Start Close In

There is a poem by David White that I really love called “Start Close In.” Basically, the poem is saying that rather than trying to solve all the problems in the world, start close in, start with yourself.

This poem reminds me of a passage in scripture that simply says, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: to mind your own business and work with your hands, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…” — 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

These words remind me that I do not need to show up to every fight I am invited to. When our world is on fire it can feel like a full time job to show up to every single conversation being waged online and among family and friends. I have permission to be quiet and mind my own business, and so do you. You do not report to anyone other than God, and God knows your heart. Take your lead from the whispers of the Holy Spirit on when to speak and when to remain silent and listen. You live for an audience of one, and God is already pleased with you. You cannot do anything to earn God’s favor. May your daily life win the respect of others. May you rest in the gift that it is all grace. May you start close in.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To hear
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice

becomes an
intimate
private ear
that can
really listen
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems

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