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Good morning, friends ~
Welcome to this new day and morning. A start of a new day is resurrection time—time to let Jesus bring to new life in you healing from yesterday’s hurts, peace from yesterday’s anxieties, strength from yesterday’s exhaustion, gratitude from yesterday’s disappointments… Last week had its challenges both personally and nationally, and maybe you carried a heavy heart too. I hope whatever needs healing and resurrection in you this new day and week is finding some fresh life this morning, especially in the subtle and small.
Speaking of resurrection, it’s been a few since I last wrote here…April was both a blur and a bummer, and I, for one, am ready for a fresh month (I might add I saw a headline from yesterday saying Chicago had one day of sunshine in the last 43 days, so there’s that).
On to today’s musings…have you had the experience where something keeps appearing in your path, over and over and over again? One of my friends describes it as, “lightning crackling on his skin.” It can take a number of times for me to awaken and notice, but I give thanks the Spirit is persistent and lovingly relentless.
In the last few months, I’ve experienced this with an ancient text I had never read, the Tao te ching, which literally translates, The Book of the Way. It’s an ancient Chinese text, attributed to Lao-tzu, referenced as a guide for balanced, serene, generous living.
Different books I picked up (on very divergent topics, including a running manual!) were based on it, an article I opened a journal to, a poem a mentor shared, a gift sent from a friend…It kept appearing, to the point where I started laughing aloud each time it did. It felt like God’s little smile. A, “when are you going to read this?” reminder.
What’s especially beautiful and powerful to me in this is how the message of the Tao te ching (which I am finally reading) is one of non-striving flow, and that is exactly how it has come into my life.
I’m awakening to how much of fear, stress, and anxiety comes from the pressure I feel to accomplish. To feel that whatever I’m doing is productive and in service to someone. To earn my keep and have something to show for myself. A writer and entrepreneur I appreciate and follow came out with coffee mugs recently saying, “Lists are my love language.” I sure relate to that.
It is pretty unsettling when I sit still and ask, “what am I trying to prove here? To whom?”
Because the honest truth is what my husband once said to me as we stood in the kitchen, me spinning in circles of questions and doubt—”you don’t have to do a single thing more in your life to have already done enough.” he said.
And I would say the same to you.
Anne Lamott, one of our patron saints for life, had a soul-nourishing interview with Kelly Corrigan last year in which she said, “the purpose of life is not to get more done.”
So if you need this invitation/permission today like I have, here it is.
You don’t need to get more done (whatever the more is). God is celebrating beautiful you right now. Your calling is in who you are becoming, not what you are doing.
And lastly, a nugget from the Tao te ching….
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.”
A prayer all about grace and non-striving from my book, Ash and Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos and Grace of Daily Life.
When I need to rest in grace
Today, Merciful God,
I lay down my private,
I fall, arms wide, eyes open,
into your ocean of grace…
All because you are
trustworthy in what you say,
faithful in what you do,
loving in how you respond,
patient in what you ask.
You’ve taught me how
to take in the struggle….
to look at it,
hold it in my hands,
allow it to teach me,
and let it lead me
toward a new place
of delightful dependence on you.
A gorgeous, expansive place of
release, joy, and trust.
You’re showing me it’s not who I am
keeping me from you
and what you desire,
but who I keep saying I’m not.
So at least today,
I let go of who I am
that I might be stretched
into what I must become.
I’ll ride the waves,
knowing grace upon grace
promises good land ahead.
In the love of the Great Surfer…
John 1:16 * Romans 6:14 * Ephesians 2:8
“For by grace you have been saved
through faith, and this is not your
own doing; it is the gift of God…”
– Ephesians 2:8
Something that nourished me recently…
A couple weeks ago, I decided I was finally going to get myself a copy of the Tao te ching, and so our little family headed to a local bookstore on independent bookseller’s day. We found my book while we were there. And I’ll give you two guesses as to what book was right next to my book. The Tao te ching. Mmm hmm. It’s real.
This interview between Padraig O’Tuama and Krista Tippett which I have now listened to more than once. If you listen to nothing else, skip to the last portion where Padraig reads the last pages of his book. Incredibly, incredibly beautiful. But as one of my friends has said, “I could listen to Padraig O’Tuama read the phonebook and have a transcendent experience.”
Ash & Starlight, plus other good things….
* I shared in my last Monday Manna how I am (with hope and prayer and fingers crossed!) going to run the Chicago marathon this fall for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my mom. I wrote about it here. My fundraising page is here. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, I would love to know. I’m keeping a running list (no pun intended), and carry this cloud of witnesses with me as I’m training.
Alzheimer’s affects nearly six million people in the United States right now. It’s another major area of much disparity for our sisters and brothers of color when it comes to diagnosis and care. Your support makes a true and meaningful difference.
Thank you, thank you, thank you friends!
* Find Ash and Starlight here.
Grace and peace and presence and gratitude to each of you today….
Love and Light,