For this moment, it is enough

Last week I danced with Manatees. Lord have mercy, it was good.
I was in Manasota Key, Florida, my annual gathering with my friends of 35 years.
Manatees are unafraid of humans and are curious. They are gentle, docile and friendly. So, they swim around you, and under your feet, lifting you up, as if to welcome you into their world. I know that in that moment, as my laughter echoes in the mangrove trees, I am fully awake, fully alive, my senses grounded to this sacrament of the present. And this clarity (and gift) goes with me into my day.
​​​​​​​Except that there are too many days, when I miss the gift. 

I watched Fearless, Jet Li’s movie based on the true story of Huo Juanjia (1878 – 1910), the son of a great fighter (and teacher of Chinese martial arts) who refuses to teach Huo to fight.  But Huo learns on his own; and wins. With each win, the taste of victory and pride co-mingle.  He grows up fueled by an unquenchable anger, without any awareness why. Only that his solution to appease this compulsion is to continue to fight fueled by an eagerness to annihilate his opponents.
​​​​​​​His closest friend Nong Jinsun asks him, “When is enough? How many people do you need to defeat?”  

Voracious isn’t it? Can we ever truly get enough of what we don’t need? (Doesn’t take much to know it to be true, thinking of the dopamine of our day, our obsession with securing likes for FB.)
​​​​​​​A hunger for acknowledgment and a wounded pride make a lethal combination. After Huo kills a rival (completely out of revenge, and with no remorse) over what turns out to be a false accusation, Huo’s life unravels. A disciple of this rival takes his own revenge killing Huo’s mother and his young daughter. 

How does one stop any cycle of violence—whether it is to others, or to ourselves?
​​​​​​​Huo hits bottom, ashamed and filled with grief.
​​​​​​​The movie downshifts, Huo spends time wandering, rescued by a grandmother and her blind granddaughter (Yueci, or “Moon”), and is nursed back to health, and nursed back to life, in their isolated village.
​​​​​​​In one poignant scene, Huo is working in the fields planting rice. He is still fueled by a need to compete with his coworkers. Still driven by a compulsion to finish first, and his work motions are manic.
​​​​​​​The wind freshens, a breeze blows, and the tree leaves rustle.
​​​​​​​His coworkers (in fact, all the workers in the entire village) stop what they are doing.
​​​​​​​They stop.
​​​​​​​They stand.
​​​​​​​They close their eyes.
​​​​​​​They feel the breeze on their faces.
​​​​​​​They inhale.
​​​​​​​They find refreshment.
​​​​​​​For this moment, it is enough. 

Huo looks at the worker’s behavior, puzzled. His pace, his requirement to win or profit at all costs blinds him to both his need and the remedy. (Like the German story about the man chopping wood with a blunt ax. He works exhausted, too tired to stop even in order to sharpen his axe.)
​​​​​​​It is enough.  The sentence rolls so easily off the tongue.  And yet… 

There is a scene where Huo’s friend Nong attempts to dissuade him from this path of revenge.  But to no avail.  How easy it is to be blind. I shouldn’t be surprised because I know first-hand what it is like to blindly “play out a script.”  (Written by Lord knows whom.)  To go through the motions, as if our identity is imprisoned or constricted by this “false” or hungry self.  And like Huo, we still haven’t found what we’re looking for. 

Pain (physical, emotion, spiritual) literally, hijacks our world. (To the point that there are days when we don’t even know what to Google.)
​​​​​​​We lose our way. And often we don’t know why. Except, we tell ourselves, this doesn’t feel right. And set about trying to remedy it. However, you can’t fix anything using the same thinking that got you in trouble in the first place.
​​​​​​​So when our wounds speak, why must we assume they are the whole story?
​​​​​​​Jean Vanier invites us to take a different path, “Look at your own poverty, welcome it, cherish it, don’t be afraid. Share your death because thus you will share your love and your life.”
​​​​​​​I have a friend who has been living for some time with real pain; end-of-life-pain. And yet, in her conversation she speaks of living with a deep sense of peace.
​​​​​​​Deep peace. Yes. That’s exactly what I wish for. Exactly what Huo clamored for. So, there must be a trick, right?
​​​​​​​Or, perhaps, like the villagers…
​​​​​​​They stop.
​​​​​​​They stand.
​​​​​​​They close their eyes.
​​​​​​​They feel the breeze on their faces.
​​​​​​​They inhale.
​​​​​​​They find refreshment.
​​​​​​​And for this moment, it is enough. 

Peace comes when we see the difference between doing battle with life’s obstacles, adversities and bleakness; and seeing this battle as an uninterrupted struggle. (As if every day is an ongoing antagonism that leaches the life and spirit out of you). Yes, life is difficult. Yes, obstacles are weighty and real. But if we see it only as a struggle, our mindset has capitulated to the next bigger and badder thing. And we never arrive.
​​​​​​​So, here’s the deal: We are not being asked to let go of the obstacle. But we can let go of the struggle. In an odd way, our letting go is predicated on a holding onto. Meaning that this obstacle–whether pain or fear or limitation–is wrapped around an incredible and grace-filled gift. That gift is this sacred moment. Because when we stop, we can find it, see it, embrace it.
​​​​​​​I can let go of fear because this moment is enough. 
​​​​​​​I can fall back into outstretched arms. The name is not as important as trusting that the arms are there.
​​​​​​​It is enough, just to be Terry.
​​​​​​​The good news? We find deep peace and resolve in our own skin, when we have nothing left to prove.
​​​​​​​For this moment, it is enough. 

A story this week did my heart good. Saying that Jesus Christ has been “hijacked” in the name of politics, a large crowd of national Christian leaders and members of their congregations vowed during a prayer service and vigil May 24 to “reclaim Jesus”​​​​​​​ from those who not only use his name for their political and personal gain, but reject the gentleness, kindness, love of neighbor, the poor and the truth that Christ embraced.
​​​​​​​“Those of us who were asleep, are waking up, and in so many cases, doing good.” Jon Katz (Bedlam Farm Journal) writes, “I honestly believe, as someone who really belongs completely to no religion, that we are reclaiming the spirit and message of Jesus Christ who, was, after all, a warrior for the poor and the vulnerable, whether one worships him or not. If he is not being reborn, then he seems to be being reclaimed. For me, an admirer but non-worshipper, that is just as good. On Memorial Day, I honor his sacrifice for us all.”
​​​​​​​The garden here on Vashon is heaven. Lupine, Delphinium, poppies, iris, lilac and Baptisia. Swallowtail butterflies float and pause and taste. For this moment, it is enough. 

Quotes for your week…
​​​​​​​Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door. Emily Dickinson  

Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart.  Brene Brown 

I shut my eyes in order to see.  Paul Gauguin ​​​​​​

Note… Next weekend I’ll be in Minneapolis, St. Thomas the Apostle. Join me.


POEMS AND PRAYERS

The choices are never easy.
We can nurse wounds of having been cheated in life,
​​​​​​​or we can be grateful and joyful,
​​​​​​​even though there seems to be little reason for it.
​​​​​​​It is this power to choose that adds dignity to our humanity.
​​​​​​​Gerald Sittser

Stealing Lilacs 
A guaranteed miracle,
it happens for two weeks each May,
this bounty of riches
where McMansion, trailer,
the humblest driveway
burst with color-pale lavender,
purple, darker plum-
and glorious scent.
This morning a battered station wagon
drew up on my street
and a very fat woman got out
and starting tearing branches
from my neighbor’s tall old lilac-
grabbing, snapping stems, heaving
armloads of purple sprays
into her beater.
A tangle of kids’ arms and legs
writhed in the car.
I almost opened the screen door
to say something,
but couldn’t begrudge her theft,
or the impulse
to steal such beauty.
Just this once,
there is enough for everyone.
Alice N. Persons
Never Say Never © Moon Pie Press 

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.
And thank you for your presenceduring the Holy Days,
for then we are ableto celebrate you
and our familiesand our friends.
For those who have no voice,we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.
For those who are lonely, we askyou to keep them company.
For those who are depressed,we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.
Dear Creator, You, the borderlesssea of substance,
we ask you to give to all theworld
that which we need most—Peace.
Maya Angelou


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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