On my walk this morning, I spend some time talking with the geese. Two families heartwarmingly hanging out, nonplussed by an unremitting rain, the goslings nestled together at the edge of the pond. Irv and Dottie’s five are about all grown up, big geese now. Almost ready to fly.
“It’s been fun watching you all grow up,” I tell them.
They don’t let on that they hear me. So, I go on.
“It’s been interesting,” I tell them. “I’m trying to take the pulse of my heart. Because there have been many times in my life when I don’t feel like I fit in. As if fitting in is necessary. Or somehow essential to where I ‘should’ be. As if achievement is about arrival at some destination. As if letting go of being driven is a bad thing.” They stay non-plussed.
“And that’s one thing I like about you all,” I say. “You and the sheep helped me with this. It seems to me that you’re not obsessed by any measurement of what constitutes normal. For you all, this moment matters. Thank you.”
There are articles and stories aplenty about how we navigate this “return to normal”. How do we make choices about what we honor. (This is true: If we don’t choose, the choice is made for us by default.)
I’ve talked with some who already feel thrown back into a whirlwind world. I overheard one woman tell a friend, “All I wanted was a weekend of self-care. Is that too much to ask? Oh well. Maybe next time.”
It sounded familiar and I smile, because nothing says self-care like consternation and giving yourself grief for missing the mark. We have forgotten how to be gentle with ourselves, making space for a whole heart, surprised by wonder and grace.
I do confess that rituals help. That way I get to make a list. (Just sayin’.) Well, it’s not a long list. But it works for me.
So. Here’s what I know: during this shift, as “normal” life is reframed… I want to tend to my heart.
Which means that there is a place I will choose to visit from time to time; a place called Enough.
You know, that place where the heart slows,
where gratitude spills,
where we can touch the root of inner wisdom (a taproot some call the soul),
where we are not afraid or adversarial,
where we do not need to shy away from sorrow or disappointment,
where grace is alive.
Betty taught me this. Betty was a character. A member of a writing group I enjoyed hanging out with some time ago.
Betty was inimitable and full of spunk and verve. She had raised her children on a fishing boat in Alaska. She was the age where it’s not helpful to guess or ask. (But I’m guessing a good bit north of 80.) Now living in West Seattle, she invites me to visit her garden, a small lot behind her home.
“Come here,” she said and we walked down the back steps, “I gotta show you something.”
“Yes Ma’am,” I said smiling.
You know how when you create a garden, you begin with a path that is at least 3 feet in width. And over time, as plants encroach, the path narrows. Betty’s was wide enough for us to put one foot in front of the other. Each side of the pathway lined with large pots, filled with plants spilling. As a garden designer, my mind is spinning, and I’m thinking, “I can fix this! I can help Betty.”
We get to the back of her lot. Around the corner at the edge of her garage, an old wicker chair. “This is it,” she tells me. “It my ‘when the world pisses me off chair.’”
I’m still grinning, and I’m thinking, now that is a great name.
“Whenever I need time to regroup, I come sit in my chair,” Betty says.
And I’m thinking, ‘I get it. But why is it back here in the corner?’ And then it occurs to me, surrounding the chair, a garage wall and the neighbor’s tall fence covered with climbing flowers. This is Betty’s sanctuary. This is a place called Enough.
We’re walking back toward the house. And I’m about to give her advice that will improve her garden. She’ll be soooo grateful. And she asks, “Did you notice the plants along the pathway?” I bite my tongue.
“I hope so,” she continues. “They’re all my favorite herbs. By the time I get to my chair my jeans are covered with the fragrance of the herbs.”
I smile from ear to ear every time I think of my afternoon with Betty. It does my heart good. You see, here’s what Betty knew: this moment matters.
This is important. Sanctuary is not withdrawal for withdrawal sake. It’s about permission to pay attention to (to honor) what really matters. If we do not, we concede attention to that which assaults us by default.
This moment matters.
As a boy, stories from the Bible were a staple in my education. Remember the Old Testament story about Moses, on a mountain in a desolate place, on the edge of gloom? A bush begins to burn. And a voice speaks from that burning bush. “Take off your shoes,” it said. “You are on holy ground.” Now, in the church of my youth, this was not suggestion. This was God after all, so it was a command to be broken at great peril. Because, if God is holy, show some respect. If not, you’re going to get Smote. (I can still hear the severe tone in our pastor’s voice. This taking the shoes off wasn’t meant to make us smile.)
I now believe that those words were not a command at all. I believe they were an invitation. Permission.
You are on holy ground.
Therefore, in order to touch, to feel this ground, let’s remove whatever blocks or inhibits or prevents.
Take off your shoes. Savor the ground.
Jeans covered with herbs. Savor the ground.
Grounded… literally sinking into life. Sanctuary does not remove us from life. But allows us to be fully alive smack dab in the middle.
This moment matters.
This morning I zoom preached, guest of the Burton Church on Vashon Island. Our lesson this morning, the Parable of the mustard seed from Mark’s Gospel.
A reminder that our impulse or temptation to control the garden will always get us in trouble. When tidiness is our primary goal, we tend to miss the miracles along the way.
Quote for your week…
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive–of the rapture of being alive. Joseph Campbell
SABBATH MOMENT BULLETIN BOARD
Today’s Photo Credit: “Hi Terry, here’s a picture from Seaside, OR taken during a family trip mid-May this year. My sister Carol and I called the sunbeams ‘God Rays’. There is always light present even if it is temporarily obscured by clouds. The ocean and wide sky always soothe me. Thanks for your beautiful messages; I always find value in them. Best to you and yours,” Linda Fahlgren-Moe Bob Keener… Thank you Linda… Keep sending your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Join Me… Upcoming Events… (Because of space limitations, please call and reserve a spot)
July 9 – 11 Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Hayesville, NC 28904
Aug 27 – 29 Mary & Joseph Retreat Center, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Sept 10 – 12 Senior Moment Retreat. Whispering Winds Catholic Conference Center, San Diego, CA
In the mailbag…
–Good Morning Terry, I have to admit I do not always read your email delivery of Sabbath Moment. Maybe everything deserves a break so that when you come back to it there is more meaning in its message? That is not to say I don’t sit back and smile when it comes into my email. There is a warmth and understanding in your messages. Thank you for “Welcoming me in for a figurative warm cup of tea”. I have shared this post with my online yoga group here in Minnesota. Thank you for being here every week, Susan
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POEMS AND PRAYERS
‘Man is born broken,’ wrote Eugene O’Neil. ‘He lives by mending.
The grace of God is the glue!’ Which is a nice way of saying that living is the healing.
Vulnerability is not a weakness. It is a strength.
Very few of us are tough enough to be soft.
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still…
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream.
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
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