I sat down today to write Sabbath Moment. But a blank paper continued to stare back. That’s never fun. So, I picked up the newspaper, and read this headline, “How to Stay Sane in Brutalizing Times,” by David Brooks.
I picked up my pen again, and wrote, “Yes. And sometimes we need stories more than food to stay alive. Stories to remind us what really matters, and allow us to see with our heart. Stories save us.”
And my head (and heart) find solace in this story from my memory, about a sad and terrifying incident which occurred during the tragic Sarajevo war. A reporter, covering the fighting and violence in the middle of the city, watched a little girl fatally shot by a sniper. The reporter threw down whatever he held, rushing immediately to the aid of a man who knelt on the pavement cradling the child.
As the man carried the child, the reporter guided them to his car, and sped off to a hospital.
“Hurry my friend,” the man urged, “my child is still alive.”
A moment or two later he pleaded, “Hurry my friend, my child is still breathing.”
And a little later, “Please my friend, my child is still warm.”
Although the reporter drove as fast as was possible, by the time they arrived at the hospital, the little girl had died. As the two men were in the lavatory, washing the blood off their hands and their clothes, the man turned to the reporter and said, “This is a terrible task for me. I must now go tell her father that his child is dead. He will be heartbroken.”
The reporter stood speechless. He looked at the grieving man and said, “I thought she was your child.”
The man shook his head. “No. But aren’t they all our children?”
Yes. They are.
We live in a world that can be cruel and merciless. And brutalizing.
And there are a heap plenty of people and systems to blame. (Although it is always some “other” people, and some “other” system.)
But the truth is that we wound one another.
We wound with real wars, and real bullets.
We wound with words, with hatred and resentment.
And we wound with intolerance and small-mindedness (some of it in the name of “love” and God).
So. Let us pause.
And let us take to heart Mother Teresa’s reminder, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Well, if we do belong to one other, then “they”—the “least of these” and those without voices—are indeed, our children.
Ours to care for.
Ours to listen to.
Ours to see.
But this story has another facet. Any care or compassion—or cradling or listening or healing—must begin with self-care.
You see, here’s the deal: that child, cradled in the arms of that man, embodies every single one of us. No, we’ve not fallen victim to a sniper’s bullet. But life has rough edges, much, much rougher for many. And evil is real.
This, however, is assuredly true; there has been a time in each of our lives when we needed someone to say, “Aren’t they all our children?” When we knew that someone had the interest—the magnitude and worth and belovedness—of that child (in us) foremost in mind.
I confess that when I read stories about child abuse, I clutch my heart—literally—and I want to go out and hurt someone… anyone who has done these things. And then I read stories about children who have been wounded and who have been abused, and who have found a way to survive. And to not only survive, but to thrive. And to become beacons of hope.
So, back to the story. You see, it’s not just the child’s life we’re trying to save, but the very freedom—embracing the gift—to be a child.
And like any good homily, I pause, just to let that last line sink in. Not because we don’t know it to be true, but when our world is spinning, we easily lose track of the very things that anchor our soul.
And in that pause, I remember. I’m not just the preacher. I’m also the child.
Let us not forget that we belong to one another.
This week, let me begin here: I see you. I hear you. How can I help?
We belong to one another is the liberating truth here. And if I take that to heart—it motivates, inspires and directs my choices… toward inclusion (not exclusion), toward empathy and mending and healing and compassion and tenderness.
Here’s to all the unseen acts of love that help the world go round today.
And we close with this today, from Maria Shriver, “Our lives are deeply connected to one another. My life is connected to you, and vice versa. Our lives take on meaning when we see and feel that connection. Our lives take on meaning when we are in service to others, when we know ourselves deeply, when we overcome things that scare us, and when we are able to triumph over situations that could have broken us… Let’s agree that no one’s path is easy. Everyone needs support, understanding, guidance, forgiveness, and love. That’s why you are here. You help me, and I help you. I am here to be in community with you.”
With November weather—gray and rainy in this neck of the woods—the time change does take its toll. So, I wish for all moments of replenishment and the permission to find tidbits of joy, yes, even in the gray.
Quote for our week…
Be a kind voice in this broken hearted world give grace and be ready to receive it. Listen so well than the person you’re with can rest in your attention for a moment. Be a light. Be a light. Be a light. Nanea Hoffman
Note: Versions of the Sarajevo story are quoted by both Jim Wallis and Max Lucado
Today’s Photo Credit: “Hi Terry, Sunset over the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy… the Cinque de Terre area! My husband and I finally realized our dream of a European trip and were blessed to spend four weeks traveling with my sister and our daughter and son-in-law from Ireland to London to Paris, and to Italy. This picture was taken during a four hour cruise around the area. I always enjoy sunsets, however, this one touched both our souls! Thank you, as always, for your words and grace… this week I am trying to look for the tiny moments!” Joyce Gingrich… Thank you Joyce… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… 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.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365)
Letters that do my heart good…
–Warm greetings Mr. Hershey, Being tiny is a great paradigm for me. I am retired from a sort of high profile role in a large community and I find that the world is quite ready to embrace all that is new. I am learning to be tiny. I have chafed against it, believing that us old coots still have a relevant good role to play in this system. But as you lay out this paradigm I relaxed and gave myself open. Sending wishes for peace, Jan
–I’m finding that the more I say “Thank you God” during the day, the more I feel His comfort and peace. So grateful you posted this today about being “tiny”. And a big “Thank You” to all these creative people who send you photos for the day. I always enjoy them. Mary
–Thank you so much dear Terry, I love and cherish all your posts with beautiful and so wise, profound quotes and Sabbath Moments on Facebook. I am very grateful to you for all your spiritual guidance and inspiration! It’s the best “food for my soul”! May God Bless You! Have a beautiful and blessed week! Greatfully, Anya
–Thank you, Terry. Your Sabbath Moments always speak to me. This one is especially meaningful and helpful as I, and all of us, walk through a troubled world. The light we shine is so desperately needed! I’ll be asking the question, “Do you want to be helped, heard, or hugged?” more often. Your words help me stay grounded, centered, and at peace. Thank you. Helen
–I certainly appreciate your time, effort, and amazing grace shown toward “all”. It helps me get through my days and nights many times. D
POEMS AND PRAYERS
It’s funny isn’t it? That you can preach a judgement and vengeful and angry God and nobody will mind. But you start preaching a God that is too accepting, too loving, too forgiving, too merciful, too kind… And you are in trouble. –Bishop Gene Robinson
Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.
The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us,
and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
New Zealand Book of Common Prayer
Two peoples, one land,
Three faiths, one root,
One earth, one mother,
One sky, one beginning, one future, one destiny.
One broken heart,
We pray to You:
Grant us a vision of unity.
May we see the many in the one and the one in the many.
May you, Life of All the Worlds,
Source of All Amazing Differences
Help us to see clearly.
Guide us gently and firmly toward each other,
Toward peace. Amen.
Rabbi Sheila Weinberg
of the Jewish community, Amherst MA