Charlie Brown is standing at a candy counter. We don’t see the salesperson behind the counter. We see only Charlie standing, with candy in hand, responding to her, “Yes, ma’am, I’d like to buy a box of valentine candy for a girl who doesn’t know I exist.”
“No ma’am,” he says, “nothing too expensive.”
He continues, “I’ll never have the nerve to give it to her anyway.”
We are, all of us, a mixture of longing and fear. And, I can relate to Charlie Brown.
I’ll admit, a sad candy story on Valentine’s Day is chancy, but sometimes we need Charlie Brown’s vulnerability. And honesty.
Let’s give ourselves permission, shall we?
There is a life we hope for (the one we long for, dream of and pray for). And, there is life. The one we have today. Let’s just say that the two don’t always see eye to eye.
But what if we are invited to bring our whole heart to this moment.
The permission to embrace our vulnerability; open to human brokenness, fragile nature, of love and caring and giving a damn.
I’m enjoying Pema Chodron’s Welcoming the Unwelcome: wholehearted living in a brokenhearted world. And she reminds me about Bodhichitta. “In Sanskrit, bodhi means ‘awake’ and chitta means ‘heart’ or ‘mind’. Our aim is to fully awaken our heart and mind, not just for our own greater well-being but also to bring benefit, solace, and wisdom to other living beings. What motivation could tap that?”
In other words, striving for awakening, empathy and compassion for all, knowing that we are connected, and no one of us is on this journey alone.
But what about longing? Longing is whatever the red- headed girl (the girl of Charlie’s dreams) represents. It is the litany of “if onlys” and “what I’ve been waiting for,” those objects of my longing that scroll through my mind and heart promising to offer me love…
or well being
or even just a day of rest.
Which is the conundrum. We need (or is it require?), something to gratify or satisfy or fill the longing. In other words, the longing is now a “snag” in the system. Something that needs to be resolved. It is surely a sign of weakness, we tell ourselves, a weakness that needs to be fixed.
And here’s the odd part: It’s almost as if the fix (the secret, the key, the “answer to prayer”) will allow us to “escape” from ourselves.
At least from this conflicted or broken self.
Here’s the tough question: Am I willing to be loved for being this me, standing at the counter with my bag of candy?
Because if I cannot, I will not be able to abide my disquiet.
When Zach was a youngster he said, “You know, in my other school, how I was well-mannered? Well, at this new school a virus kind of covered me, like an infection.”
I get it, son…
And yes, we now live in a world where infection and disquiet do have our attention.
And disquiet can feel like an infection (or a weight). And I can carry that weight, of unrequited longing.
Of dreams that do not come true.
Of restless days in crammed and overflowing lives.
Of broken hearts and lost promises.
Of the sense of insecurity (telling me that whatever I did was not enough).
Let’s start here: When I attach a label (say, deficiency or defect), I see only that some reparation is required before I’m able to enjoy, embrace and honor this life.
And when I see (only) those parts of myself that need to be “fixed,” or “remedied” or “coped with,” I am waiting for a life not yet. And I am unable to embrace the life (even this longing filled life) I have today. I miss the sacredness in all things. All things. I do not see that all of life, including my longings–those both realized and unrealized–are infused with the imprint of God.
And I know that maybe, just maybe, my longings themselves are holy, and I can rest in them. Even when I have a broken heart. Or when the world I’m in feels broken.
Here’s our paradigm shift. Living in the present, fully alive and wholehearted, is not a technique or project. There is no list. And chances are (focused on technique), we pass by life—the exquisite, the messy, the enchanting, the untidy, the inexplicable—on our way to someplace we think we ought to be. When life throws us a curve that makes our present moment loom larger than anything else, we learn to shift our focus.
There is meaning—consequence, value, import, well-being—only when what we believe or teach touches this moment. In other words, it’s the small (and specific) stuff that really does matter. Belief is all well and good, but there has to be skin on it—something we touch, see, hear, taste, and smell. The ordinary really is the hiding place for the holy. (A wee bit of an advertisement as this paragraph is from my new book, Stand Still: Finding Balance When the World Turns Upside Down. Available later this month.)
And on my walk today, I give the geese a hard time, telling them that the sheep were better listeners. No surprise, that didn’t bother the geese one bit, so that made me smile. And maybe, in a Sabbath Moment about embracing this life, I could learn from them. They do indeed stay focused on here and now.
This week I’m on a few days trip to Tucson, AZ, to visit family and friends (and maybe look for the sun).
Have you seen the moon last night? Mercy. Waxing… and when it touches the horizon it’s part flame red, copper and scarlet.
Happy Valentine’s day to all…
And to all the football fans out there… congrats to the LA Rams…
Quote for your week…
The best beauty product is to have a life. A real life. With challenges, disappointments, stress, and laughter. The Art of Imperfection
SABBATH MOMENT BULLETIN BOARD
Today’s Photo Credit: “Babies with feathers. In Central Florida on a boardwalk that goes through a breeding marsh. Mid March is the time to find chicks at this age. The breeding marsh is actually part of Gatorland in Orlando and is home to several species of wild birds that live breed and hunt in a marshy environment.” Suchin Rai… Thank you Suchin… Keep sending your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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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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NEW EVENTS —
March 18 – 20 Religious Education Congress, Anaheim, CA
NEW Audio SM… Enjoy — Awake to the present moment
Join us every Wednesday… Audio Sabbath Moment
–Dear Terry, Today’s audio SM resonated very profoundly with me. And it made me think about the St. Exupéry quote. “Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.” Antoine de St. Exupéry. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, your wisdom, your stories and experiences, your struggles and sorrows, and your love with all of us who so gladly welcome you into our Inboxes and lives. I felt led back to myself today. Thanks for reminding of the path. Mary
–Hi Terry, Somehow you know just what I need each Monday morning. Thank you for helping me to reframe and refocus. You are good for my heart. Stay well, enjoy the geese and have a wonderful week. Nancy
–As retired special education teacher I learned to appreciate the effort not the outcome. When you focus and reinforce the effort you bring out the best in others and make them shine. I worked for smiles. My students taught me what is important in life on a daily basis, the simple things that make us wonder, search and give us peace. There are miracles all around us. Judit
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Our true home is in the present moment.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment.
Peace is all around us–in the world and in nature–and within us–in our bodies and our spirits.
Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Love After Love
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.
Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name, you are mine.
Should you pass through the sea,
I will be there with you;
or through rivers, they will not swallow you up.
Should you walk through fire, you will not be scorched
and the flames will not burn you
You are precious in my eyes, I love you
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
Book of Isaiah