I had an insight last night. A split second in which the envelope of my mind tore a tiny bit, allowing a fresh idea to fall in. And it stopped me in my tracks.
We talk a lot about fear, those of us who follow the teachings of The Guides through Paul Selig. So many contemporary spiritual ideas have placed the release of fear central to the conversation. We have learned that fear is the true opposite of love, and hate is its mere yet potent offspring. It makes sense. If only we could release fear, we would be pure love.
It is a tall order in this world of ours, moving fear to the backseat, never mind out of the road completely. The emotion comes from so deep in the brain, from an evolutionary time when fear might save us from the hungry wolf, the freezing sleet, or separation from kin. In some ways it is our mammalian birthright as humans.
To do better, we work to release it in its most insidious forms. Fear of the other, fear of separation, fear of deprivation. We do all of this against the backdrop of a world of messages built around our fears. Am I thin enough? Successful enough? Safe enough? Fear messaging is everywhere, and a lifetime of it has conditioned us closer to the very thing we would reject. Dare I say identifying and relearning fear triggers is a work in progress for most of us? Fear has become an enemy all the while promising to be a savior. Is it fair to say we have come to fear fear itself?
Forced into a waiting room seat next to a large man sporting every stereotypical fear trigger imaginable, I recognize my work to be done. Wording his divinity changes things, and soon we have a friendly conversation. The fear is relaxed some, I have learned something, and I feel pretty good about it. But the fear is not all the way gone, and I understand I need to forgive myself because I am learning.
And what of fear that comes buckled to love, its erstwhile opposite? I am a mother; I know fear. I have promised my kids I would stand in front of the angry bear for them. And I would; but yikes! What happens to the viscera when we sense our loved ones are in danger? Can spirituality really bring us to the place where we could completely let go of fear when the people we care about most are threatened?
What about those agonizing moments in the hospital conference room, suddenly elevated to senior family decision maker, listening to the doctors make the case to move Dad to hospice care? A man I loved, whose judgment, yes, I feared, and now … What if there is still hope? What if he gets angry? How do I tell the rest of the clan? What if I make a mistake in this moment so huge it will haunt me forever? Love and fear together. To transform the details that made my adrenaline surge for agonizing hours stretching into days would be both miraculous and strangely out of sync with my humanness.
In all these things, an awareness and a willingness to raise the thing before us has helped. Sometimes it has transformed the moment. But I would be insincere to say I have mastered fear. Maybe you feel the same way.
So back to my stairway landing, half way to the second floor, and the tiny brilliant insight that smacked me upside the head in true V8-wanting fashion.
All these fears I have described are things I project out. But they are not the (capital F) fear that would change it all.
The true doozy is the fear of not being loved.
The boulder blocking the very entry to my heart is the devastating terror that in the moment I would need it most, the love, the support would not be there. This is the root, surrendering, allowing bravery to build from the idea I am eternally, unabashedly surrounded by a loving Source, by entities seen and unseen, by stuff I can’t even imagine. That, friends, is the ticket. To embrace the very simple yet wonderful notion that I am always loved and always safe changes everything. The other stuff I would work to resist just gets so small.
So in the wee hours of morning after that tiny tear in my being, I write this out, with a fresh understanding of what the real work must be.
Allow it: I am loved.
[About the photo: After a restless night writing this piece in my head, I got out of bed sans spectacles and noticed something black sitting on my light gray sheets. I thought it was a big bug (FEAR!), took a deep breath, and put on my glasses. It was the tiny charm in the photo with its only design a capital F. … Maybe the Universe just gave me a humorous lesson in transforming my fears.]