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Nourish your soul.

It is coffee hour on a summer Sunday—that time after church service when we sip coffee (or if we’re brave, some unidentifiable fruit juice) and chat about the weather, the week’s news, or if it’s memorable, the sermon. Whatever we’re talking about, there are times when we’re aware of a self-conscious nudge to keep up appearances; this is, after all, church.
The laughter of children drifts in from outside. One boy, maybe five-years-old, runs into the fellowship hall looking for his mother—his face flush, his hair supercharged, his pants grass-stained. His mother hides her irritation with skill, but not without effort, “What in God’s name happened to you?”
“Mom, I just needed to tell you that I made a new friend,” the boy reports, and he bolts back out the door. Sympathetic onlookers shake their heads, many thankful that their days of dealing with such shenanigans are over. They return to their conversation. Most didn’t notice that one of their own, he long past 70, snuck out the back door to join the game of hide-and-seek on the church lawn.  

As much as I wish to ignore much of it, unsettling events do seem to dominate our news (and, our minds). And somehow, I think all I need is a good mental grasp (I guess it’s the lure to fathom, or explain… telling ourselves that if we find a theological narrative that’ll do the trick). Hoping to find some kind of comfort in the notion that mental tidiness wins the day. Except that now we’re back to wanting life neatly in a box.
Which is why I’m grateful this week for Cole Arthur Riley’s, This Here Flesh. All good books invite paradigm shifts, permission to ask different questions, permission to tell and find yourself in stories. She writes, “I was not raised in an overtly religious home; my spiritual formation now comes to me in memories—not creeds or doctrine, but the air we breathed, stories, myth, and a kind of attentiveness.”
Life can be quite bumpy, no doubt. But, let’s begin with attentiveness. Rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s wisdom, “When your life is filled with the desire to see the holiness in everyday life, something magical happens: Ordinary life becomes extraordinary, and the very process of life begins to nourish your soul.”
Ahh yes… first things first.

When the young boy walks back into the fellowship hall, he’s holding the hand of the older man. Both are flushed in the cheeks. They’ve come in for another cookie. You hear comments whispered by others in the room.
“What’s he thinking? He’s going to have another heart attack if he’s not careful!”
“That poor mother. That boy is a handful.”
“I wish those kids wouldn’t come in here with those dirty shoes.”
One of the women serving coffee asks the older man, “We’ll see you tomorrow night? Can I ask you a question about the agenda for our committee meeting?”
“Not now,” he says, “First, I’ve got to tell you about this frog we found near the back of the church.”
And the very process of life begins to nourish your soul…

This weekend, our weather a drama scroll, from patchy blue skies to dreary cloud cover to an all-out storm, wind, driving rain and hail. And then as if a set on stage, the sky moves and sunshine spills from a canvas abounding with billowed white clouds. In other words, our PNW sky and the five-year-old boy in the fellowship hall are kindred souls of sorts. They have each tapped into something (Jung called it numinosity). Numinosity is the potential for unexpected mystery and insight where one comes into the unshakable presence of the divine; a sacred transformative space that integrates and heals—nourishes—the mind, body, soul, and spirit.
Bottom line… where one feels fully and totally, alive.
Yes, I do know that this numinosity is essential. And that whatever it is, I want it.
How do I “acquire” it? Well… that’s just it. This isn’t something we acquire (now we’re back in our heads).
Being present (numinosity), begins simply with acceptance.
Of this day. Of this self. Yes, this imperfect, fractured, flawed, sometimes torn-to-pieces self.
If I had great advice, this would be a good time to give it. But I’m not sure what I can tell you. Except that I agree with Scott Russell Sanders, “For the enlightened few, the world is always lit.”
And Frederick Buechner’s insight, “A Sacrament is when something holy happens. It is transparent time, time you can see through to something deep inside time.
Needless to say, church isn’t the only place where the holy happens. Sacramental moments can occur at any moment, at any place, and to anybody. Watching something get born. Making love. A walk on the beach. Somebody coming to see you when you’re sick. A meal with people you love. Looking into a stranger’s eyes and finding out they are not a stranger’s. If we weren’t blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental.” (Wishful Thinking) 

This week, let us find nourishment for our soul. I have a couple ideas: One. Take a piece of paper and write. Tell me what you love (from the heart of a five-year-old standing grass-stained beaming at his mama)? You know, what takes you, even momentarily out of an overtly conscious view of the world (away from public opinion, or what is correct or appropriate)? What transports you, unburdens you, allows you to wallow in the expansive reach of grace, letting it wash over you, suspending explanation and justification?
It is not easy is it, this catch 22 of literally being in the moment, suspended by joy, without the safety net of cerebral clarity.

A blessed Passover to our Jewish brothers and sisters, celebrating deliverance from slavery. And Palm Sunday and Holy Week for our Christian communities, on the journey to Good Friday and Easter.
Oh, and idea number Two. Try this.  If someone asks you what you did today (don’t worry, someone will ask), say, “I made a new friend, and found a frog. Can I tell you about it?”  

Quote for our week…
That’s why I keep the
gates of my heart open
’cause you never know
where love might be
I leave a crack in my defenses
and let the unexpected carry me
Larry Murante


Today’s Photo Credit:  “Terry, Today’s Sabbath Moment spoke to me as I am a rock ‘treasure hunter’ and collector. This is at Lake Tahoe when my daughter and I were looking for a rock to be a backdrop celebrating my granddaughter’s engagement. As always I am grateful for the wisdom you share. Blessings,” Fran McMillen… Thank you Fran… Keep sending your photos… send to 

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Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Terry, It’s now six months since my husband passed and life has certainly changed. But your words and your calming voice one each audio John O’Donohue’s poems have kept my soul together. You tell us daily you write to live with a soft heart. Keep writing Terry, your soft heart is reaching each of us who hope someday to be blessed with a soft heart too. God bless the work you do daily. Sending love, E.
–Hi Terry, Your sabbath moments are so important to me. They lift my spirits and give me positive thoughts to forward one to my kinds. Bless you. Raedene
–Every time a see dandelions, I think of your story (a few years ago) and I can’t bring myself to pick such beautiful and amazing flowers. They are truly “survivors” which I hope to be. Thanks for your daily messages and inspiration. Shareen
–Dear Terry, Thank You for your ministry. Your writings give me permission to keep doing what comes natural–“playing”. And also to keep adding to my “medicine pouch” of treasures… rocks, shells, pine cones, feathers, gifts from loved ones etc… which make me feel alive and inspire the creative bone in me to come forth within the presence of the Savior. Well Done using your gift of words creatively and So effectively! Bless You, Melinda 


I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: ‘I am busy with matters of consequence!’ And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man–he is a mushroom! The Little Prince

O Taste and See
The world is
not with us enough.
O taste and see
the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination’s tongue,
grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform
into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being
hungry, and plucking
the fruit.
Denise Levertov

Lord, the air smells good today,
straight from the mysteries
within the inner courts of God.
A grace like new clothes thrown
across the garden, free medicine for everybody.
The trees in their prayer, the birds in praise,
the first blue violets kneeling.
Whatever came from Being is caught up in
being, drunkenly
forgetting the way back.
Rumi — Lord, the Air Smells Good Today (13th Century)

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