One More Step
May 22, 2007
One More Step
May 20, 2007
Rev. Bonnie J. Berger
Welcome to Sunday evening—the time of the week that many of us use to wind down from a weekend of activities and prepare ourselves for the work week ahead. I know folks who plan their meals ahead of time for the week to come; who lay out the clothes they will wear and iron whatever needs it; and people who make sure that their children’s after school activities are all accounted for.
Some might say that these folks are taking that “extra step” in preparing for the week ahead. One more step now will decrease the need for rushing or panic or forgetfulness or lack of preparation or self-made emergencies down the road. It’s so easy and yes, so human to move into the “if onlys” and “should haves” when we haven’t taken that step. And yet, that “one more step” can seem impossible to accomplish at times. Now I’m not talking about a physical step here, but more of an emotional or spiritual step.
There’s a story told of a man who was walking in the street when he heard a voice: "Stop! Stand still! If you take one more step, a brick will fall down on your head and kill you."
The man stopped and a big brick fell right in front of him. The man was astonished. He went on, and after awhile he was going to cross the road. Once again the voice shouted: "Stop! Stand still! If you take one more step a car will run over you and you will die."
The man did as he was instructed, and a car came careening around the corner, barely missing him.
"Where are you?" the man asked. "Who are you?"
"I am your guardian angel," the voice answered. “I’m sure you must be surprised and may have some questions for me.”
“I sure do” the man replied. “Where were you when I got married?"
So, while taking a physical step can be a challenge at times, it is the spiritual step I am looking at tonight.
I want to share with you some of my thoughts on “one more step, be it that one more step to Spirit, to faith, to Self, or to love.
I believed, and not all that long ago, that I had to do “it all” myself. “It all” to me meant that there was no one else that I could depend on. I was all I had. Couldn’t rely on blood relatives—heck some of them just up and died and left me. The ones that were still alive—well, I didn’t know how to ask for help for well, and I wasn’t in a space to have trusted in it too much anyway. Couldn’t rely on friends—this is DC—everyone is scheduled weeks in advance and I didn’t think they would take time out to hear my story. Couldn’t rely on a therapist—they only cared about me because I was paying them to. Wow—how’s all that for self-defeating story telling??! And, finally, I couldn’t rely on G-d—all those times when I asked G-d to do this for me or do that for me and G-d didn’t—well, what good was G-d anyway?
So, I thought I had to do it all for myself. And, I got tired. I got weary. I lost my vision. I lost my way. I lost my inner spark. My inner well of resources ran dry. One more step? Yeah—to my bed with the covers over my head.
To rely on others was to me a sign of weakness. To even think of relying on G-d or Spirit or a Higher Power bordered on ludicrous.
And it was those tiny steps I took—that made all of the difference. For those who have heard me speak before—I liken this journey to going to the holy gym. When we don’t exercise our physical muscles, they get flabby. Same with our spiritual muscles—I had to exercise my faith muscle, my joy muscle, my self-love muscle, and my G-d muscle. And, just like in the regular gym where I couldn’t start out with 25 pound weights to do my bicep curls—I couldn’t start out in my spiritual gym with much more than short periods of time devoted to meditation and prayer. Crawl -- before I walk -- before I run.
As I ponder all of this, I am reminded that the Jewish holiday of Shavuot starts this coming Tuesday evening. Shavuot—the Festival of Weeks—commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple and it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Shavuot means "weeks” and marks the completion of the seven-week period between the holiday of Passover and Shavuot. Metaphysically, we know that the number 7 represents completion of a process. For example the seven days of Creation. Here we see seven times seven—49—which represents the completion of the process of the Jewish people as they cleansed themselves of the scars of Egyptian slavery and became a holy nation ready to enter into a covenantal relationship with G-d. The holiday of Passover freed them physically from bondage, and Shavuot—where they received the Ten Commandments and the Torah—redeemed them spiritually from bondage to idolatry and illusion.
As I recall this story I think of Moses. I think how fearless he was in taking “one more step.” He took so many “one more steps.” From actually listening to a burning bush, to moving his people out of Egypt, to having faith that his G-d would deliver them safely across the Red Sea and through the desert. And there, at Mount Sinai, after some of the Israelites wanted to turn back to Egypt—and after they had built and worshipped an idol made out of their gold—did Moses take his “one more step” in faith and trust—and ascend Mt. Sinai to be given the Ten Commandments and the Torah.
It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of the Torah. Here we can say that to receive the Torah is to receive G-d’s grace and wisdom and love. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah; that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus it is the giving, not the receiving, that makes this holiday significant. Also, as we look at this story metaphysically, places in Scripture represent states of consciousness. So a mountain refers to a higher level of consciousness—thus Moses was in a higher level of consciousness or vibration as he received this divine guidance.
Now Moses had tens of thousands of people around him as he took his “one more step”. What about each of us? Most of the time it is just us and G-d who sees us take that step. Sometimes, we don’t even believe that G-d is with us. I’m reminded of the poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson. I’m sure many of you are familiar with it.
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you.”
Take that one more step. Imagine it, believe it, intend it to be so. Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle happens. Remember all of the prophets who came before us—Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mary, Mother Theresa. One more step. Step forward to your Self. Step forward to Love. Step forward into faith. Into deservedness. Into the Embrace of Spirit—who carries us when we need it and always is our partner in seeking the highest good for ourselves and for others.
I’m going to let Gospel singer Smokie Norful conclude my remarks. His song, “I Understand” sums my thoughts up almost perfectly:
Sometimes I feel like giving up
Seems like my best just ain't good enough
Lord if you hear me I'm calling you
Do you see do you care all about what I'm going through
One more day, one more step
I'm preparing you for myself
When you can't hear my voice, please trust my plan
I'm the Lord I see, and yes I understand
Sometimes I feel like I'm all alone, just like a stranger so far from home
I feel like I 've done all that I can do
Please Lord give me strength, I'm just trying to make it through
He knows how much we can bear
In the time of trouble He promised He'd always be there
I understand, I understand, I am the Lord I see and yes I understand
I am the Lord and I changeth not
I won't forget nor have I forgot
Everything works according to my plan
I am God, trust me, I got the whole world in my hands
Blessings to you all.
©The following sermon can be republished, in all or part, if credit is given to Rev. Bonnie J. Berger
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