It has been another week where the news makes us wonder if there are any answers… accompanied by feeling powerless, deeply emotional, horrified, angry, and scared.
I am grateful for your emails. One asked, “You talk about spiritual hydration. But how can we give time to personal and community renewal, in a world that is on fire with hate and pain?”
My answer. We can’t afford not to.
And another, “I’m just one person. What difference can I make?”
Okay. Let me tell you a story.
One day a very wealthy man took his son on a world-hopping trip visiting “underprivileged” countries, with the firm purpose of showing his son how “poor people” live. On their return from the trip, the father asked, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad.”
“Did you see how poor people live?”
“So, tell me, what do you learn?”
The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a river with no end in sight. We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve one another. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
The boy’s father stood, speechless.
“Thank you, Dad, for showing me how poor we really are.”
I love this story.
And I love the boy’s recognition and appreciation about real wealth, “They serve one another. They have friends to protect them.”
I need to sit with these words.
Because we do live in a world where it can be easy to be befuddled. Or is it duped? After all, we live in a world with inverted price tags. And because of that, we give way to identities that diminish us, blocking empathy, humility, glad heartedness, contentment and yes, connection.
This story is a life-giving reset button.
Here’s the paradigm shift: Rich is not about what we possess. Or own. We’ve turned wealth into a way to objectify stuff and relationships, predicated on having, possessing and preening.
Rich is about the real connections that expand our life, and give us value.
Rich is about the connections that promote the value of love, empathy and compassion and encourage us to struggle against what is artificial, mechanical and cold.
Rich is about personal renewal, nurturing a curriculum of a truly spiritual life; grounded in love, mercy, tenderness, compassion, forgiveness, hope, trust, simplicity, silence, peace, and joy; slowly transfiguring us. (Thank you Richard Rohr.)
“They serve one another.”
It’s the new wealth account, allowing us to see the world with new eyes. Not weighted down by consumption and comparison. We can be present. In this moment. And, we can be present for (we can see, making space and room) those around us. In moment of gladness, and in moments of pain and suffering. Connection matters.
And this today, from Maria Shriver, “This week, I read an article about what kids need and how certain teachers are best able to help them when they’re having a meltdown. The article said to ask a child, ‘Do you want to be helped, heard, or hugged?’ The writer then went on to say those are actually great questions to ask anybody at this time. I love that. As leaders—be it in our families, our workplaces, or our communities—we will never be able to totally have everyone’s back all the time. That said, we can minister in the gap with our hearts and with compassion. We can minister by listening, by sharing practices, by showing tenderness, and by sharing our own experiences that helped us when we felt alone, afraid, and disconnected. We can minister by apologizing as well when it’s needed. My friends, see yourself on this day and this week as a minister with a pulpit or platform, because you actually have one. Believe that you have a message worth sharing because you do. Believe that you have a presence that can make another person feel protected in this moment because you do.”
“They serve one another.”
Let us welcome what the young boy recognized; that serving and protecting came natural to the people. In other words, it spilled from what had been (and was being) cultivated inside.
Which brings to mind Etty Hillesum’s empowering words, “Ultimately, we have just one moral duty. To reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”
Thank you Etty. Your words bolster and sustain me.
And let us remember, Etty did not write that sentence from a dispassionate distance. Speaking of a world tilting, Etty was a young Jewish woman who lived in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation and who died in Auschwitz, one of the millions of victims of the Holocaust. We didn’t know about her meticulous diary until decades after her death. From the day when Dutch Jews were ordered to wear a yellow star, up to the day she boarded a cattle car bound for Poland, Etty consecrated herself to the wholehearted task of bearing witness to the inviolable power of love. To honor the sacred present with sensitivity to human suffering and gratitude for beauty in the everyday.
“They serve one another.”
And speaking of “treasures,” I am so grateful for the Sabbath Moment community and for your notes and emails, and for those who are juggling life, and finding solace in the permission to sit still, and hear a voice of grace.
Quote for our week…
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their place. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.” David Orr.
Today’s Photo Credit: “Hi Terry, We are spending a few days in the Eastern Sierras of California. This morning we arrived at Convict Lake at sunrise to see how the sun lit up the surrounding mountains and reflected their beauty into the lake. It did not disappoint! Since your theme this week was reflecting light, I knew I had to send this to you. Blessings always!” Madeleine Gallagher… Thank you Madeleine… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… send to terryhershey.com
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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.
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Letters that do my heart good…
–Hi Terry, Thank you for the wonderful songs of healing today! There are times when my heart is just so heavy from the pain in our world. And I cannot help but to allow the tears that fall when I think of the children, the babies, All the innocent people, and the senselessness of all this violence. Indeed… “If everyone could see the image of God in his neighbor, do you think we would still need tanks and generals?” Mother Teresa. Thank you for sharing your thoughts that touch upon how many of us are feeling these days. I’m very grateful for your Sabbath Moment community. It is an anchor for me and often your words help me to remember I am not alone in what I think or feel. Have a wonderful weekend… filled with healing and peace! Darlene
–Thank you for the music today. I’m very familiar with the first two–always a sacred moment listening to them. The Kris Kristofferson song was a new song and video for me. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for reminding me how connected we are to one another and to rainbows. Kay
–The songs are beautiful! And there is another one I just recently heard of and you may too! Matthew Paul Miller stage name Matisyahu is a Jewish reggae singer and he did a concert in Haifa and asked 3000 Muslims and Jews to gather to sing the song One Day. It’s beautiful and warms the heart as the ones you also mentioned. Thank you! In this world of hatred there is love and you bring that to us readers each day so Blessed to have you in our lives. Blessings Mary Anne
–Hi Terry, I enjoy the Monday Sabbath Moment very much. It helps to get my day off to a good start! Thanks so much. Ellen and Sir Corky (my cat)
–Terry; I just want to thank you for the W.A. Peterson prayer from last week. The concept of a “One minute vacation” has stuck with me, and I rather expect it to keep doing so. On my daily walks with my dog through this Ohio autumn, I have been looking at the leaves and fading flowers and thinking “one minute vacation beginning now.” Best, Andrea
POEMS AND PRAYERS
May God bless you with discontent with easy answers, half-truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live from deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy.
May God bless you with the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.
If you have the courage to accept these blessings, then God will also bless you with:
happiness—because you will know that you have made life better for others
inner peace—because you will have worked to secure an outer peace for others
laughter—because your heart will be light
faithful friends—because they will recognize your worth as a person.
These blessings are yours—not for the asking, but for the giving—from One who wants to be your companion, our God, who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.
Sister Ruth Fox, OSB
“Look carefully and see if there could possibly be pain like my pain, like the one bestowed by You upon me.” – Lamentations 1:12
Dear God, help us look,
look closer so that we may see
our children in their children,
their children in our own.
Help us look so that we may see You –
in the bleary eyes of each orphan, each grieving childless mother,
each masked and camouflaged fighter for his people’s dignity.
Dear God, Divine Exiled and Crying One,
Loosen our claim to our own uniqueness.
Soften this hold on our exclusive right – to pain, to compassion, to justice.
May your children, all of us unique and in Your image,
come to know the quiet truths of shared pain,
In Sh’Allah. Ken Yehi Ratzon.
May it be Your will.
And may it be ours.
Rabbi Tamara Cohen, “No Pain Like Our Pain”