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Storm home sanctuary

I had a different Sabbath Moment planned. But two headlines grabbed my attention. “Dangerous severe storms will sweep across the eastern half of the U.S. this Memorial Day weekend, affecting a number of major cities from Saturday to Monday.” And “It is not as common to see the level of severe storms that the U.S. has witnessed in the last few months.”

In a Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor tells a heartwarming story about Lake Wobegon life on the northern Minnesota prairie, where children knew what it meant to travel a great distance to school. And where a sudden winter storm is life threatening.
In preparation for a winter storm emergency, each child is assigned a storm-home, a place nearer the school, where the child will go, and stay, if the weather becomes too treacherous for travel. On the first day of school, slips of paper are given to each child. The paper says: “Your storm home is with the (blank) family.”
Garrison tells of being assigned to the Krugers. The Krugers were an elderly couple and, as he recalls, very kindly. They had an impeccable house with a fence around a large yard. On normal school days Garrison would walk by the house and imagine what it would be like if he had to take refuge there. He imagines the crackling fireplace, a delicious meatloaf, and a quilted blanket on the bed. And Garrison imagines Mr. Kruger speaking to the principal, and pointing over toward him and saying, “There, that little boy over there, we would like him for our storm child.”
All of this imagining made Garrison feel secure, even though, as it happened that school year, he never had to stay in his storm home.

So many of the storms we’ve seen this year (in many parts of our world) have been quite literally life-threatening. And some, deadly.
And some storms, are not. Even so, they still rock our world. And, let us not forget, all storms have stories, with names and faces.
Most storms, in our life and world, are not even weather related, though the effect feels the same. Times when relationships unravel. Health deteriorates. Beliefs crumble. Hope evaporates.
And this much is undeniable: sometime in our life, every single one of us needs a storm-home.

I can tell you that I don’t much like it when my world feels rattled. Perhaps you can relate?
My confession is that I don’t like what insecurity does to my heart, or mind or spirit. (Times when life feels much bigger than me.) I don’t know what to hold on to, or what to be certain of. Where is the solid ground?
Because the list of what I don’t know is too long. And the list of what can go wrong is even longer.
I read one story about family members in a town where evacuation had been recommended, or at least finding refuge in a shelter. Both are impaired physically, but even so, will not agree be taken to the shelter. Their reason, “Shelters are for poor people.”
Well, when it comes to the storms of life, we are all “poor people”. Because brokenness plays no favorites.
And call it what you want, but there are days when I carry a sadness or heaviness for reasons I cannot explain. Here’s the odd part. Lord knows that too often we want to weather any storm on our own. We don’t need a storm home, we protest. But, you see, the storm doesn’t care…
Gratefully, at some time, we come face to face with the reality that no one of us is on this human, or faith journey, alone. Life is fragile and therefore, we are connected.
So here’s the deal: it’s in our DNA to be, and to need, storm homes.
To offer storm homes to others.
To ask for a storm home when we struggle.
Here’s the good news: we can be a storm home even if, and when, our own life is less than composed or collected.
I spend so much energy shoring up the vulnerable places in my life. You know, those places susceptible to breaking apart. Because there are many reasons to be unnerved, believing the worst or “what if.” We need to be reminded that being unnerved doesn’t disqualify us from human connection, or from being a storm home. Or, from being a helper.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” Thank you Mr. Rogers…
Caring is not predicated on having your act together.
Being a storm home is not predicated on being a resolve-all-fail-safe.
A storm home is a place where our spirit can park, sit a spell, and find perspective and replenishment and healing.

I am so grateful for all who have been that storm home for me at different times of my life and journey. And I hope that Sabbath Moment can be that too, a storm home, nourishing sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness. A space where we are refueled to make a difference.
Today is Memorial Day, a day when we remember the devastation of the storms of war. And make space for those families who lost loved ones in service to our country.
And we remember all those who have been in, or are in, the path of the tornadoes this weekend. Let us be on the watch for those in need.

Quote for our week…
After 9-11, St. Paul’s (near ground zero) became the way station for first responders. One reporter overheard a firefighter say, “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.”


Today’s Photo Credit: “Terry, Today you wrote about ‘A sanctuary is a place that restores us’. Well, like you, my sanctuary is my garden and the time I spend puttering and growing. God’s beauty comes through every time. I know that in the season of Pentecost the color is red. However my garden decided that this week, and last, that the color should be purple. More of God’s Beauty (one of our orchids),” Paul Brokow (Florida)… Thank you Paul… 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…
–Thank you, Terry, for this week’s reminder of Sanctuary. It touched me so close after the year and a half we have been through with losing our home to water damage and the journey of reconstruction and insurance. Your Sabbath moments have helped carry me through. My garden still there, grounds me every day. Thank you for you and your words of kindness and wisdom and hope. Carol
–I love (your story of) Betty and your oh so humble and ardent desire to help sort out her garden. I could almost smell the herbs casually clinging to her jeans. The world needs more seasoned Betty’s. I also love the image and idea of nurse trees, such a miracle of regeneration and resurrection. Thank you for enriching this day, just as you do every day. Could we even survive without sanctuary? Sheila
–Hi Terry, Thank you for the above. It hits home for me as there have been plenty of times when I’ve wondered about the direction of my life. I surely would hate to think that when my life is over I discover I have done it all “wrong”. lol. Yet, I believe that even “bad” choices hold a bit of “good” within them to learn from. And, I know that God sends moments of grace and healing into every day of my life. My “job” is to embrace each day, each moment, and to be fully present so I don’t miss any of the daily gifts in life… the butterfly, the new flower, the laughter around me, the kindness of others. And, if I don’t manage to do that on any given day, well… I will surely try again the next day. I do appreciate all that you share. Have a lovely day. Darlene
–So meaningful. Thank you, Terry. I have a friend who drove donated ambulances through that area during those horrendous days (Sarajevo). They would pull into a protected area when shelling began, be on their way when it was over. When the fighting ceased, Jim built a playground and a bridge between areas of conflict. He wondered if anyone would come. They did. Children brought them together. Peace and hope, Patti


Whisper Like An Angel
Have you learned how to whisper like an Angel
Have you learned how to stand up to death
Have you learned that life is as strong as its weakest link
Have you learned that truth never rests
Have you learned that love will save you
Have you learned how to whisper like an Angel
M.S. Morrison

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Rabbi Harold Kushner 

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