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How the story ends

One year ago, was the last time I was able to be with a group of people and tell stories… in person.
It’s been quite a year. And it’s taken a toll. The headline in this morning’s paper; “The week our reality broke. The empty shelves; the people in masks on the bus; the email saying the office would be closed. A year ago, we realized that everything was about to change. For a brief moment, it felt like we were all in this together. What happened?”
For many, the loss(es) have been staggering (some feeling their foundation crack, if not crumble). “A rollercoaster in every way,” Maria Shriver writes. “I’ve been optimistic, hopeful, sad, bewildered, confused, and angry. I, like so many, have felt stuck and misunderstood at times. I’ve given up and then I’ve rallied myself and others forward. I’ve lost dreams and had to alter my hopes. I’ve felt deeply alone and scared, and then also deeply connected and encouraged.”

On my walk this morning, I tell the geese that I marvel at their resilience. An impressive kind of single-mindedness.
“So. Is it okay to confess that some days I can’t focus,” I wonder aloud. “That, some days making sense of the world doesn’t work, and I just want to take a nap?”
“Not easy to admit, eh?” Their look tells me.
“No, it’s not.”

When I read about our “return to normal” it makes me smile. As if, the way we lived before was “normal”. As if reality is determined only by circumstance, and we forget that…
We have agency.
We have the capacity to make choices about what matters.
We get to say how the story ends.

So. I needed a good story. To do my heart good. And I remember the movie, The Rider. Once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, Brady Jandreau is warned that his competition days are over after a tragic riding accident. Now Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete.
His life forever changed.
Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. What is left after macho is gone?
We watch his daily routines, his attempts to fit into “normal” society, his late-night hangouts with his friends and his frustrations at having to figure out his second act. (Notice that “normal” is always code for what life “should” be.)
As Brady is transformed, we watch the power of his relationship with Lane, a rodeo friend and “big brother” who was left incapacitated after a rodeo accident. And the grounding that flourishes from Brady’s empathetic side. As it turns out, even tough guys can be healers.
Of course, we assume life proceeds better when we’re in control. And then life happens. Go figure. And you get hurt. “You just don’t think you’ll get hurt like that,” Brady says.
These are moments that reset emotional and spiritual gravity. Everything we believe is up in the air.  Because many of our beliefs are about things working smoothly, or in a particular way. And we wonder, is this who I want to be? Am I at the mercy of the way others see me?
But here’s the deal. We need these encounters. Necessary periods of catharsis and soul searching. Okay, maybe not to the extent of great pain. However, such moments do invite us to ask questions about things that truly matter.
Giving up our dreams is not easy. But what if our dreams are not the only way to make the world a better place.

David Orr’s wisdom is my go-to reset button. “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.”
As long as success is measured only by keeping score, or by being in control, or “returning to normal,” it’s easy to lose track of most everything that makes us human and therefore, glad to be alive…
…small gestures of kindness
…acts of inclusion or community to someone left out, or someone on the fringes
…extending a hand of healing or acceptance to someone who hurts
…reveling in the gifts of the senses and being present
…resting in a moment of gratitude
…sharing laughter, a smile, camaraderie; and dancing for joy

It’s easy to lose track, isn’t it? Parker Palmer’s reminder that “our strongest gifts are usually the ones we’re barely aware of possessing.”
Yes. In other words, as Rabbi Naomi Levy reminds us, “Finding your way in life is not so much about choosing a direction. It’s about uncovering the voice of the soul, the call that is already imprinted inside you, and then finding the courage to face down your fears and let your true voice be heard. One of my favorite verses from the Song of Songs is when the lover calls out, ‘let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet.’ The ancient rabbis insisted it was God who was speaking those words to each one of us, ‘Let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet.’”

When one younger friend told me about life’s conundrums, I asked (the question Brady asked, the question we ask), “So what’s next?”
She replied, “I’m just waiting for God to show me what he wants from me.”
Okay. But in the meantime, you know, until you have this life and self figured out (and straightened out), I have a suggestion:  Live this day, with this self, without holding back. Today; savor, doubt, embrace, question, wrestle, give, risk, love, fall down, get up, accept your incomplete and fractured self, know that anything worth doing is worth doing badly, speak from your whole heart, and whenever you can, lavish excessive compassion and mercy and healing and hope and second chances and grace and restoration and kindness on anyone who crosses your path.   Who knows, we may love one another into existence.
I’m sure God won’t mind.

This morning, my clock was wrong. It took me a bit to remember why. But I didn’t have anywhere to be, so it turns out, it didn’t matter.
The good news is that for a few days here, we’ve been charmed by spring, the sun warming the skin, and the way your heart jumps when you see crocus and narcissus blooms. My Oh My.
Today, blustering and steady rain. Okay. But that can’t take away the gift we’ve been given.

Quote for your week…
I do dimly perceive that whilst everything around me is ever changing, ever-dying, there is underlying all that change a Living Power that is changeless, that holds all together, that creates, dissolves, and re-creates. Mahatma Gandhi 

JOIN US… Here’s an invitation to join the Soul Gardening eCourse. It’s available to all. No fee. You can order the book to go with it. It would be a good retreat journey for Lent.
The other great Lent option is my new book, The Gift of Enough–a journal for the present moment. My journal with invitations to embrace and savor the sacred present.
Please share all of this with your friends and community.

I’m grateful for those who have joined us for the NEW Sabbath Moment Daily Dose. Tuesday through Friday. A quote, a paragraph and a prayer to refuel us. Daily nourishment. This is in addition to Monday’s Sabbath Moment.

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Today’s Photo Credit: “At the end of my beach walks I toss a rock into the water. As it goes up to the sky and back down to earth in all four directions it helps me breathe deep in silence for all of creation. Thank you for all of your stories that help us to breathe in deep,” Carolyn Allen, Port Hadlock, WA… Thank you Carolyn… Keep sending your photos… send to tdh@terryhershey.com
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POEMS AND PRAYERS

If thy heart were right, then every creature would be a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine. There is no creature so small and abject, but it reflects the goodness of God. –Thomas a Kempis

When Someone Deeply Listens to You
When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you’ve had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.
When someone deeply listens to you
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind’s eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!
When someone deeply listens to you
your barefeet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.
John Fox 

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
John O’Donohue
Excerpt from ‘Beannacht’ To Bless the Space Between Us 

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