The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is fully upon us. The dogs and I walk most mornings on the local common where we are surrounded by every shade of green, red, gold, yellow and brown. It’s breathtaking.
On Saturday mornings I run with a pal or, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, we convene at her house to run the nearby steps.
There are 83 steps and we run it five times.
Depending on the day, the first couple of times can be a bit of a shock to the system early morning. However by the third time I get into my groove. My body’s awake, I lift my knees higher and I get my rhythm going.
The fourth time is a bit of a stretch… but I know I’m almost there. And to be honest the fifth time is just a nightmare of pure determination. And the promise of hot coffee at the end. “Remember to use your arms!” shouts Jen, pumping hers hard ahead of me.
On our fifth ascent yesterday morning, I had an epiphany. My life telescoped into the stairs and vice versa. I found a new way to run both. A new way to haul myself forward.
Before, when I lifted my gaze to the top of the stairs from the bottom, I felt knackered before I started. I knew the stairs were worth running, I knew the reason I was doing it, but the thought of doing it again appalled me.
However this last time, when I kept my gaze low and focused on both the step beneath me and lifting my foot to the next one in front of me, a physical weight seemed to lift off my shoulders. It just lifted away. As if the thought of the steps was heavier than even the physical effort required to run them.
I let everything else go. And I got to the top.
Don’t get me wrong, I was gasping for breath like a crazy person and my arms and legs were burning – but who cares? I’d made it.
So I realised this. In order to be able to haul myself forward from where I currently am in my life, I must keep my gaze low not high. Not to as far as the eye can see or to left or right, but just to where my next foot falls. And concentrate on hitting each next step well.
Just focus on making the bed. Focus on getting the kids out the door. Focus on making the meal. Focus on clearing the shelf. Focus on speaking with this.one.person.now. Focus on this particular dog walk. Focus on this particular load of laundry. Focus on this particular day.
This particular day. As I write I feel I can hear the Holy Spirit whispering to me, “That’s it, Josie! Don’t miss this particular day! You’re getting it! There is just so much – so much – that I have for you in it.”
My friend, Jane, always says, “Keep looking down.” It’s such a great counter-intuitive reminder. What she means is “Keep recognising that everything is under your feet in Christ. You are over these circumstances. Over not under them.”
So this week, this is what I’m going to do to haul myself forward. I am going to keep my gaze only six inches beyond my own feet, where the light can lead me. And I’m going to cut myself off from social media. That, my friends, has simply got to go.
How can I focus on what’s in front of me if I spend my time looking for/finding out about what’s in front of everyone else? Wishing I could be on anyone’s steps but mine. I can’t run my own steps if I don’t focus on my own feet. My own legs. My own arms. My own breath. My own determination.
Come on, Josephine! PUMP THOSE ARMS!
I shall let you know how I go.