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Rebuilding and hope

On a beach near the ocean, two very young children spend their afternoon enthusiastically building a sandcastle. They work eager, unabashed and wholehearted. Giggles and laughter fill the air. After they finish, they admire their handiwork. Focused, they do not notice the rising tide. In an instant, a wave flattens their castle. Joy drains from their faces, tears run freely, and delight turns to disbelief and sadness. All their effort. Gone.
If we had been watching, we would certainly feel their pain, and wonder, no doubt, how they would handle the disappointment. Surely, their day is over. To the surprise of one bystander, after some minutes of tears and distress, the children grab one another’s hand, and run up the beach, where they begin to build another sandcastle.
We all have high tides, and waves that take out sandcastles in our lives (be it dreams or longings or plans or expectations, or even hope). Watching the children run up the beach, it occurs to the bystander that the people who do make it (the people who endure, who don’t give up, and who carry on), are those with a hand to hold.
The children found solace, renewal and confidence in the sanctuary of connection—a place where they knew they were safe. And seen. And embraced. A place where they knew, we are on this journey together.

This we know: Life happens.
And sandcastles dissolve and flatten.
And there’s a part of me that needs to make sense of it all.
I am certain that I would still be sitting in the sand near what used to be, shouting to the sky, “How could this happen… to me?!” Before I can move on, I want to make sense of the waves. Or, at the least, find someone to blame it on.
Of course, the result isn’t exactly what I had in mind. Instead of clarity, I become sad. Stuck. Cautious. Afraid. Distrustful. Feeling alone, even surrounded with people.
Here’s what I have learned: As long as I see only the misfortune and inconvenience, the flattened sandcastle defines me.
In other words, I buy this label, and it becomes my version of reality.
The good news? These children didn’t buy the label. They were not undone by scarcity (by depletion or by sadness). They went about their day as if sufficiency was their reality. And from that place of sufficiency and connection, they built—even in, and especially in, their awkwardness and vulnerability—a new sandcastle.
I love this story. And whatever they had, I want it.
Okay, maybe it’s not a new sandcastle. But it is the gift of beacons of hope.

All of us build “sandcastles” with eagerness, enthusiasm and hope. But waves are real.
So. When waves make our world feel catawampus? What do we do?
When we wonder if connection is even possible?
Let us begin here: our hope isn’t tied to the sandcastle. Our hope is tied to our capacity—our aptitude and wiring—to rebuild.
And what does it mean to rebuild?  That hope and grace, and renewal and rebirth, are alive and well. Not because of we have a certain skill set, but because it is in our DNA reservoir.
So. This week, let us not use our energy to worry. Let us use it to draw on that reservoir. To believe. To create, trust, love, heal and grow.
And in our awkwardness and our vulnerability, let us risk, try, give, care, contribute, stand up. And hold a hand. And build another sandcastle. A reminder that we are indeed walking one another home.

For the children on the beach, it isn’t about tidy or about dogma, or who’s in and who’s out. We certainly can’t rebuild sandcastles if we demonize the other. If we condemn others. If we have an us versus them.
Rebuilding is fueled by compassion and mercy. And the undeniable reality that compassion and mercy (although often buried) are alive and well in every one of us.
In other words, our ability to see hope or rebuilding comes from a place of inner groundedness, where there is no compulsion to prove or impress or react.
You see, rebuilding and hope spill from, yes, grace. The soil to grow inner peace and calm.
We sometimes forget that part, don’t we?
Remember It’s a Wonderful Life? The Senior Angel says, “A man down on Earth needs our help.”
And George Bailey’s (Jimmy Stewart) guardian angel Clarence says, “Splendid. Is he sick?”
“No, worse,” the Senior Angel says. “He’s discouraged.”
Our world is on tilt. I don’t think we have any argument there. And for some, it feels harder to navigate (for our heart or spirit) when we don’t feel like we have a script (the stabilizing effect of resolution).
Which is why I love Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s reminder about where to begin. “I want first of all, to be at peace with myself.  I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, and a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact, to live in grace as much of the time as possible. By grace I mean an inner harmony.”
This is why I believe in stories of love and kindness and rebuilding, because they nourish and replenish our weary soul. And I need them, because I easily forget I can make a difference—to live wholehearted in a broken world and spill the light of rebuilding knowing the power of having a hand to hold—in the small world where I live and breathe.

For our friends in the record setting heat, please stay hydrated. And look out for those need a helping hand.

Sixty-seven years ago, this weekend, two teenagers met at a church gathering and changed the course of history. John Lennon and his band the Quarrymen were playing for a church garden party in his hometown of Liverpool, England, when Paul McCartney showed up. A mutual friend introduced the aspiring singer-songwriters. After Lennon performed, they talked about music, and McCartney showed Lennon what he could do on the guitar. A few weeks later, McCartney joined the band. A few years later, the Beatles were born. (Thank you Dan Rather for this Reason to Smile)

And today I’m off to Santa Cruz, CA. Villa Maria del Mar.

Quotes for your week…
I need something to believe in
Breathe in, sanctuary in the
Easy silence that you make for me.
The Dixie Chicks
(Notes: Sandcastle story is attributed to Norman Cousins.)


Today’s Photo Credit: “Dear Terry, You are considered one of God’s desperados to all of us that start our day with your insights, wisdom and wonderful stories.  Thank you for ‘feeding me’.  This 4th of July sunrise in Tucson, AZ is manna from Heaven. Sincerely,” Michaele Ann Melton… Thank you Michaele… 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, Your reflection was a “keeper” for sure! I loved the observations about how desperados are discouraged by sign up lists, training sessions and desperado committee meetings! After serving as a parish priest for years, I have repeatedly observed that too! Spontaneity is almost verboten in the church. I used to say there are three well-known statements that kill enthusiasm for ministries in the parish. First saying is “it has always been done This way”. The second is “it has never been done That way”. And the third is “It Can’t be done”. Pam
–Thank you, Terry, for continuing to spill your light daily with these readings. You are a godsend. Blessings. Elena
–I am blessed in hearing daily from a sage who can quote either Pooh Bear or Cicero with equal relevancy. God bless you and the tireless spilling of your light. Ron
–Yes, Terry, we must, we must keep spilling our light, by giving a sandwich, by listening fully, by refusing to polarize. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s often not our first instinct. It’s hard. It’s often more of a decision made in our mind and installed in our heart. Your SM is that sandwich that feeds my heart, my light. Thanks, Terry. Mick
–Good morning my brother, I so needed this message today. To be reminded of the gift of connection and all the storm holder people in my life, both current and past. Terry, your ministry, insights and wisdom are a storm home for me. I am grateful for Sabbath Moment and the inspiration it brings. Keep shining your Light and being the blessing in someone’s day! With love and gratitude, Maria


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.
Eugene Peterson

Hold on
Hold on to what is good
even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
even if it is a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life
even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand
even when I have gone away from you.
Pueblo Prayer   

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