Day 13 Found Wisdom: What I Need Right Now

I have to admit, I almost posted this, just this, on Thursday, because it expresses the option I wanted to take, right then—so much! So tired, thinking I’d really bit off more than I could chew this time…

But as yesterday’s post explained, I have been so fortunate as to be able to attend a silent retreat over this weekend. (So this post is pre-written and scheduled for publication today.) And the first thing I have probably already done at that retreat is… sleep!

That might seem like a waste of time and travel, but “listen” to what Ruth Haley Barton says in her book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence:

“Whether like Elijah you have been driven into solitude by desperation or… you have entered more willingly, you may be surprised by what happens once you get to a place of silence. You may fall asleep while trying to pray. You may find yourself longing to curl up under a blanket and rest, and you try hard to resist your body’s need… {But…]

“Like Elijah, I was too tired and worn out to find God–or anything else for that matter… During solitude I fought feelings of exhaustion by attempting to do something that felt ‘productive’ like reading my Bible, journaling or meditating on some very profound thought.

“Eventually Elijah’s story invited me to stop fighting my exhaustion and surrender to it in God’s presence…

“Fatigue and depletion may be the first thing you need to attend to as well… Perhaps the most spiritual thing we could do is get more rest so we are alert when we want to be alert. But we can also use our times of solitude as opportunities to rest in God.”

I hope that both you and I can get the rest we need this weekend, and rest in God today. That, after all, is what Sabbath is for.

Happy Sabbath!

More borrowed wisdom about the value of silence tomorrow.


Day 11: When You Don’t Know Which Direction to Walk: Getting Educated

Several posts back I mentioned some wisdom from Shannon Thomas, who wrote about how to heal from psychological abuse. Although her topic is so subtle and tricky that it needs a good book like hers to define, identify, and give strategies to keep from being led into mental chaos, much of what she says can apply to other challenges of life—especially about what she gives as her second step.

After presenting what she labels “despair” as the first step toward recovery, she doesn’t dive into talking about “stepping” forward yet at all, but advises first to do your homework: get informed, get educated, even get savvy, about the challenge that you have to deal with:—in other words, prepare to step forward and become more certain about which way your feet (or knees!) should move you.

Now, it’s only too true that we can get stuck in this stage, but it seems to me we need it initially, no matter what the challenge. Otherwise all our actions can simply amount to flailing around, getting nowhere—or even making disastrous mistakes.

As I read her second-step chapter, I recalled how true that had been for me when I had to deal with alcoholism and began attending Al Anon meetings. The motto so important to me then was “listen and learn.” In fact, in my little introductory gathering with two members to get me started on the right path, they simply exhorted me not to make any major decisions/changes for six months and just keep coming to meetings.

At the time I reacted in a sort of verbal “flailing about.”
“I can’t do that!” I protested, then listed all the “what-ifs” that could and might happen if I just did nothing.

But they were right. Just understanding the usual thinking, behavior, and (yes) tactics of the alcoholic helped me keep from making many typical mistakes and assured me I wasn’t the cause of the mess I was in. And above all, over that six months’ time I became equipped to deal with the challenges that lay ahead for me—by, yes, getting informed.

I guess that may be why when some difficulty looms up before me, one of the first things I try to do is get as fully educated as I can about what I’m dealing with, what will help, what will hurt, and what’s just wasted effort and time.

What follows as Thomas’s third step is “Awakening.” This is what flows out of thorough learning. So…

“If you can’t fly run.

If you can’t run walk.

If you can’t walk crawl.”

And if you can’t crawl yet because you haven’t even gotten your bearings, start getting them. “Get educated.”


Day 10 Found Wisdom, for When You Can’t Walk

I first saw this quote in a newletter sent to my email inbox. I can’t find that newsletter now, although I know I purposed to keep it, specifically for the quote. But I found the quote again on Pinterest today, so I can still share it with you as today’s piece of “found wisdom”:

If you can’t fly then run.

If you can’t run then walk.

If you can’t walk then crawl.

But whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

-Martin Luther King, Jr

I have come to recognize this is truth: strong truth, important truth, crucial truth.

I get spells when I just want to draw back and quit, let the bullies win and all that. Doing otherwise, keeping on going, fighting against the darkness can be so exhausting and feel so futile. But when I draw back, I get depressed, and I end up doing as much damage to myself inwardly thereby as whatever the bully was doing before—No,  correction: I think drawing back does more damage, much more.

So if you can’t “go walking,” just put one knee in front of the other–and ignore the bruising on the rocks. And give yourself a pat on the back at the same time (if you can do the contortion), giving yourself credit for the effort.

Also consider how interesting it is that progress really does often begin on our knees.

Step on, step on!

Or, crawl on, crawl on! Life’s struggles are not a speed race.

And when you begin to arise from your knees to your feet and take one step, then another, and start to climb, to move upward as well as forward, remember this additional MLK quote:

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”



Day 9 Found Wisdom: Let’s Talk About Walking

Another highly beneficial activity The Joy of Creativity talks about is… walking.



Yes, just that simple. If you want to think more clearly, or creatively, take a walk.

And, as with her decluttering claims, author Jessica Singh backs up this advice with results of scientific studies.

“According to a study conducted at Stanford, creative thinking improves while a person is walking and during the short time after they return from a walk.” Walkers were compared with sitters, and with themselves, and their creative output while walking increased 60% over when they just sat.

The Mayo Clinc also tells us that walking helps overcome depression.

It doesn’t even matter much whether you walk outside or inside. Or if you’re by yourself or with a companion—although walking with a work colleague can add the benefit of furthering your business together. Both Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerman became well-known for their “walking meetings” where great ideas were born.

The concept, however, is not new. Note these famous quotes from the past:

Thoughts come clearly while one walks. ~Thomas Mann

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow. ~Henry David Thoreau

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir

“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right. ~G.M. Trevelyan

So… down in the dumps? Or, down on ideas? Or in need of a physcial uplift? Take a walk!