The first-grade class assignment: to name the seven wonders of the world. Each student compiles a list, and shares their list, aloud, with the class. There is ardent interaction as the students call out entries from their lists: The Pyramids, the Empire State Building, the Amazon River, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal and the list goes on. The teacher serves the role of cheerleader, “Class, these are great answers. Well done!”
One girl sits silent. She is asked about her list. She says, “I don’t think I understand the assignment.”
“I don’t have any of the right answers,” she tells the teacher.
“Well, why don’t you tell us what you wrote on your paper, and we’ll help you.” the teacher encourages her.
“Okay,” says the little girl, “I think the seven wonders of the world are… to see, to hear, to taste, to touch, to laugh, to love, to belong.”
There are some days, when the words don’t come easy. Maybe you can relate. And I’m tempted to give in, or wish that I could put the world back together the way I wanted, if only in my mind.
And I am aware that some of my anxiety is from the temptation, that in order to inspire and encourage others, one must find remedies in tidily packaged mental pictures. Mercy.
Gratefully, life doesn’t work that way. Forrest Gump voiced it best for all of us. “Mama always said dying (brokenness) was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.”
Let’s hit the pause button, shall we?
And I’m glad you’re here. Pull up a chair, we can unpack it together.
Here are my musings… In the midst of competing anxieties, I want (no, I need) the permission to fully embrace (and to be embraced by) the gift of the seven wonders of the world.
Yes… the invitation and the permission to savor, and to be here now.
E.B. White’s wonderful reminder, “Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first.”
A splendid confirmation of sacrament of the present moment.
So, this is my prayer: I want to be awake and fully alive, in this life, in this moment, the very one I am living today.
Precarious? Indeed. Which is why this life is so much more precious.
This life. Yes, where news can overwhelm, and the world tilts. Where we forget (or cannot see) that human connection—and the seven wonders—are alive and well.
Beauty and gladness are alive and well. Sanctuary is alive and well. Empathy and compassion are alive and well. Ministry is alive and well. Spontaneous gestures of kindness are alive and well. Music from the heart is alive and well.
Howard Thurman’s reminder, “There must be always remaining in every life, some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathlessly beautiful.”
And no, I don’t have a checklist, maybe reading L.R. Knost’s prompt helps, “Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”
So. What (where) did you savor any of the seven wonders of the world today? Or, this week?
I loved this from a Sabbath Moment reader, “There is something about the light I am guessing, relishing the warmth on my face. An invitation to explore, saunter, sit, savor, grin (with no real reason necessary), soak up oomph, point, laugh out loud, and refuel.” The power and replenishment and sanctuary of the sacred present indeed. It’s Thomas Merton’s affirmation that spiritual life is not about hiding from life or avoiding it, the spiritual life is about life, and how we live it, every day.
Here’s the deal: While I’m waiting for the world to be put back together, the sacred is still alive and well. And the ordinary is the hiding place of the holy.
I do know this… when our need for control prevents us from seeing the gifts in front of us, or around us, or in the encounters in our day, we too easily detach ourselves from the moment. From “now”.
And when we do, we do not see. Or more accurately (to quote St. Benedict), “I do not Listen with the ear of my heart.”
I’ll take this from Dawna Markova into my week…
“I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart”
Here in Seattle, it’s Seafair Weekend. Maybe those in this neck of the woods caught a glimpse of the Blue Angels during the Boeing airshow.
My day a little more low key, watering the garden, and savoring the blooms on the sweet peas.
Quote for our week…
“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty. To reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.” Etty Hillesum
Today’s Photo Credit: “Good evening Terry, I saw your congregation at a Sunrise service. Just wanted to let you know they were very quiet and well behaved. Blessings always,” Marguerite Gerontis (Tacoma, WA)… Thank you Marguerite… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… 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…
–Hey, Terry, Just thinking about your oft-repeated, “This time, listen with your eyes “. A marriage counselor could make wonderful use of that phrase! For that matter All of us could use it in our daily interactions with loved ones, colleagues, even (especially, maybe) enemies and rivals! Keep shining that light of yours. Bob
–Your Moment this am brought back to mind Wess Stafford, whom I knew when at Wheaton College and he was in grad school there, but a few years older than I. He was always very kind to me. I rarely fit in anywhere, but I was very fortunate to have many thoughtful people in my life that thought about God and reality with me. I hope you are doing well. Too much going on to give a short commentary. I am having a hard time savoring and discerning what to leave out. Peace, Joy
–Terry, Thank you for your words of encouragement to yourself and me (the rest of those who read these) Your balance to include all peoples and faiths is incredible and delightful as well as refreshing. Keep searching that we too may be blessed and full in this present moment. With Love, Stephen
–Good morning Terry, thanks for your Savoring Life message today. It took my mind immediately to this EB.White quote. Thank you for starting my day, and my week, off with a great message. Happy summer, Lane
“Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first.” — E.B. White
–Dear Terry, Your messages always hit home for me and for numerous others I’m sure. May God continue to use you to spread the good news and the gifts you share. Thank you for the blessing, we need to share them with others in need. Have to find a way to send a hug thru the internet. I’m sending a big one to You tonight. Hope it comes thru, Sister Norberta
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island
looking for boats to save;
they just stand there shining.
Prayer for Presence
Let us be present to the now.
It’s all we have and it’s where God will always speak to us.
The now holds everything, rejects nothing and, therefore, can receive God too.
Help us, God, to be present to the place we most fear, because it always feels empty, it always feels boring, it always feels like it’s not enough.
Help us find some space within that we don’t try to fill with ideas or opinions.
Help us find space so you, loving God, can show yourself in that place where we are hungry and empty.
Keep us out of the way, so there is always room enough for you.
Good God, we believe that you are here and your presence gives us hope.
We thank you for each day of our lives.
We thank you for so many further chances to understand, to forgive again, to trust again, and to love.
We thank you that we live now, that our problems are soul-sized.
We ask that you teach us and lead us, that you put the thoughts into our mind that you want us to think, the feelings in our hearts that you want us to feel.
Reconstruct us. Put us together because we don’t know how to do it ourselves.
We trust that you are hearing this prayer, and that you care for the answer more than we do.
We pray therefore not alone, but with the whole body of Christ in Jesus’s name.
Richard Rohr (The Wisdom Pattern)
Hineini (Hebrew “Here I Am”)
On this day may I be present to the Miracle of being alive.
May I reach out to those who are suffering and may I use my voice as a force for good.
May I have the courage to do what is right, not what is easy.
May I have the strength to shine a light in the darkness.
May I not distance myself from myself. (Joanne Fink)