Sometimes we need stories more than food to stay alive. They remind us what really matters and allow us to see with our heart. Stories save us.
Like the story about how Stephanie Disney (audiologist at the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs) met her (then 2-and-a-half-year-old) daughter, Rudy. Disney recalls, “my heart recognized her immediately.”
In the story, Disney says, “I am the whitest of white women, and my daughter is some indefinable combination of all that is beautiful from at least three races: curly dark hair, petite features, freckles, a golden tan skin tone, one blue eye and one brown. If her race had only one name, it would be perfection. I understand that everyone wants love and acceptance. And these are such rare gifts, that when people see them freely demonstrated, they are compelled to seek the source. Recently, Rudy surprised me when a white-haired lady, standing right beside us, asked if I was her mother.
Rudy threw the lady a disbelieving glance and said, ‘Well, she helps me with multiplication, fixes my hair, kisses me and we both have freckles on our noses; who else could she be?'”
I love this story. And I needed this story, because when I lose touch with my heart and the core of what I know to be good, I disconnect from people and the world.
Yesterday (September 28), was National Good Neighbor Day. And I just watched the preview of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (Tom Hanks is Mr. Rogers, in theaters in November.)
I’m an unabashed Mr. Rogers fan. Because Mr. Rogers is church to me. His opening hymn, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” brings smiles and evokes memories from years long ago. His vestments, a sweater and tennis shoes.
“Sometimes we have to ask for help, and that’s OK,” Rogers says. “I think the best thing we can do is to let people know that each one of them is precious.”
Yes. And here’s the power. Someone sees me. And talks to my heart. Affirms the reality that the space between two people is holy ground. Where vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength.
This one thing is undeniable. We are, all of us, thirsty for kindness. Gentleness. Meekness. And compassion. And, we’re brother and sister. “Who else could we be?”
Let us not pretend. This is not easy. You know, the part that sees the precious, especially inside. Easy, is shutting down. Being overcome by weariness. Giving way to numbness. Or pretending not to see. And finding someone to blame.
Martin Buber (inspirational Jewish philosopher) cuts to the chase, “All real living is meeting.” Real life happens in the present, and in the Presence. When we see one another as precious. Knowing that we are all welcomed into God’s compassionate heart, no exceptions, no exclusion.
The word that brings us into the present and into the Presence is acceptance. Radical acceptance is the love we seek and the love we are. That love is, in fact, the life we seek. That love is the word of Presence.
Yes. This is the power of Rudy’s story.
In Presence, our heart comes to life. Where hope and joy and gratitude bubble up. Where we see what is life-giving—inclusion, empathy, kindness, mercy, gentleness, humanity, compassion.
I can hear Mr. Rogers saying, “Our word for today, is Presence. Can you say Presence?”
And I can hear voices saying, “Are you nuts? In this corrosive world you want to be that gullible?”
Well, yes, I do. Remembering the Irish proverb’s affirmation, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
And yes, stories save us. Saved was an essential word in my religious upbringing. Being saved bought my ticket to heaven. It’s just that my Christian faith is predicated on the incarnation; which is the embodiment of God. The fully “humanness” of God. And yet, my upbringing placed a premium on being “saved.” And in many cases it was about being saved “from my humanness.” It was all about “arrival,” which turned out to be code for knowing whether I would be “in” or “out” of heaven. Even though I was taught the magic words, a sense of fear pervaded my days. Why? Because I was not quite sure whether I believed or said or practiced the correct creed or prayer. My understanding all hinged upon a cerebral connection to God or salvation. This much was very clear: any connection to my humanity or passion (that I knew to be true, deep in my soul) was to be mistrusted and kept buried.
However. Saved isn’t about escaping (or earning afterlife points). Saved is about living full into this life. In other words, Presence. A life full of Radical Acceptance and Einstein’s notion of “widening circles of compassion”, connecting with a heart now engaged, ignited, fueled.
I do know this: I want to tell stories that touch where we hurt, where we care, where we heal, where we give, where we reconcile and mend, where we make and are made whole.
Speaking of stories, I’ve been watching Ken Burns, Country Music. I didn’t want it to end. I remember my childhood, listening to Patsy Cline, Hank Williams and Hank Snow. Songs that men and women sang to themselves in farm fields to ease them through their labors, and on the porches of their home when their day or work was done.
We’ve had a good bit of rain already this autumn, and that messes with garden tidiness. Prim and proper are gone. More like sprawled and disheveled. And yet. There is magic I couldn’t create. I love the vulnerability of it all. And while we pine for summer or wonder where it went, we miss the way the colors (now deeper and anchored) invite us to sit a spell (under the Bloodgood Maple) and drink in the delight.
Quotes for your week…
A lot of heroes have as their weapons of choice Love and Compassion. Dianne Ackerman
There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. Mother Teresa
Note: My new book This Is The Life, is out October 14. Join me each week for new video reminders and invitations about mindfulness, grace and the power of the present. We’ll be on Facebook and Instagram. Pass the word.
SM reflection questions and exercises are available for group and personal use. Let me know if you want to receive.
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Today’s photo credit — Sunset at Pelican Bay Beach, Naples, FL… Dawson Taylor… Thank you Dawson… keep sending your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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In the mailbag…
–So happy to hear someone else cries when reading a touching story or watching a movie that moves you. I also cry sometimes at commercials! or anything that shows people being kind to one another. Often at the end of the news they close with an inspiring story or a story of kindness (because that is how we should be) and yep, I cry! Thank you for your “Humanness”! Kathleen
–Thank you so much for the light you spread while being a holy shadow. The time you take to find and compose beautiful prose, poetry, pictures, songs and musings becomes a personal message and ray of sunshine for those with whom you share. Sabbath Moment is a weekly treasure. Liana
–It touches my heart when I hear someone is visiting NC. My family came from NC and I still have relatives in the South East part of NC! My cousin is 86 and lost her home in the tornado and hurricane. It will be 3 months plus to rebuild. She is such a beautiful lady with such a wonderful attitude and knows the Lord spared her life for a good reason! But she said she doesn’t know the Reason! And we laughed together! Glad you’re home in Vashon and enjoying your life! You’re still as talented as ever and gifted to share the word and comfort our hearts! Thank you so much! Linda
–Great Morning to you Terry. I am up at 3:30 AM wide awake, and thought, what a great time to pause! In my pause I find great gratitude. Thinking of you and all the amazing videos you share with us. So I thought I would share one of my favorites with you. Playing For Change, Stand by Me I hope you enjoy this musical moment, ahhhh The Power of Music. Peace be with you. Kim
–Thank you Terry for this morning. What I needed. I needed a reset. Judi
–Being strong alone is emotionally exhausting. Finding loving, genuine support from total strangers has been a life saver to me and to so many others. I am so grateful. Sue
–“Be Strong” I’ve been told my entire life that “I am strong!” And my entire life I’ve lived up to that comment. It became me! Alone and in silence I would quietly cry, I’m not strong. Sometimes life hurts me, Joyce
–I don’t cry easily, but often a song or a book or a movie or TV show brings a memory or feeling and I can have a good cry. Of course, being a woman people expect us to cry. But I have always admired a man who is willing to cry when he needs to. Mary
–Terry, Enjoy your grand harvest. I was transported back to our “mini-farm” back in Mountain Top, PA. We enjoyed our Victory Gardens and our farm animals; five goats, 200 chickens, three ducks and two rabbits. Oh yes, and our dog. Fresh fruit and vegetables were plentiful. Anita
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Imagine what the world would be like if we treated others with inherent and equal dignity and respect, seeing the divine DNA in ourselves and everyone else too-regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, appearance, or social class. Nothing less offers the world any lasting future. Richard Rohr
Living in Love
There is a desire within each of us,
in the deep center of ourselves
that we call our heart.
We were born with it,
it is never completely satisfied,
and it never dies.
We are often unaware of it,
but it is always awake.
It is the Human desire for Love.
Every person in this Earth yearns to love,
to be loved, to know love.
Our true identity, our reason for being
is to be found in this desire.
Love is the “why” of life,
why we are functioning at all.
I am convinced
it is the fundamental energy
of the human spirit.
the fuel on which we run,
the wellspring of our vitality.
which is the flowing,
creative activity, of love itself,
is what makes all goodness possible.
Love should come first,
it should be the beginning of,
and the reason for everything.
God who made trees and bodies,
God who made the ground and grand gestures,
May we practice happy hospitality,
hostilities can be healed.
Pádraig Ó Tuama