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Space that can heal

In her book Open Spaces, Gretel Ehrlich talks about the concept that space can heal. That space—created by stillness, calm, silence—represents sanity. Mercy, what a gift. Stillness and silence can be a fullness, rather than a void. It can allow the mind to run through its paces without any need for justification. It can let us recover—grab hold of—those parts of our self which have been so scattered, so disparate, throughout the week.
To sit still is a spiritual endeavor.
To sit still is to practice Sabbath–meaning literally, to quit.
To stop. To savor uncluttered time.
To be gentle with yourself.
And yes, to waste time with God.
The bottom line? I’m no longer chasing what I assume will fill empty spaces, in order to make me something I am not.
Replenishment begins here, “I am enough.”

In conversations this past week with potential clients (organizations and groups, some religious, some not), each of them asks me the same question, “What is your primary theme? What matters the most right now?”
My answer: The power of pause. The permission to make space that can heal.
Because sometimes, without even knowing it, we need times and space to decompress.
We need times and space to be at home in our own skin.
We need times and space just for puttering and futzing.
We need times and space to live quietly.
This is not easy in a world where we’re urged to carry a paradigm with the daily quiz, “What did you do today?” As in accomplish. And please tells us, you didn’t waste your time.

I enjoyed Dominique Browning’s book, Slow Love. She lost her high-profile job as the editor of House and Garden magazine, her beloved house in Westchester, her sense of purpose, her sense of proportion and her sense of self. “I am long past due for a personal renovation,” she writes, “but my toolbox feels empty.” What she discovered is that when the toolbox feels empty, that’s the best time for savoring healing space.
I talk about the garden as my go-to pause. My healing space. Maria Shriver’s invitation, “I need to take a beat.” She goes on to say, “I think taking a beat also means listening to your body, mind, heart, and soul—especially when it feels like they are trying to get your attention all at the same time.”
And here’s what I love about the garden; “The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.” (Hanna Rion)
Yes. Healing space an invitation to the sacrament of the present moment. To be here now. Fully. Sadly, when we see this kind of invitation as an assignment, making sure we “get it right,” we miss the wonder. The giddiness. The awe. The replenishing stillness.
The power of pause is right in front of us. And my mind happily goes to a memory from one of my trips to Guatemala. From a small open doorway, light spills out onto the darkened cobbled street. It is evening; I am walking a familiar calle in Antigua, Guatemala, toward my friend’s house. Salsa music pulsates through an open doorway, and mingles with the night sounds of the city, sating the surrounding air.
There is little that is subtle about Salsa music. You feel it viscerally, deep into your gut, and as it takes hold, it fashions a blend of exultation and giddiness. I am in no hurry. So, I stop. And stand at the door sill of Salsa Chapina, and watch. I am an audience of one.
The light, in a room no larger than 12-feet-square, comes from bare bulbs—overhead, rudimentary and in no way nuanced. But then, this scene does not require the “correct” lighting in order to create mood or affect. I watch two young people (in their early twenties I am guessing), learning to dance Salsa. The instructor counts, 1-2-3-pause-5-6-7-pause. They (students and instructor) are unmindful (or unconcerned) about my presence.
I know this: The music massages my own weariness.
And some kind of weight is lifted from my shoulders.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of the larger questions about “meaning,” and finding reasons, and explanations, and even enlightenment. But first, can it be enough to just savor the forbidden chocolate of heavenly pause? And to salsa until all the angels and saints have joined the party? Or at the very least, watch a couple kids, and let the music seep into our soul.
We try sooo hard to have answers. However. We don’t always know when or how the Spirit—and the spirit of life—will cast it’s light on the darkened streets of our days. We do know this for certain: when it happens, there is presence and fullness and abundance and sheer unadulterated delight.
On the streets of Guatemala, watching two kids learn to dance, I feel an unusual mixture of enthusiasm and infatuation and sensuality and eagerness and hope and buoyancy and trepidation, and a rare childlike bliss. It is not surprising that when I leave the door sill (the music still in the air as I continue on), my mind goes through the requisite quiz needing justification for the existence or presence of some crazy infatuation with life—the sacrament of the present moment. Yes, even if it is only for a moment.

Today on the pond a Mama Mallard with her new bevy, ten ducklings. My Oh My.
And not far away, Mama and Papa Goose with their goslings.
And last night, on our pond, the Pacific tree frog chorus entertains. From what I could tell, they were doing something from Credence Clearwater Revival—a concert that is boisterous, energetic and filled with jubilation. You don’t need to step outside to hear them, but when you do, the night air is filled with something akin to hope. I’m not sure whom they are singing to, or why. But that doesn’t seem to stop them. And for that, I’m very grateful.
And a happy Cinco de Mayo to my good friends from Mexico.

Quote for our week: “There are people who pray for eternal life and don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday.” GK Chesteron


Today’s Photo Credit: I was going through photos and found this from my previous garden. And it stopped me. Louisiana Iris. Stop, and be here now, exquisite… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… send to 

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Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Terry, Your daily writing was shared with me a few years ago and I wanted to reach out and simply say “thank you”. Your heart and words echo my own. I’ve enjoyed each book, of yours, I’ve read either solo or within my book club. You’ve made me smile and have stirred my heart too many times to count. You bring the love and fun into our walk with the Lord in a rough and sometimes unkind world. “Thank you”, Virginia
–Terry, Garrison Keillor and Mary Oliver: great way to finish the week. Particularly good stuff this week. Thanks! Bob
–No, Terry, the thanks should flow the other way. Thank you for these Sabbath moments. They feed my soul. John
–Dear Terry, Good evening from the east coast of this amazing country. I keep reminding myself of the beauty, grander, simplicity and goodness of this America that I love, because there is loudness in the turmoil, threats and chaos. Being concise has never been my gift, but I will try for this evening’s note accompanying some photos for your collection for Sabbath Moment. Blessings to you, Terry. Thank you for sharing yourself ~ your gift of reminding, your care in acknowledging, your intentional proclamation of grace. You are very appreciated… and I am ever grateful to be connected with you and your ministry. Peace,  Sheila
–Dear Terry, This sabbath moment reached me deeply. I am a kindergarten teacher and at 63, I realize how fortunate I am to embrace the joy of which you speak today. Your perspective, combined with the incredible words of Mary Oliver, helps me continue to believe in what I do, how I feel, who I am, and what my purpose is. I am so fortunate to see the world through the eyes, hearts and souls of little people. They keep it real and magical at the same time. I am fortunate to be able to do most of my teaching outdoors and relate it to everything in nature. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have your words and my work meet at this incredible crossroads. I look forward to more. Sincerely, Abi


God, teach me to love myself
as you have loved me:
to cherish myself, to delight in my soul,
to appreciate my journey, to care for my well-being,
to commit to my wholeness.
Give me grace to respect and nurture myself,
to offer myself both challenge and rest.
Teach me to forgive myself, to be gentle with myself,
to believe in myself and your hidden greatness in me.
Trusting in my belovedness, I am free and at peace:
in need but not not needy, not compulsive, not afraid,
not easily seduced by either pride or despair.
Teach me to love myself
even as you do.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Steve Garnaas-Holmes

I Don’t Want to Live a Small Life
I don’t want to live a small life. Open your eyes,
open your hands. I have just come
from the berry fields, the sun
kissing me with its golden mouth all the way
(open your hands) and the wind-winged clouds
following along thinking perhaps I might
feed them, but no I carry these heart-shapes
only to you. Look how many small
but so sweet and maybe the last gift
I will bring to anyone in this
world of hope and risk, so do
Look at me. Open your life, open your hands.
Mary Oliver

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