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Attending a conference on religion in Japan, Joseph Campbell overheard another American delegate, a social philosopher from New York, say to a Shinto priest, “We’ve been now to a great many ceremonies and have seen quite a few of your shrines. But I don’t get your ideology. I don’t get your theology.”
The Japanese priest paused as though in deep thought, and then slowly shook his head. “I think we don’t have ideology,” he said. “We don’t have theology. We dance.”

We begin here: Wholehearted. Life is about being conscious, and we reconnect with our heart embracing and welcoming what is already there. You see, in that soft heart (tenderness, humility, gentleness, kindness, empathy, connection) there is the gift of wholeness and sufficiency.
So. Today, shall we dance?
The question for many of us is all well and good if we’re alone in our living room boogying YMCA with the Village People full blast.
But here’s the deal: Putting on my dancing shoes is not about impressing anyone or trying to win some reality show called, “so, (middle-aged-guy) you think you can dance?”

In my talks, I invite everyone to dance, if only in their mind. And tell them a story that happened many years ago at our Vashon Island Strawberry Festival Dance. For a weekend each July, main street is closed. Big Band standards (from our own Portage Philharmonic) fills the air. The street is chock-full, old and young, inelegant and fluid, children and children at heart. The dancing unencumbered, unabashed and joyful. Everyone celebrating this day. Celebrating this life, as a half-moon smiled down from the southern sky. When the rock’n rollers took the stage, my son (just a wee fellow at the time) charges to the front of the pack, becoming an exuberant explosion of arms and legs and neck and chest and feet and hands and fingers! I have no idea what he calls it, but like King David, he danced with all his might! As people began to point at this “out of the ordinary display,” I was acutely aware of the knee-jerk need to “protect” my son from embarrassment or from the blow of public opinion. I saw him as someone who needed to be rescued or spared. Thankfully, I didn’t give in to that knee-jerk. Because what I really felt… was unmitigated pride. Delighted that he still had it within him to live wholehearted and unabashed and unashamed. I needed to bask in it, knowing that the world will do it’s best to squeeze that out of him, and each of us sooner or later.

“Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laughter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?” Eugene O’Neill

Today, it’s not that we “choose” to dance, so much that we “choose” to give up being afraid. We give up being afraid by responding to this melody—or love of the Beloved, the voice of Grace—that tells us we are more than our labels. Our dance is the interplay with that voice. Because we are enough, our hearts are alive. Former Trappist George Fowler writes, “I have come to realize that a mother lode of strength lies waiting in all of us, unmined gold yearning to gleam in the sunlight.”
How does it begin? What allows us to put on our dancing shoes?
This is not easy because our instinct requires instructions.
I teach writing. And the first lesson is the most difficult: Write. Write, without editing, censoring, rewriting or revising. Simply write.
And in one of my sessions during a retreat, a young woman confessed, “I wondered when you were going to move on from the laughter and move on to the more important stuff.” I wanted to tell her, “Just so you know, that was the important stuff.” Because that’s just it isn’t it? Our dance—a wholehearted interplay with life—happens when we give up our need to quench the spirit.
When we laugh from the gut.
When we see with our heart.
When we taste with our imagination.
When we touch this moment—the sacrament of the present moment—with our delight.

One Saturday, a mother asked her young son to polish her Sunday shoes. When he finished, she handed him fifty cents for a job well done.
Sunday morning, slipping on her shoes, she felt a block. Reaching in, she removed a wadded paper. Inside the paper she found fifty cents. On the paper, in her son’s lettering, “Dear Mom, here is your mommy. I done it for love.” Our dance comes from that place. When we have no one to impress and nothing to prove.
Which means I did not listen to my limitations. The limitations of—Fear or Impatience or Insecurity or Pain or Loss.
Or, in the words of Kitty Lunn, dance teacher from a wheelchair, “The dance inside me doesn’t know or care that I fell down the stairs and have a spinal cord injury. She just wants to keep on dancing.”

While working as a family physician in a Native American hospital in the Southwest, Carl Hammerschlag was introduced to a patient named Santiago, a Pueblo priest and clan chief, who asked him where he had learned how to heal. Hammerschlag responded almost by rote, rattling off his medical education, internship, and certification. The old man replied, “Do you know how to dance?”
To humor Santiago, Hammerschlag shuffled his feet at the priest’s bedside.
Despite his condition, Santiago got up and demonstrated the proper steps. “You must be able to dance if you are to heal people,” he admonished the young doctor. “I can teach you my steps, but you will have to hear your own music.”

I’m writing this on my flight home from Los Angeles. I spent a life-giving weekend with a great group of people at Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Rancho Palos Verdes. We told stories and laughed and cried, giving one another permission to hear their own music.
Speaking of dancing, I hope you enjoyed our full moon over the weekend. Mercy, what a gift.

Quote for our week…
We dance for laughter,
we dance for tears,
we dance for madness,
we dance for fears,
we dance for hopes,
we dance for screams,
we are the dancers,
we create the dreams.    


Today’s Photo Credit:  “Terry I am up here in my sacred place, Mt. Desert Island, Acadia National park.. This is an evening eagle view of the lake my house looks upon… Long Pond. My parents built a small contemporary house on this lake when I was 5 and I have been coming up to this special slice of heaven my whole life. I rarely take this hike in the evening, but last night the light was just right and the sun was heading down and I headed up the mountain behind my house. This photo captured the kiss of the evening light. The beauty took my breath away. How is it that a place that I have been coming to for 55 years still takes my breath away? Definitely one of the 7 wonders of my world. I wanted to share this with you as you so beautifully share with us every day.” Barbara Shulman… Thank you Barbara… Keep sending your photos… send to 

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)

October 3 – 5 — Hinton Retreat Center, Hayesville, NC, Life in the Garden
December 9 – 11 — Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ, Men’s Retreat

NEW Book – Stand Still: finding balance when the world turns upside down

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Letters that do my heart good…
–When I lead my congregation in saying the creeds, I intend for them to recognize belief as trust rather than mental assent. I trust in the resurrection (whether it happened or not). Unfortunately, most congregants automatically go to mental assent. To challenge that is hard to wrap the mind around. Thank you for your daily thoughts! Dominus vobiscum,
Rev. Jimmy Calvert Senior Pastor Grace UMC, Palestine, TX
–I LOVE how you talk to the geese…or animals on your walk… I have named many of our “regular” visitors… like Irma…who lost her mother when she was very young… during hurricane Irma… and the new fawn is offspring of “Little Pi”… daughter of “Scarlett”… a piebald deer… so unique and very special… THANKS again and again for your wonderful lessons and stories… that you also love Little Prince…Winnie the Pooh… Fred Rogers… my list goes on and on! Karen


I Won’t Take No For An Answer
I won’t take no for an answer,
God began to say
To me
When He opened His arms each night
Wanting us to
St. Catherine of Siena 

I hope you dance
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
Lee Ann Womack 

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