“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their place. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.” Thank you David Orr.
And, I might add, it needs people who recognize that care of any kind—compassion, generosity, forgiveness, reconciliation, peacemaking, service, ministry, teaching, giving, healing—begins with and is nourished by self-care.
This is a good week to let (allow) our souls to catch up. To be gentle with ourselves. To find renewal.
And my confession: self-care isn’t always my strong suit.
So. I picked up Soul Gardening and headed to the back patio, to re-read the book I wrote about how the garden gave me permission to slow down, to receive gifts of grace, to be at home in my own skin.
This from Soul Gardening… I am just on the edge of sleep, adrift in that kingdom where images move with exaggerated pace—as if the dream world carousel surrenders its final pirouettes, and gravity regains its dominion. Bees, nature’s incantatory pollen couriers, furnish a hypnotic drone, the perpetual melody of early summer’s symphony. The sun is a benevolent comforter, and the smell of fresh cut grass bring back the baseball games of my youth. My pillow–my accommodating black Labrador, Conroy–rises and falls with each breath. My cap is pulled down over my eyes and I dream of hitting a game-winning home run. The air is close, suffused with the scent of Conroy’s warm skin. We have nowhere to go this day and are in no hurry to get there.
But it has not always been this way. I was bent on being the young clergyman making his mark on this world. Not that we former clergy have a monopoly on this infection. It seems to taint us all. It’s just that I was rewarded ironically-for my hell-bent pace. We church folk were encouraged to burn ourselves out for God-conjuring images of one so weary with well doing he begins to smolder at the collar and eventually spontaneously combusts, to perpetual sainthood. A fate, which won great respect and added, I was proud to divulge, plaques to my wall. Suffice it to say, I never hear or preached any sermons on the necessity of slowing down let alone the art of doing nothing. I lived unwittingly chained to the cardinal rule that it didn’t matter if you didn’t know where you were going, it was the ultimate of bad form to be late.
Here’s the invitation of the garden. Here is where we begin. Sitting. Lolling. There are no shortcuts. My temptation—as a new gardener—was to dash off to the local nursery, load up on color, inject seedlings into the soil, and expect an immediate payoff. This is hardly a surprise, as I live that way in all areas of my life. Including prayer, spiritual growth, exercise and emotional wellbeing.
We can safely infer that freedom to loll struck me as an exercise utterly foreign to my busy, religious, performance-oriented world.
Mirabel Osler, I am deeply committed to sitting in the garden.
The phone rings, disturbing my reverie. A child of my culture, I jump up and scramble to answer, “What are you doing? the voice inquires. Nothing, I answer, winded. Pause. I sense an arched eyebrow, Nothing? I rack my brain for an appropriate explanation. Well, I’m in the garden taking a nap with my dog.
No. Another pause. No, I mean what are you doing really? The moral is clear: Like big boys who don’t cry, real gardeners don’t nap with their dogs.
It’s it curious that our greeting is what are you doing? Meaning what are you doing that is of importance.
There are those lucky days, when the sun illuminates the translucent bat wing ruby thorns of the rose sericea pteracantha, or a swallow-tail butterfly provides a cabaret while sipping at a wallflower, or a rainbow arches its back through the northing sky after a morning of fateful clouds have skittered and leapt, or daffodils glow, faithful and sanguine around the maple tree, or the summer sun stays in the sky well into evening, letting you sit on the back deck listening to crickets well past bedtime, or the candied scent of a bearded iris transports you back to a high school dance when the best-looking girl in town really did want to drape her arms around your neck during all the slow numbers. Yes, there are those lucky days when public opinion means something only to pollsters and politicians, when you realize that the elastic jurisdiction of what “the” think cannot find you here in this little corner of the globe, and your raise your head to the stars and shout to no one in particular, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”
The garden put me in a frame of mind where I could hear and see and feel again, as if some part of me that had ossified came back to life. I cannot say with certain that I heard God’s voice (for I’m not sure what that voice would sound like, were I to hear it), but I suspect that God was the one who planted the seed to begin with, and was watching over me while that seed took root. For in the garden I found, in the words of Quaker teacher Thomas Kelly in A Testament of devotion, the “amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice.”
Let us be gentle with ourselves my friends. And on this first week of September, let us raise a glass to self-care.
Quote for our week…
“If it ain’t in you, it can’t come out of your horn.” Charlie Parker
Today’s Photo Credit: “Hi Terry, I hiked the Naches Loop Trail last Saturday with my son and grandson. We hoped to see Rainier, but instead hiked through the clouds. It was beautiful, though, and I laughed knowing ‘the mountain’ was still there, obscured by clouds.
Condolences for the loss of your friend Mr. Cushman. Very sad news, and I hope in time good memories will ease your sorrow. Peace be with you, and may his memorize a blessing. Thanks for all you do to encourage and lift our spirits. May you find a dance and sing today!
Hugs,” Linda Fahlgren-Moe… Thank you Linda… Keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
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)
Letters that do my heart good…
–Well, Terry, that photo of the boy with the frog should get a prize of some kind. Maybe there should be a category called Delight at some State Fair’s photography competition somewhere? Or better yet, how about a coffee table book, just photos, of Delight and Joy? I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Talk about good medicine… I’m thrilled for your hole in one. And grieved to hear of your friend’s recent death while walking down a favorite road. May your heart know some comfort in the knowledge that you have so many of us out here who are holding you up in our thoughts and prayers. Happy September, Mary
–Your readers Dave and Monica Jennings write: “The photo asks the question, how could anyone doubt the existence of God?” Most of the photos you use ask that question, one I ask myself when I see children at play or the beautiful blue sky from my window or watch a garden (vegetable or flower) grow, one I asked my mother as a child as I watched an avocado seed sprout in a water glass in the kitchen window. Peacefully yours, Jo
–Dear Terry, Thank you as always for Monday’s reflection. They Always warm my heart and keep me going, and sometimes even dancing! Today I want to say I am sorry about your friend Philip. Although I may not be able to understand how much your heart is hurting this very moment, I do understand exactly how it feels when my heart hurts. My prayer is there with you. Pat
POEMS AND PRAYERS
By means of a diversion, a man (or woman) can avoid his own company twenty-four hours a day. Pascal
Bring on the poets
to remind us of the weighty glory resident in the rose,
the caterpillar, the dog, and the grass.
Bring on musicians of the spirit
whose melodies touch both light and dark.
Bring on painters and writers and designers and architects
who ignite sparks of the soul.
But mostly, bring on the sun and the rain and the dawn and the dusk,
the night and the moon, shadowed by a hazy film of cloud.
And bring on love in a wife and a son and rich friends
who suffer from the same fatal disease but refuse to give in,
who redeem moments of time simply for rest
and joy and goose-bumpy love.