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Paying tribute to our heart

“Life itself has no meaning,” Joseph Campbell wrote. “However, each of us has meaning, and we bring it to life.” I like the paradigm shift here: meaning moves from the outside to the inside. It’s just that sometimes, we lose our way, and our spirit sags.
The movie The Rookie (based on a true story) begins in Texas, where Jim Morris (played by Dennis Quaid) is a Texas high school chemistry teacher and coach of the school’s baseball team, his career path the result of a shoulder injury that prevented him from pursuing his own dream of professional baseball.  Frustrated with his team’s play–and their tendency to “quit” or give up–Jim vents his frustration after one lopsided loss, “You better give some serious thought as to how you live out the rest of the season.”
“Why?” says one player, “what difference does it make?”
They turn the question around, and ask, “What about your dreams coach?”
“Scouts aren’t looking for high school science teachers,” he tells them.
As a way of motivating his players, Morris agrees to go to a professional try-out, if the team wins the championship. Inexplicably, they win. And Jim shows up at an open tryout (both his very young children in tow). An endeavor many considered crazy. Why?  Because a 35-year-old man doesn’t play professional baseball. To add fuel to the doubt, his own father discourages Jim, telling him it is time to accept reality and put aside impossible dreams.
Fast forward. Morris is drafted by Tampa Bay, and given a shot to play for their minor league team. But the wear and tear of bus travel, keeping up with his wife and young children by pay phone, concern due to mounting bills (the pay in the minor leagues minimal), an aching body and a disquiet knowing that some of the organization’s younger prospects view him as a publicity stunt have all taken their toll, and his spirits sag.
He’s ready to call it quits.  To give up. I’ve been there. Have you?
On the night before he heads home, he sees the lights from a little league ballpark. Morris stands at the center-field fence and watches as the young outfielder–maybe 10 years old–jogs out to his position during an inning change. As the two make eye contact, Morris nods and the boy grins.
Morris decides not to quit.
The next day in the locker room, he says to his young teammate and companion, with his own grin and high spirits, “You know what we get to do today Brooksie? We get to play baseball.”
There is a scene in Out of Africa, when Karen is leaving the farm, and her faithful servant Farah asks her to build a fire, so he will know where to find her. She says that she will.
“Then you must make this fire very big Sabu,” Farah tells her.
A big fire that reminds us (and allows us) to stop long enough to pay attention, to find what has been important to us, to find our heart, and to be grateful.
Here’s what I think happened at the little league ballpark. In the exchange with the young boy, Morris laid down his preoccupation and worry, and was gifted a very big fire.  You see, this is not just a story about pursing a dream (or to identify life’s meaning), it is a story about paying tribute to your heart, and bringing that meaning to life.
I know this for certain: when we do not pay tribute, without even knowing it, we settle for less. So much less.  So it is not just a question of what holds us, but of what holds us back… from being wholehearted, true to our self, fully alive, unafraid of uncertainty, and grateful for the gift of this moment.
God bless the fire builders in our life. They help us find our way. Fires that remind us that the gift each one of us carries (brings to life), is priceless. The permission to bring our heart to this moment, where we give, invest and care.

Many articles and surveys recently about the groundswell of sagging spirits (loneliness and downheartedness) in our world. A sagging spirit is another way of saying, something seems to be missing. And it takes a toll. Of course, the conundrum is that this “something” is often unknown, adding to our disquiet. We know only that a fundamental part of our being fully alive (an activating principle determining our character) is depleted. (The metaphor makes sense, as spirit comes from the Latin word for “breath”.)
When my spirit sags, as it did this past week, I do feel out of breath…
So I feel at the mercy of the news and the cacophony of cultural noise…
I’m certain control is taken away.
Bottom line; I don’t trust my own voice…
I wonder whether the meaning I bring to life will matter after all.
So I am less than my best self.

Recently I was asked what I do. My answer, “I’m in the refueling business. I try to find ways to keep us sane and grounded, so that we can be present and live from our best selves.” Their response? “Can I ask you a question? You got any ideas for me?” And they told me stories about stress and anxiety and a sagging spirit. They needed someone to build them a fire. Someone to invite them to the little league ballpark and revisit their joy.
But Lord help us. We prefer a list, some knee-jerk need to invent a method. Which requires rules. (More weight to take the breath out of us.)
But here’s the deal: Paying tribute to our heart is not an exercise to be graded. We’re not awarded merit badges. This is nothing less than an invitation to live from the inside out. The good news? An undefended heart carries the fragrance of love and bestows kindness on ourselves and the world around us.
Do you still need a list? Okay…
Be gentle with yourself. Practice kindness to your imperfections.
Give up a manicured and spiritualized image.
Come home to who you are, and savor the gifts and beauty of ordinary existence.
Let your heart spill… Try tenderness without apology or shame.
Put love, and you will find love. (When I bring my heart, I bring meaning.)

On a plane today, off to a retreat at Hinton, in Hayesville, North Carolina.
We continue to keep track of recovery and relief efforts in Florida (and now, South Carolina). A shout out of gratitude for the men and women who are making a difference.
And since we had a baseball story, a shout out to my Seattle Mariners who made the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. That tickled this fan.

Quote for your week…
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 


Today’s Photo Credit: “I loved the thought: ‘Embrace the day, as this one day will never return’ and after 55 years in the desert of Tucson, AZ, I never tire of beautiful sunsets! I appreciate you sharing the desert beauty with your readers. It is so amazing to me how many people think of the desert as only flat, barren sand. I think the stereotypes we all saw in our geography books of yesteryear linger in our minds for a lifetime unless we explore! Thanks for your morning ‘light’ in my inbox, Terry. I look forward to how you spill your light each day because you always help me think, reflect, question, appreciate and praise.” Michaele Ann Melton… Thank you Michaele… Keep sending your photos… send to 

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)

December 9 – 11 — Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ, Men’s Retreat

NEW Book – Stand Still: finding balance when the world turns upside down

NEW Audio SM… Enjoy — We are wounded healers
Join us every Wednesday… Audio Sabbath Moment

Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Terry, Thank you Terry. The state of our national turbulence worries me. You have offered words to not only comfort me but give me faith things will calm. Michael
–Good morning, Terry. I look forward each morning to being bathed in your comforting words of encouragement and hope. I tend to be positive and grateful and trusting in our Lord, but starting each day with your insights, chuckles, and words of comfort and hope sets the right tone for my day! I doubt if you are looking for something else to do, but this morning, I was thinking how much I would love a daily calendar — you know, the ones that stand up, and you can tear off the page each day — with your bits of wisdom or guidance. I so often find myself writing a sentence (or several) from your Daily Sabbath Moment into my journal. A calendar with your daily messages would be loved and valuable! Just a thought! By the way, some months ago, I checked in with my long-time friend Geoff Fletcher, who lives on Vashon. I was sharing how much I love Sabbath Moment, and I was delighted to know that you know one another. Geoff and I go way back in our ed tech careers before retirement. Have a blessed day and thanks for all you are and do! Vicki


Be generous in prosperity,
and thankful in adversity.
Be fair in thy judgment,
and guarded in thy speech.
Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness,
and a home to the stranger.
Be eyes to the blind,
and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
Be a breath of life to the body of humankind,
a dew to the soil of the human heart,
and a fruit upon the tree of humility.

A Prayer of Relief
Loving and gracious God,
All love and mercy compels us to the side of our global brothers and sisters.
In our charity, and in our compassion, help us stand with them.
In our solidarity and in our sharing, help us stand with them.
In our advocacy, and in our prayer, help us stand with them.
And as we turn to them in their peril, we ask your grace go with us:
To feed the hungry:
-give us your grace.
To give drink to the thirsty:
-give us your grace.
To clothe the naked:
-give us your grace.
To shelter the homeless:
-give us your grace.
To care for the sick:
-give us your grace.
To reach the trapped and the stranded:
-give us your grace.
To mourn the dead:
-give us your grace.
And in reaching out, may we find you in them.
And may they find you in us.
(Adopted from a prayer of Catholic Relief Services following Typhoon Haiyan, November 2013)

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