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The spirit of the dance

A synagogue needed help. They were in dire straights, and morale was low. They called a famous Rabbi to help them sort it out, to offer them insights and give them all the answers to the questions they were asking. On the evening the Rabbi visited the church, every pew was full, the congregation rapt, eager for wisdom and anticipated resolution.
As the Rabbi stood silent, the audience squirmed, puzzled and a little unnerved.  Then the Rabbi began to sing, and to dance glad hearted and effervescent. The music filled the church, and the dancing Rabbi made his way up the aisle, where he invited parishioners to join him. It wasn’t long before every member of the congregation was dancing, and the church walls reverberated with the spirit of the dance. All evening they danced.
After, they sat, still intoxicated with the joy of dancing. And only then did the Rabbi speak, “I hope that I have provided all the answers to the questions you were asking.”
Before we figure life out, maybe we can just live it.
Before we seek to manage life, maybe we can just embrace it.
Before we seek to analyze life, maybe we can just savor the moments.
Before we seek to control life–nice and neat and tidy–maybe we can dance.

Which all sounds really good on paper, until you realize that you’ve finished the dance, and still have no “answers.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit.” Translated it would be “Blessed are the confused.”  Ahhhh… that’s just it; most of us aren’t in a mood to be blessed that way.
Something about our need to have the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted for life to be okay (as if only answers can calm our spirit). And I wonder what this hankering for closure takes care of? Perhaps because if life doesn’t fit into a tidy box, it unnerves us. Sadly, fear always propels us to shut down, or strike out (at anything or anyone who doesn’t fit).
So, today, what if we begin with the Rabbi’s invitation?
What if it’s okay to not know?
And what if it’s okay to embrace the invitation to dance (pause and celebrate). To savor this day. To taste the sacrament of the present, even in our uncertainty.

After, they sat, still intoxicated with the joy of dancing.  And only then did the Rabbi speak, “I hope that I have provided all the answers to the questions you were asking.”
This week let’s look for invitations to dance. (Or, if dancing is not your thing, try baltering. To balter is to dance without particular skill or grace, but with extreme joy. Often performed by teenagers at parties, but can be enjoyed by a person of any age… say a middle-aged guy. “Hey, that is some sweet baltering you’re doing!”)

I needed the Rabbi’s invitation to dance this week, his gentle reminder to the congregation (and to us)… that regardless of our confusion or conflict or messiness, we are not lost.  There is inside of each of us, a dancer.
What would it mean to live into that reality?  Can you tell me the last time you were invited–given the permission, just like the members of the synagogue–to be vulnerable, curious, lighthearted, inquisitive, spontaneous, intuitive and playful?  To be filled with wonderment and laughter?  What would that look like?  And if I invited you today, would you say yes?
But here’s what gets us in trouble every time. We see dancing as an assignment (or strategy… or worse, we compare ourselves to others) and that never turns out so well, as we miss the real invitation, to be present, to just savor. 

This of the Rabbi’s invitation as a paradigm shift about where we park our identity and our well-being.
One of my favorite stories is about a magazine ad sponsored by the Humane Society, looking for homes for homeless pets.  A photo of a puppy and kitten–looking up at you from the page–catches your eye and your heart.  But it’s the affirmation on the top of the ad that sticks, “It’s who owns them that makes them important.”
Part of the conundrum is that we see any upheaval or disorder or disenchantment as an indictment.  Why?  Because we live in a world where we are owned by the need for perfection or arrival or tidiness or answers (including the right creed).  It is no wonder we so easily get derailed.  It’s a mentality summed up in this sermon excerpt; a cleric (apparently speaking for sectarians universal) forewarned the congregation, “Everyone is created by God, but not everyone is a child of God!”
He couldn’t be more wrong.  And as long as there is a voice in us that trumpets this message of scarcity and deficiency, we miss the invitation of the Rabbi: inside of every one of us–whether broken or splintered or lost or disoriented–is the exquisite beauty of a dancer and the child of God.
In the dance is the permission to be replenished.
Speaking of being replenished and dancing, just take me to the garden. I’m smiling remembering this wonderful Zen saying, “You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day… Unless you’re busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
In the garden—the everyday in our wonderfully ordinary world—the music inside comes alive. In the words of Karl Barth, “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.”
Gardening has a way of seeping into your soul, and one day you find yourself, in the words of poet May Sarton in Plant Dreaming Deep, spending the first half hour of the morning “enjoying the air and watching for miracles.”
I’ll give Etty Hillesum the last word, “Before, I always lived in anticipation… that it was all a preparation for something else, something ‘greater,’ more ‘genuine.’ But that feeling has dropped away from me completely. I live here and now, this minute, this day, to the full, and the life is worth living.”

A blessed Palm Sunday to all and to our pilgrimage (perhaps dance?) through Holy Week.
This morning one my walk, I ask the geese about Holy Week plans. And they give me the look, what week isn’t holy?  I take their point.
I am an unabashed golf addict. And still marveling after watching the Masters golf tournament today.

Quote for your week…
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot

I’m back one the road for a few events. This month with L.A. Sisters Aging Well, and in May (13 -15), Siena Retreat Center, Racine, WI (Creating Spaces for Self-Care)… Join me. 

Please check out the NEW Book – Stand Still: finding balance when the world turns upside down

And my deepest gratitude to you for making space for me and Sabbath Moment. Let us continue to find places where our souls and spirits can be nourished and refueled. And balanced. Please pass the word and share Sabbath Moment. And, now join me for Daily Sabbath Moment (Tuesday – Friday). Your donations make a difference.
Thank you.


Today’s Photo Credit:  “Timeout. We took time to run away to Galveston last week. Sunrise before storms moved in later in the day. Thank you for your continued care and ministry,” Patti Suler… Thank you Patti… Keep sending your photos… send to 
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.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365)
May 13 -15  Siena Retreat Center, Racine, WI (Creating Spaces for Self-Care)

NEW Book – Stand Still: finding balance when the world turns upside down
NEW Audio SM… Enjoy — In touch we can be present
Join us every Wednesday… Audio Sabbath Moment

Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Terry, Every Sabbath Moment feels like a visit from a soul friend, Terry. So genuine… so “real”.  Thank you for being “one of us” and not someone “elevated” to a “voice of authority”.  You help us, and yourself, be more and more of who we are meant to be.  I love the Holly Near song.  Thank you for sharing so many nourishing “dishes” on the banquet of Love. I stay on the lookout for moments of Joy – they’re all around us, just as you and Mr. Rogers keep reminding us.  Sending Light, Love, and Resilience, Cammie
–Dear Terry, This morning I wrote of the difference between the larger world picture and the smaller picture where we can do the most good, where our open heart can reach out and touch others with the Love and Light with which we are born. I felt good to be able to express these things, to let the war in Ukraine be happening and not feel overly responsible for doing anything about it when I/we can do more on the smaller scale that is infinitely within our arms’ reach. Speaking of wonder: driving through my neighborhood, there is a ditch close by that is full of daffodils and jonquils haphazardly growing there and blooming ever so brilliantly! I love seeing them there, as if planted by some other madwoman like me who would plant flowers wherever there might be a space for them to grow and be seen. How wonderful they are and how they bring me hope whenever I see them! Just needed to share! Beth
–Dear Terry, thank you for this SM today. I find myself so consumed with the sadness of what is happening in the world. Thank you for your prayers and the reminder that each of us caring and shining our light we can make a difference. However small, acts of kindness make a difference. Carol 

Share Sabbath Moment with a friend…


We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. God manifests Himself everywhere, in everything–in people and in things and in nature and in events… The only thing is we don’t see it… I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.   Thomas Merton

The time will come
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott

Time for Serenity, Anyone?
I like to live in the sound of water,
in the feel of mountain air. A sharp
reminder hits me: this world still is alive;
it stretches out there shivering toward its own
creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing
enters into the elaborate give-and-take,
this bowing to sun and moon, day or night,
winter, summer, storm, still—this tranquil
chaos that seems to be going somewhere.
This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it.
This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.
William Stafford

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