Category Archives: One Step At A Time

Paralyzed

Mark 2: 1-12

 

Did you ever feel paralyzed, emotionally, physically or spiritually?

Sometimes life is like that. We get stuck. Moving forward seems impossible. I have recently been in one of those paralyzed seasons of life. Can I believe that the same Power that set free, healed and raised to new life can, even now, do the same?

When I am paralyzed I am without energy. However, I must put one foot in front of another and keep moving. I may not “feel” like it, but I must keep moving. Oftentimes we may not “feel” like doing something, but there is Power in just taking one small step to do it anyway. Love is that way sometimes isn’t it? Work is that way. Life is that way. We may not feel like doing this or that; but it’s important to do it anyway. And in the taking of one small step, there can be contained a Power that lifts and heals and raises to new life. Sometimes it’s just a matter of moving, just taking a step.

What paralyzes you today? What keeps you from moving, from taking a step?

Sometimes fear keeps us from risking a step in life. We fear the unknown and so settle for a lifeless sense of comfort. Yet sometimes we are beckoned to take one step, just take a step, just one risk and see where the path might lead. We may find ourselves freed from the paralysis of our comfortable, secure life and born into an adventure that promises no security, but gives birth to a lived life.

Take a step today!

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Light One Candle

“Life is difficult.”

So begins M. Scott Peck’s bestseller The Road Less Traveled.

And life is indeed difficult at times.  Problems and difficulties are a reality of life.  Look at the economic crisis we’re in, the political machine that seems to be beyond the control of ordinary folk, the threat of terrorism, hunger, poverty, violence, injustice, prejudice and inequality.  The problems seem so varied and so vast that we stand powerless in their wake.  Or perhaps the problems are as close as our own homes.  Difficulty with our partners, infidelity, addictions, busyness, economic hardship, the loss of a job, depression, illness. . . . The list goes on.

In the face of life’s difficulties it is easy to react in one of two ways, or both:  to become paralyzed and to simply complain.

In 1945 Fr. James Keller founded “The Christophers.”  It is an organization who through the printed word and other media give people a word of hope and encourage people to use their gifts to make a positive difference in the world.  What I like about Keller’s philosophy is that he keeps it simple.  His famous words, around which he framed the mission of “The Christophers,” are these:  “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”  Just ONE candle.

In the face of life’s challenges, it is easy to curse the darkness.  AND it is equally easy to light just one candle, to take one little action, to make a positive difference.

What are the difficulties in your life?  In our world?  What is one candle that we can light today that can lighten the darkness?


Throw Some Mud Against The Wall

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend about the grace of awakening to a new way of living and responding to situations that people and Life throws at us.  We spoke of our fascination with learning, in very practical ways, how to be happy, especially when things aren‘t going our way.  We spoke of the joy of learning to let go of expectations and to not base one’s happiness on how another responds to us.  In this conversation she kept saying, “I have so much to learn.  I have such a long way to go to realize these things.”  I encouraged her not to look at how much she has yet to learn or realize, but to celebrate what she has learned right now.  If we keep the attention on how far we’ve yet to go, we’ll never get anywhere.   But if we keep the focus on this moment and what we have learned, this moment will take us to the next, and the next.  The important thing is that we continually do something to grow and learn.

Al-Anon has a litany called “Just For Today,” in which it highlights various simple things that I will do JUST TODAY.  It keeps the focus on the present moment instead of the big picture.  One of the things it says is:  “Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind.  I will study.  I will learn something useful.  I will not be a mental loafer.  I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration” (Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1972).   Now, notice it doesn’t say I will read VOLUMES.  It says I will read SOMETHING.

What one of us doesn’t want to be happy and to live somewhat peaceably in this life?  What one of us wouldn’t want to learn secrets of living happily and peacefully even when life seemingly becomes very difficult?  What a treasure that would be!  Well, the good news is we can!  We just have to stick with some daily learning.  I heard it said years ago that if you throw enough mud against the wall, eventually some of it will stick.  This is certainly an apt description of my learning process!  If I read a little, meditate a little, am present a little and love a little, . . . eventually some of it will stick!

Throw a little mud against the wall today.


Don’t Sweat the Big Stuff!

I recently spoke with two college students. When I asked how they were doing they both responded: “Stressed!” As a matter of fact, one of these students called me late one evening because he was really coming a bit unglued, as the stress of a new semester was kicking in his clinical anxiety. What was happening was these two students were sitting at home with all their Syllabuses from EVERY class they were taking laid out. They were concentrating on and freaking out about EVERYTHING that needed to be done. Both were becoming paralyzed as a result of the stress they were feeling.

I smiled as I told both of them not to look at the big picture, but just concentrate on the small stuff and what needed to be done today. I smiled because I SO need to remember this same thing at times! When we just keep concentrating on the big picture we easily get anxious, wondering how we’re going to get it all done. This anxiousness is nothing but an energy drain which leads to paralysis. What we can do is pause, take a breath and just concentrate on getting ONE thing done. This will lead to the next and the next, without a lot of useless anxiety.

Life can so easily be that way sometimes can’t it? In such moments when we feel anxiety rising and wonderment as to how in heaven’s name we’re going to get everything done – in such moments, maybe we need to remember not to sweat the big stuff! Just do what’s before you. The rest will fall into place.

 


Big Things. Small Packages.

Matthew 13: 31-35

Again we have this image of the mustard seed that grows into a large bush and a little yeast that makes the whole loaf rise.

Yesterday we reflected again on the energy created by taking one small step toward making a dream or vision we have a reality. It is the daily small steps that lead to great results.  A little done consistently is better than a lot done sporadically, so say physical trainers.

The important thing is to rise above the paralysis imposed by thinking that we have such little to offer – only a small seed, only a pinch of yeast.  We may think that what we have to offer is not much.  We may think that the task of changing our relationships or behavior is impossible!  But if take one step, if we slowly allow the seed to germinate  we WILL see a difference in our lives and the lives of those we touch.


The Power of a Little Consistency

I had a physical trainer once who said to me: “A little exercise done consistently is much better than a lot done sporadically.”

After a late Fall and Winter of being a slug – physically at least – I have, of late, been slowly getting back into my exercise routine. The older I get, the harder I find that it is to get back into a routine after a time away. It helps me tremendously, though, when I remember what that trainer said. When I realize that I only have to do a little consistently it helps motivate me. On the other hand, when I think that I have to do a lot I get a bit paralyzed and chances are I won’t do anything.

This is a good metaphor for life.

Sometimes we get paralyzed when we think of everything we’ve got to do or should be doing. The thoughts get so daunting that we sometimes end up doing nothing. Whether it be working on a relationship, a project at home, time taken for spiritual growth, dealing with an addiction, caring for the poor and less fortunate of our world, or whatever it is that we feel Life is asking of us – it helps when I just think of doing a little bit consistently. Those recovering from addictions talk of taking things just “one day at a time.” The thought of not doing something the rest of my life is too much. But the thought of just not doing it today is more palatable and motivating.

What is the nudge that you feel from Life? What improvement for yourself or others is it asking from you? Just do a little bit today. . . . Then tomorrow, do a little bit again. “A little bit done consistently is much better than a lot done sporadically.”