It’s funny how, since my full-time job has started up, I haven’t even had the brain space to think about writing long-form pieces – or anything really – like I did in the summer. So I’m grateful for this hope*writers prompt series to officially kickstart my fall phase of writing. I’m giving myself 30 minutes to write and not stop for each prompt. 


I was interviewing a guest for my upcoming podcast (!) and she quoted me this poem. It hit me right at the core. Start close in. Start with the step you don’t want to take. 

But no! I want to take all the steps – leaps, really – and take them all now so I can accomplish all the things, arrive at all the places, and be friends with all the people. (See #enneagram7).

But to start close in? To start small? Necessary as I know this is in my core, I am repulsed by it. So small. So mundane. Brush the tooth. Breathe in. Type the word. Breathe out. Clip the fingernail. Breathe in. Love the people under my own roof. Breathe out. 

My spirit is so resistant to this reality of life: that life is lived one micro-moment at a time. There is more than a whiff of vulnerability when we start close in, with our everyday people, with our own street, with our own self. These are the people who see us everyday and have seen us every day for how many years. How can we start with them? How vulnerable it is to do something new with people who are old…

This is what I hear when David Whyte describes the “close-in” step as the one you don’t want to take. I hesitate to take those “close-in” steps because of the vulnerability they require – even and especially with ourselves. 

And yet at the same time, a wave of relief comes over me when I contemplate that the next “start” might be something very small and simple, breaking down an otherwise overwhelming task into manageable bits. If only I could harness the vulnerability to do them. 

So let’s start today – “close in” with that step we don’t want to take, but without which our path will be somehow uneven or unstable or – worst of all to me – shallow, not rooted in the depths of all that God has to offer us. May you discover the way to start close in. 

* Stay tuned for my podcast “On a Mission: Conversations with People Living from the Depths” launching October 1. You’ll get to hear me discuss this whole idea more with my guest. 

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