Sunday, February 07, 2010

Off the path or On?

“…it is the path off the path that brings us to God.” -- Mark Nepo

I could hear the fear in her voice – tangible, palpable, present. She was grasping for someone –in this case, a Christian counselor – who could bring her fractured family back together. Our conversation was brief since the role of mediator had already been filled. Still, her terror has stayed with me. I wholly connect with the panic for her family, but it is not this fear I ponder today.

To be clear, let me say this is someone I know and for who I have great respect. In this context, she’d visited my website and noticed the impact of Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way on my life. Unlike others who have watched my personal transformation over the last several years, she feared for my salvation. I had “opened myself up” to broader horizons and in her God-fearing mind that isn’t a good thing. Again, her fear was palpable and it is that I ponder. What follows are my morning pages (thanks, Julia):

Fear is a powerful weapon. Fear is evil. It may even be what the Bible speaks of. If God is love, it would make sense that fear is evil or Satan or the serpent or whatever you want to call it. Fear is the seducer. The one that keeps us from God. From love. Fear is power…Fear moves me away from God. Fear moves me away from love.

And as I wrote those words, I realize fear is also what ultimately moved me toward God. Broken, desperate, panicked – my family reached for something that could bring our fractured family back together. In our case, we ended up in a fishing village in Mexico – a boarding school as our hope. I sat alone by a pool, focusing on an assignment to meditate on the 11th step of AA. I "opened myself," and in “unorthodox” prayer, God met me on the page. I wrote like a fiend and a near-stranger heard my words and introduced me to the Artist’s Way. The rest they say is history. My world as I knew it was broken wide open and stepping through my fear I began to receive the world in new ways. I began to look fully into the face of both love and fear.

Big topics here, I know. I wonder where or if these words resonate for you. Is God love? And what of fear? Today, on this sacred Sunday, I offer gratitude for my God who is big enough to journey with me off the path and I humbly offer the following prayer:

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
where all manner of folk go by.
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
wise, foolish – so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
and be the friend I can. Sam Walter Foss from Celtic Daily Prayer

girl on beach© 2.6.10
point defiance© 9.09

13 comments:

The Pollinatrix said...

This is exactly where I am this morning. I have been wrestling with some very deep fear. I busied myself cleaning the kitchen, because that's the best thing for me to do when fear grips me this way. It's fear that's mixed with present pain and anticipation of more. WANTING the next painful step so I can face it and move to the point of acceptance and healing, instead of just fearfully anticipating it.

I made this vow of quiet love, but am finding it very difficult. The Bible verse in my devotions this morning was from 1 John 4, where he talks about loving each other, and says "Perfect love casts out fear," and "Whoever fears has not reached perfection in love." Yeah. I'm pretty far from that perfection.

The conundrum: when someone has hurt me so much and I know they will again, how can I open my heart to love that person? What I've been doing is setting boundaries around my heart, putting a "cast" around it so it can heal. I don't know how I can open to love and still have that protection, and yet, as I write this, I know that what I'm "supposed" to apply is the spiritual truth that only love brings healing.

Sigh. Sorry for this rambling comment. Obviously, you hit a nerve. Or more like a vein.

Em said...

Oddly, I was thinking about fear this morning too. It had come up in my thoughts around pushing myself to do something that I know would be good for me to try.

So thank you for the post, your thoughts, the quote and the prayer. Especially for the prayer.

lucy said...

polli - yes, sounds more like a large pulsing vein than a nerve... and i can totally relate to your wrestling and the building of the "cast". i think sometimes we do have to step away and let things heal a bit before we move back in. for me, it's definitely the people i'm closest to who can hurt me the most. they're also the ones i want to love... and isn't it just diabolical if FEAR (of being hurt or rejected) pushes us away from LOVE (the thing we most desire)?!??!

Em - sending warm thoughts and lots of courage your way! there's something i've been wanting to do for a long time, but it involves entering into a place i'm unfamiliar. i told my husband last night that i was scared. he said, "really... that surprises me." and when i thought about it, i realized that it surprised me, too. our minds are so curious, aren't they?

Les (Endlessly Restless) said...

I love your phrase about 'stepping through my fear'. I guess for many people this is the stumbling block, the barrier between where they are now and a healthy relationship with God.

Maybe fear is the result of an unhealthy relationship with God, and therefore with ourselves. And maybe that has more to do with religion and personal diffidence and self-centredness.

Whatever the root cause, the resolution lies in those first steps... towards and then through fear.

lucy said...

les - the quote that has resonated throughout my mind for the last several days is "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." your words bring me back to that same premise re: fear... "towards and then through."

Anonymous said...

Kayce!! I LOVE this post. I love the reminder of Kino where it all started for me too. I work daily with 'A Course in Miracles' and I have come to understand that Fear is just a absence of Love and really nothing in itself....it has no power exceot what I give it.....darkness is just the absence of light.....love and light are the Truth. That is empowering for me. I too read that Mark Nepo quote this am. I find it empowering to think that so many other people that I admire and trust are reading the same things that calm and feed me at the same time I am. That helps. Love, Pamela

Tess said...

I love this post too, and was writing and thinking about fear too this week as I wrote a fairy tale as part of Christine's Artist/Monk E-course. (It's so wonderful.)

It's natural that we fear the unknown, and the potential for chaos if we break the rules. I think that's at the heart of fundamentalism, racism and all the other 'isms. The choice lies in working through the fear, not succumbing to its close cousin, hatred. You do that beautifully.

Sue said...

Wow, thanks for this. Good words for me to read today. I find myself in a situation where my fear is rising up in response to someone I have begun talking to online who is really DARK. One of those people sort of stuck in it. I don't want my fear to rise up in response to someone else's stuff. Good to be reminded that fear only has the power I give it (thanks for that Pamela)

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Lucy,

You felt a lot of pulses this a.m. apparently. A lovely post, if speaking of fear can be viewed as lovely.....obviously going beyond the fear is what makes it lovely for me.

I am eager to hear of the place you plan to visit even though with fear. And your spouse's surprise at your fear, many see us as fearless and brave when actually our knees shake like everyone else's as we stand on the tippy top of the high board!!!

xoxox

lucy said...

pamela - i am always comforted and encouraged when you stop by here to comment. oh my, we've come a long way since those kino days, huh?

tess - it is indeed a slippery slope between fear and that "close cousin, hatred." this also reminds me of your new post re: death. there is so much to be discovered in the contrasts - light & dark; love & fear; joy & sorrow; lucy & charlie brown :-)

sue - run!!! that may be an overreaction, but it was definitely my first one when i read your comment. and i agree that pamela's words are wise ones. "fear has no power except what i give it."

lucy said...

SS - yes, brave lucy's knees do shake sometimes. i'll keep you posted on my adventures :-) xoxoxo

Karen said...

I so truly believe that fear, rather than hate, is the opposite of love. In fact, if you dig deep into your own and others' hatreds, fear is always at the bottom. I am, thankfully, feeling this sort of fear less and less. What helps me is moving into a state of allowing--allowing others even when they would not allow me. I feel utterly secure in my connection to Source, and I feel utterly sure of His/Her love. And when I'm feeling bad--about myself, about others, about various situations--I'm beginning to see that it's because I am blocking my connection (not that God is blocking me, but that I'm blocking God). I'm realizing that I am not seeing something as Source sees it. I feel like I'm going all over the place with this, but in essence, yes, I believe that God IS love. And I believe that all is well.

thymekeeper said...

Thank you!