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Grace heals

Once upon a time, there was a boy who didn’t like himself very much. It was not his fault. He was born with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is something that happens to the brain. It means that you can think but sometimes can’t walk, or even talk. This boy had a very bad case of cerebral palsy, and when he was still a little boy, some of the people entrusted to take care of him took advantage of him instead and did things to him that made him think that he was a very bad little boy, because only a bad little boy would have to live with the things he had to live with.
In fact, when the little boy grew up to be a teenager, he would get so mad at himself that he would hit himself, hard, with his own fists and tell his mother, on the computer he used for a mouth, that he didn’t want to live anymore, for he was sure that God didn’t like what was inside him any more than he did.
He had always loved Mister Rogers, though, and now, even when he was fourteen years old, he watched the Neighborhood whenever it was on, and the boy’s mother sometimes thought that Mister Rogers was keeping her son alive. She and the boy lived together in a city in California, and although she wanted very much for her son to meet Mister Rogers, she knew that he was far too disabled to travel all the way to Pittsburgh, so she figured he would never meet his hero, until one day she learned through a special foundation designed to help children like her son that Mister Rogers was coming to their city to meet her son.
At first, the boy was made very nervous by the thought that Mister Rogers was visiting him. He was so nervous, in fact, that when Mister Rogers did visit, he got mad at himself and began hating himself and hitting himself, and his mother had to take him to another room and talk to him.
Mister Rogers didn’t leave, though. He wanted something from the boy, and Mister Rogers never leaves when he wants something from somebody. He just waited patiently, and when the boy came back, Mister Rogers talked to him, and then he made his request. He said, “I would like you to do something for me. Would you do something for me?”  On his computer, the boy answered yes, of course, he would do anything for Mister Rogers, so then Mister Rogers said, “I would like you to pray for me. Will you pray for me?”
And now the boy didn’t know how to respond. He was thunderstruck. Thunderstruck means that you can’t talk, because something has happened that’s as sudden and as miraculous and maybe as scary as a bolt of lightning, and all you can do is listen to the rumble.
The boy was thunderstruck because nobody had ever asked him for something like that, ever.
The boy had always been prayed for.
The boy had always been the object of prayer, and now he was being asked to pray for Mister Rogers, and although at first he didn’t know if he could do it, he said he would, he said he’d try, and ever since then he keeps Mister Rogers in his prayers and doesn’t talk about wanting to die anymore, because he figures Mister Rogers is close to God, and if Mister Rogers likes him, that must mean God likes him, too.

The first time I read this story—from a 1998 Esquire Magazine article, “Can you say, Hero,” by Tom Junod—I was on an airplane, trying my best to hide my tears.  (The voice in my head, “There’s no crying in business travel.”)
Looking back, it’s interesting to me how afraid I was to just let the tears flow. No, I don’t understand the magnitude of the young boy’s pain, but I did recognize this: in all of us, the yearning is the same.
A need to know that we count.
A need to know that we matter.
A need to know that someone knows us and sees us, and is willing to open their arms wide, no matter what.
Because here’s the deal: It’s not that I am afraid of love. I’m just afraid of not being loved back.

And, yesterday when I pulled the article out to read again (which I do quite frequently), I read it aloud, and cried tears of gladness.
I can tell you that this story affects me deeply. Because of my upbringing and my fear, the dial on my emotional thermostat has been turned way down, as if to discourage and distrust all matters of the heart.
Like Mr. Rogers, grace doesn’t leave.
Grace calls something—invites something beautiful—from each one of us, and grace never leaves until the invitation is heard and embraced. It may shake up our life, there’s no doubt about that. We’re not used to being unconditionally loved.
I don’t know where you see Grace in your life. I do know we don’t cut ourselves enough slack, and I do know that when Grace appears, it’s best if we don’t analyze it, but just… pause, and let it seep into the core of our being. The reality of true Grace is that it does not waiver or diminish. It does not depend upon our response, performance, attitude, faith or checkered past. It just is.
Why? Because Grace heals not by taking shame away, but by removing the one thing our shame makes us fear the most: rejection.

Don’t know if you saw, and marveled at, the aurora borealis. My neighbor took some wonderful photos. And one is the photo for this Sabbath Moment.
Spring gardens are the embodiment of grace. Outrageous and extravagant and profligate. In the garden here, lupine, columbine, bearded iris, Anemone, bleeding hearts. And there are no rules here, save bloom and dance, revelry and shine. Beauty so ephemeral and short-lived, and an invitation to throw my heart’s caution to the wind. And, to love.

Quote: “There is a part of every living thing that wants to become itself. The tadpole into the frog, the chrysalis into the butterfly, a damaged human being into a whole one. That is spirituality.” Ellen Bass 

Afterward: “As for Mister Rogers himself… well, he doesn’t look at the story in the same way that the boy did or that I did. In fact, when Mister Rogers first told me the story, I complimented him on being so smart—for knowing that asking the boy for his prayers would make the boy feel better about himself—and Mister Rogers responded by looking at me at first with puzzlement and then with surprise. ‘Oh, heavens no, Tom! I didn’t ask him for his prayers for him; I asked for me. I asked him because I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.'” Tom Junod
(Story from 1998 Esquire Magazine, “Can you say, Hero,” Tom Junod)


Today’s Photo Credit: The northern lights, or the aurora borealis, are beautiful dancing ribbons of light that have captivated people for millennia. This picture taken Friday night here in Port Ludlow, WA by my friend and neighbor, Tim Cole… Thank you Tim… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… send to 

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Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Terry, I am the full time caregiver for my husband, as we journey through his Alzheimer’s days and nights. I so work to find the quiet, just sitting in my chair, in silence, just to be. You are so right how weary souls desperately need to quietly recharge. If I don’t take the time to do nothing, but to enjoy the silence, I am no good for my husband or myself. Thank you for your beautiful emails.. they are such a source of peace in my life.
–Hi Terry. Thank you for this week’s theme…the reminder to take a moment to Pause. To Relish in the Quiet. To Feel. This first Monday musing reached me at the core. I am relating to your thought process here so much… and I’ve been sharing and reading it in each of my movement classes this week. Your reminders are a gift to the soul. Mana. Thank You for sharing your gifts, for being you and shining your Light. Continued blessings! In gratitude and aloha, Maria
–Terry, When I was in Belgium many years ago, my wife and I were attending a Mass in which the priest intoned, “Lamb of God who Raises Up the sinners of the world.” I was struck by the contrast with the rather pedestrian words I had always heard: “Who takes away the sins of the world.” And I think of your saying that it is by Grace that we are able to dance!  Just saying. Robert
–They broke out into a long conga line to “Love Train” and circled the room at the close of UMC General Conference on Friday. A space that healed. Ed
–Oh my. And this is why I keep reading your Sabbath moments. “And last night, on our pond, the Pacific tree frog chorus entertains. From what I could tell, they were doing something from Credence Clearwater Revival—a concert that is boisterous, energetic and filled with jubilation. You don’t need to step outside to hear them, but when you do, the night air is filled with something akin to hope. I’m not sure whom they are singing to, or why.” Well, I do know –  they were singing to you, silly man! And to me, even so very far away! Thank you so much for continuing to affirm that I am becoming the woman I was created to be, and to appreciate those incredible moments of … pause! Your fellow traveler, Barb 


The Peace of Wild Things
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

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
Saint Theresa’s Prayer   

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