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Live by mending

Two men visiting Hong Kong, noticed the ubiquity of street vendors, all pushing their carts along, pell-mell, in and out of traffic.  Attempting to gain the attention of any potential customer, the vendors would shout repeatedly, “Sale! Sale! Good items for sale!”
So numerous were these vendors that the men found it difficult to avoid their aggressive sales pitches.  It was then that they noticed a lone vendor, different from the others. This man stayed to himself, and slowly and quietly pushed his cart along the sidewalk.  Intrigued, they stopped the vendor to ask him about his wares, “What are you selling?”
“Selling?” the vendor responded, “Oh, I’m not selling anything.” With that, he reached into his cart and picked up two pieces of a toy that had been broken. “You see, I buy broken things. My joy comes in mending. Once, mended, it can be given away, and bring more joy.” 

This story does my heart good.  Because there is a part of me that feels broken.  And mending, well, that sounds very good to me.  But I believe, in my mind (if I’m honest), that I am exchanging the word mending with the word, fixing. (Somehow, broken is a deficiency.)
So. Let’s begin here: Some of us… no, all of us… break.
Maybe from stress or fatigue of spirit. Or from loss of childlikeness or grief. Or from loss of passion. Or from a world where cruelty and violence is too real.
Yes. Life is difficult.

And no matter how strong or safeguarded, very bad things can happen to good and innocent people. And sometimes I don’t have words. Even for my prayers.
That’s what I tell the geese this morning. Gratefully, they just look at me. And then I feel compelled to apologize, as I realized that I had paused my daily homilies. And feel like I need to explain, “I just want you to know that I enjoy watching you all care for one another. That’s been a light and gift for my spirit.”

That light is a reminder that every single one of us needs a touch point, something bigger than our anxiety or fear or our dread.
Yes, we do live in a world full of apprehension, distrust, and aggravation. Stress is high, and sadly, friendships scarcer.
Our planet in vulnerable and in pain, and asks us to step up.
But here’s the deal: I have a choice here. Brokenness can undo me. Or I can see an invitation to a bigger self, creating spaces for healing and spiritual hydration and renewal. 

Another gift this week. An outdoor play (concert) in Ober Park on Vashon Island, Woody Guthrie’s American Song. What a treat. Guthrie, storyteller and pilgrim, reflecting a world heavy with brokenness; poverty and hardship. His songs were stories that created spaces for grieving, connection and restoration. And hope.
The congregated audience sang wholeheartedly with the cast…
Nine Hundred Miles. This Train is Bound for Glory. And, of course, This Land is Your Land.
“The voice come a-chanting and the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me”

So. How do we create space in a world of brokenness?
A Rabbi visited a young couple that had lost a child. Understandably, the circumstances were very tragic. And the Rabbi waxed eloquent from the Scriptures about loss and grief and God and pain and God’s will and about enduring distress. For two hours he explained the theology of pain to them. And in the end asked, “So, would you like me to explain it again?”
“No, thank you Rabbi,” answered the young man, “We have already suffered enough!”
I can relate because I grew up in a religious tradition that knew what to say in bad times, broken times, grieving times, wounded times. People had Bible verses for me. They had “answers”. In each case, I was told that my situation was a problem to be solved, not a mystery to be embraced.
Of course, I would hear these pronouncements, and feel at the very least, dense, or, more likely, void of faith, because apparently, I didn’t “get it.”
And yet, there were times that I feel lost or lonely or wounded or angry or disillusioned. For whatever reason, I couldn’t make the formula work. These “answers” did not give me peace. They just made me want to hit someone.
So where do I go now?
Reminds me of a cartoon. Two men walking to the top of a sacred mountain to talk with a great guru.
“Life is like a river,” says the guru.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” say the men. They begin to choke the guru.
“Okay, okay,” says the guru. “Life is not like a river.” 

Let us remember the good news… My wholeness is, in fact, a hidden wholeness, and it comes only as I embrace my brokenness. My messiness. My confusion.
That my identity, my value, my worth, is not predicated on answers or resolutions or tidiness. My identity, my value, my worth, comes from Grace.
Grace is that moment of certainty when I know that if I never did one more seminar, or wrote one more book, or attended one more meeting, it would be okay.
Mark Twain was once asked, “Do you believe in child baptism?”
“Believe in it,” he responded. “Hell, I’ve seen it.”
At one time I believed in it.
But now, I have seen it.
And here’s the deal: Grace is just not where I expected to find it. Grace is found where God is found, in the pressure points of life. And even in a very broken world, grace is found and spilled, one embrace at a time.
When I understand this, I am free to surrender.
I am free to give up my need for control and answers.
I am free to own my life. This life. Not some tidy life.
I am free to give, to respond with compassion.
I am free to let my life heal, not by denying the pain, but by acknowledging it, and in fact, by keeping my heart open.
I am free to see that the mending does not eliminate the cracks, but allows me to embrace them.
I am free to let that light spill to the world around me.

This week we remembered St. James the Apostle. Anyone who has walked the Camino do Santiago (or wishes to walk it, including me) knows St. James, patron saint for pilgrims.
I’m glued to the Olympics. Yes, a bit surreal without fan, but the performances, inspire and the stories give hope.
And the full moon this weekend. Mercy. The light that gives hope.

Quote for your week…
Man is born broken.
He lives by mending.
The grace of God is the glue.
Eugene O’Neill


Today’s Photo Credit: “Terry; Sweltering greetings from the Mojave Desert! Sharing a sunset photo from this weekend in Castle Rock, Colorado, where the ‘Sunset Alerts’ originated.  Also sharing because each Monday morning I share Sabbath Moments with our friends, who in turn have introduced a number or their friends to you and your work.  Our friend, Heidi, even showed us her journal (which she purchased for several family members!).  We had not seen our friends for far too long, but one of our bonds is the weekly email from me to them, sharing your wisdom. Thank you again for all your good work, safe travels (now that we can say that, again!). Best,” M Flynn… Thank you M… Keep sending your photos… send to [email protected]
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In the mailbag…
–Dear Terry, I did not knowingly unsubscribe to anything. I love reading what you write Every Day and I can hardly say that about other things that I feel I have to do every day. I am learning that I really make choices all the time about what I do and how I think about what I do. I belong to Unity if the Valley Spiritual Center in Vacaville, CA and although I grew up in the Methodist Church, I have elements of Buddhism in my nature and practice as well as intending to follow Unity’s five spiritual principles that keep me close to God.
I thought about trying to sign up for your San Diego Retreat but maybe you will be coming to Northern Cal where I live and that would be much easier. I Love your offerings. Gretchen

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remember, you were given that name
every day along the way, remember,
you were greeted as such,
and treated as such,
and you needed no other name.

Pilgrim they called you,
again and again,
(Camino, David Whyte)

Not again in this flesh will I see
the old trees stand here as they did,
weighty creatures made of light, delight
of their making straight in them and well,
whatever blight our blindness was or made,
however thought or act might fail.
The burden of absence grows, and I pay
daily the grief I owe to love
for women and men, days and trees
I will not know again. Pray
for the world’s light thus borne away.
Pray for the little songs that wake and move.
For comfort as these lights depart,
recall again the angels of the thicket,
columbine aerial in the whelming tangle,
song drifting down, light rain, day
returning in song, the lordly Art
piecing out its humble way.
Though blindness may yet detonate in light,
ruining all, after all the years, great right
subsumed finally in paltry wrong,
what do we know? Still
the Presence that we come into with song
is here, shaping the seasons of His wild will.
Wendell Berry
A Timbered Choir, The Sabbath Poems

Dear God,
We give thanks for places of simplicity and peace;
let us find such a place within ourselves.
We give thanks for places of refuge and beauty;
let us find such a place within ourselves.
We give thanks for places of nature’s truth and freedom,
of joy, inspiration and renewal,
places where all creatures may find acceptance and belonging.
Let us search for these places;
in the world, in ourselves and in others.
Let us restore them.
Let us strengthen and protect them and let us create them.
May we mend this outer world according to the truth of our inner life
and may our souls be shaped and nourished by nature’s eternal wisdom.
Michael Leunig

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