Change messes with us. I wish it weren’t so.
You know, messes with the tidy (manageable and predictable) script we tote for mental security. About the way life should be.
“Now, we need to think outside the box,” someone posted.
“What box?” another wondered.
Yes indeed. It wouldn’t hurt to know where to begin. After all, it’s been quite a week. For some, merely inconvenient. But for many, literally terrifying.
So. I’m glad you’re back on the patio with me. Pull up a chair. Let me pour you a coffee. Let’s talk.
I read this yesterday, and it did my heart good.
“Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.”
(Br. Richard Hendrick)
Here’s what I know: When life is only about what we possess, or what we have lost, we miss seeing and hearing the truth about who we are at our core.
We’ve lost the empowerment that comes from knowing that what is at our core (compassion, generosity, kind-heartedness, our capacity for connection) is greater than whatever change confronts or challenges us.
In other words, we have forgotten our best selves.
We have forgotten that we were made for this, one soul helping another.
“What will life be when this is past us, back to normal?” Someone posted.
Ahhh, it’s normal we’re looking for is it? (No wonder we’re prone to panic, and seem to double down with fear. And from my experience, that’s never fun.)
Here’s the deal: With my life on hold, I miss the invitation and the gift of life. Today.
True, in the life I have now, there are many things I cannot do.
However, in the life I have now, I can… look for daily miracles.
I can savor gifts of gladness and grace abounding.
I can find beauty and pass these gifts on.
In the life I have now, I can see the sacred present as the hiding place for the holy.
I can do whatever possible to remember that we are on this journey together.
I can give to those where pain and fear hit hardest.
I can trust the healing power of empathy.
I can send virtual hugs.
I can listen, invite music and heartfelt passion.
And I will not allow inconvenience to be my measuring stick for daily choices.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (Lord of the Rings)
Yes. We were made for this, one soul helping another.
Here’s what I’m learning; some gifts don’t show up when life seems easier. When the noise is louder and the lights are brighter, it’s easy to miss the gifts.
When that happens, we live reactive (demeaning, blaming, in denial), which helps no one.
“We’re going to be changed,” another posted.
I hope so. What a marvelous gift. As humans, the capacity to change and adapt. (Why do we seem surprised that disasters evoke, invite and awaken the extraordinary power of kindness?)
Let me refill your coffee cup. And let’s talk about ways we can honor both our emotional and physical immune system, and those who are vulnerable around us.
Literally. Make space for self-care. To reflect. To let your soul catch up.
“Discernment is the process of letting go of what we are not.” Fr. Thomas Keating reminds us.
Count me in. There are many things I can let go of… my need to be impervious. And my preoccupation with any compulsion to be in control.
Scared? A little.
Still with the capacity to spill light, calm, consolation and hope? Absolutely.
2. We are connected. Every single one of us.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality,” Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us.
I’m reading a great book, Eating the Sun, and loved this; “Trees are also seemingly able to distinguish their own roots from those of other species, and even those of their relatives. They share food and help to nourish their competitors when they are sick or struggling (in winter an aspen will likely not do as well as a conifer, so the conifer lends a hand), and all this apparently for no other reason than that living becomes much easier when you’re helping others, rather than simply ensuring your own survival.”
Yes. We were made for this, one soul helping another.
So, where do we begin?
Rear Admiral Thornton Miller Chief was the Chaplain at Normandy in WWII. Someone asked him, “Up and down the beach, with the shells going everywhere, why did you do that?”
“Because I’m a minister.”
“But didn’t you ask if they were Catholic or Protestant or Jew?”
“If you’re a minister, the only question you ask is, ‘Can I help you?'”
It does my heart good to read daily stories about peacemakers, healers, restorers and lovers of every kind…
Serenading neighbors. Buying and delivering food for those who cannot. Sharing rainbow art. Study groups and happy hours and grandfathers serenading grandchildren, all on Zoom. Just a few days ago the word “caremongering” did not exist. Now, what started as a way to help vulnerable people in Toronto, has turned into a movement spreading fast across Canada. Caremongering… we were made for this.
A personal word to those who continue to post that this virus is a hoax, or that there’s no need to pay it any attention. Please know that is harmful. I am 65. I am asthmatic. Meaning, I’m on the “list” of the vulnerable. I don’t say that with any anxiety per se, only that our strength is served by clarity.
3. Know that life is precious. Savor your day.
Let a sense of wonder find you this week. It can happen in many forms. Linger. Drink in. Savor. And share. For me this week, a marvel, days of bright sun and a cerulean blue sky.
This week I’m loving my garden. I’ll start posting photos on Facebook.
This past week our vernal equinox. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and a crescent moon were clustered together in the southeastern sky just before daybreak. Mercury peeked just above the horizon.
Quote for your week…
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. Kitty O’Meara
Note: We need ways to stay replenished. I want to give you a gift. The Power of Pause eCourse. Twelve sessions for anyone who wishes to practice and invite self-care and replenishment. You’ll get a
Also… coming this week… Sabbath Moment Daily Dose. A wee bit of spiritual and emotional nourishment. You’ll receive an option to sign up.
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Today’s photo credit — Sunrise, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe, NM… Marge Austin… thank you Marge… keep sending your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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In the mailbag… because your letters affirm us all…
–Thank you for this course, this lovely reminder to embrace each day, each moment. Now, we both know that God shows up in the unexpected and ordinary all the time, we just have to stop long enough to feel Her in the air or see Him in the face of a friend. In the midst of coronavirus panic, God has given us the gift of social distancing; the permission to stay home and enjoy our families and cook and play together; the permission to sit and watch the Spring blossom in front of our eyes. Lent, opening wide the doors to the world around us to remind us of our humanity and dependance on the Creator who loves us so dearly. I hope this limits the number of people who get really sick. I know it will bless all of us who were “forced” to work from home and make things a little better for those who serve us in hospitals and police and firehouses who cannot work from home. Peace and blessings to you Terry! Rev. Patti Axel
–Keep posting the soul healers, Terry. They are the most important vaccine we will get. Michael
–It’s 6:45. Got our coffees. Turned off the TV. Reading Sabbath Moment. It’s just right. Ed
–Dear Terry, I loved every word you wrote today. Thank you. It was just what I needed and drank my coffee at your table but in my garden. Could not have been a better time- bluebonnets in full bloom and we have a new puppy that needs walking. Being an introvert I am enjoying these days. Blessings to you. Thanks so much!! Joan
–Every word you wrote today has such perfect meaning for this troubling time. THANK YOU!!! I will be sharing this Sabbath Moment with all of my email friends. Suz
–Thank you for the prescient wisdom of This is the Life. God’s timing for sure.
Isn’t it amazing in the midst of swirling uncertainty how sparkles of hope are glowing through the darkness? Your Sabbath Moments are part of the sparkles. Keep writing. Jan Meyer
–I needed this so much. Thank you Terry. I will share this with my Facebook friends and family. Your words are healing and hopeful. They are real, acknowledging the difficult time and the difficulties ahead, but with an eye for the beauty and peace around us and the hope and promise for the better times to come on the other side of this current situation. One of my favorite musicians, John Angotti has a song, “Fear is not an Option”. My favorite line is: Fear is not an option; faith and courage conquer fear. Tony
–Hello Terry, this is Lois. I enjoyed, and was especially affirmed by the story about the persons who carried various items with them on their travels. When I took my nursing students to the hospital clinical sites, I always carried a small wooden cross in my uniform pocket to keep me in the sacred moment of the Present and to remind me of WHO I am. It was a practice I began many years ago when I began my clinical career. Now, as a Spiritual Care Chaplain, in addition to the cross, I also carry a brightly colored, one inch, ceramic face with an indented smile in my pocket to give me a reason to smile and sometimes a little chuckle. Terry, thank you for being such a gift to so many. Stay safe in these challenging times. Lois
POEMS AND PRAYERS
May the Lord Bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you.
May God give you grace not to sell yourselves short,
Grace to risk something big for something good,
Grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.
May God take your minds and think through them.
May God take your lips and speak through them.
May God take your hands and work through them.
May God take your hearts and set them on fire.
William Sloane Coffin
Prayer for a Pandemic
May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
remember those that have no place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Father Larry Tensi