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One step at a time

Posted on February 28, 2024 in: Articles

By Fr. Eugene Hemrick​

Yeshua Institute Fellow

As I practiced for a triathlon at Lake Michigan on a beautiful sunny day, I thought this weather would be perfect for the next day’s event.

Next morning as the gun sounded, I hit the water and experienced a sudden shock. Overnight rain caused frigid water to rise to the top. Shivering and adrift, I contemplated abandoning the race when I noticed trees along the shore evenly spaced.

“Let’s take one tree at a time,” I told myself.

It worked! Little by little my confidence returned, and I was motoring.

Lot to digest

Today there is much on our plate to digest: endless wars, political disunity, prices rising, uncontrollable forest fires, radical climate changes, street violence and drug overdoses, to name just a few stomach aches. 

Add that we live in a “get it now, move quickly and do not deny yourself atmosphere.” It’s all about immediacy. 

What might be needed to combat this?

As I was blessed by an inspiring thought in Lake Michigan’s frigid water, so too is wisdom needed to cope with worldwide anxieties.

In Christian Art, Vincent Van Gough’s painting First Steps, after Mallet portrays a baby girl being coxed by her father to leave her mother’s arms and take her first steps toward his open arms -- an excellent portrayal of the necessity of taking first steps in life. 

A quote by Anthon St. Maarten addresses its wisdom: 

On your darkest days do not try to see the end of the tunnel by looking far ahead. Focus only on where you are right now. Then carefully take one step at a time, by placing just one foot in front of the other. Before you know it, you will turn that corner.

Another quote by Joe Whitt emphasizes how it helps our sanity, “Oh, I wonder... I was trying to fix the whole thing at once... But maybe it needs to be done one step at a time? I can do this... I can do this!!”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana points out, “Even the longest book is read and was written one word at a time.”

Another reality

Josh Hatche lists another reality of life, “No one can achieve their dreams and become the kind of person they were meant to be all at once. It is a series of little movements, and you can only take the step that is right in front of you.”

The world of spirituality goes to the very heart of taking “one-step wisdom” by pointing our need for daily metanoia – committing our heart at the start of every day to the practice of taking one step at a time. 

Today’s anxieties we experience are heartbreaking, so in need of constant re-heartening. 

Just as the idea of one step at a time renewed my spirit to stay in the race, so too is “one-step wisdom” needed to maintain our strength and complete life’s race.