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As I was mindlessly shuffling through the pages of a magazine, I came across a full-page picture of a woman standing in a defiant stance facing a mountain range. The headline boldly proclaimed- "Blaze Your Own Trail" and gave a snapshot of the preceding article on fitness and moving your activity to the mountains. The page so captivated me, I ripped it out and have it on display on my refrigerator.

The page daily shouts to me and says:

“Blaze your own trail.”

“Live life on purpose. “

“No obstacle is too great.”

The more I contemplate the message, the more it expands, and the Japanese concept of kotsu-kotsu comes to mind. Kotsu-kotsu means "step-by-step," with the idea being to focus on the present and not on the ultimate goal. The practice of kotsu-kotsu is being mindful of each step, each action and relishing each unique moment.

Not dwelling on the past or worrying over the future.

Not multi-tasking.

Not being distracted with a million different things.

Rather- being fully present in the right now.

Even when the “right now” isn’t pleasant because each moment- good or bad has the potential to propel us to greatness.

Don't take my word for it; instead, take the life of a little monk by the name of Telemachus who with one action entered the Roman Coliseum and ceased the barbaric gladiatorial games for good.

The true story of Saint Telemachus can be found in the writings of Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus in Syria (393-457 A.D.):

Honorius, who inherited the empire of Europe, put a stop to the gladiatorial combats which had long been held at Rome. The occasion of his doing so arose from the following circumstance. A certain man of the name of Telemachus had embraced the ascetic life. He had set out from the East and for this reason, had repaired to Rome. There, when the abominable spectacle was being exhibited, he went himself into the stadium, and stepping down into the arena, endeavored to stop the men who were wielding their weapons against one another. The spectators of the slaughter were indignant and inspired by the triad fury of the demon who delights in those bloody deeds, stoned the peacemaker to death.

When the admirable emperor was informed of this, he numbered Telemachus in the number of victorious martyrs, and put an end to that impious spectacle." ~The Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chapter XXVA: Of Honorius the Emperor and Telemachus the monk.

So, Telemachus finds himself in Rome, swept up in a crowd of people heading to the gladiatorial games at the Roman Coliseum. Once inside, he discovers (to his horror) that these games involve men murdering each other for the crowds' entertainment. Without hesitation, he rushes onto the sands of the arena and tries to intervene between the gladiators. He shouts three times- "In the name of Christ, stop this." The crowds enraged by his interference stone him to death; resulting in the Emperor issuing a decree that ends the games indefinitely.

A story of one man, taking one step that changed the course of history.

Where are your steps taking you?

I say remember Telemachus and practice kotsu-kotsu so that you too can blaze your way to greatness.

Anything is possible.

Father, great is your faithfulness and mighty are your deeds. Grant us your vision and direct all of our steps. May we be mindful of where we are going and dare to step out in faith and trust when called.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” ~ Luke 1:37

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