Hospice Patients Alliance: Consumer Advocacy

"Walking On Water"

by Ron Panzer
President, Hospice Patients Alliance
November 7, 2004




We all become discouraged at times. We become fearful and choose a safe path, one that feels comfortable, one approved by everyone around us. Even though we choose a path that appears "reasonable," somehow we know it doesn't feel right. So we feel discontent, unsure, and haunted that we may have missed out on the possibilities existing in this life.

For those who are concerned about the victimization of the vulnerable, the fear of failure causes us to hesitate. And we have all hesitated far too long. We cannot afford the luxury of indulging our fears: others' lives depend upon our actions now!

Society will never change unless we change, unless we act, unless we have even a little faith!

If I told you that people can walk on water, many times in their lives, you would laugh. Or, you would accuse me of being delusional. "Nobody can walk on water," you would say, and you would be correct, but wrong.

"Walking on water" requires taking a leap of faith, like stepping off a cliff, stepping into the unknown, absolutely "knowing" that you will fall, but having the faith that somehow, mysteriously, you will be carried along. Somehow, a steady path would materialize in front of you as you stepped along.

You might be called "crazy" to do the things your faith would lead you to do, but it would make sense deep inside you. Trusting in one's intuition and having the courage to act on one's faith makes dreams come true.

That is how one lives by faith: not knowing what is coming, yet knowing that the step you are taking just now is the right one, even if it is a very small step. You thrill at the possibilities, knowing how wonderful and rewarding such a life can be.

We are not expected to do what we cannot do; we are expected to do the little things that we can do right now. You know that sometimes you have a thought, a feeling, an inspiration to act. Not "impulsively," but spontaneously, and there is a difference. And what you can do in the moment changes as you change. Ability and power are given to you as you seize your faith, trust it and live by it.

If your mission is to protect others, begin where you are, with those around you, in your own circle. Share your experience. Share your insights. Be brave.

But being what we are, we are sometimes doubtful, skeptical, confused, and we often hesitate. We all do. If we finally muster the courage to act, we enter a new world where our actions harmonize with our lofty inner inspiration. And, amazingly, the next step becomes clear only after we move along with faith.

When Gandhi began his journey as an attorney fighting for justice in South Africa he had no idea what changes awaited him. As he acted, he was transformed and transformed those around him. He was not "Mahatma" Gandhi (meaning "great soul") in the beginning. As time went on, as he acted according to his inspirational vision, his soul revealed itself to himself and the world.

Martin Luther King began the same way, working for justice, exploring ideas, learning as he went. If someone had told him in the beginning to deliver a speech that would be remembered forever, he would have laughed at the very idea. Yet years later, he was able to do what would have seemed impossible beforehand. He lived by faith, committed to his ideals, and was propelled along by that commitment and dedication.

Abraham Lincoln began by speaking the truth about the rights of man, whether black or white skinned. He began, and began again, after repeated failures, finally to become President of the United States. He never imagined his inauguration would cause the collapse of the Union of the States which he held to be a sacred bond.

Having received threats against his life, he refused to be intimidated. Remaining steadfast in his faith in the rightness of his position, he kept on, through the Civil War and all the hardship he encountered. And his steady leadership not only saved the Union, it transformed the world, setting an example of evolving liberty and freedom which became the foundation for later freedoms to be won.

As Lincoln, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King demonstrated, leaders cannot give in to fear. They submit themselves to be a vehicle to speak the truth, and the truth spoken through them transforms the world. Followers of the truth and goodness need only follow the example given to them.

John F Kennedy said it so well, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." We need to be asking what we can do to serve and protect our society's most vulnerable: the government has not, and has chosen to, not help the vulnerable very young, elderly, chronically ill, disabled and vulnerable who are being victimized and killed in our nation.

We cannot hesitate forever. We cannot live by fear. We must choose: to be truly alive or to be technically "alive" but dead to our sacred duty. Our fear paralyzes us and the gifts that are given to us remain unused, unexpressed, never blossoming into the fruit intended. Choose life. Drink it in. Revere it and protect it. Your life will never be the same.

Your love will draw you along, like a magnetic charm, leading you to riches to be felt and experienced within. Sometimes, life unfolds before us, like a scene in a play: the curtain is withdrawn to reveal new visions, new messages, new realities. The foglike confusion that blocks our vision is burnt away by even the smallest flickering light of faith.

Walking on water, living by faith, walking on living water, is truly being alive within. Our fear may prevent us from taking many first steps, but if we overcome that fear and listen to the inner prompting leading us to serve, our faith is strengthened. What faith we have is increased while those who have little faith may lose what they have, because they turned away from that inner prompting.

You are called to walk on water, to live by faith, to serve life wherever you are. Remaining silent and refusing to act is a betrayal of the inner voice that beckons each one of us. If you feel the call to serve, do something about it.

Act. Speak up.

The way becomes clear the moment you begin to move along, daring to do what is needed to serve your mission. The more you do, heeding the call within, the more you will be strengthened.

One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa of Calcutta who said, "What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."

Give of yourself. Give of your time, energy and money to support the work wherever you see these best spent.

Do the small thing that you can do now and do it with great love; you will find yourself walking on water, living by faith, thrilling at the wonderful opportunities that open up before you. Your life will be changed. And the world around you will be changed, starting in the world you directly touch. Like ripples of water, spreading out in ever-widening circles, your actions reach out to others, and the world will never again be the same.







The Hospice Patients Alliance is a 501(c)(3) charitable patient advocacy organization acting to preserve the original hospice mission and to promote quality end-of-life services.




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