There’s a lake near my house circled by an asphalt footpath. I’ve walked around that lake more times than I can count. One day after a summer rain, the earthworms were out. They do that. When the asphalt gets wet, they come out to bask in puddles of wetness on a hard surface. I guess it’s a kind of earthworm spa-day.
But the sun always comes back out. By then the earthworms have squirmed 2-3 feet away from the safety of soil. The wetness evaporates, the asphalt heats up, and before they can make it back to safety – they’re earthworm jerky.
It’s a thing.
It happens.

On this day, I came to the lake for internal processing. I came to focus on listening for the Inner Voice.
My head is always full of thoughts and ideas. But our tradition teaches that thoughts and feelings are not the only layer of consciousness we can access. There is a deeper way of being, an Indwelling-Spirit way of being, an Inner-Voice way of being.
noisyI had been focused on quieting the noise of my going, going, mind. I had been focused on listening for inner nudges from the deep indwelling Truth, the deep indwelling Voice, the deep indwelling Life.
I hopped out of the car, started walking, and doing my walking-and-soul-quieting exercises. I was breathing. I was letting my thoughts go. I was returning to the inner quiet.
About a quarter mile into the walk I saw an earthworm in the middle of the path. The sun was coming out, and in a moment he would be jerky.
But no. I’m not thinking thoughts right now.
I’m quieting the noise in my mind.
I kept walking.
But every step I took created an increasing internal pressure.
“Help the worm off the path,” the inner nudge insisted.
“That’s crazy,” I thought to myself. “I’m doing important spiritual work here. I’m quieting my mind, quieting the inner noise.”
“Help the worm off the path,” the inner nudge returned.
Again and again with every step.
“Well,” I thought to myself, “I have been trying to alert myself to the inner nudges of Indwelling Voice. Maybe this is that.”
So I walked back, reached down, and helped the earthworm back to the soil. (By the way, scooting an earthworm off wet asphalt is no easy thing. They roll and squish very easily!)
I feel good about helping to save the world.
Back to my soul-quieting walk.
But thirty feet down the path – another earthworm.
So I help that one off the path.
Thirty more feet. Two earthworms.
I help them off the path.
Coming over a small rise, I can see the next quarter mile of path. There were hundreds of doomed worms on the path.
“Damn!” I thought.
“Here I am trying to discern the Inner Voice . . . Here I am trying to quiet my inner noisiness . . . I clearly suck at this!  Look at me. I distract myself with anything — even stupid earthworm exercises — and miss the whole point.”
I kept walking.
I kept feeling like a failure.
Half way around the lake, there was a bench and no more worms. I sat down to feel my failure.
And wouldn’t you know it…
Right then, I did sense an Inner-Voice nudge!
It wasn’t words, but if it had been, they would have been these…

“I nudged you to flip that first earthworm off the path.
“Why did you feel compelled to flip the second?”

“Huh?” I thought?
Why wouldn’t I flip the second?
If the impulse to flip the first one really was an Inner-Voice nudge, then clearly the earth has entered into a new Divinely-ordained, earthworm-flipping revelation. A new rule has been issued in the universe . . . good people are henceforth earthworm-flipping people.
[It does not escape me that I sound crazy.]
In the remaining part of my walk, I came to an understanding that has shaped my life to this day:

It is not my job to do every good thing I am able to do.
The Inner-Voice nudge does not pile me with unsustainable obligation.
In fact, my takeaway from that day was a phrase I repeat all the time…
Enough to do. Enough time to do it.

That is what I discerned from the Inner Voice that day.
Enough to do. Enough time to do it.

Permission to live a sustainable life.
Permission to live a rhythm of life that I can maintain.
Permission to develop a quieted heart to discern what I should be doing – and what I should not.

Enough time to work.
Enough time to love.
And to sleep, and to eat, and to restore body and soul.
When I begin to feel overwhelmed, it’s an invitation to examine my life. Which earthworms am I flipping that are not mine to flip?
How about you?

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