Start Walking: Your Life Will Find You

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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I stood beside the opened trunk of my car and began to remove my jewelry, as instructed. Rings, earrings, watch, bracelets dropped into my purse. This is crazy, I thought. Stripped of these small marks of my individuality, I felt strangely vulnerable and exposed. Reaching into my wallet for my driver’s license, I grabbed the key to the car, paused, then closed the lid of the trunk with my purse inside. I took a deep breath. The entrance to the Massachusetts State Prison for Women was in full view. It was a spring evening, the moon full. I walked slowly toward the prison entrance wishing I had never accepted the chaplain’s invitation to address a gathering of inmates. I grew acutely aware that the credentials I normally relied on—therapist license, academic degrees, books I’ve written—would carry no weight here. My topic was Finding Hope and Courage. What irony.

For more than 15 years I’d led retreats and spoken in churches and colleges. In those settings I knew what to do. Now this new call, at mid-life, to serve a very different audience. What could I offer women largely illiterate, angry, despairing? I approached the door with only my desire to help them transform their pain and the story of how I had transformed mine.

That evening initiated me into the world of prisons, a world of harsh realities and deep longings—of hearts broken and women taught by life that they didn’t matter. But not until I was inside the prison, confronted with faces and souls, did I see how to reach them. That came with my stepping across the threshold. The knowledge followed.

Life seems to follow this pattern. I once moved across the country, unsure how I would support myself. None of the details were clear. I could have prepared for months, but it would not matter until I summoned my will and set off; the journey unfolded as I lived it out. My part was to let go with both hands and take the first step. I often tell others that truth: the first step sets everything in motion. Start walking. Your life will find you.