My internet connection was restored late yesterday afternoon.
Thus, inevitably, the weight of my ‘in-box’ prevented quiet writing times.
So for today’s post I’m going to do no more than republish an extract from a recent Terry Hershey mailing. I have included items from Terry before but for those new to him, do pop across to his website and catch up on what he writes. To give you a flavour of what you may find, this is from his home page.
TERRY HERSHEY is an inspirational speaker, humorist, author, organizational consultant and designer of sanctuary gardens who has been featured on The Hallmark Channel, CNN, PBS, and NPR. Terry holds a mirror up to our fast-forward, disconnected lives, and offers us the power of pause—the wisdom of slowing down and the permission to take an intentional Sabbath moment to regain emotional and spiritual balance… to find the sacred in every single day.
I’m sure that touches many people in these interesting times.
So on to Terry’s item. Written in Terry’s voice.
“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal-mouse (a small bird) asked a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.
“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said.
“I sat on a fir branch, close to its trunk, when it began to snow–not heavily, not in a raging blizzard–no, just like in a dream, without a wind, without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch, nothing more than nothing, as you say, the branch broke off.”
Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away.
You see, it takes just one snowflake to make a difference.
Every once in a while we are all pestered by the question, “Does what I do, or give, or offer, make any difference? Does it mean anything?” Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make me wonder.
It’s been an odd week for me, six states in ten days (close to two thousand miles, not one on an airplane). Translation: I spent a boatload of time in a rental car, with a boatload of time to cogitate.
My week began in Northern Indiana (Victory Noll Retreat Center, Huntington), the landscape an endless horizon of cornfields, still unharvested, the stalks acorn brown. I pointed my rental car north, toward Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, drinking in the progression of autumn color along the way toward Lake Superior. I had time with my Father. We began each day with breakfast at deer camp (his home-away-from-home, heated with an antique wood-stove/oven), an ATV ride from his house into the woodland, and only a stone’s throw from the Ottawa National Forest. (I will concede that this menu is neither found nor endorsed by any diet book.) After a few days, like the flocks of Canadian geese who escorted me on the way, my rental car headed back south, down through Wisconsin (passing on the temptation to buy cheese trinkets) and to a reunion dinner with a friend in Chicago. Again through Indiana, this time in a driving rainstorm–a heavenly show and tell — with thunder and lightning, and the night sky erupting with a rippling light spectacle. On to my weekend in Cincinnati (Transfiguration Retreat Center) where we talked about living our days from sufficiency instead of scarcity.
In case I wasn’t clear, I’m not an enthusiast for road trips, so I confess that my attitude is dictated by an agenda — an impatience to cross another state line, and cross another milestone off the list.
No, it’s not easy to savor the scenery when you have an agenda.
And yes, I don’t always practice what I preach.
Which means that surprises are nice. Like the view from Brockway Mountain Drive, above Copper Harbor Michigan; below a sea of autumn color framed to the north by Lake Superior’s cobalt blue.
I discover that driving long distances creates an ideal container for musing, which, somehow, in a rainstorm deluge, morphs into existential angst, questioning everything about life and the pursuit of happiness; an opportunity to weigh and measure, and find some reason why I’ve come up short on this road toward success. Lord help us and down the rabbit hole we go … So, just before the precipice of self-pity, I crank up my friend Bruce, and sing along; This Little Light of Mine, and smile, and laugh out loud.
Have you ever asked yourself the same question: Do I make a difference?
I have found that this question messes with me only when I assume that something is missing from my life. Or that I need to prove something to someone. And it doesn’t help that we live in a culture that assumes “enough is never enough.” (Only insuring that we will respond to the question with an even more frenzied lifestyle.)
In the airport before returning home to Seattle today, this question about making a difference still dogs me, so I peruse an airport bookshop. One book offers inner peace, another balance, another wealth, another a renewed sense of urgency, and yet another some comprehension about life’s most pressing questions. The variety made it awfully difficult to choose, so I settled for a bag of Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate. That seemed to help.
In the Gospel of Luke, a 12 or 13-year-old girl is given an extraordinary assignment. Her response, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
In essence, Mary said to the angel, “I am willing to be one snowflake.”
I am willing to do what I can, with what I have been given, with a full, grateful and willing heart.
I am willing to not worry about the outcome.
I am willing not to worry about what people think or say, or how it will be measured in the court of public opinion.
I am willing to literally, let it be.
So, why am I afraid to let this be enough?
To know that, even as a single snowflake, there is enough. In fact, there is abundance. The retreat group this weekend reminded me of this truth, and I gladly sent them forth, to know that one touch means the world.
You may doubt it if you wish. But know this, you still make a difference.
On the ferry ride home tonight, the sun is setting beyond the Olympic Mountain range. Back-lit, the entire range is art done in charcoal. And to the south, the moon–a day or two shy of full–shines down on Tacoma harbor. I breathe in the night air.
The scene is exquisite.
It is perfection.
Which takes me back to snowflakes.
The moon, after all, is just being the moon.
Here’s the deal: the journey to wholeness it not about me becoming something I am not. The journey toward wholeness is about reflecting what is already there. Inside.
It is about snowflakes, and making a difference by just being you.
Do you recall Terry writing of singing aloud the Bruce Springsteen song This little light of mine? Here it is.
Wherever you are in the world, have a wonderful weekend, and if you have a dog or two in your life reflect on the example of wholeness that dogs offer us.