A while back a ten pound dumbbell that I had set in a place so that it would be out of the way fell off its perch onto my big toe. The toe wasn’t broken, as far as I could tell, and though it is still discolored there is no pain now after about a month. The toe itself never was all that much of a problem except for slowing me down on the tennis court for a while and making certain shoes impossible to wear. The bigger problem was pain in my lower leg which resulted from having to favor the toe when I walked. As I was receiving some treatment on the leg from a massage therapist (I know a great one if you need one), she said she often saw such injuries from what she termed “gait changes.” When our gait is altered a little, we use muscles we don’t usually use and they hurt. I remember years ago my wife who runs a lot faster than I do, ran at a slower pace with me for a few miles and complained afterwards that her legs had never hurt so much. Gait changes affect us.
In this new year I’ve met with several people in spiritual direction who have intentionally tried to slow things down in their lives. The hustle and bustle of life gets to all of us and, from time to time, we might receive little hints that a slower pace might be good for us.
Slowing down sounds like it would make things easier but it is important to remember that slowing down actually causes us some pain. When we’re rushing around, we don’t notice as much as when we slow down. While much of what we may notice could be beautiful and stimulating, if we really slow down and look very closely at our lives we are going to experience some discomfort. We may see that our motives aren’t quite as pure as we thought they were. We may notice some of the things we are using to cover up the way we really feel about parts of our lives. We may see that we really want to do something else with our lives and we haven’t yet gotten as serious about that as we are being called to consider.
For many years I have read a devotional book entitled The Language of Letting Go which wonderfully helps the reader deal with codependency. Codependency, among other things, is focusing too much on other people or things outside our control. Rising and falling with how well things are going in the events of our lives or in the life of someone we care about is a codependent symptom. Recently I’ve taken up an old devotional classic Twenty Four Hours a Day which is an Alcoholics Anonymous text. Making that change in my morning reading has helped me focus, not just on my struggles with other people who present challenges for me, but on the various addictive and compulsive struggles I have in my own life. Whenever we make a shift in our daily devotional time, there is a gait change, and some pain results as we see things we’ve not faced fully.
These gait changes may result in some spiritual soreness, or even spiritual injury, as we admit more honestly who we are. But wherever there is injury, there comes the admission of the need for healing. Like going to a massage therapist for a sore leg, we find ways to seek healing of our bruised spirit. Injury, if only considered an inconvenience, doesn’t teach us much. But injury considered as our need for help, therapy, or healing, opens up brand new areas of learning and transformation.
Might it be time for a gait change in your life? Maybe you need to slow things down a bit and be more aware of your own life issues. Maybe you need to speed things up and tackle some things you’ve been putting off. The different pace may bring about some pain but that will be evidence of the healing that is about to come through God’s grace. If all we’re ever seeking is comfort, we’re missing part of the rich opportunity of the spiritual journey. We’re here to travel, to consider and reconsider, to be changed by grace. If there’s not a little sore place in your life, you’re probably not engaging life fully enough.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
New Vestry Members
Congratulations to the new Vestry members, elected at the Annual Meeting Sunday: Phillip Brown, Libby Fitzpatrick, Reggie Hamner, Mark Harris, Caroline Lawson, Jean McDowell, and Lori White. The Senior Warden for 2015 is Fred Tyson and the Junior Warden is Lawrence Hughes. Please keep all our Vestry members in your prayers as the Vestry Retreat is held this weekend at Camp McDowell.
Inquirers’ Class – Sundays in Lent
All those who wish to learn more about the Episcopal Church are invited to attend the Inquirers’ Classes held on the Sundays in Lent, February 22 – March 29, at 9:15 in the Library, led by the Rector. The class is open to newer parishioners and those who have been here for a long time too. Subjects will include: Distinguishing Features of the Episcopal Church; Church History; Holy Scriptures; the Book of Common Prayer; the Sacraments, and plenty of opportunity for questions. You need not register for the classes but if you wish to be confirmed by the Bishop on May 10, please contact Robert Wisnewski (firstname.lastname@example.org).