I’m an unabashed Mr. Rogers fan. Because Mr. Rogers is church to me. His opening hymn, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” brings smiles and evokes memories from years long ago. His vestments, a sweater and tennis shoes.
“Sometimes we have to ask for help, and that’s OK,” Rogers says. “I think the best thing we can do is to let people know that each one of them is precious.”
Yes. And here’s the power. Even in a world where I too easily shut down, someone still sees me.
And talks to my heart.
And affirms the reality that the space between two people is holy ground.
And lets me know that vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength.
Sometimes we need “reminder stories” more than food to stay alive. They remind us what really matters and allow us to see with our heart. Stories save us.
Like the story about how Stephanie Disney (audiologist at the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs) met her (then 2-and-a-half-year-old) daughter, Rudy. Disney recalls, “my heart recognized her immediately.”
In the story, Disney says, “I am the whitest of white women, and my daughter is some indefinable combination of all that is beautiful from at least three races: curly dark hair, petite features, freckles, a golden tan skin tone, one blue eye and one brown. If her race had only one name, it would be perfection. I understand that everyone wants love and acceptance. And these are such rare gifts, that when people see them freely demonstrated, they are compelled to seek the source. Recently, Rudy surprised me when a white-haired lady, standing right beside us, asked if I was her mother.
Rudy threw the lady a disbelieving glance and said, ‘Well, she helps me with multiplication, fixes my hair, kisses me and we both have freckles on our noses; who else could she be?’”
I love this story. And I needed this story, because when I lose touch with my heart and the core of what I know to be good, I disconnect from people and the world.
This one thing is undeniable: We are, all of us, thirsty for kindness. Gentleness. Meekness. And compassion.
And, we’re brother and sister. “Who else could we be?”
However… let us not pretend. This is not easy. You know, the part that sees the precious, especially inside. Easy, is shutting down. Being overcome by weariness. Giving way to numbness. Or pretending not to see. And finding someone to blame.
Martin Buber (inspirational Jewish philosopher) cuts to the chase, “All real living is meeting.” Real life happens in the present, and in the Presence. When we see one another as precious. Knowing that we are all welcomed into God’s compassionate heart, no exceptions, no exclusion.
The word that brings us into the present and into the Presence is acceptance. Radical acceptance is the love we seek and the love we are. That love is, in fact, the life we seek. That love is the word of Presence.
Yes. This is the power of Rudy’s story.
In Presence, our heart comes to life. Where hope and joy and gratitude bubble up. Where we see what is life-giving—inclusion, empathy, kindness, mercy, gentleness, humanity, compassion.
I can hear Mr. Rogers saying, “Our word for today, is Presence. Can you say Presence?”
And I can hear voices saying, “Are you nuts? In this corrosive world you want to be that gullible?”
Well, yes, I do. Remembering the Irish proverb’s affirmation, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
And yes, stories save us. Saved was an essential word in my religious upbringing. Being saved bought my ticket to heaven. It’s just that my Christian faith is predicated on the incarnation; which is the embodiment of God. The fully “humanness” of God. And yet, my upbringing placed a premium on being “saved.” And in many cases, it was about being saved “from my humanness.” It was all about “arrival,” which turned out to be code for knowing whether I would be “in” or “out” of heaven. Even though I was taught the magic words, a sense of fear pervaded my days. Why? Because I was not quite sure whether I believed or said or practiced the correct creed or prayer. My understanding all hinged upon a cerebral connection to God or salvation. This much was very clear: any connection to my humanity or passion (that I knew to be true, deep in my soul) was to be mistrusted and kept buried.
However. Saved isn’t about escaping (or earning afterlife points). Saved is about living full into this life. In other words, Presence. Yes. A life full of Radical Acceptance, and Einstein’s notion of “widening circles of compassion”, connecting with a heart now engaged, ignited, fueled. Knowing that each one of us has the ability (because of presence) to be a healer.
I do know this: I want to continue to tell stories that touch where we hurt, where we care, where we heal, where we give, where we reconcile and mend, where we make and are made whole.
Today a very steady rain. Gratefully, it is the day after I put in a couple dozen new plants (transplants from a friend) in my one-year-old garden. The smile still hasn’t left my face (or my spirit), May Sarton’s reminder that “Gardening is an instrument of grace.”
And Happy 90th to Willie Nelson (April 29). “Oh the land of the cloudless day,” Willie sings. The music is cranked up, of course, to the level that makes your heart swell. Now, that’s what I call church; Mr. Rogers and Willie Nelson. Amen indeed.
Quote for our week…
Empathy is a strange and powerful thing. There is no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of “You’re not alone.” Brené Brown
Today’s Photo Credit: “Dearest Terry, Congratulations on your years of vocation to God and His people. May He continue to empower and enlighten you as you witness to us.” Marguerite Gerontis (“sideways waves”, Puget Sound, WA)… Thank you Marguerite… Thank you to all, 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
Letters that do my heart good…
–Terry, Loved your story of your grandmother! I also had a grandmother who loved unconditionally! She was very altruistic, and also accepted everyone no matter culture, gender, race, etc. She also loved gardening. She is the one that taught me when I was young child all about nature and how to have a garden etc, she was very Exceptional in every way! Irene
–I Love This! You have embedded so many beautiful, comforting and inspiring messages within. We could All benefit from pondering on your words. I am already feeling the benefit(s). Thank you! Caroline
–Though I’m not of the Christian faith, I enjoy your writings and insight very much. Congratulations on your anniversary! Ruth
–Thank you! I needed those words today about the person placed in the center with their song sung to them. A dear friend has lost her only child to drug addiction. In time, I will share with her that she may continue to sing his song. Dorothy
–Good morning, Thank you for sanctuary. I would add that parents also need sanctuary with their children. Widowhood, forced retirement, loss, all can be overwhelmingly lonely. So much to sort, so paralyzing and daunting the task. Parents may not have the ability to go to the adult children for a plethora of reasons. But real, physical reconnection is essential. Please pray for the strength to ask for help and sanctuary. Blessings, Mary
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Imagine what the world would be like if we treated others with inherent and equal dignity and respect, seeing the divine DNA in ourselves and everyone else too-regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, appearance, or social class. Nothing less
offers the world any lasting future. –Richard Rohr
Living in Love
There is a desire within each of us,
in the deep center of ourselves
that we call our heart.
We were born with it,
it is never completely satisfied,
and it never dies.
We are often unaware of it,
but it is always awake.
It is the Human desire for Love.
Every person in this Earth yearns to love,
to be loved, to know love.
Our true identity, our reason for being
is to be found in this desire.
Love is the “why” of life,
why we are functioning at all.
I am convinced
it is the fundamental energy
of the human spirit.
the fuel on which we run,
the wellspring of our vitality.
which is the flowing,
creative activity, of love itself,
is what makes all goodness possible.
Love should come first,
it should be the beginning of,
and the reason for everything.
God who made trees and bodies,
God who made the ground and grand gestures,
May we practice happy hospitality,
hostilities can be healed.
Pádraig Ó Tuama