Still Standing Part 2: Staying Focused

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Regardless of the positive or negative impact they may have, there are experiences that stay with us for a lifetime. In last week’s episode, I wrote about some of the powerful storms I’ve lived through.

This week, we’ll take a closer look at one the worst of them, and once again, we’ll reflect on ways of staying focused as we move through adversity. Stay with me.

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( original art: Carl Möhner, 1994)


During one of our annual Mayfest celebrations decades ago, Fort Worth experienced its most destructive hailstorm ever. With damage estimated at two billion dollars, its quarter mile wide swath stretched for miles. There were thousand people in the park when it struck. That evening, I was in the tent of the artist and former actor, the late Carl Möhner and had just purchased two of his paintings.

When the wind shifted, and the sky turned a sickening shade of green, I knew what was coming. I told his wife Wilma to go get their van from the remote parking lot so she could take him to safety. A man of considerable size, Möhner was in a wheelchair and was unable to stand or walk on his own.

“Hurry,” I told her. “This will be a bad one!”

Before she could get back, the storm hit us with full force. Years later, I would liken the experience to having faced a twenty- minute long shotgun blast with no place to hide.

Desperate to protect Möhner from baseball-sized hailstones, a friend and I hovered over him, shielding him with our bodies and thick sheets of cardboard as the storm intensified. The incoming hail beat us severely and shredded the fabric top of the booth, destroying most of the art that was displayed in it.

One of the hailstones struck the back of my neck so hard that I momentarily blacked out and went to my knees. When I got to my feet again, stunned and shaken, I was even more strongly resolved to protect him. Without consciously thinking to do it, I began chanting out loud the same thing I repeated to myself when I was a combat medic—”I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. He needs me. I can do this.”

The quarter of an hour or so that followed seemed never-ending.

When the storm finally subsided, the ground was covered with hailstones and rainwater. An Austrian, Möhner had served in the military during World War II. When he peered out at the mist rising in the darkened park, there were tears in his eyes.

When I visited his home in South Texas more than a year later, he would tell me that he was remembering what he saw in the war when he whispered, “The Russian front.”

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Half an hour after the storm began, his wife returned. With its windshield cracked and shattered, the van she was driving looked like it had been beaten with sledgehammers from one end to the other. Weeping and embracing, we stood around Möhner, who was still in a state of shock. As badly as we had been thrashed, we were thankful to have survived the onslaught.

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Later that evening, I sat in the floor of my living room with my arms around my knees. Rocking back and forth as I thought about what had happened, I realized that during the storm, while I was chanting, “I can do this,” I can do this,” I wasn’t thinking about anything other than keeping Carl Möhner safe and alive. Nothing else went through my mind. Not one thought.

That singular focus allowed me to push through my fear instead of becoming paralyzed or overcome by it.

For the sake of clarity, I’m not suggesting that his life mattered and mine did not. I was fully aware that if I was going to protect him, I needed to do everything in my power to keep myself safe and to stay on my feet.

Looking back, I realized that while the storm was beating down on us, I had not only been Carl’s protective and compassionate witness, but my own as well.

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Months later, I had an aerial photography assignment and piloted a small plane from Fort Worth to Arlington and back again. Flying over Trinity Park before I headed east, I saw that the hailstorm had completely stripped many of the large oak trees and taken smaller ones to the ground.

Further to the east, a noticeable band of newly repaired rooftops several miles long showed me what I suspected I might see. I shook my head in wonder as I realized that I was flying directly over the path the storm had taken. For several moments, I could hardly speak.

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I don’t share this story with you for the sake of being dramatic. If you want drama, you can always watch a movie or go to a play. My reason for sharing it is a relevant one that comes in the form of a question which I hope will open the door to still other questions.

Regardless of what we’re facing or the magnitude of it, what is it within us that enables us to focus our energies and keep going?

I’ve pondered this question long enough to consider it to be one of the most essential ones.

The Greek philosophers talked about our two basic life urges— “eros” and “thanatos.” The former is the urge for life and light and love. The latter is the urge for death and darkness and anger. Within most of us, the urge for life is a quietly powerful force that keeps us reaching and striving and doing everything we can to survive, especially in the face of challenge or hardship. My experience in the park with Carl Möhner certainly showed me which is stronger in me. It was the source of my focus.

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With that in mind, ask yourself what happens when you lean into the enlivening inner force that abides deep within your center. What happens each time you reach inside for what is strong and powerful and resilient and enduring? What happens when you focus on the power of your inner resources more than on the difficulties you’re facing?

Having asked these questions of myself many times, I feel safe in saying that I can predict at least some of your answers, though I’ll keep my thoughts to myself for now.

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This week’s three Beautiful Questions are straightforward and simple, though you may find their answers to be a bit more challenging. I invite you to take your time. Here are the questions.

One: What gifts, talents, attributes, resources, skills, assets, or blessings are always within you when you need them?

Two: In the past, how have you used them to stay focused?

Three: Right now, in what ways might you use your inner resources to help you move more effectively through this part of your life?

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The answers to these questions will more than likely point you in the direction of your own strengths and capacities. I look forward to hearing what you discover as you sit with them.

As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light

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Thank you for joining me in these podcasts as we do what we can to respond to life in increasingly effective ways. As always, I’m open to your comments and feedback.

You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at

And at, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. You’ll also find an archive of all of previous podcasts, including episodes three and four, guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.

If you find these podcasts useful, don’t hesitate to share them or tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me to get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world.

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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

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The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.

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