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Where you stumble and fall, there you find pure gold

Somewhere in the writings of psychoanalyst Carl Jung, he wrote, “Where you stumble and fall, there you find pure gold.”

Spiritual writer Fr. Richard Rohr says: "Sooner or later, some event, person, death, idea, or relationship will enter your life that you simply cannot deal with, using your present skill set, your acquired knowledge, or your strong willpower. Spiritually speaking, you will be, you must be, led to the edge of your own private resources. At that point, you will stumble over a necessary stumbling stone, as Isaiah calls it (Isaiah 8:14). You will and you must “lose” at something. This is the only way that Life-Fate-God-Grace-Mystery can get you to change, let go of your egocentric preoccupations, and go on the further and larger journey."

It's called the Path of Descent. It is an ancient idea, found in most of the world's religions.

In a nutshell, when Life knocks us off our horse so completely that we find ourselves down and out, before looking around for the next horse, take a good look around. You are in a ditch. It may not look like much down there. In fact it may seem like you have landed in you-know-what.

But spiritually speaking, the stumbling stone you fell over is something that has entered your life that is offering you an important gift, a lesson to learn.

Rohr offers these thoughts: "We must stumble and fall, I am sorry to say. We must be out of the driver’s seat for a while, or we will never learn how to give up control to the Real Guide. It is the necessary pattern. Until we are led to the limits of our present game plan, and find it to be insufficient, we will not search out or find the real source, the deep well, or the constantly flowing stream."

So what was it that you stumbled over that put you in the ditch? Spend some time thinking about that. It is hard to accept the setbacks and disappointments that come our way. But there is gold there.

For more of Rohr's work:

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday April 1, 2014

Terrence H. Seamon is a consultant who provides leadership and team development services to organizations. His book Lead the Way explores the challenges of leadership. Additionally, Terry is a job search and career coach whose book To Your Success provides a motivational guide for anyone in transition. His third book, Change for the Better, provides leaders with a guide to initiating, and navigating through, organizational change. Terry co-founded and co-moderates the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset, NJ. His free whitepaper on job search and transition, called "Galvanize Into Action," is available by sending him an email request. He can be reached at and via his website:

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