A Dance with Fear
Happy Friday my friends!
I hope and pray that you are all out of harm's way, as Florence moves through the Carolinas. It has been a while since I wrote one of these meditations on life, but since I have a little unplanned extra time, and still have electricity, I wanted to reach out to share some thoughts about our response to troubling episodes in our lives.
I thought I knew Fear fairly well, through a variety of experiences like the early deaths of both of my parents, being charged by an elephant in Africa, helping my (at the time)10-year-old son through a serious illness, watching helplessly as my neighbors’ houses collapsed in the 1000-year flood, etc., etc. The sources of my Fear, however, are not the story. Understanding our Fear is.
We’ve all had many experiences where we’ve come face-to-face with Fear. But, what I learned recently, was that how I interacted with Fear made all the difference in my physical, mental and emotional experience.
A great deal of the information we are given from the media these days is driven by Fear. So in some instances Fear can be alluring. He draws us in and captivates our thoughts. But often, once we have been lured into Fear’s grasp, we cringe and begin the struggle to free ourselves from his hold on us. Paradoxically, even if we succeed in this struggle, our actions can still be motivated by Fear --running from him, seeking to avoid him altogether.
This summer, I decided to cease this struggle: I resolved that when Fear inevitably appeared, I would not run but instead take a long curious gaze into his eyes. Get to know him. Embrace him. Even dance with him. I had to appreciate how useful he was to me at times --leading me to remove myself from harmful situations, to ask questions and gain understanding, rather than bury my head in the sand. Simultaneously, I had to better understand how destructive he could also be. I had to accept that there is beauty within Fear and remind myself that he is part of the Divine. I had to embody the age-old teaching that there is no 'Him versus Me.' In this process I decided to call Fear my friend. Just like other friends in our lives, sometimes they disappoint us and other times they are truly helpful. So is Fear. Instead of running away from him, I now invite him to dance. And just like with other friends, sometimes the dance is intense, slow and close, while other times it is fast and fleeting.
As we anticipate the effects of Florence, let us allow Fear to guide us out of harms way, but let us compassionately invite him to take a back seat to some of our other friends, like compassion, love, and hope. Be well, my friends. I hope our paths cross again soon.