Diminished Things

Dear Friends,

Well, it’s happened early this year. The view from my window, normally a crisp mountain scene, is full of deep orange haze. Smoke casts a pall on everything. Even the lavender just beyond my office window and the bees doddering around its blooms have a burnished look.

Even though fire season is a regular part of life here in Montana, I still felt disappointed last week when I spotted a feathery plume rising on the far side of Lolo Peak.  Though many miles away, Lolo Peak feels like a neighbor. Whether I’m washing dishes or sipping tea at my table, this mountain, with its changing show of light and shadow, is a constant companion. I depend on its solidity and beauty like a boat depends on its mooring.

In the past few days, that thin line of smoke grew into a substantial cloud. This morning I woke to find the valley completely inundated. Lolo Peak is totally obscured. And my own horizon feels hemmed in.

Always, at the point when summer turns this corner, I reacquaint myself with Robert Frost’s poem The Oven Bird. The ovenbird, a warbler, is one of the few birds who trills his song in midday heat. Thus, Frost associates the ovenbird’s signature tea-cher tea-cher tea-cher with the idea that summer is passing away.  The “he” of this poem, is the ovenbird whose song calls up these realities:

He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says that highway dust is over all.

Like the chime of a clock, Frost’s ovenbird measures time.  Like smoke pluming up, it tells us summer isn’t here to stay.  As Frost’s bird chirps and warbles out these tokens of summer’s passage, Frost funnels the reader to a final haunting question:

The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Phew.  It’s bracing, isn’t it?  What to make of a diminished thing?  This question rattles around with me, not just as smoke season presses in, but in a way that ramifies into other areas in my life. It’s an essential midlife question. It’s a question for times when a relationship has stung. Or when your body and health betray you. The world’s sleight-of-hand constantly delivers us beautiful things, then bruises them. We are forever having to ask ourselves what to do with diminishments. What will you do today, as the ovenbird warbles its song?

For me, I am going out among the lavender and the doddering bees to weed my garden. Later I will walk through smoky woods to the creek. I will hold my breath and plunge in the crazy cold water. When I come up, there will still be wildfires burning in Montana. Another day will soon pass away. But, as with all diminished things, I want to experience the things before me with joy and depth and love.

Here’s to cultivating wonder,

Lindsay

Consider: A Meditation for Rest

Dear Friends,

This week, I took my journal and Rilke book with me to the Oregon coast.  The wide swath of sand — broken by the ethereal, craggy rocks and the endless Pacific sea–gathered my attention to itself, and despite my intentions, both book and journal stayed in my bag.IMG_6093
There is something about wide open spaces that is good for the soul, that offers rest to an over-hectic mind.

 Our minds are often cacophonous places.  Our spirits are cluttered with what we must do, where we have failed, and who we must protect.  We cling to these thoughts.  Or they cling to us.  But to be as open and expansive as the sea — who dares to ask for such a gift?

“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you,” St. Augustine wrote to God.  What a simple, lovely reminder to step into healing rest.  And what a hard thing to do.  Ironically, we so often work long and hard trying to find rest!  But rest does not need to be earned- it is a divine gift and a relational beckon from Unconditional Love.

I wrote this blessing for a friend of mine at a desperate time in her life.  In this mid-summer moment of busyness, I offer it to you.

 When you have given all you can

and your spirit is drained

and your body worn,

may you find rest.

May you forget about deserve,
earn, 
and not enough.

Instead, may you find grace,

abundant, overflowing.

May you step under this waterfall

and hold up your hands,

drinking your fill.

May the sweat and dirt and tears

from your good labors be washed away;

may every anxious muscle unknot,

and may Peace minister to you.

May you have the wisdom

to put away all that can wait until tomorrow;

may you find a silent space and stay there.

For all that is vital is here now, in this place,

waiting for you.

Open your hands and receive.

May everything in your body
accept goodness;

may you hear the words you long to hear:

Well done, good and faithful one!

May the roots of your longing

drink deeply.

Here’s to cultivating wonder,

Kim

Consider: the Miracle of Existence

Last week in the early hours of Thursday morning, my husband and I were shaken awake with much of western Montana. It took a half moment of groaning joists and rattling dishes for our senses to catch up with reality. Tim’s groggy mind got there first. “Earthquake!” Suddenly wide awake, we both jumped out of bed. As the floor swayed, we briefly dithered over protocol (rouse the kinder? decamp outside?). Before we had made any decisive moves, the shaking slackened, then died away. Everything was still.

Everything, that is, except our nerves. Those were thoroughly rattled.

I palmed my phone and spoke two words to Siri: Missoula Earthquake. Tweets popped like mushrooms in a field. “Anyone else in Missoula feel that earthquake?” inquired several Twitter users. Within seconds an Italian organization released information that a magnitude 5.8 quake had struck 129 km east of Missoula. 5.8 magnitude. 129 km east. I climbed back into bed, embracing these facts and figures like a security blanket. Perhaps it’s a great propensity of the human heart to make order out of chaos. Curiosity and knowledge are incredible gifts. But I couldn’t help detecting in my sudden interest in facts and figures another need. Surely I was seizing upon anything knowable (richter scale readings, kilometers, map locations) to paper over the existential threat shifting beneath me. While the earthquake hadn’t literally yanked a seam of ground apart, it exposed a tremendous fault I usually prefer stays deeply buried.

eeebd4ff-0855-4c02-8ede-71d600244868As I lay back on my pillow, I felt at the mercy of forces operating far beyond human scale. It’s a hereditary susceptibility, I suspect, but I can’t help my anthropocentrism. Human life and human scale are the things I think of, judge from, and orient toward. And here in a most unexpected way, I was woken from a sound sleep in the comfort of my own bed, to be reminded that all the stability and taken-for-grantedness of my world is, literally, built upon shifting ground.

Just as I was drifting back to sleep an aftershock rumbled through. Residents of California and other earthquake active locations may be used to the sensation that the Earth sometimes threatens to buck us all off, but as we say in Montana, “this was my first rodeo.” Several more aftershocks rustled us through the night, and though each rattled the house less and less, I felt wary and fell finally into fitful sleep.

It’s all an incredible miracle, of course, that we exist on this singular globe at all. Every once and again, the Earth makes us aware of the terms of our lease. It rattles the keys and threatens eviction. It reminds us that our human scale is a narrow vantage and things are really far more vast and intricate that we can fathom. No doubt, just as the earthquake shook itself out, my awareness of this miracle will subside. I’ll walk my dog over the same paths I normally do and feel that the ground is stable and knowable, and once again I’ll take my lease for granted. And while I don’t hope to be shaken awake again, I find I’m grateful for the way these shifting plates cracked my consciousness and let a little light in.
Here’s to cultivating wonder,

Lindsay

Rest

For me, summer has always meant a plunge into sweet busyness. A steady, happy clamor accompanies every hour — kids yelling, the zip of the cooler as we pack yet another picnic, feet shuffling in sand, the splash of water at the end of the day as we rinse swimsuits and rack up another load of dishes after dinner.  

But this past weekend, we enjoyed a rare spate of days without guests. We hiked, worked in the yard, and watched the whole miniseries of “Emma.” And one blissful afternoon, I stole away to the hammock where I finished reading a book and then drifted off to sleep. The leaves of the cherry tree stirred in a slight breeze, the dog curled up on my legs, and the neighbors turned off their power tools. Just like that, I floated away from the everyday things — both the blessed and vexing — that nip at my heels. I entered a deep, profound rest. When I awoke an hour later, I felt refreshed down to my bones.

Lately I’ve been talking with others about taking a Sabbath — that is, setting aside a day, or at least a period of time, when I put down all work, open my hands in gratitude, and rest.

It sounds easy, right?  But it’s not.

Disciplining myself to take a day of rest — for me, time without screens or writing or busyness — makes me take a hard look at my own identity. Do I define myself by what I do? Or do I define myself by who I am — that is, a beloved, worthy human, divinely and beautifully fashioned, wholly complete? This is basic stuff, right? But it’s ongoing work, and for many of us, real, fulfilling rest is hard-won.

Taking real rest — being alone with our thoughts and in the space of quiet — opens doors to our hidden wounds and longings. It takes courage to carve out these spaces in our lives, for what the clamor of daily work and necessity obscures comes out of the shadows. While this can be a painful space, it is also the space our souls deeply yearn for. In this quiet we encounter not only what troubles us, but what feeds us deeply. These ritual pauses in our lives open a door to a sacred place where we can find healing and rest.  In the poem, “Sabbath,” Wendell Berry writes:

The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.

We must seek this pearl of great price — the rest which our souls beg for. As Wendell Berry illustrates, we must physically remove ourselves from our work and move to a fundamentally different space. In This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems, Berry associates the tilled, orderly farm fields with work, while the woods symbolize rest:

To rest, go to the woods

Where what is made is made

Without your thought or work.

Sit down; begin the wait

For small trees to grow big,

Feeding on earth and light.

Their good result is song

The winds must bring, that trees

Must wait to sing, and sing

Longer than you can wait.

This summer, I hope you will be able to carve out time for real rest. Go to the woods, where what is made is made. Hush your thoughts. Listen to the world, to the voice that calls you by name. Receive your gifts. It is perhaps the kindest thing you will do for yourself all summer.

Here’s to cultivating wonder,

Kim

Consider: What’s Real

A few nights ago, my son shook my husband awake.
“Dad.”  He prodded Tim. “I can’t sleep.”  

Tim, fumbling for his glasses, peered at the clock.  “It’s nearly 1:30 in the morning.”

“Yeah, but how do we know what’s really real?”

At thirteen, my son’s casual dips into theoretical physics have begun to erode his trust in the knowable universe, at least in the wee hours of the morning. Corin and Tim, indulging their mutual interest in speculative questions, listened to an On Being interview with physicist, Brian Greene. The result of this intellectual pursuit was a nighttime foray into worry and wonder.      

How do we know what’s really real? This question has long bedeviled and beguiled our species. Surely most of us wonder: Is what we learn from our senses the whole truth? Is experience trustworthy? Is there something beyond the intricate majesty of neuronal firing? In general, we don’t seem satisfied with supposing the whole of existence is answered by the things we can measure, weigh, investigate, classify, and touch. Our species evidences unslaking interest in asking questions of our existence, in hollering into the space where knowledge’s trail goes cold. With the world’s estimated 4,200 religions, surely we are built for wonder.

In his book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis’ writes a small exchange that has long framed my thinking on what’s really real. The children whisked into Narnia meet a retired star named Ramandu. The practical and modernly-educated Eustace is mystified. “‘In our world,’ said Eustace, ‘a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.'” Ramandu’s response is simple but deep with ramifications. “Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.”

I still feel a thrill when I read these words. They are not a defense of some way of thinking, rather a rich intimation of a world deeper and more mysterious than our parsing knowledge can possibly account for. The writer of Ecclesiastes knew this well. He writes, “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

That eternity is what was pricking my son’s mind at 1:30 in the morning. It’s the thing called forth from me when I cast my eyes up to the silent, dazzling stars. It’s the perennial tug at the heart of the world’s 4,200 religions.

Here’s what I know: I don’t know what’s really real. But I trust in it. I trust that it’s so much more than I can see. I trust that it’s beautiful in its time. In the morning I poured Corin a cup of tea and we sat, elbow to elbow, at our solid table. Morning sunlight lit lacy steam rising from our mugs. “Hey buddy,” I said, pulling him into a one arm hug. “Love you.” This love is true, solid, a thing that reaches all the way to eternity.

Here’s to cultivating wonder,

Lindsay

P.S.  Kim and her family just visited us in Montana.  Some great moments of that visit are documented on The Backpage. Also we’re still sending postcards.  Email us at eachholyhour@gmail.com, if you’d like a little EHH in your real mailbox.

Consider: Simple Gestures

It all started with crusty bruschetta.  The tomatoes made you want to you cry.  Salice Salentino–I remember the wine, splashed into immaculately polished glasses, the tender pea vines curling around the polenta, and the first bite of that herb-encrusted chicken–crisp skin, an astounding depth of flavor.  

Some years ago, our family endured a series of traumas that stretched over a couple of years–great, unexpected losses that left us with our fists up in front of our faces, waiting for the next calamity.  We felt jumpy, tense with dread, defensive and alert.

The meal took hours, and we never wanted it to end.  The owner, an older Italian man with a face mapped in happy wrinkles, kept appearing at our elbows to tip more wine into our glasses.  Thank you, we’d say, and he’d answer, “Simple gestures.”  Finally he brought us glasses of smoky bourbon.  On the house.  Simple gestures.

When my best friend went into labor after that litany of personal tragedies, I braced myself for more bad news.  I had learned that life was not the easy walk I had expected; I had learned that good was not always reciprocated. Waiting for joy, we were met with sorrow. 

So, after a difficult labor, when my friend brought forth a healthy girl–my first goddaughter–I was completely stunned.  Goodness.  Unexpected grace that shook me awake. I sat down in humble silence and wrote a blessing for my goddaughter.  

Dear one,

may all that is good find you in this world,

just as you have found us tonight.

 

This hour you unfolded our anxious hands

and we spread them in joy

as a bird spreads her wings. . . .

My husband, Martin, and I have since adopted the Italian restaurant owner’s motto.  It takes us back to that summer night of amazing food and friendship.  Martin bakes scones and we sit outside with our teapot.  He pours tea into my cup.  Thank you, I say.  Simple gestures, he answers.

Let me tell you: life is not one long, delightful meal, and it doesn’t always give you free bourbon.  But it is filled with simple gestures that I so often take for granted: the light slanting down on my daughter’s face as she sleeps, the sound of the piano as my husband plays, these quiet moments of writing on my front porch surrounded by flowers.IMG_4808

What Martin and I discovered as we looked back over those hard things that happened to us, was that even–or especially–then, our lives were overflowing with simple, profound love.  As we put our heads down and trod through the storm, Grace was at our side.  As we sat down at the table of our bitterness, Love was pouring our cups to overflowing.  It was, in a miraculous paradox, a feast of wonder.

As well as I can, I live neither in dread or in the naivete of my youth, but from a center of gratitude.  And the feast goes on–course after course, one astounding flavor after another.

A World of Dew, And Yet

It’s early summer and the roses are as wide as tea saucers.  When I pass by the garden on the way into the house, their heady scent cloaks me.  There are too many blooms to cut and bring inside, but the few I’ve arranged simply in vases astound me with their dense layers of petals.  

I am humbled by beauty like this; without a great deal of work from me, the garden yields new blossoms every morning. As I read Lindsay’s Consider this week, I felt humbled again by the realization that though majesty and wonder charge our world, many people can’t experience either. How fortunate I am to be able to feel something as I look at the roses.

I am aware that my perception of beauty and enjoyment of this world is a gift, and a tenuous one at that.  I think of the dear people I’ve known who have battled depression, of the powerlessness and despair they have tried to describe–a dulling of all senses, an inability to respond, to hear, to see.  “It’s like being deep underwater, wrapped in chains,” a friend once told me.  I can see glimmers of action, hear muted voices above me, but I can’t free myself to swim to the surface.”  When this friend ended her life after a long battle with mental illness, someone told me that she believed some people were just not meant for this world.

No.  I can’t believe it.  My convictions tell me otherwise; my faith that we are eternal beings made in the image of God instills a hope in me that, like Emily Dickinson’s bird with feathers, sang on even in the terrible, broken days that followed my friend’s death.

And yet the ache.  And yet the terrible irony that the people I love who have suffered most acutely from depression are people who, when they are well, are most sensitive to the goodness and beauty in the world.  The injustice of it, the awful brokenness of it, makes me long for more than this world of dew.

This world of dew

Is a world of dew,

And yet. . . .

Poet Kobayashi Issa wrote this after his one-year old daughter died from smallpox.  His days were shot through by tragedy–two more children and his wife also died.  And yet he wrote magnificent haiku that evidenced life was often an encounter with delight.  Here’s another from his wonderful volume The Spring of My Life that I loved so much I wrote up on our kitchen wall:

With such a voice

You should also learn to dance,

Bellowing Frog.

“We are made for this world.  We are not made for this world.”  Can both be true?

A year after a close friend of mine died from breast cancer, I stood with her nine-year old daughter at her grave, still a gash of unhealed dirt in the cemetery.  This girl whom I love so much, best friend to my own daughter, bent under the weight of her grief.  Her shoulders shook with sobs.  Her father, my friend’s husband, looked out into the hills smoky with twilight and shining with the first color of fall, and said, “We look for the Eternal Spring.”  

I have never forgotten his words.  In this early summer with the roses before me, I touch the sorrow that scars us all.  I am made for this world, wholly and completely.  With great humility, I say, Yes! to this world, and yet. . .And yet.   I long for the Eternal Spring.

Consider: The Wonder and Wound of this World

Dear Friends-

Yesterday the dog and I went on our favorite run.  For half an hour before I laced my shoes, I walked around moaning, “I don’t want to go.  Don’t make me go.”  There was no one “making” me go, unless you count the way Phoebe paced behind me, showing the “great red tear that makes us so sorry for noble dogs,” as J.M. Barrie calls it.  At last, with what seemed incredible mental effort, my shoes were on, my excuses over and we were padding out the door.  Predictably, within the first 400 yards, I wondered what all my fuss had been about.   

It was impossibly beautiful out there.  In the cooler, shadowy places, the hillsides were blue tongues of lupine, red sparks of Indian Paintbrush.  And in one spot, as I rounded a tight corner, I startled a flock of finches.  They flurried up, a chittering cumulous.  First a few.  Then more and more.  Until scores had burst from cover in the lupine, wings glinting in the low sun, and disappeared into the dark shadows of a lone ponderosa.  I felt over-awed by the sight, filled with a glad in-rush, new-born.  And yet in the same moment, something snagged my heart, that thing we call “a pang,” that sense beauty beheld is passing even as we encounter it.

“For to come upon warblers in early May

Was to forget time and death:

How they filled the oriole’s elm, a twittering restless

cloud, all one morning,” —Theodore Roethke, North American Sequence

I love the beauty in these lines from Roethke.  But I don’t believe them.  Warblers in May or finches startled from among the lupine do not make one forgetful of time’s passage.  They do not obscure the dark stile at the bend in the road.  Despite his statement to the contrary, I don’t for a moment think Roethke forgot these companions, else why bring them up?  Beauty is twined with loss, inseparable.

Every shiver of joy has a pull of loss in it, a rip in the seam. I can catch the glorious up-well of gladness.  But I can’t keep it.  Like the finches, it glints gold for a moment then disappears into a bank of shadow.

“Joy’s trick is to supply

Dry lips with what can cool and slake,

Leaving them dumbstruck also with an ache

Nothing can satisfy.”  – Richard Wilbur, “Hamlen Brook”

Richard Wilbur gets it right.  It is the signature trick of joy to both slake and leave behind an unsatisfiable ache.  Like a koan that defies the mind’s desire to parse and explicate, the aftereffect of joy is paradox.  In the middle of the finch storm, I had a deep sense of having been met and having been left.  Filled and emptied.  At home in the world and an exile from my heart’s true homeland.  I’m straining here, which is why the wiser Wilbur used “dumbstruck” and avoided the muddle.

We are made for this world.

We are not made for this world.

Can both of these be true?

At every turn, consciousness tugs us in both directions.  This wonder and wound is a birthright that, however many steps we take, we can’t outrun.

Here’s to cultivating wonder,

–Lindsay

P.S. We would LOVE to send you a little Each Holy Hour through the post office.  Just email us at eachholyhour@gmail.com with your mailing address and we’ll send you a personal message on one of our beautiful postcards. Just a bit of love from us to you.

P.P.S.  Last week’s Consider prompted some discussion on the Back Page about our faith journeys.  Pour a cup of tea and enjoy the meander.

The Why that Drives

Recently a friend invited me to lead a training on vocation for young adults.  “Thanks for thinking of me,” I accepted the invite, “I’d love to.”

Love to?  Maybe.

For me, vocation–the why that drives what I do — is a word full of shifting shadows.  It’s a relentless companion that plucks at my elbow, eats at my board, sleeps when I sleep, rises when I rise.  It’s alternately the draft upon which my heart soars and the hollowing wind that scours me empty.  It’s a prize and a punishment.

Nearly eighteen years ago, Tim and I moved to Montana from the Boston area.  We wanted to start our marriage on our own terms, away from the pace and pressures of the east coast.  Though we’d never stepped foot in the state, we’d gathered ideas about Montana like wild yeasts caught from the air.  Two weeks after our wedding, we packed a moving truck and drove across the country.

In those first years, we rented a small house on the Flathead Reservation, started making soap in the basement as a lark, and completed graduate degrees for our inevitable decampment back East. “Come visit us,” we widely broadcast to friends and family, “this is our last year here.”

Then our first son came.  Still, we reasoned, after one more year, we would go.  Then our second son arrived.  A family now, we considered where we wanted to raise children.  Montana’s rivers and mountains, its famous big sky and slow drifting days had gotten ahold of us.  How could we leave?

We didn’t.  Tim threw himself into turning our basement soap-making operation into a business that could sustain our family.  And to support the eighty-hour weeks those early years of building a business demanded, I stayed home with our boys.

One day, shortly after the birth of our second son, I wove through the grocery store, pushing both boys in the cart.  I bumped into one of my philosophy professors–a brilliant, hard-driven man– with whom Tim and I had both taken classes.  We had loved every minute of his seminars, picking over the bones of modernity.  He’d championed our plans to head back East for more grad school.  That day, in the grocery store, as I tried to keep my toddler from climbing out of the cart, he asked me, “Why are you still in Montana? You’re wasting yourself here.”

The truth of those words struck me.  I’d fallen out of the sphere where my mind could maintain the iron-sharpening-iron edge of academics.  At home with two young children, I was out of the camaraderie and sense of accomplishment of the workforce.  The losses were real.

But in another — equally true — sense, I was gaining myself, gaining myself in a quieter, harder way.  We’d moved to Montana to live on our own terms, and now I was going to have to dig deep and lean into those terms.  I couldn’t use the ready-made handhold of a career to lift my life.

Researcher and storyteller Brene Brown often talks about our tendency to “hustle for our worthiness.”  Through pleasing and performing, we chase a sense of self.  Even though I know in my bones that as a child of God, no amount of “doing” can add to my essential worthiness, I still find myself trying to earn this inheritance.

I believe we each live our own variants of the basic question: What am I here for?  Entangled with ancillary issues like ego, status, failure, fulfillment, shame, hope, becoming, I find this question impossible to get a hold of; one bit snakes out just as I get the lid on the opposite corner.

“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess.”  Parker Palmer writes in his book, Let Your Life Speak.  My years in Montana, my years of “wasting myself” and gaining myself have been a decades-long lesson in learning not to scramble.

“Love, share, engage,” Kim writes in this week’s Consider. “These are the superhero tasks of our lives.”  Egos scramble.  True selves love, share, engage.  Indeed this is hard and heroic work.

There is an old Hasidic tale that Martin Buber records in this way, “Before his death, Rabbi Zusya said, ‘In the coming world, they will not ask me: “Why were you not Moses?” They will ask me: “Why were you not Zusya?”’

In the shifting shadows and lights of my life, I’m discovering what it is to be me.  Not Moses, not Zusya, just me.

Consider: To Save the World

Dear Friends,

On Sunday evening, my girls came home from their neighborhood adventures with another stray chicken–the second in as many weeks.  My daughter, Beatrix, stroked the dense black and white feathers and announced, “We’re calling this one Pepper.”  Just then our neighbor returned from an emergency trip to see his dying father, and as his family drove their car slowly into their driveway, all chaos broke loose.  The street suddenly exploded with a loose chicken, children, dogs, and one cat, all tearing madly after each other.

I felt half-amused, half-sorry for our grieving neighbors as they returned to the melee of activity, but later, thinking back on how the street turned out to gather around them as they unpacked the car (one neighbor brought a pitcher of G&Ts), I concluded that it wasn’t an altogether bad way to come home.  From quiet sorrow into the chaos of life: animals and children, neighbors clicking their plastic cups together, murmuring, “I’m sorry about your dad. . .” and “We’ve got dinner if you want to come over.”

This past week brought more bad news: a new round of terrorist attacks in London and another step back from hard-won cooperation needed to sustain the earth.  This morning as I drove my daughter to school, these mighty fractures, combined with my own personal griefs, descended like a great weight.  I felt tears well up as I listened to the radio–of all things, that pop song by Charlie Pluth that goes, “Superman ain’t got nothing on me.  Come on, I’m only one call away.”

Swift self-analysis followed:  Sentimental drivel — making me weepy– WHY?

I admit to having a penchant for superhero movies.  This past weekend, when Wonder Woman charged across the front line to free a village, I was sprinting with her, wrist deflectors up, every righteous muscle tensed.  And this morning as I thought of the hurting people in this world and in my life, I wanted to pull out my sword.  Come on, I’m only one call away.

But even the superhero movies these days–at least the good ones–are marked by this complexity: even with superhuman powers, you can’t save the world.  Most of the time, you can’t even save the people closest to you.  We are weighted; we want superheroes.  But as the iconic Flaming Lips song Waiting for Superman says, what we carry is “just too heavy for Superman to lift.”

Superheros have always been part of human mythology.  When we slam up against our own limitations, we often scan the sky, looking for salvation.  But it is our hands that must shape this world for good, our feet that must trod the forgotten places.

“And while I don’t expect you to save the world,” poet and true wonder-woman Nikki Giovanni once said, “I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary.”  Love, share, engage.  These are the superhero tasks of our lives.

Here’s what I can do this week:  throw open my door and join the chaos, chase a chicken and say “I’m sorry,” despite the fact that those words just don’t seem like enough.  I can stand alongside, tell the truth to the people in my life, actively love my neighbor.  And when the time is right, I can march.  I’m no Wonder Woman–but I am full of wonder, and the light inside compels me to pursue peace and healing.  This is our shared, daily, unspectacular work, done one moment at a time, each holy hour.

Here’s to cultivating wonder,

–Kim

P.S. I hope you won’t miss Lindsay’s reflections on Friday’s blog –I always look forward to capping a busy week that way! And please note–if you’d like blog posts delivered to your mailbox as well, you can hit the “follow” button for weekly deliveries.

P.P.S.  Check Facebook and Instagram this week for something REALLY LOVELY.  We’re thrilled to be able to send some EHH to your actual, old-school mailboxes–handwritten, addressed just to you. And thank you again for being part of this community!o