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The gift of glimmers

More and more, I get questions from people asking about self-care when life feels unraveled. And unsettled. “How is it possible to stay grounded and sane?” One asked.
And I do know this: my lists are a good bit shorter than they used to be.
And a story comes to mind. Some years back, I had gone to Oahu, Hawaii to work. (I was working. Cross my heart.) My evening ritual: adjourning to write, at a restaurant with tables on a patio looking out onto the southwestern horizon and Pacific Ocean. One night, a man sitting at a table nearby asked what I was writing.
I told him, “It’s part of a book.”
“What’s your book about?”
“I don’t know yet,” I told him.
“That might not be easy to sell,” he offered. I tell myself I know why he is eating alone.
“Okay,” I conceded. “Let’s say it’s about life.”
“That really narrows it down.” He said, probably assuming I had been in the sun too long.
“Fair enough,” I admitted. “But check this out.”
I pointed toward the horizon. The sun slid into the Pacific Ocean less than ten minutes before. The western sky is still lit, as if backlit. The heavens are filled with a literal symphony of clouds. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this before, not even in a photo. I thought I knew clouds. But I count seven or eight different types in the panorama; yet know the names of only three. In the foreground, there are clouds made of some delicate fabric, like chenille perhaps, or something similar to the dollies on the back of my grandmother’s sofa. Off to northwest, clouds form, bulky billows of ash grey, as if residue from the collapse of great buildings. From my table I see cloud shapes and figures, a pirate ship, a UFO, and a ballerina. Beyond the ash grey cloud to the north, the sky is pewter blue. As we sip our drinks and watch, the formations alter and dance and evolve, an unfolding drama, better than any “must see” TV show. Behind us we hear the music from an outdoor nightspot.
“That sky is something,” my new friend says, after ten minutes.
“Yep,” I tell him. “It is. And that’s what I write about.”
“You write about clouds?”
“No, but about the music they make. That the day—the gift of life in this day—even in its unsettling, quixotic, sensory ordinariness, still has the power to unbelievably astonish us. And make us glad to be alive.”

Really? Watching clouds is enough to keep us grounded and sane?
I love Marcel Proust’s counsel, “We don’t need new landscapes; we need new eyes.”
So. Let us take comfort in Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s prayer. “Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.”
Do you know the word, “glimmer”? I love this description; “Glimmers are moments in your day that bring you happiness, peace, and gratitude; they spark positive emotions, whereas a trigger sparks negative ones. They make you feel good and put a smile on your face. The more you look for them, the more you notice them, and the fewer triggers you will encounter.”
Yes, and amen. And, “Suddenly an ordinary day, becomes holy ground.” (Stella Nesanovich)

To be sure, unraveled parts of life will still unnerve us. And we’ll still be lured by the need for answers, and clarity about the bigger picture.
For whatever reason, closure is very important to us. (Ah yes. Our need to have some control perhaps?) No wonder we crave answers and solutions. Above all, the need to spend whatever time we do have, trying to figure stuff out. Or at least Googling the alternatives. I’ll grant you that the gratification from tidying up and uncovering meaning, is real. Visceral even.
However. Here’s the odd part. Without knowing it, we appreciate and find fulfillment and meaning from the fruits of uncertainty (borrowing from the insights of Rabbi Irwin Kula). Insight, serendipity, wonder, love, surprise, joy, delight and discovery all come from places where we are not sure, where we do not know, where we do not have all the answers.
The good news? This grounding allows me to be here now. To care now. To give now. To be replenished by the gift of glimmers now.

Some people take exception to repetition about the power of pause, and the invitation to live in the present moment, and to practice the art of doing nothing. There are some, who see it as “wasting time.” Okay. Well, here’s the difference between wasting time and just being bored. Wasting time really is intentional. You are, literally, spending time. On clouds. Or lilies, or naps, or silence, or prayer, or providing a generous spirit, or coffee with friends, or listening to someone’s story, or holding a hand, or hugging a hurting friend, or caring for a flock of birds, or watching your cats fight it out for the best spot on the couch. Which means that you are not mortgaging your time or your life on any old distraction merely out of boredom. When you do pause and pay attention, there is, literally, an internal recalibration. While nothing is “added” to your life, there is a new awareness of the light that is within. Call it a new perception of your internal wealth account.

I had something else I wanted to say, but I’ve forgotten already. I’ll tell you this though, you should have seen clouds here this past week. We’ve had skittish weather. And when that happens, the clouds roll through, sometimes layered and suffused with deep tints of silver and indigo.
Today gray skies. And we’re told an atmospheric river will be drenching us beginning tonight. A perfect night to hunker down with a good book.

Quotes for the week:
Don’t we all want to make sense? Jewish wisdom sanctions the yearning, even ennobles it, at the same time teaching there is no meaning: only a kind of dance between meaning and ambiguity; understanding and misunderstanding; faith and doubt; essence and no-essence. And the more joyous the dance, the richer and more holy the life. Irwin Kula


Today’s Photo Credit: “Good morning Terry, Your Sanctuary lessons this week are spot on. Every morning I head to the East side of town to be part of the ‘presence committee’. This was today and now you’ve given me insight to this committee… some people jog by, others walk, some bike, still others sit in their car and me well I walk like a mailman (instead of delivering mail I stop and snap pictures). You are such a breath of fresh air please continue to oxygenate us Spiritually. God bless,” Marguerite Gerontis (Tacoma, WA)… Thank you Marguerite… 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…
–Terry, As my hibiscus is blooming profusely, they remind me that each day we need to enjoy that day’s blessings, as they put on a brilliant show with their brilliant colors, and the next day are gone. And then they grace a new day with another blessing. Bunny
–Hi Terry, you are an amazing gift in a world of hurting, and I consider you one of the greatest gifts that God has given me! Thank you for sharing your love for Jesus and all of us in a way that heals my soul… your fellow traveler on the journey to heaven, Barb
–Dear Terry, I loved your Sabbath moment today. The Storm Home we find gives us warmth, care and Sanctuary. Yesterday it was digging in the earth, today watching the sun come up and your message. We can be someone’s Storm Home. Peace to all, on this Memorial Day. Linda
–Greetings, Terry, Since you know our Sophia’s Circle, I thought I would share a tender moment from Tuesday’s gathering. One of our members, Mona, lost her husband Saturday night, and we gathered here at the farm on Tuesday to support her. On Monday’s Sabbath Moment, you had offered as your Music for the Soul the song ‘Sanctuary’ by Carrie Newcomer. I had been so touched by that piece that I decided to use it as a lead-in to our meditation. As I shared the title, Mona said, ‘Oh, that was one of Mike’s favorite songs.’ I was awe-struck at that unexpected synchronicity. Thank you for including a piece of music in the Sabbath Moment. I always enjoy it so very much. The total package of your missives is so heart-warming: the photos, your homily, poetry and quotes, messages from other readers, and the music. What a beautiful gift to us each week. Sending light and love, Nancy
–Hi Terry, I love the lyrics of Ed Kilbourne’s song Promised Land. I would love to hear it sung. Thank you so much for your Sabbath Moment I have read it faithfully for many years now, and it brightens my day and my faith. With appreciation, Stephanie


it begins
slowly, hushed silence reigns
twilight comes
the poet’s pondering hour
sky is midnight-blue wool skeined
it gives way
yields to misty dove-grey hues
dusk invites
lifting the thin curtain
listening to heaven’s news
I watch and sigh
sky gazing, looking lazy
by all this night offers us
and let it amaze me
warm rose tint
seeps into my consciousness
filling clouds
I drink in pale burgundy
while tumbling into rest
ash and embers
tangerine glow tinged with red
a burning fire
vivid sky lit up for miles
I put my troubles to bed
© joylenton

I stood there taking in the sheen on the crow’s beaks,
the heaving of the horse,
the sire and fall of my father’s voice,
the breeze driving clouds and tousling my hair,
and the aroma of freshly turned soil as of something right our of the oven.
These sensations went deep into me,
along with the shapes and textures of skin, shell,
scales, feathers, leaves, bark and fur.
They were the first alphabet I learned, before letters of words.
I still don’t have words to say what attracted me to the life of woods and fields,
except to call it the holy shimmer at the heart of things.
Scott Russell Sanders

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