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Thursday, August 15, 2013

The pebble in my shoe

A well-known story tells of a man who once walked across the continental United States.  When interviewed about his journey he was asked to identify his most difficult challenge.  Reporters posed possibilities: "The Rocky Mountains?"  "The heat of the desert?"  "Hunger or exhaustion?"

"No," he replied.  "My biggest challenge was the pebble in my shoe!"

Sometimes our greatest challenge is  one we can easily overcome, if we only take the time to acknowledge it and do what we can to resolve it.  Like the walker who could have simply removed the annoying pebble and continued his journey, we far too often refuse to face what troubles us most.  We are too busy, too harried, too distracted, too afraid.  Instead, we choose to live with those barriers we might easily overcome.

Not all challenges are easily overcome, of course.  We may face impossible odds, and sometimes accepting our limitations is another way to remove the barriers in our lives.  At times, we can best "remove the pebble" through acceptance - acknowledging the presence of realities in our life and learning to live with them.  The "pebble" may actually become a "friend" that can assist us in living more aware and real lives.

Elul's gift to us each year is the blessing of time to reflect upon those pebbles in our shoes, choosing which to remove and which to accept, and the wisdom of our tradition and the process of teshuvah to assist us in making the choice.

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