Sweeping My Front Step…

I was a 20-something when I picked up one of my grandfather’s books.  I was single and staying in my deceased grandparent’s house until I could find a place to call home.  (It was creepy…)

I sat in their little library one night and pulled a book off the shelf called, “Make Your Life Worthwhile,” by some guy named Emmet Fox.  From what I remember it was written in the 1940’s…I know there was a war going on because some of his entries were about the “present” situation in Germany.

I couldn’t put it down…and I read it over and over again.  It was a series of short entries with religious underpinnings.  While my religious convictions have changed…the simple…straightforward lessons are with me even today.  It’s funny because one of them popped in my head just now…I think it’s worth passing on.

The End of the World

He tells a story about St. Francis of Assisi and his reaction to the hysteria that pervaded his circle of influence.  Apparently the world was coming to an end…or so they thought…and countless people were coming to him asking him what they should do.  No doubt they expected him to say things like, “Pray more,” or, “Renounce your sins,” or “Ask for foregiveness”…you know…the stuff you would expect a holy man to say.

What he said was so incredible…and wise…and just plain awesome.  He told them quite simply to “keep sweeping your front step.”

I’m Sweeping My Front Steps

What he was saying is the future is unknown…so don’t spend today worrying about it…just do what you do and leave it in the hands of God. (The universe.)

I think if he lived now…and was a friend of mine…and saw how wrecked I get sometimes he would look at me and say, “Jeez, Andy.  WTF are you getting so worked up about?  Go sweep your damn front steps because you have control over that…and you know…it needs to be done.”

That’s what I’m trying to do more than ever these days…sweep my front steps.  It looks like I’m working…or endlessly transporting the kids…or cooking dinner…or writing blog posts…or giving talks and learning Twitter.  Those are my steps.  And while they aren’t as clean as some might think they should be…it’s not all that easy to sweep when you’re sad.  But I’m trying.  I’m so glad I picked up that book in that creepy, vacant house.

Published in: on July 25, 2009 at 10:08 am  Comments (9)  
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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I like this a lot!

    • Thanks, Barbara. For reading and for liking. Take care…

  2. That is the only way to cope with life period, never mind when you are dealing with a chronically ill or dying spouse. My husband has been pretty good for a long while but he too, as any human being with such immense stressors, loses it.

    All that any of us can do is to “live in the moment.” I struggle with that concept daily. Thinking ahead, it’s just too scary and too overwhelming. You & your family will be in our prayers-and hopefully perhaps we can be a source of support to each other on the really bad days.

    Take care & God bless,

    • I struggle as well. Still don’t have it down though I’m much better than I used to be. I think we can support each other…yes.

  3. Your post reminded me of Zefirelli’s Brother Son, Sister Moon , (an old, old movie about Saint Francis of Assisi…

    Thanks for the email, Andy

    • Are you recommending that movie? Was it good? You’re welcome for the email. Hang in there…

  4. Andy, another great, insightful post. Amazing how all man’s wisdom always adds up to the same thing: live in the present moment. “When the skies fall, get on with the washing.” That’s what Frieda Lawrence, D.H. Lawrence’s wife, said after he succumbed to T.B. Sweep the front step-what else can you do?

    • This sort of advice is counter to what so many current motivational types espouse, isn’t it? They are all about changing circumstances with positive outlooks (a bit of an investment in their 3 part audio series…) but sometimes there isn’t a damn thing you can do. Thanks for stopping by…I look forward to your next update on your blog.

  5. Nice post, Andy. I remember one snippet from “Brother Sun Sister Moon” – at least I THINK it was from that film – when Francis encountered someone at the back of the church, crying, beating his breast and repeating, “Oh, God, be merciful to me, a sinner! Oh, God, be merciful to me, a sinner…” and Francis helped him up and said, “I think He heard you the first time!” That has always stuck with me. I believe when words fail us, the next best thing we can do is sweep those front steps.

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