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Redemptive stories

My cell phone screen yelps, “excessive heat warning.” And without glasses, I thought it said, “heart warning.” Let’s just say, both are true. It’s triple digits here. That’s very rare and worth paying attention to in our neck of the woods, “Perhaps the most intense heatwave for our region since the late 19th century.” (National Weather Service, Portland)
“(T)his heat will be historic, dangerous, prolonged and unprecedented. We can’t stress enough how impactful this heat will be to nearly every person and community in the Pacific and Inland Northwest region.” (Weather Service, Spokane)
Meteorologists are describing the situation as “insane,” “bonkers” and “incredible.”
(To my friends in Arizona, Florida or parts of Texas, or any of the places that can roast in the summer, my apologies for talking weather. But here’s the difference; you have air-conditioning. Most of us do not.)

I can tell you this wasn’t on my Sabbath Moment topic radar a week ago, but when life unsettles you, you easily lose (change) your train of thought.
But yes, life can do that.
And our heat is bad, but some storylines seem unimaginable. The fires from heat in other parts of our country. And as I write this, I see the newspaper next to me with photos from the condo collapse in Miami.

And in a very real way, this is one of the storylines from this past 16 months of our lives: unsettled life. Reactions ranging from confusion to shock to stunned. When life feels unsettled, we don’t know everything, but are grateful for the clarity that comes from trying to understand the larger story.
So. What next?
For starters, this is real. So, let us pay attention. It’s doesn’t help to pretend that life isn’t difficult.

When life turns left, what story do we tell?
We can tell a redemptive story, or a contamination story (when the good is ruined by the bad). It helps to take an honest look, unafraid of what the truth or story invites and calls from us. And here’s the good news: redemptive stories are not about closing our eyes or pretending.
It’s about embracing who or what owns me.
Yes, we may emerge broken, but we are still whole. And it is okay to process (and mourn) what we may have lost.
There is no need to bulldoze the past or our grief.
Because here’s the deal: We get to say how the story ends.
Here’s the best part about paying attention; it brings to mind things that were important (essential, healing) that we forgot. Another way of saying… let’s not forget Sankofa Time. Sankofa (in 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. (I confess, that today my mind wanders and goes to earlier today, wondering about the glasses I forgot, you know, the ones that are on my head. Anyway, I digress.)
Redemptive story: remembering what is essential to our well-being, remembering and embracing that regardless of circumstance, the light is alive and well on the inside.

Which reminds me of Kintsugi. Do you know it?
It’s an ancient Japanese method of repairing broken porcelain, using gold to fill the cracks. (Also known as Kintsukuori, which translates “golden joinery.”)
The Kintsugi artisan uses gold (or other precious metal) mixed with epoxy to repair the broken piece. Okay, this really does my heart good; the gold now emphasizes, rather than hides, the breakage. Yes, the gold honors the beauty of imperfection, and that beauty spills.
There is power in our redemptive story.

So Here are two affirmations and invitations to take with us.
One, the gift of enough. The light on the inside, still shines.
And two, we’re not on this journey alone.
The light we carry is the light we spill. Which means, we navigate our stories with kindness, because those around us forget too.
(At a retreat I led, someone asked, “Even to idiots?” “Yes,” I said. “Especially to idiots. We don’t need moral indignation about who is righter.”) (Speaking of heatstroke.)

How would it be,
If just for today,
We thought less about contests and rivalries
Profits and politics,
Winners and sinners,
And more about
Helping and giving,
Mending and blending,
Reaching out,
And pitching in?
How would it be? (Anonymous)

Here are two stories we can take with us into our week…
“Piglet?” said Pooh.
“Yes Pooh?” said Piglet.
“Do you ever have days when everything feels… Not Very Okay At All? And sometimes you don’t even know why you feel Not Very Okay At All, you just know that you do.”
Piglet nodded his head sagely. “Oh yes,” said Piglet. “I definitely have those days.”
“Really?” said Pooh in surprise. “I would never have thought that. You always seem so happy and like you have got everything in life all sorted out.”
“Ah,” said Piglet. “Well here’s the thing. There are two things that you need to know, Pooh. The first thing is that even those pigs, and bears, and people, who seem to have got everything in life all sorted out… they probably haven’t. Actually, everyone has days when they feel Not Very Okay At All. Some people are just better at hiding it better than others.
“And the second thing you need to know… is that it’s okay to feel Not Very Okay At All. It can be quite normal, in fact. And all you need to do, on those days when you feel Not Very Okay At All, is come and find me, and tell me.
Don’t ever feel like you have to hide the fact you’re feeling Not Very Okay At All.
Always come and tell me.
Because I will always be there.”

In the Holocaust Museum there is a story about an exchange in a concentration camp on the Day of Liberation (1945).  The prisoners still alive in concentration camps, were being set free.  A young American Lieutenant, extraordinarily moved by the bleak and foreboding nature of the setting, asked one prisoner to show him the camp.  As they approached a building, the lieutenant opened a door for the young woman, and she collapsed in tears.  Certain he had offended, he did his best to comfort her.  After some time, she told him, “I am weeping because it is the first time in years that someone has done anything kind for me.  Thank you.”

Today, I’m in no hurry. And that’s a good thing. It’s not bad for most days actually.
Very early this morning, I worked in my new garden (right now, it’s pots and half wine barrels), planting Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. (Yes, ‘tis true.)
This afternoon, a nap. Then with a good book and a tall glass of ice water. It’s hard to focus for very long in the heat, so you turn on music, and the fan, close your eyes and let your heart settle.

In July I’ll be in North Carolina (info below), my first in person event in sixteen months. I’d love to see any NC friend there.

Quote for your week…
Observe. Notice. Take note. Be mindful. The reality is that we are all coming out of a long, long winter, so to speak. We are all rejoining a new society of sorts. New rules. New procedures. New expectations. Everyone is opening their eyes to a new reality. It’s one that really can’t be rushed, even though everyone wants to rush back. So get ready to get good at waiting. Get ready to value waiting. Be open to the benefits of it, because this summer of raring to go is going to teach all of us a thing or two about the value of waiting. –Maria Shriver


Today’s Photo Credit: “Sunrise in Lanikai, Oahu, Hawaii,” Anastasia Flanagan… thank you Anastasia… Keep sending your photos… send to [email protected]
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)

Join Me… Upcoming Events… (Because of space limitations, please call and reserve a spot)
July 9 – 11  Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Hayesville, NC 28904
Aug 27 – 29   Mary & Joseph Retreat Center, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Sept 10 – 12  Senior Moment Retreat. Whispering Winds Catholic Conference Center, San Diego, CA

NEW Audio SM… Enjoy — The power of a kind word
Join us every Wednesday… Audio Sabbath Moment

In the mailbag…
–Hello Terry, Sending you a long overdue donation in gratitude to you and to Sabbath Moments. I’m so grateful for the day that one of my best friends said, “Hey, Mary. I think you’d like this…” She was right! All best, Mary
–T, your words guide me through the week. Thank you. I’m reminded of how busyness can overtake what is most important. I have posted a warning for myself from Socrates “Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.” As opportunities are once again flowing or sometimes flooding our calendars, I need to remember busyness does not create life. Have a blessed week. PS I met you when you spoke at Spring Arbor University back in 2012 or 2013. I have followed your weekly posts and shared them often. Carole

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Full awareness of the unnoteworthy immediate moment is the grandest and hardest of all spiritual exercise. 
–Peter Matthieson  

Bring on the poets
to remind us of the weighty glory resident in the rose,
the caterpillar, the dog, and the grass.
Bring on musicians of the spirit
whose melodies touch both light and dark.
Bring on painters and writers and designers and architects
who ignite sparks of the soul.
But mostly, bring on the sun and the rain and the dawn and the dusk,
the night and the moon, shadowed by a hazy film of cloud.
And bring on love in a wife and a son and rich friends
who suffer from the same fatal disease but refuse to give in,
who redeem moments of time simply for rest
and joy and goose-bumpy love.
Eugene Peterson

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom from our judgements.
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
where there is shouting, let us practice listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;
where there is hostility, let us bring respect;
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.
Pope Francis
(Adapting St. Francis prayer, World Communications Day, 1.24.2018)

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