If someone promised you something that gives you balance, reduces stress and gives you more power wouldn’t you sign up immediately? Of course you would! That is why I recently bought myself an awesome pair of trekking poles.
Since I’m walking the Camino de Santiago in September, I got myself a pair of Pacer Poles which are made in England and have a special handle which allows you to simply rest your hand on the top of the poles, instead of grasping around the top. Ingenious! They came with crisp British instructions on how to properly use them.
So there I am striding down the Burke-Gilman trail on a twelve-mile walk with my new poles when suddenly my hands start cramping. I looked down and was shocked to see that my knuckles looked like big white marbles because I was gripping the handles so tightly. I was doing this in spite of reading the instructions which state very clearly: “Don’t grip the handle, simply push against it (just slight pressure between thumb and index to retain the pole.)” What I needed to do was relax my hands.
This got me to thinking how I’ve often heard people say, “Get a grip!” This means, “Control yourself!” or “Don’t panic,” or “Get in touch with reality.” It implies grasp harder, use more force, tense up.
But if we’ve ever felt out of control, in pain, or awash in emotions, we know that the worst thing to do is to tense, tighten and clench. It’s exhausting and it doesn’t help. This goes for mental/emotional pain as well as physical pain. If we are contracted into a fetus-like ball of tension our vision is limited. All we can see is our belly buttons. We can’t see any other possibilities.
What we really need to do is counter-intuitive: take some deep breaths; open up. Relax. Expand. Trust. Have faith. But how can do this?
We’ve all been given spiritual walking poles, the Holy Spirit/Divine Presence who lives within each of us. This Presence gives us balance, relieves the pressure we put on ourselves and increases our ability to serve.
Our mystics, music and Jesus himself remind us that we deepen by letting go and trusting.
“All shall be well, all shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well,” says St. Julian of Norwich.
“Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side,” says the hymn “Be Still My Soul.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid, for lo, I am with you always,” says Jesus.
No one is saying, “Get a grip! Double down! Use force!”
This doesn’t mean that we expend no effort whatsoever. “Don’t grip, simply rest upon it.” So we are not gripping, grasping, grunting. Balance, clarity, insight is never tense. It is peaceful but not lazy. Strong but not taut. Unwavering but not rigid.
Tap into the Spirit for balance, ease and power. These are things to contemplate as we keep moving forward in life.