The Sacred Path….one step at a time

Eleanor saying, "I am comfortable here...whether you think it is a safe spot for me or not!"
Eleanor saying, “I am comfortable here…whether you think it is a safe spot for me or not!

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

I was in my 30’s when I first read this poem and it floored me. I loved the simple imagery of the street. I loved the progression of action from frantic, blaming, and frightened, to centered, calm, and confident, steps. For many years I considered these words ones of action. If I was having a hard time with someone, maybe I would wait a day before returning their call, or not make another plan to meet. But over the years, I began to see that this journey is really one of thought.

The “same street” for me was the well-worn path of fearful, angry, or suspicious thoughts if something wasn’t working the way I thought it should, or if someone wasn’t treating me the way that I wanted to be treated. My thoughts would go something like this, “What is wrong with them?!” and then flip to “What is wrong with me?!” Blame them, blame me….back and forth from anger to self-condemnation, and back again…always assigning blame.

One day I had the radical thought, “What if there is nothing wrong with me? and even more radical, “What if there is nothing wrong with them?”

Everyone is on a journey of self-discovery…even if it doesn’t look that way to me. We would all love to go from seeing that hole in the street to instantly being on a whole new highway, and we’d like to pick up those around us (who seem to be stuck in that hole) and transport them to the highway of our choice too. But even if it was possible, would it really be in the highest and best for us or for them? The journey is valuable, isn’t it? If Portia Nelson hadn’t gone down that “same street” a whole bunch of times, we wouldn’t have this glorious poem to identify with. And if I hadn’t messed up, made mistakes, learned from them (continue to make them, and continue to share) what would I have to say here? And why would you care?

Your journey is a sacred one. Your holes, your well-worn paths, and your emotional ups and downs, are all a part of your sacred path. You’ve gathered a lot of wisdom during your travels. These are the things that make you real. It may be time for you to walk down a different street, and that is fantastic, but don’t wish you’d done it earlier or better or different…. or just because it has been difficult, don’t assume it has been wrong.

Just take a new step, if that is what you are feeling called to do. Just think a new thought. Today.

“Each one of us is like a single thread in a huge tapestry, woven in a complex and colorful pattern. We may be only one strand, yet we’re all integral to the finished image. We affect the lives of others just by choosing whether or not to be our true selves. Our only obligation to others, our only purpose, is to express our uniqueness and allow others to do the same.” pp 151 from Dying To Be Me, by Anita Moorjani


***I may not write again until after Christmas so I just wanted to say to you all, THANK YOU for being a part of my life. THANK YOU for adding your thoughts (even if you never comment) and telling your stories of love and hope and struggle and overcoming, here with us. I love you all. Even if we’ve never met, even if we’ve never spoken, you are in my heart. Loving thoughts of kindness, peace, happiness, joy, calm, (and fun!) to you all, Mary


41 thoughts on “The Sacred Path….one step at a time”

  1. Thank you, Mary, and all the best of the holidays to you and yours. I am one of the people who doesn’t comment often, but if my life is a tapestry, you are a valuable and appreciated thread. Thank you for sharing your life, your thoughts and your wisdom with me.

  2. Dear Mary,
    Thank you for calling, thank you for listening, thank you for your words. Thank you for being my GPS and offering another “street” with the words of Portia Nelson
    Have a Merry, ‘Mary’ Christmas filled with peace, love, joy, and discovery

  3. And dear Mary….thank you for being a part of my life. We’ve never “spoken” but your words of love, support, struggles, solution, inspiration, forgiveness, joy are always with me. I think of you often and ask myself – how would Mary view this? It always helps me to see things a different way and that my friend is the answer to all my problems. So thank you for sharing yourself so eloquently on this blog with courage and hope. You are a sweet part of my life and I treasure our connection.

    On my way to Hawaii for a week with my navy son who I haven’t seen in a year! So excited!!!! Wishing you and yours the best Christmas ever – just as it should be. 🙂

  4. Thank you for writing. May you have a lovely Christmas and an abundant, happy, healthy, and safe 2014.

  5. Mary – Thank you for such a thought-provoking post. You always strike a deep chord within me. I really love this poem. Thank you for being a part of my life. Love to you and best wishes for a joyous holiday season!

  6. Mary- the Winter Solstice today! And, the feeling of a new beginning .Soon the seed catalogs will be arriving. ( I may have been a Druid in another life. LOL)

  7. Even though I comment often, I still search for the words to adequately relate how I feel about you and the WFF community. Sometimes, thank you, doesn’t seem special enough…for the work we’ve done together has totally changed how I think and feel about myself and others and life. As I sit at my kitchen table, with my hands around my mug (from Poland!) of warm tea, looking across the snow covered meadow, I picture you, Mary, and other WFF friends, and your smiling faces, in the beauty of a passing cloud…in the twinkle lights on a Christmas tree…in the chickadee on the tree branch…in the sparkling snow drift…in the smoke from a neighbor’s chimney curling over the pasture…and I send warm blessings to you all. Your blog and all the comments are part of the soothing rhythm of my day…sweet heartbeats of our “neighborhood” where everyone belongs no matter their story…each a special note in “our” song, powerfully connected…filled with light…each word and thought a touch of Grace. All lead by the bright star over WFF, twinkling its magic and inspiring us to believe. Is it even possible to convey thank you for all of this? I’ll just continue to try for I feel so blessed…I’m overflowing with gratitude and love and wishes for peace for all here…MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone!

    1. Kathye – Wow – what a beautiful picture you’ve painted with your words! I wholeheartedly agree with you. Merry Christmas!

    2. My response to one of your previous posts was WOW! I see that Pam A. has also used the same word to describe your comment. You sure do paint a beautiful picture with your words. (Could not help but use the same words as Pam.) You evoke such loving thoughts within a loving place. So glad we are all here together and that through Mary’s generosity of spirit – we have found each other and will all look forward to sharing our lives and paths together in the coming year(s).

    3. I echo the sentiments expressed so beautifully by Kathye, – love this community of friends, – how we have all enriched each other’s lives. Merry Christmas to all.

      1. So glad we can all relate and understand each other so well! Thank you! I love seeing all your names and always look forward to your comments…and miss you when your day sometimes takes you elsewhere…as mine sometimes does…it’s always fun and so informative when we’re all here sharing our thoughts prompted by Mary’s powerful, inspiring counsel! And as Mary S says below, Mary’s blog is like one big loving holiday card to each other!

  8. Was thinking about a friend that I had for many years, one of my oldest and dearest who has just kind of disappeared from my life. I have done everything I can think of, short of begging, (and even that if I thought it would do any good) and, yet, still don’t hear from her or get responses to emails, etc. My thought is always, well, what is wrong with her and what is wrong with me?

    When i saw this: “One day I had the radical thought, “What if there is nothing wrong with me? and even more radical, “What if there is nothing wrong with them?”, it suddenly clicked. What if it just ‘is’? What if there is no blame to be placed? WOW! 🙂

    Thanks so much, Mary. I said in another comment that you have no idea how many of us you reach, even those who, like me, don’t comment often. The best of Christmas spirit to you and your family.

  9. Sending love and best wishes for a Merry Christmas to everyone! Mary and all of the WFF family have enriched my life beyond words.

  10. Mary – what a wonderful way to begin the days before the holiday. The poem is a fairly well-known one, but one that reminds us of the paths that we have taken and will continue to take. Your blog has made it possible for all of us to know that we are not alone and we have many hands to hold as continue our respective journeys and that there are new paths to follow along the way. We can change our thinking and our habits of action. Thank you for all the various ways you offer us that guide us and remind us of that fact.

    I send my love and appreciation to you and your family and to all of us who are part of the White Feather Farm family. I love and am grateful for this new family of which I am a part.

    Wishing us all happiness, peace and contentment for the coming year(s).
    With love,
    Mary Solomon

  11. Thank you so much Mary! Reading your posts is always inspiring and touching and I really value your contribution to my life!

    This post is exceptional and really nails it, life is all about the journey.

    I wish you a very merry Christmas!


    Kelli Otten

    Sent from my iPad

  12. To paint a picture with words requires not only a gifted writer but an active mind on the receiving end. My thanks to you is for encouraging us to develop this active mindset. Opening my email and seeing a posting from you is truly like unwrapping a beautiful present.

  13. Merry Christmas to you with many thanks for the joy and wisdom you bring to my life. It means more than you can ever know.

  14. Thank you, Mary, and a very Merry Christmas to you and Jack, Luke and all the felines. For the New Year, I bought myself a lovely, fat spiral notebook with a beautiful green cover and the word ‘RETHINK” stamped on it. This column will go in it.

  15. You, Mary, and all those you have gathered here at White Feather Farm have added so much to my journey. I wish to all blessings of light, love, and peace for Christmas and the New Year.

  16. Mary, you have created a unique site where I feel your love and the love of all who gather here. I wish everyone a blessed Christmas and New Year.

  17. The journey IS valuable, Mary. In fact, the journey is the whole thing! Wonderful post today (as always).

    Merry Christmas, Mary, to you and Jack and your loved ones, furry or not. Another great year has passed, and I’m so glad I have you to learn from.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each and every one of you in the flock, who offer so much food for my soul with your honest sharings about lessons you’ve learned along the way.

    Blessings to one and all.

  18. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas Mary and to all you hold dear, and to everyone on the site too!!
    Thank you for this post – I have always related to this on a personal level – thank you for expanding my thoughts on this – delightful!!
    Looking forward to your New Year posts

  19. Thank you Mary over and over for what you and the flock have given to me. I instantly made a copy of the poem you gave us today and sent it on to someone I know will understand and hopefully gain from it. I always look for your words first thing and I am never disappointed. I wish everyone peace, good health and continued friendship in the coming new year.

  20. Thank you for sharing with me through your blog. I enjoy reading it very much, and you make me think. Merry Christmas, may your holiday be peaceful and happy!

  21. Thank you, Mary, for sharing the poem this morning. It hit home and I shall not forget it for awhile. You just gave me a nice Christmas gift! Have a wonderful Christmas holiday and thank you again. Sandy M.

  22. The kitty vignettes are such a sweet way to introduce your thoughts. Eleanor is most beautiful. Is that Bodhi peering from behind the plant? Your inspired writings are a gift to us all ( like a candle to light is a gift). Thank you more!
    ….Also greetings of peace and love to those who add their posts, such a group of outspoken, thoughtful , intelligent and brave people.

  23. Mary, what a wonderful poem and so true. One to be saved. Christmas is four days away and our family is celebrating it with us today and last night. However, the northern edge of Lake Ontario, the Golden Horseshoe as it is called here, is encased in ice. Tree branches are coming down with the weight of the ice; winds are predicted to come up this afternoon which will bring more branches and hydro lines, already down now, more will come. And I have aprehension for my family leaving later today to return home an hour away, power is flicking on and off,thousands without power in Toronto and surrounding areas of which we are one, an hour north. So Christmas brings with it more than just Christmas greeting, to which I add mine and a thank you to everyone on White Feather Farm and to our inspired ‘leader’ of this small flock.
    Sandy P, in a slippery Southern Ontario, Canada

  24. 1st of all Mary have a wonderful holiday full of love and joy and void of holes 🙂
    I am on the plan of changing my thoughts…i have been so sad about my mom…she just didn’t go well into that good night and i felt she took me with her some days….today i can take out pieces of good memory of her and cherish her instead of the deep sadness…it helps to surrender and then change…practice, practice, practice….thank you for your wonderful blog Mary….blessings ever

  25. Merry Christmas to You, Jack, Luke & the kitties…… Wishing you a Blessed New Year filled with Peace, Love & Joy ! Love Patti

  26. Mary, this is beautiful and I love you too. And the others who gather here, love to each one of you and Peace, always.

  27. Dear Mary, Thanks for it all. I actually did meet you in person at the first of jon and Maria’s gallery show at the old Bedlam Farm. You would never remember me. You were busily speaking with Jon.
    I botched a few things this Christmas. Next Christmas I am determined to take new steps with new thoughts. This post was wonderful.
    Holiday cheer to you and all your loved ones. Two and four legged!

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