Don’t Look Back

When I was a little girl I had a habit of looking backwards while walking. On more than one occasion I collided with a lamp post, and once the metal bar holding up the climbing frame in the school playground. I can remember teachers and my mother telling me to look forward, face the front and to look where I was going. I often heard the words “Face the front, Jane” from teachers when I was caught talking in class too.

This morning I picked up my notepad and saw a phrase that I’d written for myself at the start of self-isolation. I don’t remember why I wrote it but it must have meant something at the time.

As I sat writing in my journal I found myself thinking of all the things I had planned which would now not happen and I felt dissatisfied, sorry that all the planning was in vain. The Keystone afternoon tea in June won’t now take place, nor the museum visit, and what of the Keystone conference? And then, before I knew it, I was worrying about the Christmas events, the meal, service and party, would they happen? When would Keystone restart? Who would no longer be with us? Did I do enough last week to bless the Keystone team and carers and to pass on hope for the future? I had to stop myself.

This is not good. I don’t know what the future will hold and so there is no use worrying about it. My mind didn’t stop though and as I wasn’t allowing myself to think about the future I started to think about the things we had been doing and how well they had gone and I got back to thinking about what I, and all the groups were missing. How much I was missing seeing the people who come to the groups. How much I resented the fact that I couldn’t go to the bereaved because of lock down. I became unsettled; what was past seemed better than what is.

The words I had written on my pad were – Don’t keep looking back. Advice I had received as a child.

I don’t know about you but I have a file on my computer desktop and a physical file in a cupboard, called “Stuff”. In it are all the things I don’t know where to put; cuttings from newspapers, cards that people have given me that mean something and stories that could come in handy in the future. Sometime ago I came across this story and filed it away. It came to mind this morning.

“A university professor was invited to speak at a military base in December. There he met an unforgettable soldier named Ralph. Ralph had been sent to meet him at the airport; and after they had introduced themselves, they headed toward the baggage claim. As they walked down the concourse, Ralph kept disappearing — once to help an older woman whose suitcase had fallen open, once to lift two toddlers up to where they could see Santa Claus, and again to give directions to someone who was lost. Each time he came back with a big smile on his face.

“‘Where did you learn to do that?’ The professor asked.

“‘Do what?’ Ralph said.

“‘To be so helpful and considerate to others.’

“‘Oh,’ Ralph said, ‘during the war, I guess.’

“Then he told the professor about his tour of duty in Vietnam, about how it was his job to clear minefields, and how he watched his friends blown up before his eyes, one after another. ‘I learned to live between steps,’ he said. ‘I never knew whether the next one would be my last, so I learned to get everything I could out of the moment between when I picked up my foot and when I put it down again.
Every step I took was a whole new world, and I guess I’ve just been that way ever since.’

A grace-filled life is living between the steps. It understands the remarkable gift of today.

And so we take one step at a time while keeping our eyes on God, our Heavenly Father.

Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 GNT

Psalm 77
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
10 And I said, “This is my fate;
the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O LORD;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
13 O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!

And so, let’s live one day at a time.


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