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Nutritious food of life

A Zen roshi is dying. All of the monks gather—an eagerness restrained—around the deathbed, hoping to be chosen as the next teacher.
The roshi asks slowly, “Where is the gardener?”
“The gardener,” the monks wonder aloud. “He is just a simple man who tends the plants, and he is not even ordained.”
“Yes,” the roshi replies. “But he is the only one awake. He will be the next teacher.”
Okay. I’ll say yes. But if I’m honest, I’ll tell you that living “awake” in our world, is something that may not always be easy or pleasant or fun. Parts of our world feel really crazy, and there are things I would rather not see. I would rather close my eyes.
Which is why I love this story. In 1819, a blind soldier named James Holman, was invalided out of the British Navy. His reaction? He promptly set out to “see” the world.
James traveled alone, except for one brief stint with a deaf man. James spoke none of the languages he encountered, and moved about by public transit. When he returned to England, he published several travel books about his adventures. He wrote that he “rarely felt he missed anything because of his blindness.”
When people would notice his condition, they would invite him to “squeeze things,” as a way of perceiving them.
“And this is what the contemporary travel writer may have to do,” wrote Anatole Broyard in his essay about Holman. “He may have to squeeze places until they yield something, anything.”
I love the visceral, wholehearted permission to literally, be here now.
And yes. I want to see (to be awake). To squeeze every bit of life. Even the bits that differ from the hand I should have been dealt.
There is any number of reasons not to squeeze the moment. Or, at the very least, to wait… for the right moment, day, person, circumstance, you name it. What we fail to recognize is that our reluctance literally shuts us down, and in the end, truly blinds us. And only serves to flip life on its head. As a result, we feel hemmed in, at the mercy of, overwhelmed or something akin to spinning out of control. If I see only cacophony and uncertainty, then I live defensive.
Not unlike the story about the woman who lived in an elegant house with windows looking out onto stately trees and an English style garden. (My kind of garden.) And yet. She kept all of her shades drawn and sat in darkness to save her carpets from sun damage. When asked, she said, “I know that outside is an interesting world, but I am afraid to breathe the fresh air.”
Of course, we say, she sounds crazy.
And that’ll never happen to me, I tell myself.
Even so, while it is not my druthers, I too, can live stingy with my heart.
And when I do, it affects the way I see.
It affects the way I receive.
It affects the way I give.

Let us unpack our two invitations. To live awake, and to squeeze life. Both allow us to choose. Both allow us to honor what really matters. And the good news? From that place, we are tethered and grounded.
So, it’s paradigm shift time.
“Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.” Robin Wall Kimmerer
If I were giving a talk, I would say “Let’s read that again. Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy.”
This takes me back to my garden: It’s the dirt that really matters.
When we focus only on the “flowers”, what really matters—the dirt they grow in—gets lost, hidden, unseen, so we don’t draw on it.
It is the same with the world we live in. When we embrace the gift of “squeezing” the “dirt,” we gratefully honor that hope, renewal, rebuilding, kindness, connection, forgiveness, reconciliation and human dignity still exist.

There is no doubt it is easy it is to close the door to our minds, our hearts, our spirit.
When I do not let life in, of what am I afraid? And here’s the irony; I’m most often afraid of the really good stuff—wonder, touch, tears, delight, surprise, joy, gladness, astonishment—wondering if I do deserve it after all.
Soul nourishment and replenishment grows from the soil (the “dirt”) of grace… and affirmation and compassion. Yes, self-care. To nourish and replenish my soul begins here: peace and gentleness to one’s self.
Well, sign me up. Where do I begin?
That’s just it. There is no script.
As my mentor, Lew Smedes wrote, “Gratitude dances though the open windows of our hearts. We cannot force it. We cannot create it. And we can certainly close our windows to keep it out. But we can also keep them open and be ready for the joy when it comes.”
Let us live “awake” one window at a time.
I want Sabbath Moment to continue to be a community resource for sanctuary, replenishment, grace and wholeheartedness, finding ways to keep us spiritually hydrated. And a reminder that radical kindness always matters.
And, that no one of us is on this journey alone.
“Which is more important,” asked Big Panda. “The journey or the destination?”
“The company,” said Tiny Dragon. (Thank you James Norbury)
Thank you for being a part of Sabbath Moment. Let us squeeze this life, and let us together build sanctuaries of empathy and renewal.

Quote for our week…
“When (we) were born, (we) were allowed to enjoy the solid, nutritious food of life–namely, work, play, fun, laughter, the company of people, the pleasure of the senses and the mind. (We) were given a taste for the drug called approval, appreciation, attention… having a taste for these drugs, we became addicted and began to dread losing them.” A.S. Neill

Note: The James Holman story adapted from The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau


Today’s Photo Credit: “Terry, we did our honeymoon in Yosemite almost 44 years ago and recently revisited this heaven on earth National Park! My soul was refreshed as I rested in natures lap. Thank you for all the reminders you put out there to ‘be present in the moment,'” Dixie Plinski… Thank you Dixie… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… send to 

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Letters that do my heart good…
–Terry, In reading The Solace of Fierce Landscapes author Belden Lane makes several references to “cloudy mountains” of God’s presence. The realm of the unknown and hidden. He refers to Moses in the cloud on Mt Sinai and Jesus in a cloud during the transfiguration. For him, clouds represent divine revelation in the spirit of the unknown and unseen. Charlie
–Thanks For All Your inspirational writing and ministry to pause and heal.
Have A Great Day. Mindy
–You brought to mind the glorious sunsets of Key West and while the setting sun is awesome, I enjoy the “after glow” or the back light I believe you called it turns the “ordinary day” into “holy ground”. I find myself enjoying the sky and its clouds and birds and even jet trails more as I age. Thank you! Becky
–Dear Terry: I had an ah ha moment today. I consider myself a very positive person, but I admit I often say I am not a fan of uncertainty. Until today, after reading your Sabbath Moment. “Insight, serendipity, wonder, love, surprise, joy, delight and discovery all come from places where we are not sure, where we do not know, where we do not have all the answers.” When I look at uncertainty from this new view, I like it! I am touched, entertained, in awe, filled with wonder, faith and even hope. What a paradigm shift for me. I just had never thought about it in this way. Thanks, again, for encouraging me to think. And Holy Now by Peter Mayer Wow, I needed to hear that song. Great choice. With my new view on uncertainty, everything is “holy now”. I truly love what you do. And part of the fun is not knowing what I am going to read and learn next… the thrill of uncertainty. Kim 


Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
by Derek Walcott

Come Into The Quiet
As we enter into the quiet stillness of this present moment,
we awaken to everything around us,
without and within,
as if for the first time,
seeing with new eyes,
with an open heart,
resting in peace,
flowing with joy,
in the loving radiance
of our Beloved…
Seeing as if from our heart,
with eternal eyes.
Bob Holmes

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