Spirituality and Prayer

The Next Best Step

I’m standing at a crossroad in my life. Whenever I encounter times like this I try to remember to stop and breathe deeply, noticing where my attention is focused. Occasionally I am surprised, and receive immediate guidance to move forward. At other times, I discover that I really am stuck by not-knowing, fear, uncertainty, or the knowledge the best next step isn’t clear–or it isn’t time to be made, just yet.

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen quotes Will Rogers: “When you find yourself in a whole, stop digging.” I think this is valuable advice! Too often I dig around for all sorts of solutions and future scenarios, instead of being patient and willing to dwell in the “both and” of the here and now allowing something else to emerge. Maybe even something I never could have anticipated.

So, those pesky crossroad times. How do we discover the courage to step beyond our own comfort zone, and respond yes to someone, something, or some purpose? I think it is probable that the relationships we cultivate can provide a greater understanding of our purpose and action in the world. I know I see the hunger and pain in the world and this affects me, and moves my heart of compassion. But how do we know—with authenticity and integrity—when a response is called forth or required from us? And, what is the valuable role of waiting, or even of resistance?

The poet David Whyte offers guidance to slow down in his poem “Start Close In” with these words:

“Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.”

Maybe at this particular crossroads, my “first thing” close in, my step I “don’t want to take” is to stand still just a little longer, and resist the impulse for action. I need to stop digging for the second or third best step, and just be still. I can pay attention to the wisdom of my body–where I feel expansion and contraction. During times like this, I really appreciate talking with trusted friends, and meeting with my spiritual director.

How about you?
Is there crossroad you face in your life? Perhaps it’s a major decision, or even something that to someone else might seem insignificant. Could it be that a dose of stillness, deep breathing, and paying attention to the relationships you cultivate might offer you some guidance? What is the step you don’t want to take?

The Next Best Step Posted by PeggeBernecker at 3/29/2009 3:33 PM CDT      http://www.chron.com/channel/houstonbelief/commons/searching.html

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