THE BLOG
09/29/2014 04:03 pm ET Updated Nov 29, 2014

The Practice of Courage

From the outside, being courageous seems a monumental canyon to cross, but inside the opened depth of any situation, it begins with a single step.

The Practice of Courage

The practice of courage is doing small things with love. This was Mother Theresa's anthem. We begin to dismantle what is overwhelming by beginning the journey of involvement one hand at a time, one kindness at a time, one utterance of truth at a time. From the outside, things that require courage seem impossible, but once we begin, we're no longer on the outside. This lets us see more. This lets us feel the current of the situation we have to cross. Any small act of love shows us the next step to be taken. So it's imperative to stop rehearsing the perfect starting point and just begin.

We can practice doing small things with love when we're not afraid, so it will be available to us when we are afraid. You can do this by making dinner for your dog, or getting coffee for your loved one, or holding the door for an elder who's taking way too long to cross the parking lot in the rain. The world is our practice ground.

The word authentic comes from the Greek, authentes, which means bearing the mark of the hands. Doing small things with love is how we care for each other, one hand at a time. Doing small things with love releases our courage. And each small act we're led to leads to more. Doing small things with love is the atom of bravery. I tell myself when afraid, "To be courageous, I don't need to become my best self, I just need to open who I already am and courage will fill me."

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, tell the story of one small thing you found yourself doing with love and how this changed you.

For more poetry for the soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.