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Your Journey Will Call For Courage And Heart
Written By: Mark Smith


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A good friend of mine sent me a poem this week. While I admit that I don't know a thing about poetry, this poem is powerful and it touched me. It is

Mary Oliver's "The Journey":

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,

Though the choices around you kept shouting their bad advice-

Though the whole house began to tremble,

And you felt the old tug at your ankles.

Mend my life, each voice cried. But you did not stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations.

It was late enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen branches and stones.

But little by little, as you left their voices behind,

The stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,

And there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own,

That kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,

Determined to do the only thing you could do-determined to save the

Only life you could save.


Read it again. Let it speak to you. What is it saying to you?

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,

Though the choices around you kept shouting their bad advice-

Though the whole house began to tremble,

And you felt the old tug at your ankles.

Mend my life, each voice cried.



What is it that you need to do but are afraid to do? Do you need to take a risk in a relationship, quit your job, leave a marriage, take up a new hobby, take a trip, or go back to school? What? What is your heart telling you to do? The people around us all have their agendas for keeping us the same. They have their projections, their judgments, and their small expectation of you. They have their need for you to stay the same so that they don't have to grow or change. They can't know you or your right path though. If you dare to step out to make a change you will face a windstorm of unasked fom critiquing. Most of it will be feedback that is dead wrong. Connect with your heart of hearts - that is where your best and most true wisdom lies.



But you did not stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations.

It was late enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen branches and stones.



Once you are clear what you need to do you have to stay fiercely committed and focused to stay on your path in spite of the wind and the road filled with fallen branches and stones. Life is hard. It really is. It is filled with pain and loss and difficult choices. Do what you have to do.



But little by little, as you left their voices behind,

The stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,

And there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own,

That kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,



Your voice - find it, define it, speak it, and shout with it. As you move further into your new path things will become clear for you. You will then swagger through life with the confidence that is infectious and life giving. You might even skip down your path with some joy and playfulness every now and again. That'll be fun.



Determined to do the only thing you could do-determined to save the only life you could save.



You are on an exhausting over night flight. You are flying through a storm and things are way beyond bumpy. You are praying for all you are worth. The plane suddenly shakes violently and begins to lose altitude. Your children wake up and they begin to scream in fear. Just then the air masks fall from above and you are faced with a choice. Do you place the masks on your children or you do place yours on first? Instinct will tell you to do one thing and it will be dead wrong. You need to take care of yourself FIRST. If you don't you are dead and they are too. If you don't save yourself first then you won't be any good to anyone.



Think about what you need to do. Take courage. Happy Holidays. See you next week.






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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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