We are, every single one of us, wounded. That is a gift.
We are, every single one of us, broken. And that is a gift.
We are blessedly human, and no one of us is on this journey alone. That too, is a gift.
Yes, I know. It doesn’t always feel that way. I look, but don’t see any gift. Because I see brokenness and woundedness as impediments or disabilities, to be tidied up, overcome or prayed away.
What I don’t see, is the invitation to befriend my brokenness, and embrace the beauty and wonder.
I will admit that there is comfort donning my cape, morphing into Mr. Tidy OCD, an emotional life fix-it hero. And I know why. It distracts and protects me, because there’s a part of me that is afraid to pause, to befriend my scattered and wounded self. To let myself be loved for being this wonderfully messy imperfect me. Grace, it turns out, is WD40 for the soul.
I remember a Far Side cartoon. Two women inside their house. Outside the closed front door (we see through the window) a giant hideous insect. Says one, “Calm down Edna, yes it’s one giant hideous insect, but it could be one giant hideous insect in need of help.”
We don’t see the gift, because we’ve been marinated in a narrative of scarcity (“I am not enough”). It is no surprise that we ascribe beauty to only the uncluttered and success to only the strong or powerful.
When we pause, and hear the voice of grace (trusting our sufficiency), we are no longer afraid of the brokenness and woundedness (they are not a threat to wholeness). In embracing our wounds, they become (as Richard Rohr reminds us) sacred wounds, because grace is alive and well.
It’s paradigm shift time. Time to move from a project management view of life, to a wade-in view of life.
Life, in its brokenness, is not to be contained, explained or fixed. As if we recover, and move on to “real life,” you know, the non-messy parts.
When we need to move past the life we have now, we miss the glory, beauty and tender purity in the cacophony. We miss the sacrament of the present moment. That even in the sorrow and the pain and the unknowing, there is a whiff of the holy.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” (Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams)
This week, I’ve been marinating in grace (a mixture of prayer, good vibes, blessings and virtual hugs). What a gift. An outpouring of email and comments after the death of my sister, Alicia. I am very grateful. It reminds me, incarnationally, that we do indeed walk one another home, and that befriending our woundedness is not a solo act.
There was a farmer who grew excellent quality wheat and every season he won the award for the best grown in his county. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed the farmer, and learned that each Spring the man shared his seed with his neighbors so that they too could plant it in their fields.
“How can you afford to share your best wheat seed with your neighbors when they are entering their crops in the competition with yours?” the reporter asked.
“Why that’s very simple,” the farmer explained. “The wind picks up pollen from the developing wheat and carries it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior wheat, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of all the wheat, including mine. If I am to grow good wheat, I must help my neighbors grow good wheat.”
Amen. That’ll preach.
Here’s the deal: By planting and then sharing (spilling), we fight and resist contaminated “wheat” (shame, fear, small-mindedness, myopia, defensiveness, callousness) with life-giving “wheat” (empathy, belonging, generosity, inclusion, reconciliation and kindness).
From these places—sacred wounds—we speak truth, we do not need to pretend or excuse. We offer hope, we extend hands and hearts of compassion. We see our connection with the lives of others around us, especially those broken or grieving or lost.
We see that they need a hand to hold. They need a voice. They need a sanctuary.
Whenever we love we are not alone. So, we wade-in, and stand in places of death and loss, and we find grace there.
I’m in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s not the end of world, but I’m told that you can see it from here.
With my Father, telling stories about my sister, as we walk one another home.
Zach is into geology, so we explore the Michigamme formation (looking out over the Ottawa National Forest), metamorphic bedrock dating 1.9 billion years. Inspiring, and looking surprisingly good for its age.
Quote for your week…
I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, “For the same reason I laugh so often–because I’m paying attention.” I tell them that we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved. We must decide. Glennon Doyle Melton
Notes… SM reflection questions and exercises are available for group and personal use. Let me know if you want to receive.
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In the mailbag…
–Thank you. I moved recently. Yesterday, I was organizing stuff that had just been tossed in drawers as we emptied boxes. I found a small rectangular mirror. Simplistically nice. This morning, I read your SM about the mirror and reflecting God’s love. “Spilling the light”. That small mirror was put in a drawer yesterday. Today, it will come out of the drawer and sit on the table as a reminder for me to “spill the light.” Thank you. Linda
–My Sibling Heart holds yours. Your Father’s Heart knows life’s greatest pain. The death of a Child. Together, along with Zach, you will be sharing what light you know, is always there. The Gift we all have if we are open. The Gift of Family. My Broken Open Heart will have you in prayer this week especially, please take care of you. You write SM to stay sane, I read SM to be sane. Thank you. Pat
–I am sorry for your sister Alicia’s passing and your loss Terry. I too am grieving a recent loss of a loved one. My mother Anita passed June 22. I was at her side holding her hand. I spoke to her and stroked her forehead till her heart stopped beating. She was my Rock. I am very blessed to have a mother such as she. She will always be with me. I think we, that appreciate all the love and joy that life offers, struggle more with sorrow. Perhaps empaths feel deeper and therefore our desire is to find our way back to joy quicker. But as you once said, “when we are cracked open…” Grief is a natural part of Life. When we avoid it, we miss the gift of traveling ’full circle’ which then gives our existence in Joy so much more depth. In Asian cultures it’s the concept of Ying Yang. I recall once being in a small Catholic Church in Hawaii. The priest was a gifted speaker and spoke with little pomp and ceremony. He stood in front of his small congregation and with honesty shared his humanity while admitting he was having a ‘faith crisis.’ We were silent and the empathy that filled that church was palpable. He, like us, had doubts and unanswered questions too. Life is beautiful. And it is not easy. When the strongest amongst us embrace their tender vulnerable parts, it reminds us all that we are not alone and open our hearts to others. Bless you Terry. Marlena
–Dear Terry, First of all, how wonderful that you can be so vulnerable as to share such deep grief. Your emotions conjured up some of my own from the past, but not to worry, most of them have been tempered by time. This week’s Sabbath Moment is one you might read, and read again, just for yourself. You share so much of yourself that I feel we, your followers, know you and have the right to console you. So, I wish you peace, joy, tears, and much support in your loss. Joan
–Terry, thank you for opening up your sorrowful heart to so many this morning. I too lost my sister so I know how heavy your heart is. I can tell you this, that by sharing your thoughts, you have invited others to carry your sorrow and pain. Thank you for allowing me into your Sacred Space today. For giving me the opportunity to minister to you. For allowing me to pray for you and all your family. For letting me carry part of your burden. For hopefully shining a little of my light into your dark space. May you feel God’s abundant love for all who are holding you up in prayer. Peace my friend, Theresa
–So sorry to hear about your sister Alicia Terry. My heart goes out to you. I get a little light each week from my garden, my music, my wife, my cat and your Sabbath Moment. Keep reflecting the light into the dark places the way you have for years my friend. Larry
–Dear Terry, My heart is beating in rhythm with your grieving heart. I just read your sharing regarding your sister Alicia’s Homegoing–her entrance into Eternal Life. I cannot take away your pain, Terry, but I would like to share a thought with you. “God sometimes touches the saddest chords of life to reach His sweetest music. Trust Him when to trust Him is the hardest thing of all.” Love and Prayers, Anita
–So sorry for your loss. I hope you find your mirror that allows you to see the beautiful light that glows inside you… even when you don’t feel it. Namaste, Debbie
–I hope it gives you pleasure to know you and Richard Rohr are saved to the same file every post I receive and read. Thank you, Terry.
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Wisdom is the art of living in rhythm with your soul, your life, and with the Divine… Wisdom is the way you learn to decipher the unknown,
which is our closest companion.
The Almanac of Last Things
From the almanac of last things
I choose the spider lily
for the grace of its brief
blossom, though I myself
but I choose The Song of Songs
because the flesh
of those pomegranates
all the frost of dogma.
I choose January with its chill
lessons of patience and despair–and
August, too sun-struck for lessons.
I choose a thimbleful of red wine
to make my heart race,
then another to help me
sleep. From the almanac
of last things I choose you,
as I have done before.
And I choose evening
because the light clinging
to the window
is at its most reflective
just as it is ready
to go out.