“Dad,” the six-year-old boy asks his Father, “How much money do you make an hour?”
“Son,” the father, short on patience from a long work week, answers, “that is an inappropriate question. You need to learn to be polite. There are certain questions you never ask people.”
“Okay,” the boy responds.
Seeing his son’s demeanor, the father softens, and says, “Okay, I’ll tell you. I make $50 an hour.”
The boy smiles. “Then, Dad, can I borrow $10?”
The father bristles, his exasperation no longer restrained, “You’ve gone over the edge. First you ask an inappropriate question, and now you need money. Can you at least tell me what it’s for?”
“Oh yes,” answers the son, brightly, “With $10, I will have $50 in my piggy bank. And I was wondering if I could buy an hour of your time?”
When I first saw this story, I stopped reading. I needed to look away from the page, to absorb the brunt sense of conviction.
I could hear Harry Chapin singing “The cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon… when you coming home Dad I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then…”
However, I am not telling you this story to trigger that same reaction. There is no doubt that this sense of missing (or missing out or being absent) affects us all, and in some form or another, it is a sentiment that will–someday—find its way into a eulogy.
But here’s the deal: we miss the complete story if we see this only as a cautionary tale, and as another reason to live blameworthy.
Something else is triggered here. When our world is rocked, we’re all too aware of the arbitrary (and capricious) losses of what is so precious to us.
So. This story is my reset button.
I’m asked frequently, “What have you been learning during these past two years?” My response, “More than ever, the invitation to wonder, and savor life in the moment. To be here now.”
I remember a statement made in the Irish Times by a Connemara man after he was arrested for a car accident. “There were plenty of onlookers, but no witnesses.” Hmmm.
Yes, we all carry with us the preciousness of time. But it’s not just about time, is it? There is something else involved here.
Earlier today, I was checking out new software, perusing reviews. Scoffed one reviewer, “Don’t bother!! I wasted toooo many minutes of my life on this!!! I will NEVER get them back!!!” (Apparently, there is something quite cathartic about exclamation points and invectives in ALL CAPS!!! And far be it from me to point out to this young man that his well-nursed seething may not qualify as an admirable way to “spend” his precious time.)
This much is true. Today, we do have a choice.
One option is to nurse regret. Or at least some variety of self-consternation. You know, feeling all put out. (Don’t get me wrong. Of course there is a place for confession. However, confession is not just the recitation of sins or wrongdoings. Confession is about taking responsibility or ownership for our life. Every single bit of it.)
So. Here’s the other option: participation.
Participation in this day.
This sacrament of the present moment.
David Brooks’ wrote, “This is the moment to step back, be intentional and ask: What’s really important, and how should I focus on what matters? It’s a matter of ranking your loves and then making sure your schedule matches your rankings. ‘How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,’ Annie Dillard once wrote.”
If participation is our invitation, I recommend David Abram’s, The Spell of the Sensuous. Abram points out that we are disconnected from the natural world, to our spiritual detriment. In other words, when we begin seeing the natural world as an “object,” it doesn’t take long before we see everything outside of our “self” as an object. And we are disconnected.
We lose touch. Participation.
This resonates with me.
So. Here’s our reset invitation this week; for our children, yes. And for the child inside each one of us. From the book “That Parent’s Tao Te Ching” by William Martin…
Make the ordinary come alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
On so many issues and questions, I don’t have answers. But let’s begin here: We are invited to the sacrament of the present moment. Invited to see.
I know this… I lose touch…
–when I walk “by” (any moment, or experience, or connection with another person) because I’m in a hurry to get where I “need” to be
–when I live only in my head (needing to explain an experience before I can embrace it or be embraced by it)
–when I dismiss or am embarrassed by discomfort (any form of sadness, grief, confusion, melancholy or disarray)
–when I assume that life is only about fixing and answers and tidiness
I take comfort in Mary Oliver’s wisdom… “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
And here’s my new word for the week. It’s Spanish… sobremesa: “It literally translates to ‘over table,’ and it refers to the time that people spend chatting and enjoying each other at the table once they have finished a meal.”
Spring is here, our reminder of the ephemeral nature of the garden and our world. Of life’s moments of beauty and wonder wedded to fragility and loss.
The Rhodies’ evanescent petals, now confetti scattered. And the Peony bloom petals, now translucent paper.
Instead of “why is beauty so short lived?” why not, Pause.
Breathe in the gift.
Breathe out gratitude.
And Oh My, this week, I’ve been relishing the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee pageants. And I’ve told the geese, since technically, she’s their queen.
Quote for your week… “The rain surrounded the cabin… with a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, or rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside… Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, the rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.” Thomas Merton
Today’s Photo Credit: “Terry, I took this photo at Yosemite National Park. It reminded me of Psalm 104… He makes springs pour water into the ravines… Thanks for Sabbath Moment. I look forward to it!” Georgeann Proett (Anaheim, CA)… Thank you Georgeann… Keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
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)
Letters that do my heart good…
–Hi, Terry, I don’t really understand how this works, but I just had to write to let you know how much your sharing soothed me today. You are a source of calm and softness in my week, and I truly appreciate that. We each are a piece in the puzzle of life and our efforts to open our hearts and let grace flow are always worthwhile. Sometimes we need a gentle reminder of the fountain within. Events of the past weeks and months have made me have to actively tend that well of the heart. Remove some gunk that has fallen into it and move a few stones around so love can flow more freely. I was damming it up with my anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. Now I sense it beginning to gurgle up again. Thanks for being there. Say hello to the geese for me. M
–Dear Terry, I truly look forward to Mondays when I get Sabbath Moments. This is a horrific time in our history and I gain solace and direction from what you write. L.A. Sisters Aging Well now has its Monkey Survey results. (We had to wait for the paper and pencil surveys to come in.) You came out with flying colors as a presenter; as one sister said, “I loved the whole experience.” There was a huge affirmation of your topic as relevant to their lives. So, Terry, I think I can say for all 154 of us, it was a joy to have you, and we are so grateful. Many blessings, Karen DMJ
POEMS AND PRAYERS
An Image That Makes Them Sad
How long will grown men and women in this world
keep drawing in their coloring books
an image of God that
Prayer for Pentecost
Come, Holy Spirit, breath of God, and renew us and inspire us.
Come, Holy Spirit, wind of God, refresh us and move us to do what is right.
Come Holy Spirit, fire of God, warm our hearts and disperse all dullness and coldness.
Come, Holy Spirit, power of God, enable us and help us to live to your glory.
Come Holy Spirit, as you did to the disciples.
Holy Spirit, come upon us:
and inspire us…
David Adam, Candle Prayers
A Blessing For Being Human
“It is therefore a great thing to be little.” Thomas Merton
Blessed are we, living in this small space, in these
bodies we now inhabit, within the walls of
circumstance, in these short years and finite strength,
and with these eyes that see only so far. We are
fragile, contingent beings.
Yet blessed are we, recognizing that it is our limits as
well as our gifts that can shape the natural contours
of what is possible, that guide us to what is ours to do.
Blessed are we when it is not our greatness that
speaks, but our littleness. For it is our vulnerability
that is the truest thing about us, the place where
mutual connection is possible, where competition
ends and community begins.
And oh how blessed are we in our fragility and
dependence and brokenness, knowing that You, O
God, hold all things together.
There is no cure for being human…but for each other, we
are all good medicine.