Have you ever thrown your hands up into the air, and shouted to no one in particular, “Enough already, I’m tired!”
I have. And when these moments detonate, I scurry (on cue) down a rabbit trail of distraction, bristling and affronted, and before I know it, at the mercy of discombobulation.
The world depletes us. That much we all know. (And, the technology toys we’ve added, don’t help. This is not a Luddite rant, although I’m not above such.)
So. Let us push the pause button, shall we?
To pay attention to what diminishes and disconnects us.
And, to what replenishes us. This I know: when we’re not replenished or grounded, we’re at the mercy of what is detrimental, to voices of division and acrimony, both external and internal.
Here’s the fallout; Our anxiety is weaponized to distrust as we disconnect from one another and ourselves. Why? I like Rabbi Ted Falcon’s take, because “we forget the fuller nature of our Being. When we collapse into our separate selves, each of us striving to protect what is ours, each suspicious and watchful and fearful.”
This email from a Sabbath Moment reader, “I think my inner fire has gone out. I am normally a pretty out going, giving, strong, open minded and kind spirit. Lately I find I just feel tired and weary with people and my own life. Now I just feel numb. Has this happened to you?”
“Yes,” I write her, “it has.”
Okay, what is the antidote for healing?
This story from Mother Teresa invites us to replenish, and remember where our well-being is tethered.
We went to the outskirts of Bourke (Mother Teresa writes), where all the Aborigines were living in those little small shacks made of tin and old cardboard. I entered one of those little rooms and told the man living there, “Please allow me to make your bed, wash your clothes, to clean your room.”
He kept saying, “I’m alright, I’m alright.”
“But you will be more alright if you allow me to do it.”
Then he allowed me, and at the end, he pulled from his pocket a little old photograph of his father. I said, “You are so like your father.” He was overjoyed. I blessed the photo, gave it to him, and it went back into the pocket near his heart.
After I cleaned the room, I found in the corner a big lamp, full of dirt.
I said, “Don’t you light this lamp, such a beautiful lamp?”
He replied, “For whom? Months and months nobody has ever come to me. For whom will I light it?”
So I said, “Won’t you light it if the Sisters come to you?”
And he said, “Yes.”
So the Sisters started going to visit him for only about 5 to 10 minutes a day. They started lighting that lamp. After some time, the man got into the habit of lighting the lamp himself. Slowly, slowly, slowly, the Sisters stopped going to his shack (although they used to go every morning). I forgot completely about my first visit, and then after two years he sent word, “Tell Mother, my friend, the light she lit in my life is still burning.”
We are fortunate people. We do not live in shacks made of tin and old cardboard. But each one of us knows what it is like to let the light go out, or to leave the lamp unlit, or to bury the lamp (for any number of reasons, whether it be fear or shame or being just plain stuck) in the corner, under the debris of disillusionment and disconnection.
Tussling with life’s enigmas is not an enemy to wholeheartedness. This is not a resignation to unremitting struggle, but an invitation to embrace our vulnerability. Invitation toward change? Yes, of course.
But we can’t change anything until we love it.
And we can’t love anything until we embrace it.
“When we can become little enough, naked enough, and honest enough,” Richard Rohr writes, “then we will, ironically, find that we are more than enough.”
This is why Mother Teresa’s story reignites something inside of me.
Even in (and especially in our vulnerability) we are reminded that very simple gestures can make a profound difference.
Simple gestures; to light a lamp, to give hope, to listen, to embrace, to empower, to hug. One Irish way of saying hug is, “duine a theannadh le do chroi”, to squeeze somebody with your heart.
I don’t tell this story as a motivational tool. As if there is an obligation to “be kind.” I tell it as an affirmation and a reminder (mostly to myself) that within each of us there is a light. And that this light—of hope, dignity, delight, passion, justice, beauty, grace—still shines, regardless of the dirt that covers it. Yes, there are times we forget (and throw our hands into the air).
However, there are also times when a simple act of kindness, or gift of compassion, rekindles the light in our own spirit. This gift we give to another, becomes a gift we gratefully receive. In the story, both—the giver and the receiver—are liberated.
Mother Teresa wasn’t in that shack just to be kind. She was there to shine. (In reading her book, you realize that she did so at a time when her own life was racked with doubt and frustration and moments of deep despair. Yes, even from darkness, the light still shines.)
More than ever, we need one another.
Savor our Autumn colors and leaves and cooler evenings.
Quote for our week…
As we let our light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others. Marianne Williamson
Note: (The Bourke story adapted from Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light)
Today’s Photo Credit: “My grandson is a hunting guide in Colorado. This scene started his day today. Such beauty! Thanks again, Terry for helping us learn to spill our light. God certainly spills His beauty on us!” Roxanna McKee… Thank you Roxanna… Keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
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.
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UPCOMING EVENTS —
December 9 – 11 — Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ, Men’s Retreat
Letters that do my heart good…
–Thank you, Terry. The state of our national turbulence worries me. You have offered words to not only comfort me but give me faith things will calm. Michael
–Dear Terry, The Moses story puts me in mind of Hopkins in “God’s Grandeur” when he says, “The soil / is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.” Take off your shoes and feel the earth–it is all sacred! Literally, the practice of going barefoot is “grounding,” or “earthing.” It is scientifically beneficial and healing. Probably why beach walks are so restorative. Have a great day! Pax, Nicole
–Dear Terry, You always come to mind when I’m counting my blessings. Sabbath Moment is truly enriching one so many levels. May God continue to use you with the important messages you share—especially God’s unconditional love. Sending much peace, love and joy. PS. I’ll be moving to Los Angeles next month and saying goodbye to Tucson. Yes—I’m taking you with me. Sr. Marge
POEMS AND PRAYERS
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
At the end of the day,
We give thanks for the hours that were given.
The buds that brought beauty to the land
And the vision of a world
A vision of work to do
Rituals to bring back the hope and the delight
Practices that center the mind in peace
Time that passes so beyond this day and night
We give thanks for the conversations that were
Holy ounces of breath in and breath out
And we scatter the rest to the wind
To die back or to create forth
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.
Wicked, For Good