line at our local bank, a friend asks, “Do you have any new books or CDs available?”
A teller overhears and says, “You sell CDs? I didn’t know you sang.”
“I don’t,” I tell her, “it frightens young children.”
“Then what’s on your CDs?” she asks.
“They are talks,” I say, “Workshops.”
“What kind of material?”
“Motivational,” I answer.
“Oh,” she sounds surprised. “You never look motivated to me.”
Maybe I come across better on audio. Who knew?
I leave the bank laughing, and humbled in that good sort of way, wondering about what I need to alter for an appropriate demeanor. Or whether I wear my discontent and disquiet a little too conspicuously. Have I resorted to a sort of numbness?
Besides, what do motivated (invested, involved, difference-making) people look like?
Do I go for Jo (or Meg or Beth or Amy) in Little Women? Or, go Jedi with Luke in The Rise of Skywalker?
It’s a real question. In On Being this week, Krista Tippett takes on a listener’s question, “How can we be present to what’s happening in the world without giving in to despair and hopelessness?”
How can I be present (or, motivated)? What does it mean to be at home in my own skin? Sadly, we find plenty of ways to reinforce the restrictive narrative, that we are not enough.
So, let’s begin here. It’s not advice (or resolutions) we need, but permission. Permission to honor (to “weigh heavy”) our real self.
“Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always,” the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit.
Here’s the deal: the gift of this self (this beautiful and broken self) is sufficient. And the gift (of being real) spills to those around us.
Yesterday, this story from On Being, “Singer-songwriter Joe Henry says that as he’s grown older, he’s gained the ability to see himself as complete. ‘When you’re young, you’re invited to believe that you couldn’t have done anything significant enough to own an identity, a point of view,’ he observes. ‘And then you get to a point when you’re like, ‘Well, I think I’m basically who I am now.’ There’s a liberation that comes with getting to a point where you think, ‘I’m not waiting for that next great shoe to drop. Both the shoes may be laying here.’”
I love the metaphor. This life we are waiting for, it is already here. We start with this self (not our resolution or aspiration self); to give, care, try, love, hope, endeavor, fall down and get up again. To show up every day.
Accepting and owning the worth and value of this self is no longer about stereotypes, or the need to fit in, or shame about regret.
There is relief and freedom knowing that the music matches the words.
The irony is this; freedom to change and learn and stretch, grows in the soil of that affirmation. Why is this so easy to forget?
When I start with the narrative that this Terry is not enough (not motivated or striving), it’s no surprise that I worry about appearance or image. Or, play a victim.
Not enough, we run from those places that are uncomfortable or awkward (scolding ourselves for what we “should” be). We run from times of unraveling, or those times when we are clearly NOT motivated.
Not enough, we live in a perpetual state of tinkering (stuck in the world of “someday and if-only”), never at home in our own skin. So, despair may not be far away. One friend told me this week, “Where I am right now in my life, is not fun. I think I could just die, and it would be okay.”
I’ve written in past Sabbath Moments, I understand and I know those thoughts; when I believe I have no options, or am too tired to figure it out, or the weight of life seems too heavy.
We may see it coming (this weight), or it may take us by surprise (kind of a tsunami). But whether the knife falls on the melon, or the melon falls on the knife, it’s still the melon that suffers. Not unlike our heart.
In the story of Theseus and the Minotaur (tale from ancient Greece), after Theseus has slain the beast in the center of the underground labyrinth, he guides himself back to the surface by a length of thread given him by Ariadne, the king’s daughter, retracing his steps through the dark maze of tunnels.
So. Where is that thread for you?
Where are those sanctuaries (people or places) that help us remember who we are (that we are enough) and those parts of us that have not yet gone to sleep?
Where (and how) do we give ourselves the permission to hang on to that thread, and embrace the present?
Peggy Wallace Kennedy (daughter of George Wallace), grew up in a time and place with swirling narratives pronouncing “enough” as the property of the few. This week I read her new book, The Broken Road. It’s what she called the place where her grandfather lived. Although it looked like an abandoned roadbed, it was a “thread” or sanctuary in her life. And I love her description of that thread. “It was like a signpost of a first glance of happiness point to the way home, where moments of acceptance and love were always waiting… a life where contentment exists, with no secrets to keep or share, because there are none. No signposts needed, just look for the broken road. No longer a road to ride on, just there to point the way. When we passed through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to cross the bridge over the Back Warrior River, Mama always said, ‘Now you look for the broken road’… The lesson of the broken road is one of coming to terms with the past, not for the sake of forgetting or forgiving, but rather for truth.”
A treat this week, a first, a cake in the mail. Epiphany or King’s Cake from New Orleans SM friend Charlie. Mercy, it’s good. (And, the cake is replete with a little baby Jesus.)
Speaking of motivated, I tip my hat to the Green Bay Packers. End of the road for my Seahawks.
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In the mailbag… because your letters affirm us all…
–Dear Terry, Thank you for the graces you bring into our lives every Monday. Your thoughts, challenges and spirit help me start out each week. Blessings, Rosemary
–Bless you, Terry, for always being there for us for so many, many years. No matter what is going on, Monday with Terry is a blessing! All of the great Terry Hershey stories, along with the always inspiring poetry, prayers, photos, and music. There is never a Sabbath Moment that I don’t come away with something good and blessed to stick in my heart pocket, helping to fortify myself. These are difficult times for our planet and for each other in so many ways. Thank you for hangin’ in with us! Godspeed always, Sky Ann
–Sabbath Moment is a moment of quiet each Monday morning. Kathy
–Good afternoon. It’s a two day delivery so the king cake should be fresh. If it’s a little dry, pop in the microwave for about 10 seconds and that will do the trick. Also included is a little lagniappe. We don’t ever send something from New Orleans without lagniappe. It would downright unacceptable. Let me know if your taste buds were satisfied 🙂 Enjoy. Charlie
–Dear Terry, Thank you for your insights each Monday. They give me food for thought and I share with friends. It is so interesting how we all may have a different take on what we read. Your sister in Christ. Vera
–Have now watched “Two Popes” three times. At this stage of life, I can do that without sacrificing time for another more pressing reason that was my clergy life. The excellent actors enhanced a dialogical pearl. So very different yet connected by a common ancient faith. And an eventual love, knowing the other’s darkest places. Bless, Judy
–Dear brother, Terry, Thank you for this beautiful reflection, and for your wonderful gift of inspiration and joy. I take to heart “and soul” your words… all that you so abundantly share from the place of your wisdom. May the blessings that you give to others, return unto the place of their origin (your heart and soul); and refill you with gratitude and kindness. And yes, so much excitement with the Seahawks win! Larry
–Thank you for your years of telling stories. I appreciate every one. Melinda
–Thank you, once again, for this “moment”! And thanks, also, for keeping Christmas alive. In my home now (like when I was a child), the tree will be up all this week, as my sister always claimed that the Kings did not leave until January 13th. (I suspect we did it because the 13th was my father’s birthday and he loved the Christmas decorations and lighted tree!) Happy New Year! Christine
POEMS AND PRAYERS
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy
For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
Do not worry if our harp breaks
thousands more will appear.
We have fallen in the arms of love where all is music.
If all the harps in the world were burned down,
still inside the heart
there will be hidden music playing.
Do not worry if all the candles in the world flicker and die
we have the spark that starts the fire.
The songs we sing
are like foam on the surface of the sea of being
while the precious gems lie deep beneath.
But the tenderness in our songs
is a reflection of what is hidden in the depths.
Stop the flow of your words,
open the window of your heart and
let the spirit speak.
(translation Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi)
My Prayer For You
When you’re lonely I pray for you to feel love.
When you’re down I pray for you to feel joy.
When you’re troubled I pray for you to feel peace.
When things are complicated I pray for you to see simple beauty in all things.
When things are chaotic I pray for you to find inner silence.
When things look empty I pray for you to know hope.