Some years ago, a homesick dog made news headlines in Seattle. He negotiated traffic, eluded Washington State Police, and crossed a bridge. (Yes, it sounds like a Far Side Cartoon.) But this was not just any bridge.
Zeb, an Australian shepherd, crossed the “520 Bridge,” spanning Lake Washington. (For those keeping notes, the “520,” the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, is the longest floating bridge on earth, almost one and one-half miles in length.)
And what was Zeb doing on the bridge? He was just trying to find his way home.
His owners had gone on vacation, and left him with friends (in “Eastlake,” maybe a half mile or so from their Madrona neighborhood, near Seattle). Homesick, Zeb set out, ending up on a major Seattle freeway. Notices on social networking sites reported him crossing the 520 Bridge, weaving across the eastbound and westbound lanes. Drivers drove defensively on Zeb’s behalf, slowing down to help the wayward pooch.
Owner Megan Ferestien told the Seattle Times, “He sort of vaguely knows the area and I think somehow he just made some bad decisions and ended up in the wrong place. Luckily, he had so many guardian angels on 520 who were helping him across. People, who were in rush hour traffic, were slowing down to keep him safe, which was just really, well, extraordinary.” She added, “He should have taken the Arboretum exit, but he missed it.”
From all the social network chatter, the search area was narrowed, and Zeb was found, two days later, hiding in Hunt’s Point (on the opposite side of the lake from where he lived). Zeb heard his owner talking on a cell phone, came out of his hiding spot and did lots of tail wagging, and crying, and rolling on his back to have his belly rubbed.
I’m glad Zeb made it home. His caper-filled journey captured our attention, and tugged at something in our hearts. I’m more stirred by the fact that he had the pluck and courage and hopefulness to set out in the first place, having no idea whatsoever of the outcome. It was as simple as this: something in Zeb told him he needed to go home.
We live in a world where, more than ever, it is easy to lose our way. To feel derailed, disenfranchised, exasperated. Or just plain lost. Bottom line, we are not at home. And on those days, I wish I was made of stronger stuff. I don’t want to admit it, as it feels like a defect to be concealed.
Okay, I’ll personalize this; when I let the cacophony or noise win, I am not at home.
When either fear, or shame, win, I am not at home.
When I give way to any narrative of small-mindedness (where labels or differences are weaponized), I am not at home.
When I stay mute in the face of intolerance or contempt, I am not at home.
And we want someone to show us the way, or at least, the GPS coordinates.
There’s another pet story from several years ago that comes to mind. A magazine ad sponsored by the Humane Society, looking for homes for homeless pets. A photo of a puppy and kitten–looking up at you from the page–catches your eye and your heart. But it’s the affirmation on the top of the ad that sticks, “It’s who owns them that makes them important.”
In this culture of consumption, many things can own us. The list is long. It is no surprise we often, may not feel at home. But here is what is important to us today: we do not set out—on any journey—in order to acquire this identity.
Or this meaning.
Or this home.
So, back to the story.
It was love that brought Zeb home.
Yes, love brings you home.
Or, in the words of Henri Nouwen, “It means a gradual process of coming home to where we belong and listening there to the voice, which desires our attention. Home is the place where that first love dwells and speaks gently to us.”
William Sloane Coffin elaborates, “Of God’s love we can say two things: it is poured out universally for everyone from the Pope to the loneliest wino on the planet and secondly, God’s love doesn’t seek value, it creates value. It is not because we have value that we are loved, but because we are loved that we have value. Our value is a gift, not an achievement.”
Here’s the deal: Love (or worth, or value, or esteem, or meaning) is not something you produce or achieve or acquire. It is the permission to embrace, and be embraced by, the gift of grace… “it’s who owns them”…
Love—the gift of grace—is not something that you even have. Love is something that has you.
It is in our DNA.
I stopped, to re-read the last two paragraphs.
I can tell you that I needed that balm of grace today.
Let us let it settle, and percolate, and refill our heart for the week.
I know we hope for some kind of “certainty.” However, we do not have the wind, the stars, and the rain. We don’t possess these things; we surrender to them. And maybe, that surrender begins with an unforeseen journey across a long bridge.
I’m very grateful for my replenishment vacation here on Florida’s west coast. One more day of sunshine.
And on my morning walks I’ve enjoyed taking pictures, savoring small wonders, and, looking out for Ibis (a group of long-legged wading birds) and tickled by their daily rituals. And learned of the relation to the African sacred ibis—an object of religious veneration in ancient Egypt, particularly associated with the deity Djehuty (in Greek as Thoth) responsible for writing, mathematics, measurement, and time as well as the moon and magic.
Quote for our week…
We do not pray in order to escape the world around us. We pray with one eye on the world so that we can come to understand what is really being asked of us here and now, at times like this, as co-creators of the universe. Sister Joan Chittister, OSB
Today’s Photo Credit: “Hi Terry, Incredible sunset over Pepper Creek, Susan, VA. The eve of returning to EST! Daylight worth saving. Enjoy the beauty. Blessings,” Mary Chapman… Thank you Mary… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… 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…
–Thank you, Terry. This is one of your best Monday homily’s since I became aware of your Sabbath Moment and Daily Dose. It touched me to my very core. I’m sharing with my family and friends. Peace, joy and love to you, Mary Louise
–Terry, You are awesome. Thanks for starting this Week off with this SM. You are in my prayers. Joy to the world, Renie
–Howard Thurman says “we can choose to be… A canal, connecting us to others, a reservoir, of wisdom and strength or a swamp, full of evil and hate.” Ron
–Terry, Your homily, story was heartfelt and I visualized each word. So comforting how you bring truth and how the love and peace show up within me. I’m always happy when my heart is open to feel these messages. Thank you, Donna
–I don’t know how, but your posts always hit home with me. I look forward to each and every one and just trust that I need to read/hear/soak it in. Thankful for you. Jennie
–Dear Terry: Once again, your words were just what I needed hear: “Savor your days my friends. There is no doubt that our world needs us. But let’s remember that a hydrated soul and spirit is just the ticket, to be available as a light in a world that needs it.” Staying hydrated is so important. Your Sabbath Moment hydrates me, as well as a good song, a good laugh and sometimes a good cry. Feeling hydated and strong, Kim
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God. Henri Nouwen
who walked with us,
this is a prayer.
who have gone ahead,
this is a blessing.
who touched and tended us,
who lingered with us
while they lived,
this is a thanksgiving.
who journey still with us
in the shadows of awareness,
in the crevices of memory,
in the landscape of our dreams,
this is a benediction.
Today I am taking sides.
I am taking the side of Peace.
Peace, which I will not abandon
even when its voice is drowned out
by hurt and hatred,
bitterness of loss,
cries of right and wrong.
I am taking the side of Peace
whose name has barely been spoken
in this winnerless war.
I will hold Peace in my arms,
and share my body’s breath,
lest Peace be added
to the body count.
I will call for de-escalation
even when I want nothing more
than to get even.
I will do it
in the service of Peace.
I will make a clearing
in the overgrown
thicket of cause and effect
so Peace can breathe
for a minute
and reach for the sky.
I will do what I must
to save the life of Peace.
I will breathe through tears.
I will swallow pride.
I will bite my tongue.
I will offer love
without testing for deservingness.
So don’t ask me to wave a flag today
unless it is the flag of Peace.
Don’t ask me to sing an anthem
unless it is a song of Peace.
Don’t ask me to take sides
unless it is the side of Peace.
Rabbi Irwin Keller, Oct. 17, 2023