It is in our DNA to be replenished. Nourished and renewed.
I am in the refueling business. But that doesn’t mean it is easy to practice what I preach. Here’s what I do know: When I don’t pay attention to my spirit, my “well-being account” can be easily overdrawn. You name it; exasperation, cynicism, exhaustion. Dispirited. Here’s the bottom line, I lose track of my center. I lose track of Terry. And I wonder if I have anything more to give.
I think this is why Mr. Rogers is still on my mind.
Replenishment was an important theme for him.
“Nobody else can live the life you live,” Fred said. “And even though no human being is perfect, we always have the chance to bring what’s unique about us to live in a redeeming way.”
This I know to be true: when I’ve lost my unique voice, I fall short of my best self.
I do not speak from my heart.
I do not act with compassion.
I do not see or honor the common ground we share.
So. How do I (how do we) reclaim that voice?
In previous Sabbath Moments, I’ve talked about Sankofa (from the Akan language of Ghana), associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”
Another Mr. Rogers story come to mind. Fred called Yo-Yo Ma one of the “great appreciators of our world. It seems that people always walk taller after they’ve had an encounter with him. The only thing that’s larger than his talent is his heart.” Mr. Rogers tells the story about a day he was privileged to sit in on one of Yo-Yo Ma’s master cello classes. “During that master class one young man was struggling with the tone of a certain cello passage. He played it over and over and Yo-Yo listened with obvious interest. Finally, Yo-Yo said, “Nobody else can make the sound you make.” That young man looked at Yo-Yo Ma and beamed. What a gift those words were not only to that cellist, but to everyone who was there. Nobody else can make the sound you make.”
With a few exceptions, I do my best to see those around me with Mr. Rogers’ lens: Inside of everyone a light shines. Inside of everyone, there is a sound that no one else can make.
Of course, I’m quicker to see it in others than I am to see it (or believe it) in myself. I know you can relate. The light inside does dim from time to time. The sound is muted. Or that’s what I tell myself. And if I’m honest, I know how easy it is to live small or to be diminished or to feel broken; by shame or disheartenment.
There are so many ways that we are all chased by pain or sorrow or unkindness. And somehow, this light shining thing is easier to believe without all the broken places.
Which kind of misses Leonard Cohen’s observation, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
And I would add, and that’s how the light spills out.
Reclaiming this self is not an assignment, or about getting our act together.
I believe that the light shines precisely because there are broken places.
Remember, Jesus never told us to create the light. He did not even ask us to make a resolution to try harder. He simply invited us to let the light shine. Meaning that the light is already there…
So, I love stories about people who spill the light… because it’s already there… this one from Sabbath Moment friends, Martin and Barbara.
Many legends and few facts survive about Saint Brigid (c. 450 -523), an Irish woman who founded a community at Kildare primarily for women. She grew up marked by her high spirits and tender heart, and as a child, she heard St. Patrick preach, which she never forgot. She could not bear to see anyone hungry or cold; Brigid was in the habit of giving freely of her father’s (Dubthach) possessions and food to the poor and needy. Her father became so frustrated he decided to sell her to the King and bundled her into his chariot. He left her at the castle gate while he consulted with the King, and Brigid was approached by a beggar asking for alms. She gave him her father’s sword. Brigid’s father and the king were amazed, and the king said he could not buy her from her father: “ she is too good for me – I could never win her obedience.” When Dubthach protested, Brigid replied, “Christ dwells in every creature.”
Before we go down any road of comparison (after all, she is a saint)… as near as I can tell, the qualities for sainthood in Brigid’s case include gutsy and spirited wholeheartedness, unselfishness (no hunger for the spotlight), willingness to share the loot, simplicity of spirit, and no appetite to be captive to public opinion.
It is, after all, the light in each of us…
So here’s the deal: the affirmation–no one can make the sound you make–can make all the difference.
If we let the affirmation take root,
We can choose,
We can act
We can risk
We can fail
We can forgive
We can redeem
We can offer hope
We can bear witness
We can be the light of the world
In this dance we call life
On this planet we call home
I had a very good week. An evening in Long Beach at St. Bartholomew’s, a day with teachers at Paraclete High School in Lancaster, and this weekend have been with a great group at Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Palos Verdes, CA. What a setting. My morning walks looking out to Catalina Island.
Thursday I spent some time in Valyermo, at St. Andrew’s Abbey, where I spent a lot of time when I lived in this neck of the woods. A place where my soul could catch up to my body.
A blessed Thanksgiving to you all. I have an idea; let us all remember how gratitude replenishes us.
Quote for your week…
Now more than ever, I think we need a voice like his (Fred Rogers) to cut through the noise. We need a voice that can make us feel safe, seen, soothed, and secure. We need a voice that calls us to be better, to be kinder, to lead with our hearts, and to quiet our raging minds. Maria Shriver
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Today’s photo credit — Antelope Valley sky, Andrea Leon… Thank you Andrea (and Richie)… keep sending your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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In the mailbag… because your letters affirm us all…
–Powerful one this time, Terry Hershey! May we all be gracious and loving and kind and gentle and eager to “help the turtle across the road.” Brian
–Excellent! And so powerful. Thank you for sharing your gifts! I always look forward to your Sabbath Moments in my inbox. Pat
–Every Monday morning I look forward to reading your words of hope and love. Thank you. Margaret
–Today is my birthday. Thank you Terry Hershey for your gift of Sabbath Moments. You my sweet friend breathe life into and oxygenate my/our world. I am grateful for you, for this, for all of it, everything. You encompass much of what Fred Rogers spoke of, exuded. As I read this beautiful Sabbath Moment, I reflected on our previous discussion… What’s it all about Alfie… perhaps this is the answer. Tricia
–Terry, Continued blessings on your ministry. I am continually inspired by Sabbath Moment and am grateful for your time and efforts. This donation is nourishment for your mission. Judith
–Thank you! For the several years I was a teacher of Junior High school students, we studied and memorized Carl Sandburg’s poem “A father sees his son nearing manhood. What shall he tell that son?” which has served may of our students – and me – well in the years since. It speaks to the quandary parents, teachers and elders often feel. Mr. Rogers has touched innumerable hearts and his goodness lives on! Thanks for this!!! Clare
–Just finished reading today’s Sabbath moment. My thoughts on your words on pictures, pictures invite us into to the moment, to feel the moment. Thanks for my “moments” with you on Monday mornings. Margaret
POEMS AND PRAYERS
In intimate moments, you have been touched by something you cannot yet endure or carry, but you still love the touch and the invitation to carry. You are always larger after any intimate encounter; in fact, it might well be the only way to enlarge spiritually. It is always grace. Richard Rohr
Amid all the disaster and distress
that wheels around and swirls within us in chaotic times,
there are also always marvels to behold.
Let neither fear nor preoccupation
keep you from being touched
by wonderfully wounded life.
May you find a way in every day,
to share your great-fullness
for all that touches your eyes.
May you refuse to be crushed
but rather, look lovingly upon all with tear-washed eyes,
trained on woundedness, straining for wonder.
As you savor the sweet brevity of your days,
may passion puncture you, letting out joy,
till warmly you are welcomed; a sight for sore eyes.
Joseph Grant, Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace
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.