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To choose what really matters

On some days, I need to hear Mr. Rogers’ voice, “It’s not so much what we have in this life that matters. It’s what we do with what we have. The alphabet is fine, but it’s what we do with it that matters most. Making words like ‘friend’ and ‘love’. That’s what really matters.” (We could use more of Mr. Rogers in this world. Just sayin’.)
So, I wonder, how do we find the courage to choose what really matters?

What I do know is that each week I’m more aware of why struggles (anger or tears or sadness cropping up when I least expect them) make choices about what matters difficult. This is no surprise, with all the competing and conflicting bombasts in our world. I forget (or lose track) of the integrity of my inner Voice (what Marilynn Robinson called the “reservoir of goodness”).
We’ve lost the empowerment that comes from knowing that what is at our core (compassion, generosity, kind-heartedness, our capacity for connection) is greater than whatever change confronts or challenges us.
In other words, we have forgotten our best selves.
We have forgotten that we were made for this, one soul helping another.
As the old man walks the beach at dawn, he notices a young man picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up to the youth, he asks a simple question, “Why are you doing this?”
The boy answers that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun.
“But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish. How can your efforts make any difference?”
The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it to safety–into the ocean past the breaking waves. “It makes a difference to this one,” he said.
I don’t know what your emotional wellbeing thermostat reads. I do know that when I’m tired or worn down, I’m susceptible to disheartenment and discombobulation (compounded by a dose of guilt that I should know better than to give in to melancholy). Well, this week, I want to give the inner bully a time out.
Here’s what I know: We can make choices that matter, that make a difference. To this day. To this encounter. To this conversation.
So, this week, what really matters for you? Our lists don’t need to be exhaustive. This isn’t a contest. Just a good place to begin.

Here’s mine. This week I choose;
Rear Admiral Thornton Miller Chief was the Chaplain at Normandy in WWII. Someone asked him, “Up and down the beach, with the shells going everywhere, why did you do that?”
“Because I’m a minister.”
“But didn’t you ask if they were Catholic or Protestant or Jew?”
“If you’re a minister, the only question you ask is, ‘Can I help you?'”
Four simple words. And, in our broken world, that’s a good place to begin.
Here’s the deal: the love of God transcends and transforms what the world imposes upon us in fear, and our own sense of helplessness. That love is carried by kindness.
It’s not my desire to convert anyone. Just to remind everyone that, “Transformed people transform people.” (Richard Rohr)

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace, and a soul generated by love.” Coretta Scott King reminded us.
And I love this from Fredrik Backman’s “Every day the way home gets longer” (a conversation between Noah and his Grandpa).
We have to write essays all the time! The teacher wanted us to write what we thought the meaning of life was once.
What did you write?
Grandpa closes his eyes.
That’s the best answer I’ve heard.
My teacher said I had to write a longer answer.
So what did you do?
I wrote: Company. And ice cream.
Grandpa spends a moment or two thinking that over. Then he asks: what kind of ice cream?
Noah smiles. It’s nice to be understood.
No one of us is on this journey alone. And life without community (company) is anxious and unsatisfying, leaving an emptiness no purchase or accomplishment can fill.
We are on this journey together…

Three—Savor beauty
St. Cyprian in the third century, writing to his friend Donatus. “This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden.” Yes. For me, the garden is my invitation to be here. Now.
Savoring beauty makes space for the sacrament of the present. Which leads us to connectedness. Mary Oliver told us that “attention is the beginning of devotion,” which invites listening, and a new way of presence in our world. 

Okay. I’ll add a number four—Humor. We don’t laugh enough.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Victor Frankl
He adds, “Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.”
To put it another way, regardless of the cacophony, there’s always a medicinal and emotional benefit to hearing about a priest, a rabbi and a preacher who walk into a bar. I don’t even need to finish the yarn. It still brings a smile, and does the heart good. 

Today a gratifying treat. Attending a rousing Seattle Mariner baseball game with my son Zach. We were watching Austin Hedges (catcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates). Austin’s father Charlie has been my friend for over 40 years. We are indeed on this journey together. (Oh, and the Mariners won.)
And on this Memorial Day, we remember the many who have given their lives in service to our country, so that we can be alive today. We are grateful. And blessed.

Quote for your week…
May I live this day compassionate of heart, clear in word, gracious in awareness, courageous in thought, generous in love. John O’Donohue


Today’s Photo Credit: “Dearest Terry, Your sharing of embracing our brokenness reminded me of this seashell I found on the beach last the winter. I loved how the frost enhanced its beauty but most of all I love how the brokenness let God’s beautiful sunrise be seen through it. I believe that is exactly why brokenness exists, to let the world have another perspective of our God that loves us in and through our brokenness. As one of your flock I thank you for your dedication to encouraging us. God bless you,” Marguerite Gerontis… Thank you Marguerite… Thank you to all, keep sending your photos… send to 

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Letters that do my heart good…
–Dear Mr. Hershey, I didn’t have time to cry today, but, somehow, I redeemed a moment for, not grief or sadness, but for liquid love. Thank you, Terry. Rita
–Terry I’m sitting here in tears remembering a track meet 5 years ago when the last group in the 100 meter dash included a boy with Down’s syndrome. The boys “ran” together and you know who won. And yes there were very few dry eyes in the stands. This morning I celebrate all who walk with courage and all who walk each other home. They are gift in this world we live in. With gratitude and blessing, Fran
–Terry, Wow. Just watched the Ben Comen video. Don’t know exactly why I cried, but I did. Something about seeing his teammates run with him, pick him up… Somehow I was there with his mates. Wow. Bob
–Bingo good for at least 21, Terry… Ben Comen is another wounded warrior unwilling to stay down after he falls… great story telling my friend. Peace, Charlie
–Superb column! Oh, yes, The Wounded Healer! Henri Nouwen led me on the path to chaplaincy. Thank you for the reminder that I must read it again. We the people…Peace & all good, patti
–So grateful for Sabbath Moment is starts my day off right! Love the story of Ben such a brave and courageous young man. Yes I Am brings back time with my dad and thank you for that and a beautiful song that touches the heart and soul. Blessings to you and your family. Mary Anne 


“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace, and a soul generated by love.”  Coretta Scott King

The Unbroken
There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
Rashani Rea

A Child in the Garden
When to the Garden of untroubled though
I came of late, and saw the open door,
And wished again to enter, and explore
The sweet, wild ways with stainless bloom inwrought,
And bowers of innocence with beauty fraught,
It seemed some purer voice must speak before
I dared to tread that Garden loved of yore,
That Eden lost unknown and found unsought.
Then just within the gate I saw a child,
A Stranger-child, yet to my heart most dear;
He holds his hands to me, and softly smiled
With eyes that knew no shade of sin or fear:
“Come in,” he said, “and play awhile with me;”
“I am the little child you use to be.”
Henry Van Dyke

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