Saturday, September 18, 2010


Don’t push the river. It flows by itself. –Fritz Perls

My daughter is a natural athlete. She played basketball during her growing up years. She played during the season on her school team, and during the off season in hoop clubs. Then in high school, she wanted to switch to a new sport, lacrosse.

But when she came home from practice the first day, she announced that she did not like lacrosse. When I asked her why, she said in frustration, “I don’t know how to play.” I casually asked her how long she had played the game. She frowned and snorted in exasperation, “Two hours.” “Well,” I suggested, “why don’t you play two more hours before you decide.” After practice the second day, she announced that she loved the game and thought she would be good at it. And she was. She played on the varsity team the last two years of high school. Patience, child.

I have a brown belt in taekwondo. Like everyone, I started with a white belt. I didn’t know anything. It took me over two years to get a brown belt, and if all goes well, it will take me over another year to get a black belt. When you start, you progress fairly quickly, but as you get to the higher belt levels, the minimum length of time between belt promotions gets longer. You can extend the intervals if you are not ready for the next level, but you can’t shorten them. It takes as long as it takes. You learn patience.

But sometimes I am not very patient. For example, as I have struggled the last few weeks to regain my spiritual footing, I have felt discouraged and self-critical. I think I should do better, be better, and I should do better and be better faster. Pema Chodron says that this is a subtle aggression against who we really are. Practice “isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we already are.”

In her book Sacred Thresholds, Paula D’arcy writes:

Don’t get ahead of your soul. The goal isn’t to get somewhere. The goal isn’t about forcing something to happen. The goal is to be in harmony with the gifts that are already given. The goal is to fall in love with your life. –as quoted in Open the Door by Joyce Rupp

I haven’t been in love with my life lately, but I’m going to do something about that, beginning with not pushing. It’s raining a little, but it isn’t cold. An afternoon walk sounds nice.


  1. Oh I so love that quote. I need to "fall in love with my life" again too. I'm freshly out of a 14 year marriage and am having to find my life again. I know that I am seeking so desperately to find joy, peace, and love. I so needed that, thank you for your honest confession.


  2. Thank you for your comment. There is another quotation from the book Dune. Lady Jessica says "Beginnings are such fragile times." Beginnings are full of grief (and sometimes anger) for the endings, as well as anticipation and hope for the beginnings. In Open the Door, Joyce Rupp assures us that our spiritual transformation has its own timing, which is not necessarily ours. Its so hard to be patient and trusting when we are anxious and in pain. Blessings to you.

  3. Wonderful story :)


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