Grounding power of kindness
The cacophony in our world can be very loud. There is no argument about that.
And, if we’re at all insecure about our status (our wellbeing), we are susceptible to (blinded by) public opinion, social media pressure and mob mentality. Bluntly, we lose our way. Okay, I’ll personalize this; I lose my way. And here’s how I know; when I demean and exclude, when I withhold mercy or empathy (from others or myself) or when I forget the grounding power of kindness, I lose my way.
When I lose my way I wonder, did someone go through our world and change the price tags that determine what we value? And what grounds us?
In conversations and email, I hear two consistent themes; depletion (from overload and distraction) and disconnect (diminished trust from fear and projection).
So. Here’s the deal: Let’s pause, shall we? It is necessary to (routinely) “quiet the internal noise,” in order to hear the gentle lessons of the heart, and stories about sufficiency, not scarcity.
In a national magazine, an ad for the Humane Society minced no words. Above an adorable puppy and kitten, the ad read, “It’s who owns them that makes them important.”
Our wellbeing, is about who or what, owns us. The good news is this; when we lose our way, our authentic self is not gone. It’s just been unembraced, and marginalized.
There is a bad car accident on a busy street. A woman, from one of the vehicles, lay in the street, in need of medical assistance. A young woman bends over the body. A man rushes over.
“Move away please,” he tells the woman. “I’ve had CPR training. Let me handle this.” He pulls out his training manual.
After a minute, the young woman taps him on the shoulder and says, “When you get to the part about calling a doctor, I’m already here.”
In Parker Palmer’s words, “Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood. As we do so, we will find our path of authentic service in the world.”
And we remember the light that is inside, already here.
So. Let us wade in, returning to the truth of who we are (you know, the one already here), and to the light we can spill.
To live fully into the self I’ve been given, an authentic self not gummed up with so many limiting stories.
“And Lord, it took me back to something that I’d lost
Somewhere, somehow along the way.” Kris Kristofferson, Sunday Morning Coming Down
I love the title of Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things They Carried (about a group of soldiers in Vietnam). The title fits what we’re asking today, What do we carry as reminders in order to sustain, replenish and nourish, and not lose our way?
On my desk is a medicine pouch. A gift from a Native American friend. When the Shawnee and Chippewa (and other early people) went on hunts or vision quests or long journeys, each traveler would carry in a small rawhide pouch various tokens of spiritual power–perhaps a feather, a bit of fur, a claw, a carved root, a pinch of tobacco, a pebble or a shell. These were not simply magical charms; they were reminders of the energies that sustain all of life. By gathering these talismans into a medicine pouch, the hunter, traveler, or visionary seeker was recollecting the sources of healing and bounty and beauty.
All of it marinated, by the way, in an elixir of humor. Because I do know this; if my pouch is filled with a need for control and answers, I lose lightheartedness, and can easily be seized with frustration, fear, panic, rage, despair, depression and exasperation. (You get the picture?) Let’s just call it heatstroke of the heart.
But what if? What if… the “tokens” in that pouch are not a magic wand to undo life, but instead, the power and the freedom to embrace the life we have been given and to create life for those around us?
What if… wired to care, we see in this life, this day, even in the very muddle of the ordinary, even in the very chaos, the permission to trust our sufficiency, embrace our wounds as they become sacred wounds, and become places of empathy, compassion, kindness and healing? Yes, because grace is alive and well.
Unpacking her recent trip to Yakima, WA, Maria Shriver writes, “I reflected on what happens to one’s body when kindness has been bestowed upon it. It calms down. It settles. It relaxes and lets down its guard. When one opens themselves to acts of kindness, life feels more hopeful, positive, and humanistic. It’s that simple.
Instead on this Sunday, I want to encourage you to ask yourself whether you are leading your life with kindness. On this first day of Rosh Hashanah, when our Jewish friends begin a week of reflection followed by a day of atonement, may we all reflect on how we are leading our lives at this very moment.
Is there room for growth in your life? Is there room for atonement? I know there is in mine. Are you open to reflecting on how we can not only be kinder people, but how we can do more to build up our country, safeguard our planet, and treat our fellow human beings with gentleness, graciousness, and kindness?”
“Spirituality means waking up.” (Anthony de Mello reminds us.) To the power of the present moment. There is no doubt that waking up isn’t always cheerful. Or easy. It is, however, worth it.
Because wholehearted people live present, susceptible to tenderness and mercy, human touch and healing.
Here’s why my medicine pouch resonates; I need something visceral, incarnational, liturgical. I am, literally, grounded.
And Lord knows we cut ourselves little slack. Let us embrace the invitations to marinate in grace. To remember that the sacred is close by. To see life in fullness, hopefulness, wonder, gratitude, beauty, silence, prayer, connection and sufficiency. And from this marinade of grace, we embrace our humanity and all that enriches it; empathy, tenderness, inclusion, forgiveness. We let ourselves spill the light we receive, we give, offer, hold, touch, care, soothe, empathize and invite sanctuary.
What’s in your medicine pouch this week?
To our friends in Florida, stay safe, with storms on the way. And to our friends in Puerto Rico, our hearts hurt for the destruction. Let us reach out with our hearts and resources to help.
And today marks Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year (currently 5783 on the Jewish calendar). We wish “shana tova u’metukah” (“a good and sweet year”) to all who celebrate these high holy days.
Quote for your week…
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you. L.R. Knost
Today’s Photo Credit: “Santorini Greece last Friday. From A gift of a treasured trip to Greece 3 years delayed—with childhood friends of 67 years. Blessings of joy, laughter and deep gratefulness for all our shared lives and the stunning sun set.” Connie Campbell… Thank you Connie… Keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365)
UPCOMING EVENTS —
December 9 – 11 — Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ, Men’s Retreat
NEW Book – Stand Still: finding balance when the world turns upside down
NEW Audio SM… Enjoy — Nourished by self-care
Join us every Wednesday… Audio Sabbath Moment
Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Terry, the Moses story puts me in mind of Hopkins in “God’s Grandeur” when he says, “The soil / is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.” Take off your shoes and feel the earth–it is all sacred! Literally, the practice of going barefoot is “grounding,” or “earthing.” It is scientifically beneficial and healing. Probably why beach walks are so restorative. Have a great day! Pax, Nicole
–Your story about Zach saying “this is the life” reminded me of a special memory I have of my older son John. It was late Christmas afternoon and he was still a little guy in his candy cane striped pjs. I was bustling about cleaning up some of the impressive mess piled around our living room. I had not noticed my pensive son seated on a loveseat with his arms behind his head. I asked him if he was ok and he quietly and very seriously responded, “three goldfish and a toy clarinet… what else could a boy want?” It had indeed been a perfect Christmas for all of us but maybe most of all for my grateful son John. Pam
–Beautifully stated. In the stillness, we will find movement…and that is where the miracles are It can be likened to finding the space between the notes as Wayne Dyer once said. In the quiet and can hear the breeze. Embrace the day, as this one day will never return, Right? Hugs Andrea
POEMS AND PRAYERS
I Need Some Laughter, Lord
I have had enough
of sad saints
and sour religion.
I have had enough
of sin spotting
and grace doubting.
I need some laughter, Lord,
the kind you planted in Sarah.
But, please may I not have to wait
until I am ninety
Church of Scotland Prayer
Celtic Daily Prayer: Book Two (2015)
You can call it a decision
I say it’s how we’re made
There’s no point in shouting from your island
Proclaiming only Jesus saves
There will always be suffering
And there will always be pain
But because of it there’ll always be love
And love, we know, it will remain
Everybody gets lonely
Feel like it’s all too much
Reaching out for some connections
Or maybe just their own reflection
Not everybody finds it
Not like the two of us
Sometimes all anybody needs
Is a human touch
Jackson Browne and Leslie Mendelson
A Celtic Blessing
May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work that you do
with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light
and renewal to those who work with you
and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of
refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert,
approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.
Mary Jean Iron