Let’s talk about trust.
There’s a beautiful Irish phrase from West Kerry, “Mo sheasamh ort lá na choise tinne.” It means, “You are the place where I stand on the day when my feet are sore.”
That makes my heart smile. But here’s the deal: Trust is very difficult for me.
This is a conundrum, I know, because we are not on this journey alone. Being human means being in relationship. Bad or good, it’s still a relationship.
We all need (and yearn for) places of safety, sanctuary, and restoration when our “feet are sore”. But how do we find such places, in a world splintered, wounded and cynical?
In a world inundated, where we lose track and our fuel for conversation is reactive, even combative?
When our equilibrium is catawampus, how do we hit the reset?
When asked about my ministry years as a young pastor, I answer with a smile, “It was quite pleasurable, you know, except for the people.” And I get nods of agreement.
Maybe it’s a good time to rethink how we see relationships, as it seems that we have lost confidence in love.
Meet poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama. He reminds us that we don’t always have to agree with each other to love (or trust) each other. Disagreement and belonging can be embraced at once.
Ó Tuama has seen firsthand the transformative power of living through disagreement in community. He’s about to finish a five-year term as the leader of Corrymeela, a community in Northern Ireland working to heal the culture of division and history of conflict between Irish Catholics and Protestants.
Here’s his invitation; What might it look like to enter into disagreement from a place of trust rather than fear?
And if we know that we are vulnerable to being transformed by one another, can we change in ways we might not yet understand?
How scary and strange and meaningful can that be?
“We’re constantly making each other,” John Powell writes. “And if we do it right, we’re going to create a bigger ‘we,’ a different ‘we.’”
So, let us begin here: Disagreement is not a disqualifier.
And I love the phrase, “working to heal”. It would be a great book title. An even better life mission.
“What do you do?”
“I work to heal.”
From Jewish tradition we learn our job title; Tikkun olam. Literally, repair of the world.
The word olam also means hidden. We need to repair the world so that its Creator is no longer hidden within, but shines through each thing in magnificent, harmonious beauty.
As a gardener this makes perfect sense. It’s all about the dirt. Nutritious or nutritive soil creates and generates life. Toxic soil does not. Fertility is stifled, because the nutrients have been leached.
Tikkun, to repair the soil of the world with nutrients: kindness, a balm of generosity, a capacity to accommodate fragility, and a softness of spirit. What Eve Ensler called, “The daily subtle simple gathering of kindness.”
Working to heal (Tikkun olam) isn’t only for the spiritually or intellectually inclined.
Working to heal is in our DNA.
As children of our creator, we are healers.
In kindness, we affirm dignity.
In empathy, we see value and build connections.
With compassion and justice, we right wrongs and create sanctuaries.
When I live from scarcity, I’ve lost my mooring. I clutch, and I blame. However, when I live from the sufficiency of my DNA, the world does not make me hate. I trust my heart, and any assumed scarcity (of kindness and compassion) does not get to say how the story ends.
I am reminded of a comment overheard after 9-11, in St. Paul’s (where first responders ate and slept on cots and in pews). A firefighter said, “When I come in that door, I’m covered with blood sometimes, and they hug me. They love me, they take care of me, they treat me as a real human being. And then they feed me, and they massage me, and they give me adjustments. These are my people. This is my place. This is where I come to be with God.”
And when people live from that DNA (the power of ordinary and gentle acts of kindness, even in the face of disagreement), the stories give our heart (and world) hope.
There will be days when we forget. When we lose hope. On those days… “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer
I’m a Mr. Roger’s fan. He lived Tikkun olam. Watch the clip of his acceptance speech for a Lifetime achievement Emmy award. This is what he said, to an audience that lives in a cynical and skeptical world, “So many people have helped me to come here to this night. Some of you are here, some are far away and some are even in Heaven. All of us have special ones who loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.”
Who are your people? Who remind you that today is a good day to work to heal. A good day to be vulnerable to being transformed. To right a wrong. To forgive (beginning with myself). To embrace. To offer a hand, or a kind word. Or both.
This week the Scripps National Spelling Bee ran out of difficult words, and declared the final eight co-champions, the most extraordinary ending in the 94-year history. As a lover of words and apathetic speller, I salute you all.
And I went to the movies to see Amazing Grace, documentary with Aretha Franklin. Well, I went to the movies, but a revival broke out in my heart. Is it okay to cry in your popcorn? When she started singing, “What a friend we have in Jesus,” Lord have mercy.
Quote for your week…
Be the hand of a hopeful stranger, Little scared but you’re strong enough. Be the light in the dark of this danger, ‘Till the sun comes up. Sara Barielles in Safe Place to Land
Notes: Thank you for being a part of the Sabbath Moment community. We’ve added an element. Groups use SM for study or discussion. And now each week will include reflection questions and exercises (scroll down). Let me know what you think. And pass the word. And remember that we couldn’t exist without the generosity of readers like you. Have you considered becoming a sustaining donor?
For the Pádraig Ó Tuama story, thanks to On Being, Krista Tippett
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Today’s photo credit — After the fire; Cheesboro/Palo Comado Canyon Park, Agoura Hills, CA…. Carl Lindner… thank you Carl… grateful for your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Misc. in the mailbag…
–Solid and kind words in this Sabbath Moment. Thank you, kind sir. Peace. Charlie
–The Woolsey Fire raged through our communities in early November 2018. Approximately 97,000 acres burned, 1600 structures were destroyed, 295,000 residents evacuated, and 3 lives lost. As I rode the trails shortly after the fire, I was devastated to see the damage to the National Park and I was certain that it would be decades before I would enjoy the trails, oak woodlands, and vistas. Then the rains came; one of the best rainy seasons in recent history. Seeing this restored my hope and faith that things can, and do get better. Carl (Carl’s photo is posted above.)
–Thanks for the note. I’m finding that I’ve got too much input and I just decided to pull the plug on some stuff. I wish you well in your ministry. Thanks for all that you do. And thanks for the advice… I will try to keep spilling the light. Doug
–Happy Memorial Day, Terry. Whenever you touch on “living wholeheartedly,” my own heart beats a little bit faster. I tune in more wholeheartedly, as I know this is what I need to hear, to live today. I also want to share with you how much I enjoyed your explanation of “saunter.” Last week Joanie and I were at Norris Lake in TN. We showed up at Norris Lake Dam State Park for a ranger guided hike. I told the ranger your story of sauntering rather than hiking, being a kinder way of navigating the woods with a couple septuagenarians. The young ranger agreed and then took us on what he called “a nature walk.” Peace, my friend, Mick
–Thank you Terry, this one touched my soul, deeply. I know the story well. Kathy
REFLECTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. What are the ingredients (circumstance or choices) that break down or erode trust?
2. How does vulnerability find a foothold in a broken world? What is the first step to embrace vulnerability?
3. Work to heal. If this is our job (and our DNA), what does it look like? What are the qualities?
4. Take Mr. Roger’s invitation. 10 seconds of silence and “think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.” People who have rekindled the inner spirit. If you are comfortable, share with the group and talk about why you are grateful.
POEMS AND PRAYERS
I am enchanted by the Sermon on the Mount. Being merciful, it seems to me, is the only good idea we have received so far. Perhaps we will get another idea that good by and by—and then we will have two good ideas. Kurt Vonnegut
The Sun Grows In Your Smile
When you smile, the air grows warm and soft,
the earth is watered with gentle mists,
seeds sprout and spread leaves above the dark, damp soil,
earthworms pierce the crust and frolic across the surface
to the delight of fat, happily hunting robins,
lilies of the valley unfurl beside purple, grape-scented irises,
fat pink and maroon peonies, and gay California poppies,
damask roses hurl their rich fragrance to the wind,
the crazy-with-sheer-joy song of the Northern mockingbird
echoes above other chirps and sweet winged notes,
gardeners join the worms in the warm, rich dirt,
children gallop across yards and grab handfuls of dandelions
to present to mothers who will set them in glasses of water
in kitchen windows or on dining room tables, weeds
glorious after the dark of winter with the color of the sun
that grows and warms and heals in your smile.
Linda Rodriguez (Hearts Migration)
Memories crowd upon us
Many high hopes -many dreams unfulfilled;
Many blunders made and, in the sharpness of our anguish,
We would turn back the wheels of time and try again.
Many joys that were unanticipated;
Many little graces by which our faith in ourselves and in life
Is lifted up and strengthened
Much for which we need to be forgiven;
Much we need to forgive.
All around us, our Father, there are reminders of
Thy Presence in our midst: Pangs of conscience,
A spontaneous impulse to do the kind and gracious thing,
The sensitiveness to another’s needs,
The great burden of anguish which we feel as we look out upon the world.
Teach us, O living Spirit, the wisdom to lay ourselves
Bare to Thy scrutiny—that we may reflect Thy life
In the dark places of our minds, hearts and desires;
That we may know Thy courage and the grounds of Thy hope
For the children of men.
Rev. Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981)