Become who you are: Action (#7)

by Daniel Murphy on February 22, 2007

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One Step Enough

Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet;
I do not ask to see the distant scene;
One step enough for me.

—first stanza of John Henry Newman’s “Lead Kindly Light

Bl. Cardinal Newman by John MurphyJohn Henry Newman’s “Lead Kindly Light” describes the human condition well: there’s often gloom, darkness, unclear pathways. His affirmation—“one step enough for me”—is a quiet, calm and peaceful decision to trust in each step along the way, rather than trying to discern the whole pathway and landscape.

Action towards integrity of life is across six life-domains, in specific next steps. Each step leads on to another. Regular review and updating are essential so that we keep pace with changing circumstances, needs, and opportunities.

Developing a plan for focused action involves assessing the importance and status of each of the six life-domains, and then creating relevant, realistic, do-able next steps.

There are six life-domains, which represent the major areas of development towards integrity of life. Remember that some are certainly intrinsically more important than others; but, balance is the key issue. Although financial/material well-being is not inherently as important, for example, as spiritual/moral health, its lack can cause imbalance and pain in all areas. Make a commitment to progress in all six areas, focussing on (perhaps) different life-domains at different times.

1. Spiritual / moral

This life-domain is ultimately important: how we live our lives vis-à-vis God, others, ourselves. Our most intimate values, impulses and actions stem from this domain.

2. Intellectual / creative

This domain runs a close second to the first: we exercise our gifts of mind and imagination here, consciously discovering and cultivating our personal capacities. (This should not be construed to mean high-brow pursuits and fine arts only. Many things qualify as legitimate applications of our minds and imaginations.)

3. Social / emotional

This domain includes the sphere of our key relationships—family, friends, colleagues, community, recognizing that we become who we are in large part through dialogue and collaboration with others.

4. Physical / recreational

Our bodies—like our minds and spirits—require attention. We all need sound habits of eating, exercising, and re-creating ourselves. While people with spiritual and intellectual priorities often neglect this area, it is at a cost. In the short run, it may not take too great a toll. In the long run, we do better mentally and spiritually through healthy physical and recreational practices.

5. Professional / vocational

We spend some of our best hours at work or living out a vocation. In this sphere like the others, we should make a commitment to continuous growth, avoiding the risk of routine and even burn-out. Knowing that the exercise of our gifts contributes to the well-being of others, we are challenged to renew our professional and vocational commitments, skills, and accomplishments.

6. Financial / material

Here we exercise stewardship of what is available to us financially and materially. While it may seem to be the least important of the six domains, giving proper attention to this domain undergirds growth in the others.

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