I spent the weekend with a great group of people at Mary and Joseph Retreat Center, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. And my walk each morning to Del Cerro Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Well, overlooking the morning fog that covered the Pacific Ocean. But if I closed my eyes, I could see the ocean blue. And the permission to pause, to be present and savor. A good way to begin the retreat days with our topic of Emotional and Spiritual Hydration.
The permission to be grounded and embrace the sacrament of the present reminds me of the story in Fearless, Jet Li’s movie based on the true story of Huo Juanjia (1878 – 1910), the son of a great fighter (and teacher of Chinese martial arts) who refuses to teach Huo to fight. But Huo learns on his own; and wins. With each win, the taste of victory and pride co-mingle. He grows up fueled by an unquenchable anger, without any awareness why. Only that his solution to appease this compulsion is to continue to fight fueled by an eagerness to annihilate his opponents.
His closest friend Nong Jinsun asks him, “When is enough? How many people do you need to defeat?”
Voracious, isn’t it? Can we ever truly get enough of what we don’t need? (Doesn’t take much to know it to be true, thinking of the dopamine of our day, our obsession with securing likes for FB.)
A hunger for acknowledgment and a wounded pride makes a lethal combination. After Huo kills a rival (completely out of revenge, and with no remorse) over what turns out to be a false accusation, Huo’s life unravels. A disciple of this rival takes his own revenge killing Huo’s mother and his young daughter.
How does one stop any cycle of violence—whether it is to others, or to ourselves?
Huo hits bottom, ashamed and filled with grief.
The movie downshifts, Huo spends time wandering, rescued by a grandmother and her blind granddaughter (Yueci, or “Moon”), and is nursed back to health, and nursed back to life, in their isolated village.
In one poignant scene, Huo is working in the fields planting rice. He is still fueled by a need to compete with his coworkers. Still driven by a compulsion to finish first, and his work motions are manic.
The wind freshens, a breeze blows, and the tree leaves rustle.
His coworkers (in fact, all the workers in the entire village) stop what they are doing.
They close their eyes.
They feel the breeze on their faces.
They find refreshment.
For this moment, it is enough.
Huo looks at the worker’s behavior, puzzled. His pace, his requirement to win or profit at all costs blinds him to both his need and the remedy. (Like the German story about the man chopping wood with a blunt ax. He works exhausted, too tired to stop even in order to sharpen his axe.)
It is enough. The sentence rolls so easily off the tongue. And yet…
There is a scene where Huo’s friend Nong attempts to dissuade him from this path of revenge. But to no avail. How easy it is to be blind. I shouldn’t be surprised because I know first-hand what it is like to blindly “play out a script.” (Written by Lord knows whom.) To go through the motions, as if our identity is imprisoned or constricted by this “false” or hungry self. And like Huo, we still haven’t found what we’re looking for.
Pain (physical, emotional, spiritual) literally, hijacks our world. (To the point that there are days when we don’t even know what to Google.)
We lose our way. And often we don’t know why. Except, we tell ourselves, this doesn’t feel right. And set about trying to remedy it. However, you can’t fix anything using the same thinking that got you in trouble in the first place.
So, when our wounds speak, why must we assume they are the whole story?
And why must we assume that our wounds stifle the permission (freedom) to be grounded, invited to savor the gift of life as we go into this day?
In letters written in 1740, Jean-Pierre de Caussade (ordained member of the Society of Jesus) wrote about the sacrament of the present moment. We are invited to choose to live each day as a sacrament (as a gift), enabling us to see, to hear, to taste, and to touch grace—the goodness of God’s presence in our world. We need to bring this sacrament back and allow it to be front and center in our lives. I’m pretty sure that St. Francis would agree. Franciscan spirituality is an incarnational earthy spirituality. Put simply: God is close, never far away.
Present… with deep peace. Yes. That’s exactly what I wish for. Exactly what Huo clamored for. So, there must be a trick, right?
Or, perhaps, like the villagers…
They close their eyes.
They feel the breeze on their faces.
They embrace replenishment.
And for this moment, it is enough.
Tell me, where are you replenished and hydrated? Where do you sense awe and wonder? Where are you comforted by ordinary gifts of grace? When did you give yourself the permission to pause, to see and to savor. To be here now…
And this weekend in England the oldest golf tournament, the Open Championship. One of my favorites to enjoy. Now, writing this on my way home to Seattle.
Quotes for our week…
Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. Brene Brown
Today’s Photo Credit: “Hi Terry, I’m on The Pacific Crest Trail near Sheep Lake (CA). And the light shines through.” Geri Hanley… Thank you Geri… 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…
–Thank you. Love this. I have “I don’t need my sword today” written on my white board from when you shared that story quite a long while ago. It ‘struck’ me right between the eyes the first time I read it and I was so pleased to see it again today, like an old friend. Keep spilling, Terry Hershey, Jennie
–Dear Terry, thanks so much for your reflections. This one particularly is a favorite of mine and I have used it in some of my own retreats, giving you credit, of course! One particular insight came today–“Jesus simply told us to get out of the way.” And Wow… it hit me. Get out of the way… how often I get in the way… my mind filled with my own storyline, and Jesus’ light can’t do its job… I can’t spill it because I can’t ALLOW it… instead I’m all into my own issues or concerns. So I sat, listening to the birds sing their song, Allowing their Light to touch me, and I felt myself smile big, because I felt Jesus saying, “yes, Merce, you’re getting it” Thanks, Terry, keep Spilling your light! Mercedes
–I am glad you had the opportunity to preach back on Vashon today! I know you miss it there. I am especially glad you took the occasion to visit your sheep friends there! I am sure they remember you fondly, and no doubt the new members were glad to finally meet the one the others have told them so much about. It makes me happy to imagine the scene of your happy reunion with them. Robert
–Dear Terry, I have written several times before and expressed my appreciation for your Sabbath Moments. I am a retired Army Chaplain and now live in an independent living over 55 apartment complex. I still find each day many opportunities to share God’s love and grace. Your articles on being thankful for the simple things in life has been profound. Many who I live among were probably considered to be “high rollers” in life and are now occupied with doctor appointments, the death of a spouse, dealing with failing eyesight or other rather mundane life events. And we might lose sight even at this age of the simple beauties of life. We are fed and cared for by loving staff, we have each other to call if we just can’t seem to get out of bed. We have beautiful flowers in our inner court and wonderful mini concerts by visiting artists. And many of us pray together that God would grant us strength and give us inner peace. Thanks again for your Moments and your constant encouragement. Know that you are making an eternal difference. Paul
–It’s hard to start my day with out Sabbath Moment, there We Need You Terry, you are such an inspiration to so many of my friends. As a Stephen Minister I have shared Sabbath Moments with so many and if some one is going through a difficult time I turn them on to Sabbath moment. Thank you Terry this world needs more people like yourself that brings that ray of hope and sunshine into their lives. You are fighting the good fight. Many Blessings, Mary Anne
–Precious photo. I’m sharing this Sabbath moment with my Montessori teacher friends,
including granddaughter Ellie and her Mom. Maria Montessori had the vision of educating
children correct. We the people….. Peace and hope, patti
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.
May this not be just “another day”
but one where,
as I open the door to what is
an orchestra of bird song
in this beautiful, if fragile world,
that somehow, I connect with you
who gifted us this temporary home and yet,
still daily walks with us,
even when we think we are alone.
For such gracious and enduring love,
we offer this,
our heartfelt thanks.
The Opening Of Eyes
That day I saw beneath dark clouds,
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before,
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing,
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.
New and Selected Poems David Whyte
and Many Rivers PressIsland in the Light