I’d like to have something to turn to find Seven Steps To . . . get to the other side of what challenges me. Something concise, steps to take, boxes to check, and a measuring stick with which to note progress. Surely someone has crafted such a thing.
But no. Of course not. Though many keep trying.
There are no seven steps or seventy steps or any number of pre-defined steps to take to conquer those things that trip us up. There is only, as theologian and poet Eugene Peterson said, “a long obedience in the same direction”.
I return to those things I know to be true and find that what shored me up in the past doesn’t work the same way anymore. It’s a new season and haven’t I been ruminating on the changing of seasons? Formulas are useless. Truth is forever.
In this season, as always, solitude and silence are balm—maybe now more than ever before. “I only go out” said Lord Byron “to get me a fresh appetite for being alone.” And yes, there’s a measure of personal truth in that.
I get up and I fall, we all do. I learn that busy work isn’t work at all—it’s just a place to hide. The work comes in stillness, when we’re brave enough to face those things that go bump in the night, to stand at the opening to a cave of unknowing and take that first step forward.
Broken, busy, and beloved. No steps, just a journey. No one needs any more steps.
I pray in the dark of night and understand the discomfort is a gift.
I need more grace than I thought (Rumi).