Ann Keiffer

The Wrong Measuring Stick

I fail. I miss the mark.
I do not measure up.
I am constantly
beaten down
or beaten up,
falling short
myself to others,
never reaching
unreachable marks…
until one day
a change-thought
comes crowding in—
You are using the
wrong measuring stick.

I see.
I am held captive by a
Prison of Measuring
in my own mind.
Who built that prison?
Who hung this
calibrated ruler
on the wall,
I stand next to it
every minute
of every day
taking the
miserable measure
of my worth?
My mind is mine…
and I need to change it.
But how?
Recognize the existence
of this oversized stick,
then tear it down
from the wall,
break it up,
trash it.
Am I free now
from being ruled
by a ruler?

Something more is
tapping on the shoulder
of my consciousness.
Somewhere in my
Prison of Measuring
there is another
measuring stick,
more hidden,
harder to see…
and then,
back in a
I see it, too.
A very short stick,
so short it gives
the illusion
I am standing tall,
above all others,
all calibrations
on this ruler reading
but never saying,
An embarrassing secret
kept hidden,
especially from myself.
I strip down this ruler,
break it into pieces,
and trash it, too.

Though after-images
of both measuring sticks
remain faintly visible
on the walls of the
Prison of Measuring…
though the habits
of a lifetime
may lead me back here
from time to time,
I no longer have to live
in this prison full-time.

Holding onto the
lock-springing force
of that change-thought—
You are using the
wrong measuring stick—

I grapple myself
over the prison’s walls.
I cross the bridge
over the moat filled
with all its garbage.
I journey out
to where the air
is open and blue,
into the green-new
of forests and fields,
into the letting-go.
Here I can bow down
and be small.
Be so quiet I can hear
…hear what?
What the Holy
is saying,
what the Holy has been
saying all along.

The Holy—
Creative Life Force—

is alive with
transforming possibilities,
possibilities that can
manifest in the world
to change what-is-so
for the greatest-good…
when there is a means.

Some transforming
possibilities are complex,
with interconnections
beyond human plan
or comprehension.
But some are not complex,
only right here-
right now-
where we live.
To bring these
possibilities into being
in the world
the only means required
may be one person
who sees a need…
says, this I can do…
and steps in.
Just one person,
even a person
very exactly like me.
Not some better version.
Just me as I am.
Because for some
I am perfectly made:
my gifts,
my limitations,
my experience,
my way of being,
all of it,
who I am,
as I am.
And so it is for you
as you are, too.

One wisdom tradition says:
Whatever you see
in the world, say to it,
“I am that, too.”

What we admire in others,
what we despise in others,
what we hold up
as good in the world,
what we hold up as bad,
if we look hard enough,
we will find
some bit of it
in ourselves, too,
as mote is to beam.
All measuring sticks
are warped;
all measuring sticks lie.
There is no such thing as
less-than or better-than,
but there are life-altering
questions to ask:

Am I living
my own journey,
the particular journey
my soul asks of me?

What good
wants to come
into the world
through who I am?

Am I awake,
fully present,
so I can hear
and respond,
when the Holy
calls my name?

Ann Keiffer
February, 2024

Image Source: Google image/digital collage by Ann Keiffer


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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