Tuesday — This week we’re talking about life’s turvyness.
More specifically, about a paradigm change. Life has “storms” of many kinds. So. How do we choose to see?
How do we choose to navigate?
How do we choose to engage?
“When I get to heaven,” someone told me about finding freedom from the inconveniences in their life.
“Good luck with that,” I told him. “But I’m pretty sure that if you can’t celebrate life here, you’ll be hard pressed to learn how to boogie and spill generosity and empathy there.”
Or to put it another way; if we can’t see God here, how will we recognize God when we are there?
Ignatian spirituality talks about “seeing God in all things.” But that’s not easy to do, when storm (or raccoons or topsy-turvy) is the antithesis of the sacred.
This theory was tested not long ago, in my car driving southwest at sunset time. At one point the road offered a perfect frame for the evening pageant. The sun, as it seems to do every night, pauses just above the horizon, as if a benediction on the day. I have heard people say (about conversations or trips or interactions), “I may not get a chance to do (or see or enjoy) that again.”
Okay, I tell myself, it’s time to pull over on this country road and savor the miracle (just because it’s daily doesn’t make it less of a miracle does it?)
As the sun disappears, it’s as if a detonation of color is released and the western sky is satiated with shades and layers of tangerine.
No, it doesn’t get any better than this. But if I ‘fess up, I was tempted to file it away, treating it like any number of not-to-miss moments. We can’t just take delight and let it be, can we?
Our internal scorekeeper feels compelled to have the final word. And it’s no wonder that so many moments get buried, or worse, chastised for not measuring up. (“That was an okay sunset…”)
When life does turn left or the raccoons plague, we shift into our segmented self (our tribal sides), afraid to embrace the moment unless we deserve it, or will fully utilize it, or not waste it, or do our best to tidy it up and tone down the sadness. I do believe that our scorekeeper could use a week off.
Hope you savored a blessed Labor Day.
And Shanah Tovah… (it is Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year).
Wednesday — This week, life’s turvyness… or more specifically, about a paradigm change. Life has “storms” of many kinds. So. How do we choose to see?
How do we choose to navigate?
How do we choose to engage?
It’s easy to be derailed, isn’t it? To fall off the wagon of well-being. Or, to give way to anger, division, bitterness, playing a victim, depression.
It’s not the emotion or reaction that derails us, it’s that they become our narrative. They tell us who we are.
This much is true: All the above, have this in common; Scotoma… Selective blindness. In other words, we see only what we want to see. Which means, with scotoma, we wall off tenderness and grace and gentleness and kindness and inclusion and healing and reconciliation… and hope.
So. A good reminder to hit the reset button. Be gentle with yourself.
We navigate life’s turvyness by living in (embracing) the sacrament of the present moment (the ordinary is the hiding place for the holy), however small we think it may be.
And then this today… it did my heart good…
A grandmother’s advice by Elena Mikhalkova…
My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps. Do what you have to do, but little by little. Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see? You are advancing step by step. Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Take another step.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more. And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.
Thursday — My favorite word for life’s turveyness (or “racoons”) is bunkum. Bunkum is any of those things (circumstances, events, conditions, people) that irritate, deplete or diminish us. (That list may be long, yes?)
But in my temptation to fix or solve, I want someone to “remove” the bunkum (chase away the racoons) and resolve the turvey. (And there are times when we ask God to do the fixing.)
But this is where the paradigm shift comes in. In other words, to live fully alive and wholehearted, we are not anti-bunkum, we are pro-emotional and spiritual hydration. We are pro-sanctuary.
Or to quote Rabbi Abraham Heschel, “We teach children how to measure and how to weigh. We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe.”
(And yes, that wonder may be buried in the mire. Or the bunkum.)
Remember scotoma? We see only what we want to see.
And if our eyes are opened? How to sense awe and wonder. Yes, what a sacred gift. To welcome wonder, and embrace the miracle of everyday life, to bask in beauty in the ordinary (the hiding place for the holy)… and to be enriched by curiosity.
Here’s the deal: gratitude grows in that soil, and that gratitude always spills. Yes, to the world around us, but also to parts of our own spirit obstructed by discouragement.
Speaking of paradigm shift. I love this from Lisel Mueller.
Monet Refuses the Operation
Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
(Note: Lisel Mueller was a German-born American poet, translator and academic teacher. Her family fled the Nazi regime, and she arrived in the U.S. in 1939 at the age of 15.)
Savor your day my friends.
Friday — “Life is not about ‘or’ — it is about ‘and.’ It is magical and messy,” Kristi Nelson writes. “It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. It is delight and disappointment. Grace and grief. Exquisite and excruciating, often at the exact same time.”
Yes. And this week it’s paradigm shift time. Our old paradigm: the presupposition that life must be raccoon free. And so; we live cautious and suspicious. And afraid. And the raccoons get to say how the story ends.
But what if cleanup isn’t the only task here?
What if, even in the midst, this life can be the source of joy, wonder, curiosity, well-being and grace?
What if, even in the midst, this life can be an invitation to both humility and empathy?
Can we affirm that we live in a world where we care for, and let ourselves be cared for? Because no one is on this journey alone. More than ever, we need the reminder.
This is even more indispensable as we’re about to mark another 9/11 anniversary. And if you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit St. Paul’s Chapel (adjacent to the World Trade Center, where firefighters and rescue workers ate and slept in the days and weeks that followed the 9/11 tragedy), you’ll see this note from a New York firefighter, about the volunteers who worked tirelessly in the chapel, “When I come in that door, I’m covered with blood sometimes, and they hug me. They love me, they take care of me, they treat me as a real human being. And then they feed me, and they massage me, and they give me adjustments. These are my people. This is my place. This is where I come to be with God.”
My friends, division doesn’t help us now. Please know we are on this journey together, and we will continue to care and be cared for, and to walk one another home…
I can’t improve on a story I heard about Rear Admiral Thornton Miller Chief. He was the Chaplain at Normandy in WWII. Someone asked him, “Up and down the beach, with the shells going everywhere, why did you do that?”
“Because I’m a minister.”
“But didn’t you ask if they were Catholic or Protestant or Jew?”
“If you’re a minister, the only question you ask is, ‘Can I help you?'”
Quote for your day…
After you had
taken your leave,
I found God’s footprints
on my floor.
(Note: my apologies for the time delays in your Daily Sabbath Moment. I’m grateful for the emails, wondering if I’m okay. Thank you. I am, indeed… but sometimes, I hit the wrong button, which means that it changes the time the email is sent… Is it okay if I blame it on age? Just sayin’)
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
I wish you an ever deeper peace.
I know this deeper peace quite often lives underneath
the turmoils and anxieties of our heart
and doesn’t always mean inner harmony or emotional tranquility.
hat peace that God gives us quite often
is beyond our thoughts and feelings,
and we have to really trust that peace is there for us to claim
even in the midst of our moments of despair.