On my walk yesterday, the usual mental litany clattering for attention. Pondering Sabbath Moment topics, unpacking news headlines, wondering about my procrastination with a book project (accompanied by a generous dose of grief).
And only one goose at the pond. Very unusual. Missing his mate, I’m guessing. So, we chatted a bit.
And then I saw the Nasturtium, covered in morning dew. Oh my (picture above.) A plant I would normally walk right by. So. Let’s just say, my agenda for the walk and day changed. Gratefully. I ambled, dawdled and moseyed, savoring little delights, blooms, flowers, shapes. Taking pictures and smiling big. The Sabbath Moment can wait.
I remember Pat Conroy’s prompt, “Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?”
This newspaper headline was too good to be true. “Experts disagree on how to be happy.”
One side says, “Be focused. Organized. Get stuff done.”
The other says, “Don’t do so much. Stop and smell the roses.”
I can picture it. A “my-happiness-is-better-than-your-happiness” bar-room brawl, in the end both sides deciding that happiness comes from kicking the stuffing out of someone else.
This much we know: Like everything else, our culture has turned contentment into some sort of an achievement, a contest, a beauty pageant. And in the end, it kind of defeats the point.
Maybe we should opt for the third picture, which comes from a Farside Cartoon. Two cows standing in a field munching grass. One says to the other, “I don’t care what they say. I’m not content.”
For me, I put my money on Mary Howitt’s observation. “He is happiest who hath power to gather wisdom from a flower.” Yes… say, a dew-covered Nasturtium on a weekend stroll.
It boils down to this… savoring little delights.
What Rudolph Otto referred to as, “Mysterium Tremendum.” Translated, it means “the bare mystery of simply being.”
Or, in the words of CS Lewis, talking about joy, “I was overwhelmed by spine tingling elation.”
We seem to lose that early in life, don’t we? Or, we wake up one day—our spirit drained—and wonder where the joy went, and why.
It is no surprise that Jesus begins all of his parables this way; with a seed, lilies, a camel, wheat, a pearl, a candle. He obviously wanted us to look closely at this world, not some other one. It is here and now, all around us in the most ordinary things, that we find the Kingdom (which he reminded us, “is here”), and that we are in the divine presence.
And here’s the deal: being fully alive is a sensual fiesta. Being alive in this world—squarely in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this day.
Irenaeus got it right a long time ago. “The Glory of God is man (or woman) fully alive.”
Why are little delights the source of such joy? Because little delights are the ones that ground us. They connect us to our humanity, they connect us to the earth, to our senses. Because little delights are extremely sensual. And on a spiritual plane, humans are fully alive when we’re most in touch with our senses.
There’s a great story about a research project with children. The children were put into a room with new toys. The study was to determine which toys they enjoyed most. After twenty minutes or so, playing with all the new toys, the children spent the remainder of their time enthusiastically playing with… the boxes that the toys came in.
It makes me giggle just thinking about it.
Children are wired to be fully alive. To see. Wired to derive joy from that which is simple. It is a byproduct of engagement. There is no need for stuff to entertain, or occupy, or preoccupy, or distract. To put it another way, someone once said that miracles are simply being in the right place at the right time. And kids see miracles and take delight in simple boxes.
Somewhere along the way to adulthood, something gums up the system.
To see God incognito in the everyday stuff of life; savoring little delights.
The sensation of relief from an endless hot shower.
The comfort of an oversized plush cotton towel.
A glass of Cotes du Rhone after a long day.
The smell of a new English rose bloom.
Tears during a good movie.
Filtered sunlight through the morning bedroom window.
A phone call from a friend.
Memories of childhood, bacon frying, lilacs in May, Sunday pot roast, and the aroma from my grandfather’s pipe.
Which begs the question. How do we re-train our own eye (or mind) to appreciate little delights and simple pleasures? Is there a spiritual practice that we can incorporate into our lives, that opens our eyes to the abundant simple pleasures that surround us? (Granted, it would be easier with a book, Simple Pleasures for Dummies.) Answer this: Can you tell me a little delight that happened (that you enjoyed), in the past day?
And while we’re on the subject, it wouldn’t hurt to change the way we talk. We ask, of each other, daily, “What do you do?” Or, “What did you do?” Why not ask, “What surprised you today? What made you smile?” “Where did you see God incognito?”
This we know for certain. There is a connection between little delights and gratitude.
Meister Eckhart says that if you only learn one prayer in your whole life, learn this one: “Thank you.”
Speaking of delights, our new word for today is hurkle-durkle: a 200-year-old Scottish term meaning to lounge in bed long after it’s time to get up. Happiness is hurkle-durkling.
And this past week (7/7) was the 77th wedding anniversary of former President Jimmy Carter, 98, and Rosalynn Carter, 95, who were married in 1946. The longest-married first couple is in hospice care in Plains, Ga. God bless them both.
Quote for our week…
At the back of our brains, so to speak, there is a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life is to dig for this sunrise of wonder. GK Chesterton
Today’s Photo Credit: My morning walk. Tropaeolum, commonly known as nasturtium, is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants. It was named by Carl Linnaeus in his book Species Plantarum. I just know that it made me smile real big… Thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… send to terryhershey.com
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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.
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Letters that do my heart good…
–Good Morning Terry, Your words and the spaces and pauses between them bless me. I wish I could give you a blessing hug in person. Because I can’t I am sending you a very tight virtual hug. You are a gift. Linda
–Thanks for reminding us that we all need to be hugged and we need to hug–husband, wife, children, grandchildren, friends and in that hug we give and receive God’s blessings. My friend from your area, Tom Hunter, has a song, Favorite Child, in which he tells us each of us is God’s favorite child. If only we could all remember those words. Thanks Terry and Tom.
–Your sharing this day has soooo touched my heart. Yes, that personal touch and those kind words are just what is needed in this world. Thank you for sharing the story of Henri Nowen’s experience. God bless you for all you do to further the Kingdom. Shareen
–Terry I feel you touched many hearts, and shared many blessings today,I felt as I was reading, your need to be blessed by all of us who pray daily as “We walk you home.” You tell us that you want to live with a “soft heart”, you already have that heart by sharing the feelings you have freely with us, yes, we are your sheep, your geese. We read and feel your words and are lifted by them just as you hoped your “flock” did. Terry you are our “blessing”–our source of hope, our trust, that each of us are here to walk each other home.
Today, along with Henri Nouwen you helped me feel a virtual hug from many but especially from my loving husband who was gifted with warm, encompassing hugs. I share some of mine with you and your readers today. God’s blessing on you Terry. Elaine
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Whenever you are creating beauty around you,
you are restoring your own soul. –Alice Walker
Let It Shine
I hear the admonition to let it shine,
to not hide it under a bushel,
which I assume is a basket of a certain size,
supposedly quite large.
I also think of that kind of basket
as having cracks or openings
that would allow some light
to shine through at times.
I’m then reminded of the cracks
I most surely have in myself,
openings that allow love to enter
as well as exit to others I meet.
My light exists in how I smile,
how I offer words of encouragement,
how I help others in a loving way,
how I support worthwhile causes
without expecting rewards
other than knowing I’m making
at least a small difference when I do.
I also need to look for the same light
in anyone and everyone I meet.
June 22, 2023 by Terry Waggle
We give thanks for the invention of the handle.
Without it there would be many things we couldn’t hold on to.
As for the things we can’t hold on to anyway, let us gracefully accept their ungraspable nature and celebrate all things elusive, fleeting, and intangible.
They mystify us and make us receptive to truth and beauty.
We celebrate and give thanks.