“Shake the dust off your feet…” – Matthew 10:12 

I was having a tiresome conversation with a rising second grader (my grandson) about the four elements.  He told me they were earth, air, fire, and ice.  I told him that they were earth, air, fire and water and that ice was a derivative of water. He hauled out the new Disney movie called “Frozen” and added its importance to his evidence.

I switched the subject, suggesting that the more important question was about the meaning of the word elemental, not how many elements there were.  I told him that the kind of school he goes to used to be called “Elementary,” as in elementary school, a wonderful way of describing the basics and the foundational nature of children’s education. Then I sprung my developmentally appropriate question.  What is most important about fire?  He knew right away, having missed the course in modesty early on.  “It’s knowing how to start a fire and how to put one out.”  I think he’s right.

How do we know when to quit, dust off our feet and move on? Or stick to our “guns” “hang in there,” and plant our dusty feet on the earth and start singing “We shall not be moved”?

You have to be older than six to know.  And you may want to consult with at least one friend or even a frenemy. Or ask Jesus in a quiet prayer. That consultation may prove elementary.  Obviously there are very few right answers.  And sometimes it’s time to move on and other times it is time to stick.


Grant us, O God, the wisdom to be elementary in our decisions, to get help and to know the difference between letting go and hanging on.  Amen.

ddauthordonnaschaper.jpgAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her book: Prayers for People Who Say They Can’t Pray.