Monday, August 2

Take Refuge

Lately, since like, February, it has been hard for me to focus my energy. Part of it is having auto immune disorders. Part is being a woman of a certain age. Part is, well, no...those parts cover it. Nobody told me that your entire body can rebel against you! But as my mentor, Sharon Moe, reminded me yesterday..."be gentle with yourself."

Yes! I should be more gentle. I realized that I am holding myself to an unrealistic standard. Perfectionism. Sigh.

For my work, I am funded through grants. I have the unrealistic idea that everything must be perfectly successful in order to meet the grantee's expectations. That is a ridiculous expectation. I have spent years telling people to think in terms of experiments - there is no fail, only outcomes - and look what I am doing to myself! It is time to get back into the spirit of experimentation.

But "Terri," you ask, "What does this have to do with the Sabbath?" Well, let me tell you!

In the spirit of experimentation, I am launching another journey. One towards my Doctorate in Ministry (DMIN). And Lo! The first book they give me, literally put into my hands, is Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Worlds.

Hahaha! I tell you, I have read almost every book there is in the popular literature on Sabbath. And I write on Sabbath! What could this book tell me that I haven't heard already? And Lo! In the introduction:

A "successful" life has become a violent enterprise. We make war on our own bodies, pushing them beyond their limits; war on our children, because we cannot find enough time to be with them when they are hurt and afraid, and need our company; war on our spirit, because we are too preoccupied to listen ot the quiet voices that seek to nourish and refresh us; war on our communities, because we are fearfully protecting what we have, and do not feel safe enough to be kind and generous; war on the earth, because we cannot take the time to place our feet on the ground and allow it to feed us, to taste its blessings and give thanks.

Yes! I have been at war with myself. With the fluctuating energy levels that I've had that accompany my auto-immune disorders and perimenopause, I have warred to use every bit of waking energy to do things. Just get them done and off of my plate. Or move them around on my plate like a child avoiding eating his peas. But the peas continue to stare at me in open mockery.


It is time, once again, to be gentle with myself and to slow down. Be gentle with myself. Beguine Again.

It is what we all need. We need to slow down and step away from solving problems in a frantic, desperate, reactionary way. It is why I'm investing time in the DMIN program. So I will take the next four years to intentionally build a robust, restorative, rejuvenative program. So I can look at the face of our biggest problems and see the faces, hear the stories, and sit still. To make decisions and plans from a root of creative regenerativity. For that, I need Sabbath. And I need the constant tug into joy, rest, connection, solidarity, and refuge.

by Doug Tanner Flickr CC (BY-NC-SA)

What actually triggered this torrent of words was the paragraph I read on refuge. And for me, the idea of taking refuge to prepare to launch out into the world. It is like a caterpillar pillar. Caterpillar pillars are the piles caterpillars make.

I like this because unlike the lone caterpillar that spins itself into a chrysalis and then launches as a lone butterfly, it is a communal project. And Sabbath is kind of like that. A communal project. It takes more than just my will to have a Sabbath practice. It is something I have to involve people in. Even if I don't interact with folks, people know my Sabbath practice and they are now trained to not call on Mondays. It's a communal project!

Additionally, the caterpillar pillar is a place of birth and creativity-look at all that silk! And apparently, swarms of caterpillars move faster together and provide more protection for one another.

So, uh take refuge in the caterpillar pillar? Take refuge in the community, find peace, walk together, protect one another, spin some silk! Find Sabbath.

One last block quote:

The practice of Sabbath is like the practice of taking refuge. In Buddhism, one takes refuge in the Buddha nature, and in the wisdom of the Buddha and in the family of the Buddha.In so doing, we join the company of all those who have sought healing and liberation, we surrender into that place where Buddha-nature already lives within us, and we align our intention with our innate, natural perfection. Thus, when we sit in meditation, all the saints and ancestors send us loving-kindness, as they accompany our each and every breath.

Jesus offered this same beautiful practice to his disciples. Make your home in me, he said, as I make mine in you. The kingdom is within you, he reminded them, alive and miraculous this very moment. I am with you always: When you come to rest, you will feel me. You will remember who you are, that you are the light of the world.

Go! Be! You are the light of the world!

That day, I did not try to protect myself from the wild wind and from the biting cold. I found refuge in myself, at this place where take shape the unique sensations that define who we are and what we "see" of the world. My camera made the rest. (Patrice) Flickr CC (BY-NC-SA)
That day, I did not try to protect myself from the wild wind and from the biting cold. I found refuge in myself, at this place where take shape the unique sensations that define who we are and what we "see" of the world. My camera made the rest. (Patrice)

Where are you finding refuge?

Where have you found yourself?

Where have you found the divine?




  • This is a lovely article and I am sure it will resonate with a lot of people. I too pushed my body to breaking point and ended up with chronic fatigue or the like. It made me stop, breathe and prioritize. I now simply cannot do anything that does not have the flow feel there.

    I am consciously on a spiritual path and do a lot of inner work. These health issues caused me to go even deeper within (funny how the Higher works) and a transformation (caterpillar) occurred in this time.

    It seems that this period in the evolution of Humanity is ripe for such transformations. We are literally sick of rushing around attempting to play the outer game, and thus being drawn within to listen and become clearer vehicles for Divine expression. A joyous path awaits us all.

    • Yes! You are right. There is so much pressing in on us, the only answer is a clearly counter cultural call to rest! To step outside of the mass production machine. That is where joy is.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Terri,
    Wonderful post! Having been Dx with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue 20 years ago what you say resonates. I find, however, that the older I get the less resilient I am despite my more and more letting go of what is not needed and taking better care of myself.
    Lately my meditative “refuge” has shifted to my Baha’i spiritual prayers of detachment from earthly “stuff” and reminding myself my ultimate detachment will be from my physical body. I’m certainly not very successful at it when I’m in pain.

    (ay yi yiiiii – peri-menopause! My prayers are with you – that’s what triggered all my physical problems)

    • Yeah! My first conversation with God, pretending that is how this works, is, “And really? What is up with bodies?” 🙂

      Yes, I am much less resilient. And the folks that are totally into a “bodily resurrection” make me cringe. Because I really really hope not. 😛

      Thanks for commenting! <3

  • Thurneysen

    Great reflection . . . for me one key to Sabbath is the affirmation that I am not my thought-life. The real me (picked this up from Eckhart Tolle) is not the identity I latch onto as the “me” of the constant stream of opinions, hopes, fears, convictions, etc., running through my mind — INCLUDING new information about what Sabbath may or may not be. My participation in “being”, that is Sabbath — that which Jesus said we could share with the lilies of the field or the bird of the air.

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