Let life in
Gene Logsdon’s father-in-law had tried his hand at making bootleg whiskey on his Kentucky farm. He washed the leftover runny mash down a sinkhole, thereby destroying the evidence. Or so he thought. One evening at milking time, the cows came in from the pasture wobbling and swaying in a most ludicrous manner. At first, the father-in-law feared that they had some strange disease or maybe had gotten into some locoweed (white snakeroot), but they seemed in good enough spirits. In fact, they acted exactly as if they were drunk. Hmmmmmmm. Investigation prove that the whiskey slop had finally worked its way down through the hilltop sinkhole and was oozing out of a cleft in the rocks at the bottom of the hill.
The cows had bellied up to the bar and sucked the mother lode dry.
(Gene Logsdon, The Contrary Farmer)
I love stories that make my heart smile.
Yes, Logsdon’s story could be about how easy it is to live naïve or susceptible, but I prefer to use GK Chesterton’s metaphor about “digging for the sunrise of wonder.”
And this week I’ve been rereading Mary Oliver’s poems, which do just that; take me by the hand, inviting curiosity, wonder, awe and gratitude. An invitation to drink from this life. This day. Where the ordinary is indeed the hiding place for the holy.
“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” Henry Miller
Logsdon’s story is a reminder of what happens when we receive the freedom to live outside “the box” (or any predetermined set of conditions).
And two… you never know what will happen when you let go of the encumbering need for control. (You know, the obligation to pretend that there is nothing out of place–say… heaven forbid, messy emotions or pesky doubts or fault-lines.) I smile, knowing that even with permission, we still will want to know the “instructions for letting go.” There must be a checklist somewhere, and if we’re going to do this–you know, living outside the box–we might as well do it right! As if there’s a test, or a contest.
It’s not surprising really. We live in a world that reminds us every single day about what we lack, and what we “should” add to our life, in order to be somebody we are not.
Yes. We are a culture big on resolutions–you know, making ourselves better. (Just as long as the resolutions fit into our plans.)
Which reminds me of a third reason I like Logsdon’s story: What if that which we so frantically seek, is already here now… inside of us?
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.”
It’s not a surprise that Jesus rocked the status quo when he told everyone that the kingdom of heaven is within. Now.
In one encounter with a teacher in India, Donald Hall asks him to define “contentment.”
“Absorbedness,” the teacher replies.
Now, I can’t find absorbedness in any dictionary. But here’s my best guess — “Let life in.”
Let life in… in the splendor.
Let life in… in the complications.
Let life in… in the gladness.
Let life in… in the disagreeable.
Let life in… in the broken.
Let life in… in the unfeigned moments.
Which may be… this moment. Or, as Jane Kenyon wrote, in her final days, “Trust God and be where you are.”
It looks so easy on paper. And as a result, we commit ourselves to try even harder.
“You don’t trust the goodness inside you,” a friend tells me.
“You think you’re telling me something I don’t know,” I yell, affectionately, while Googling for resources on “tapping the power within.”
Am I still so afraid to believe that what I frantically seek, is already within?
Yes. What I may see as blight or indictment or shortcoming or deficiency or scarcity, Jesus tells me is the house of the Kingdom of God… Go figure. Let life in…
And that is where spirituality and growth begins; with acceptance: “Look. I never noticed that before.” In other words, I begin here.
And this is important: you see in embracing this moment I am embracing that I am not a pawn or victim or puppet. And in beginning here, I accept my imperfection–my brokenness, my divided and fractured being (what William James called my “torn-to-pieces-hood”). Because I accept… that here, even with the untidy parts, the untidy emotions, I can embrace the sacrament of the present moment… in this conversation, this conundrum, this moment of grace, this upside-down world, this serendipity, this relationship.
What’s this got to do with the farmer’s cows?
Let life in.
To belly up to the bar–of this day–with all of our senses, with the full permission to be, quite literally, drunk on life.
Saturday was something special. An annual event that dates back to 1897. No, it’s not a religion. But truth be told, it feels a wee bit bigger. It’s the Michigan — Ohio State football game. As a Michigan boy, this is in my blood. And Saturday, Michigan won big. Pause. My Oh My. And I promise I’m doing my very best to write that sentence without a gloat.
Happy Chanukah (Hanukkah) to our Jewish brothers and sisters. The eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers; “This time of hope reminds us of our resilience. Wishing you blessings in the year ahead.”
And a blessed Advent to our Christian brothers and sisters. Our season of waiting. On this first Sunday, we lit the candle of Hope. A good place to honor letting life in.
I sense that all is your creation
and everything, and all of us,
are being drawn back toward your loving heart.
Help me to be a person of peace,
To speak about it in an uneasy world,
And to live it among the people
you have put into my life every day.
Light in me a desire to prepare for your coming
to stand in the darkness, waiting, eager and filled with joy. (Creighton.edu)
Quote for your week…
The best beauty product is to have a life. A real life. With challenges, disappointments, stress, and laughter. The much-touted inner beauty is natural radiance that comes as a result of mental and emotional involvement. The Art of Imperfection
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–Hello, Terry, As I have been reflecting with your Sabbath Moments and appreciating your wisdom, I have also been praying with the spirit of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of “golden joinery”–the art of precious scars and thinking about how the ragged edges of our brokenness are also our growing edges. Our culture tends to use super glue to try to get things put back together with no trace of the brokenness. The art of Kintsugi wisely sees the possibility of new beauty where the brokenness has been. The artist Makoto Fujimura does wonderful work with Kintsugi and his Art + Faith help us along the way. The December issue of a periodical US Catholic introduced me to his writing in its article “Master Craftsman”. In case you two “have not met” even electronically, I’d like to introduce you. Makoto has some excellent sharing on line as well. And the beauty and wisdom of Kintsugi is both healing and faith-filled. Enjoy! Peace, Clare Colella
POEMS AND PRAYERS
I beg you… to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Rainer Maria Rilke
Come to the table
You are welcome if you are waiting
You are welcome if you are buried
You are welcome if you are hidden
You are welcome if nothing’s happening
You are welcome if you are growing
You are welcome if you are flourishing
All are welcome at God’s table,
especially those who know they are poor, weak and broken.
God is here, the One who makes the seed grow
I Got Kin
So that your own heart
So God will think,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Because that is the purest