I was once asked what inspires me and the answer is everything. For me there is something spiritual in everyday life. Even the mundane act of taking out the trash can be spiritual. For the last few days, however, I have been thinking about stumbling and what a powerful spiritual experience that was for me. There is probably not anyone who has not physically stumbled at one point or time in his or her life, especially as a child. We stumble, and sometimes we fall and for the most part we get back up again. Sometimes when we stumble, it is easier to get back up again then others. Sometimes we stumble and we feel the impact of that stumble for days, sometimes weeks.
Some of you may know this; others may not. However, about four years ago I lost the feeling in my right leg. I wear a brace on my right leg, which I have written about elsewhere, that keeps me from tripping over my own foot when I try to walk. I always say that each step for me is an act of faith, as I never know where my right foot is at any point in time. I am not supposed to do stairs as they irritate my back and knees. However, recently we went to a friend’s home for dinner and a game of Mexican Train. Going up the one step into their house was okay, but coming out I stumbled.
This is where the lesson began. I did not fall. I stumbled. My friend was there to catch me. I had my walker to hold on to, but my friends were also there to help me. While I was grateful that I did not fall, the stumble brought up feelings and emotions in me. It reminded me of how it had been so long since I had last stumbled that I had begun to take the fact that I was not stumbling for granted. How many things in our life go well and because they have gone well for so long, we forget to give thanks for them; we forget to be grateful for them. So often, we take the little things for granted. How easy is it for us to take for granted that we will not stumble when we walk? Do we take for granted that our inhale will be followed by an exhale? How many things in our life have become so matter of fact that we forget to recognize them as gifts?
It wasn’t just the stumble that got me thinking, but the presence of my friends. While I was holding on to my walker, I was still stumbling and my friends all contributed to getting me safely back into the car so my wife could bring me home. Sometimes we forget what a blessing it is to have people in our lives. One of my friends was there to survey the big picture and ensure that my next need was met. Another friend was there to ensure that I got in the car. My wife was there to ensure that I was ok emotionally and to reassure me that God had me.
While I am grateful for the presence of my friends, it reminded me that having people in my life with whom I can communicate is a gift. For the last eight months, I have been writing a person who has been in prison for the last 17 years. I and one other person are the only ones who currently correspond with him. It reminded me to be grateful that I am surrounded by those who love me unconditionally and who embody for me the unconditional love of the Infinite Presence.
Then I began to give thanks for my walker. While my friends were there to support and assist me, my walker enabled me to take the remaining steps in and out of the car. My walker is more then just a physical object that facilitates me walking with a decreased ability of falling. It is a reminder of how much I hold on to my faith in the Infinite. It is a physical embodiment of my agreement with the Infinite Presence. I hold on to my relationship with the Infinite and know that it is my faith that keeps me moving forward one step at a time.
There is also the pain. I understand that most people would not find pain something to give thanks for, but I do. It reminds me that I am alive. It reminds me to give thanks for the miracles of modern medicine that can alleviate the pain. It reminds me to give thanks – give thanks for my friends, for my walker, for every step that I take even when I stumble.