The geese are on a brief holiday, trying out other lakes and campgrounds in our neck of the woods, so this morning my audience a cluster of ducks. I had no shortage of topics as our world’s turvyness seizes both our attention and energy.
And this past week, significant storm damage, a candid metaphor for life’s precarious nature. It’s been quite a summer, affecting so many as one in three Americans lived through a weather disaster. This is real.
But speaking of turvyness, storms are not always weather related, are they?
One thing all storms do have in common—be it emotional, personal, political or weather—they feel unwelcome and uninvited and require cleanup, and necessitate serious choices in their wake.
What do we choose in order to see? What is our paradigm? And beyond cleanup, how do we navigate in our fragile world?
And I remember another time, years ago, when cleanup was necessary.
Behind our house was a small pond, fed by a meandering stream. I spent a good part of the morning rearranging the rocks—heaped in a pile—that once lined the stream-bed.
You see, raccoons visit every night, uninvited, and practice forms of mayhem and destruction. And they love tossing the river rocks around, making mini mounds. (I suspect it is required education for all young raccoons.)
There are days when chaos doesn’t rattle my cage, but there are other days when it doesn’t take much to make me feel fragile. And close to a tipping point. You know, when annoying amounts of life’s cares have been amassed.
This is one of those days. So I stand, cursing delinquent rodents, just to hear my voice bounce around in the Fir trees behind my house. (Yes, I know that raccoons are not rodents, but they are next of kin in my book.)
I was fixing the stream-bed (a true case of futility or hopefulness, given the reality that my work will be undone sometime later tonight), when my son Zach (age 7) asks me what I’m doing.
“Fixing stuff,” I tell him.
Then I add some unpleasant things about our furry visitors, cast aspersions about their species in general, grumble about how little fun I am having, how this wasn’t on my agenda for the day, and how my life has been most assuredly inconvenienced.
“But dad,” Zach tells me, “everybody has raccoons in their life.”
Kids. Go figure.
I laugh and decide to keep rearranging rocks.
Which brings us back to this Sabbath Moment. Somehow, when life feels upside down, I feel compelled to make sense of it all. Oh my.
Or, at least, not put my head in the sand. Or, not be undone by crazy. Or, not feel the need to withdraw my light, or my hands to help.
Today’s world unnerves me too often. (Which surprises me, because I tell myself that I’m above all that, surely.)
And yet, I find myself often on tilt; exhausted or angry or stupefied, or all of the above.
And it hits me, that life is complicated and catawampus enough without the need to add more pressure by parsing the categories (you know, we should be better than this). Because when we do, we live segmented and disconnected. And, we miss every opportunity to be present for whatever life holds today, especially the parts of life we didn’t sign up for.
So today, I need a different paradigm.
When tidying and cleanup is the primary (or only) agenda, I have a quandary…
You know, this is me, living inconvenienced.
Now this is me, really living life.
This is me, stuck in cleanup-life time.
Now this is me, in celebrate-life time.
This is me, in manage pain time.
Now this is me, in healing and moving past pain time.
It is as if we are living two different lives. If only one would end, for the other to begin. Paul Tournier’s reminder that “Many people spend their lives indefinitely preparing to live.”
It’s paradigm shift time. Our old paradigm: the presupposition that life must be raccoon free. And so; we live cautious and suspicious. And afraid. And the raccoons get to say how the story ends.
But what if cleanup isn’t the only task here?
What if, even in the midst, this life can be the source of joy, wonder, curiosity, well-being and grace?
What if, even in the midst, this life can be an invitation to both humility and empathy?
If I give up the need for control, I can admit to being human and to being broken, which is not a bad thing. Because when you are broken, you are open, and everything is a gift. As Jon Katz reminds us, “Humility is a gate, not a door, and when it opens, there is a whole other world to see.”
Here’s the deal: Even in a world with raccoons, we can create places where people are nurtured, restored, affirmed, safe, and encouraged. And even if I fail, I can still choose to be on the side of making amends, and repairing what has been undone.
Yes… this is our new paradigm: Even in a world with raccoons, we can create places where people are nurtured, restored, affirmed, safe, and encouraged.
This happens when we embrace the sacrament of the present moment, one person at a time.
Marianne Williamson’s reflection that, “Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.”
I can’t guess what kind of raccoons you are tussling. But I’m sure that you are. What to do? You can laugh and decide to keep rearranging the piles of rocks.
Or try this solution once offered by a creative Vashon Islander. (Posted on the local version of Craigslist.) Help Needed: Remove raccoons for Dutch Apple PIE!
“There is a family of raccoons living in my neighbor’s laurel hedge (tall) bordering my property and they are causing a ruckus all night long very near my house, getting on the roof (I think), etc. If someone can come trap and remove them or find another way to get rid of them, I will bake you an amazing Dutch Apple Pie (or two)!”
Hey, we may never pass this way again. That’s worth a bite or two of Dutch Apple Pie.
A replenishing and affirming Labor Day to all. I’ve got some BBQ recipes I’d be glad to share.
And please be safe and healthy and emotionally hydrated as our schools are back in session. Blessings to teachers and health care workers everywhere.
And, for our Jewish friends and community, “Shanah Tovah”. It is Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year and the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days that lead up to Yom Kippur.
Quotes for your week…
The future is no place to place your better days. Dave Matthews
There are no unsacred moments. Terry Hershey
SABBATH MOMENT BULLETIN BOARD
Today’s Photo Credit: “Terry, One of my sanctuaries. Deep in the central Colorado Rocky Mountains, is the former mining town, now ski village of Crested Butte. The mountains and valley that forms this backdrop is called Oh Be Joyful. They got that right,” Ed Kilbourne (Manasota Key, FL)… Thank you Ed… Keep sending your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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)
In the mailbag…
–Hello Terry! Just wanted you to know that the retreat was truly wonderful, nourishing, and fun! It filled me up in so many places, and on Sunday afternoon and evening I was bubbling over with happiness telling my husband all about it. You truly are a gift! Anyway, just wanted to share with you that I was in my kitchen this afternoon, watching the birds out my window (feasting at what my daughter christened “The Backyard Bistro” and listening to one of my all-time favorite groups, The Piano Guys. They were playing “It’s Gonna Be Okay” and I couldn’t help it…I just started dancing! Reminded me of so much that you talked about this past weekend and it brought a big smile to my face.
Sending hugs, Alicia
POEMS AND PRAYERS
|Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,|
but to be fearless facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved
but hope for patience to win my freedom.
Take Love for Granted
Assume it’s in the kitchen,
under the couch, high
in the pine tree out back,
behind the paint cans
in the garage. Don’t try
proving your love
is bigger than the Grand
Canyon, the Milky Way,
the urban sprawl of L.A.
Take it for granted. Take it
out with the garbage. Bring
it in with the takeout. Take
it for a walk with the dog.
Wake it every day, say,
“Good morning.” Then
make the coffee. Warm
the cups. Don’t expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That’s more
than you need. We can
love anybody, even
everybody. But you
can love the silence,
sighing and saying to
yourself, “That’ s her.”
“That’s him.” Then to
each other, “I know!
Let’s go out for breakfast!”
“Take Love for Granted” by Jack Ridl, Practicing to walk Like a Heron. © Wayne State University Press, 2013.
I know a cure for sadness:
let your hands touch something that
makes your eyes smile.
I bet there are a hundred objects close by
that can do that.
Look at beauty’s gift to us–
her power is so great she enlivens
the earth, the sky, our
Mirabai (Hindu mystical singer)