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The permission to unplug

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including yourself. (Thank you Anne Lamott.)
And yet. We can’t just unplug, can we? Don’t we need a plan of action, a strategy for self-improvement, and targets to measure success? What’s the point in nourishing our soul if we don’t have boxes to check? What do we win?
Writing about unplugging and refueling makes me wonder… What is it I am asking for? I do know this: If I “wake up to this life,” I may not like what I see. My confession: hurry and distraction have always served a purpose.

I write about sanctuary, but frankly, there is something oddly satisfying in the rush. And yes, even the stress. Maybe I’m afraid, that if I stop, if I slow down and unplug, where will I find my meaning? What if someone told me (and this is indeed the scandal of Grace) that everything I am ever going to “amount to”, I already am right now?
We’ve missed the point if we don’t see that unplugging and refueling is a laboratory for forgiveness, which begins with self-forgiveness. An invitation to befriend your scattered and wounded self.
Grace, it turns out, is WD40 for the soul.
So, let us feed our soul, shall we?
For starters, we can let go of our wiring, that sees any endeavor as a transaction, or tactical devise to “improve” one’s life, propelled to best in class. A need to perform or achieve attracts fear-based or self-interested people, and life calls for lovers. Franciscan teacher John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) helps here.  He tells us that God did not create genus and species. God only created “this-ness,” (in Latin haecceity). He said that until we can experience each thing in its specific “thisness,” we will not easily experience the joy and ubiquity of Divine Presence. 

Thisness; to embrace (and be embraced by) the sacrament of the present moment, the here-and-now in all its ordinariness and particularity. In other words, I can’t be present in general. I’m invited to be present to this person, this conversation or event or conundrum or sorrow. Right here, right now.
Here’s the deal: Thisness invites savoring, and gives birth to wholeheartedness, joy, empathy, compassion and connection. In the sacrament of the present, fear and striving do not own us, and we welcome our imperfect parts.
When everything must be weighed, and measured to be “of value”, down the road, (gratefully) something snaps. This memory comes to mind… While I sit on the back deck, the sun sets over the Kitsap Peninsula (the expanse of land west of Seattle and Puget Sound). The sky, as if batter poured from a pitcher, turns an effluence of slate blue and vermilion. Spires of hemlock are backlit and silhouetted like hand puppets on an immense screen. I stand for some unknown reason, singing, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog. Was a good friend of mine…” at the top of my lungs, and do a little boogie with my black Lab Conroy, who hasn’t the foggiest idea what’s come over me but is a sucker for a party and plays along nonetheless.
I let the moment melt around me before I gain my composure and give myself some sort of reality check: a quiz requiring justification for what I’m feeling and why. And then it hits me. I can’t tell a soul about my dance at twilight without coming face-to-face with who I was pretending not to be and the energy it required to maintain that image.
When I lived in Southern California, I spent three days a month at a Benedictine monastery out in the high desert. It was my periodic trek to a place where I could slow down long enough to pay attention. Truth is, I wanted to learn how to be alone with myself and like it, because I wasn’t very good at that. And, I wanted to learn how to be alone with God and like it, because I wasn’t very good at that, either.
On one visit, a friend asked one of the monks, “What exactly do you do here?”
“We pray,” the monk replied simply.
“No, really,” my friend persisted. “I mean besides that. What do you really do?”
“It is enough just to pray,” the monk told my friend.
“It is enough,” I tell my dog standing on the deck absorbing the summer sky, “just to boogie.” Just to boogie under the inexplicable marbled canopy of dusk. Just to feel your lungs swell and your heart flutter. Just to cheer the sun as it sets and not give a damn about some need to fight back the tears, standing spellbound in the salty prism for twilight rainbows.
Thisness. Not a bad way to start of conversation, “Where did you find or embrace Thisness today?”

I’m still smiling real big after Saturday’s Michigan and Ohio State Football game. An annual event that dates back to 1897. No, it’s not a religion. But truth be told, it feels a wee bit bigger. As a young boy in Michigan, it became a part of my DNA (as my friends in Ohio can also attest), and the game is the summit. Oh yes, and Michigan thumped ‘em.
I am so grateful for Sabbath Moment readers who write to encourage me to stay emotionally and spiritually hydrated. Thank you to all who have walked with me, and who have allowed me to walk with you. Let us continue…
We’re still munching Thanksgiving leftovers, and Advent begins (today we light the candle of Hope). I’m an advocate of embracing and absorbing the Advent theme of waiting. Let us give ourselves the permission to unplug and make space.

Quote for your week…
We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have — for their usefulness. Thomas Merton

Today’s Photo Credit: “Terry, This fall my husband and I were fortunate to be able to visit the Isle of Iona in Scotland for a couple nights. This late afternoon shot, capturing the light on the sailboat, reminded me of the power of living in the light.” Madeleine Gallagher… Thank you Madeleine… Keep sending your photos… send to 

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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)

December 9 – 11 — Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ, Men’s Retreat
NEW Book – Stand Still: finding balance when the world turns upside down

NEW Audio SM… Enjoy — The pleasure of slowness
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Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Terry, May you be blessed this day and on Thanksgiving and the days that follow for your service to God and your fellow humanity with your writing, especially for Sabbath Moment Daily. It has refreshed my soul so many days, and especially today as I think on the relationship I have with my friend Melony. We have known each other for a long time and it is only now that I realize how we are passing gifts on to others, she to me, and me as I can to others. Epiphany! How wonderful! Thank you for today’s message! I am grateful for your words and keep you in my prayers daily. Love, Beth
–I walked up on a hill one morning to enjoy a view of the small valley where my home sat. It wasn’t my intention to pray. But I “talk to God” all the time. Sitting on the ground, looking out over the valley, with more hills behind me where Golden Eagles nested, I realized, for those moments, that the best thing I could do to give glory to God was to relish that moment! To enjoy all around me, and be glad with it all that we had that moment “to Be”. I’ve never forgotten that day, that time, that revelation. I’ve tried to remember to live it. Your posts always bring me back to that. And I am grateful! Happy Thanksgiving week, Terry. Cathy
–Dear Terry, As we draw near to another Thanksgiving, I am reflecting on the many times this past year I’ve truly experience blessings of peace, encouragement, hope when I’ve received your Sabbath Moment missives. I am truly grateful for you and the gifts you share with those of us out in the ether. God bless you, Marion

Kindness is a wonderful way to let a struggling soul know that there is still love in the world. We must never underestimate the way an act, or a word of kindness can impact someone’s life. Kindness is the mark we leave on the world. –Jo Phillips

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
John O’Donohue
Excerpt from his book, To Bless the Space Between Us

When I Am Among The Trees
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
Mary Oliver

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