Thursday, November 4, 2010

One Step at a Time

The Pillar of the Cloud
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home ---
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene --- one step enough for me
I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!

I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will; remember not past years.
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890)

This morning I read a meditation on the Holy Spirit, and then the above words and prayer of John Newman, and I was reminded of the paths I have followed in my life.

So much of my life was planned out, each detail thought through. Actions and alternatives were considered, and steps laid out, from step one to step twenty-five --- and even more if necessary. It mattered not if my plans were to the benefit of me, my work, or even my neighbor, who I so often sought to aid. I planned well, to do good for them all, and I prayed that God would bless my plans.

Things sometimes, but not often, did not go as I planned, and so I made corrections. I brought most of my plans to fruition. It was only as I grew older, and wiser, that I looked back at the fruits of all those plans in total. In the light of wisdom, I saw that some things I built in my life were indeed built well, but they served no real purpose that in retrospect I could see, no purpose for anyone. “Why did I want that?” I ask. “Why did I waste those months, or even years?“ I wonder. And I looked at those few failures, big failures, and I saw that not only were my plans there not executed well, but they were flawed plans. I thought I was building something good, but the plans I made almost guaranteed failure.

It was then I realized that the few failures and the many, many successes didn’t really add up to something I was proud of, and perhaps more importantly, I realized that when I prayed to God He could see me as I saw myself, and I had not lived as a son for Him to be proud of.

Deep in my heart, I always wanted to be a son both my earthly and heavenly Father could be proud of. If I couldn’t accomplish that, then just what was my life for? For me? And then the sword struck home, that’s exactly what my life was, and how I had led much it --- for me. Although I thanked God for the gifts and the talents he gave me, I planned, I worked, and I decided --- everything. He had no part in planning or living my life, or in enjoying its success, or failure. My life was all mine. Truly, I was, and was living as, the Prodigal Son.

Fortunately, God gave me the grace, the love, and I believe the intercession of His mother Mary, to realize my situation. He called and welcomed me home. All my past plans, and all my less-than-stellar results of those plans, I could not change, but I could admit their main flaw: they were totally my plans. And so I was able to ask God: “From now on, You plan. You plan my life, and I will sincerely try to follow those plans, and not mine anymore.”

In truth, I was finally willing to walk the path He made, just for me, even before I was born. I committed to follow His plan, wherever it led me. I wanted to be the man He created me to be.

The prayers of John Newman reminded me again of that commitment I made. It was a hard one, and I still sometimes falter or question it: “Lord, are You SURE I should be doing this?” For one whose life was lived analyzing and planning, I would now be following His plans. And if I could not see the results of His plans, even if they appeared illogical or leading toward no results, still I would follow His steps. This I committed and still try to adhere to.

I did not ask to see the distant scene --- one step enough for me.

May you, my friends be blessed by the Holy Spirit, to see your life as it truly is --- and should be. May you be willing to live it, in faith, one step at a time.

Holy Spirit, come and shed your divine, life-giving light on the Church, the world, our nation, and each one we care about. Give hope to the hopeless, peace to the distraught, and conversion to those lost along the way. Lift up our hearts that we may be Your witnesses by the way we live and speak, and heal our wounds through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayers from Praying with the Creed, (Meditation Thirteen) by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel


  1. Wow, that was very nice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Through love for us God lets us stray, walk the path WE think we're blazing, only to find (hopefully!) the way back to His path. k

  2. These words are a comfort to me today.

  3. I'm glad these thoughts were of value .... and I trust that you are fully aware, if they were of value to you, they were not MY thoughts. They were meant for you.

  4. Dear Soul,

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart! No one has ever paid me the supreme compliment you have of going back through my blog and reading my old posts -- getting to know me so to speak, something which takes time -- as you have done. I am in awe of your kindness. It has come at an especially difficult time when we just had a very great loss which I haven't been able to write about yet, partially due to shock and the rest due to time, so your gift of self is the Holy Spirit working through you. In Eternity you will know what it has meant to me.

    God bless you!

  5. Booklady,

    Time, and God's grace, does heal all wounds. I've written here of my anxieties, often focusing on my concerns for loved ones, past and present. God has been good to me, and I am able to look back and see that His love was always present, even when I felt so alone. This particular post talks about taking one trusting step at a time; I think it especially applies in times of sorrow. I'll be praying for you.

    As for reading your old posts, it is not so much that I have such copious amounts of free time as there is such a void of meaningful blogs. I expect to learn from your posts, the Holy Spirit working through you. I hunger for His wisdom.