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One particular harbor

“I know I don’t get there often enough
But God knows I surely try
It’s a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe…
And there’s that one particular harbour
Sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within”
I’ve been singing and humming these words most of the day. Thank you, Jimmy Buffett, for “One Particular Harbor.” And rest in peace friend. We are grateful for the light you spilled in our world. And for the reminder of the gift and vital healing—“magic kind of medicine”—in the power in pause.

An American traveler planned a long safari to Africa. He was a compulsive man, loaded down with maps, timetables, and agendas. Men from a local tribe had been engaged to carry the cumbersome load of supplies, luggage and “essential stuff.” (You know, as North Americans, we can’t go anywhere without taking “stuff” with us. And then we buy more stuff when we get there. Just sayin’.)
On the first morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went very far. On the second morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went very far. On the third morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went very far. And the American seemed pleased. On the fourth morning, the tribesmen refused to move. They simply sat by a tree. The American became incensed. “This is a waste of valuable time. Can someone tell me what is going on here?”
The translator answered, “They are waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.”

I like Joseph Campbell’s reminder, “You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.” (The Power of Myth)
Can you tell me where that place is (or places are) for you?

Gratefully, what’s at stake here (with this sacred necessity of pause) is not another “to do” list. It is an invitation to savor the pleasure of slowness, moments of stillness, even silence, and allowing them work their magic. There is a part of us that protests, “But what if it is not my skill set? And what if my world is a wee bit too stir crazy to even pause?”
This I do know, when my spirit (or anxiety or disquiet) is on overdrive, I need (and am grateful for) the replenishment that comes from my Particular Harbor.
In her book Open Spaces, Gretel Ehrich talks about the concept that space can heal. That space—created by silence—represents sanity. Mercy, what a gift. Silence can be a fullness, rather than a void. It can allow the mind to run through its paces without any need for justification. It can let us recover—grab hold of—those parts of our self which have been so scattered, so disparate, throughout the week. To sit still is a spiritual endeavor.
To sit still is to practice Sabbath–meaning literally, to quit.
To stop. To savor uncluttered time.
To be gentle with yourself.
And yes, to waste time with God.
The bottom line? I’m no longer chasing what I assume will fill empty spaces, in order to make me something I am not. Replenishment begins here, “I am enough.”

I am too often completely unconscious about the effect of this growing world of distractions (or interruptions or exhaustion or hullabaloo). To complicate matters, we morph into our will-power mode; “Okay. I will just quit my addiction to distractions.”
As if. Remember, quitting only creates a vacuum to be filled by some other distraction.
So, here’s the deal: it’s not about what is removed; it’s about what we choose to replace it. It’s about what we value. Plato’s reminder, “What is honored will be cultivated.” Not what is spoken or believed or taught. What is honored.
The men from the tribe honored listening, stillness, or attention without judgment. And when we pay attention, we create a fabric in our soul which absorbs daily miracles.

I once asked my analyst why I was in therapy. He told me it would make me a better gardener. Gardening can be strong medicine—an elixir that nurtures and shapes the soul. For that reason, it is a tonic seldom taken straight with no ice. Gardening has a way of seeping into your soul, and one day you find yourself, in the words of poet May Sarton in Plant Dreaming Deep, spending the first half hour of the morning “enjoying the air and watching for miracles.”
And yes, the garden for me, one of my particular harbors. And 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 northern sky after a morning of fateful clouds have skittered and leapt, or daffodils flow, 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 “they” think cannot find you here in this little corner of the globe, and you raise your head to the stars and shout to no one in particular, “if this isn’t nice, what is?”

A happy Labor Day to all. Savor time with you family and friends. And savor a moment of stillness.
And My Oh My, yesterday picked two quarts of fresh blackberries. And cobbler today. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Quote for the week…
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” Jean Shinoda Bolen

(Particular Harbor written by Jimmy Buffett and Tahitian musician Bobby Holcomb. Song video is below.)


Today’s Photo Credit: “Hi Terry, I saw your congregation. And they All said Amen. Just like we do when we receive your Sabbath Moment.” Marguerite Gerontis (Tacoma, WA)… Thank you Marguerite… 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…
–Thank you so much Terry for your daily reflections. They “do my heart good”! And they help me find little miracles in my daily day, like the squirrels playing ahead of me during my walk this morning. We just need eyes to see and the freedom to pause and experience delight. Thanks, Sr. Mercedes
–The Tom Hanks movie you mention is the last in-theater movie I experienced with my late husband. I grin at that term only because he was always “late.” We held hands and wept as well as chuckled. I continue to enjoy your sharing of wisdom and light. Blessings, Mary
–“Tenderness.” This says it all. Just Wow! It may become my new favorite word. You did it again–don’t ever stop writing… Hugs and more hugs, Andrea
–Beautiful and just what I needed today and every day. I love the phrase, “a tender heart”, a gentle reminder, and the photo brings to mind “a cloud of witnesses”. Thank you for sheltering me during the early morning hours, when my heart grieves for what is lost and I am apt to forget that He or She is still there. Sheila
–Terry, Your Sabbath Moment struck a personal chord with me. I have discovered that there is an actual category of personalities called Highly Sensitive Person. There are now books about this phenomenon which I have attempted to read. Most are pretty technical and rather boring for describing those of us with tender hearts and deep intuition. However I bought the abridged version Highly Sensitive Child and sent it to my 9 year old granddaughter who was struggling a bit in school. (Sent one for her teacher as well). My granddaughter was so excited and kept exclaiming “This is so ME!” It’s comforting to know that there are those who understand and affirm the gift of being Highly Sensitive. Thank you for being one of them. Pamella
–Thanks Terry, your morning moment about President Eisenhower’s question response struck Me as a Dad & granddad. Don


Our prayer
May this not be just “another day”
but one where,
as I open the door to what is
an orchestra of bird song
in this beautiful, if fragile world,
that somehow, I connect with you
who gifted us this temporary home and yet,
still daily walks with us,
even when we think we are alone.
For such gracious and enduring love,
we offer this,
our heartfelt thanks.

The Opening Of Eyes
That day I saw beneath dark clouds,
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before,
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing,
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.
David Whyte
New and Selected Poems David Whyte

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