THE WAY OUT OF FEAR

Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.

Source: Pema Chödrön
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
(Shambhala; Anniversary edition, 2016) pages 33-34

CONSIDER THIS

Fear whispers into your ears all the time and whether you listen to it or not is the choice that you get to make in your life.  Many of us make the mistake of assuming as true the fearful stories and fear scenarios that we confront in our imagination. Instead, what if you chose to befriend fear and instead of getting paralyzed by the stories, you decided to find out for yourself and did the thing you feared.  Fear is built on structures of assumptions, lack of action and lack of awareness. Once you move through the fog of fear and shine the light of awareness by taking action or moving forward, fear loses its power and efficacy.

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“When things fall apart or you feel fear, rather than feel you’re getting the short end of the stick, feel lucky. Only when you feel fear will you feel the opportunity to have the courage to grow. Being courageous and having a great life is all about being intimate with fear in a wise and graceful way. Feel the fear, and then do what needs to get done. Rather than being depressed about fear, lean into it, and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.” — Pema Chödrön as paraphrased by Cathy Chester (AnEmpoweredSpirit.com)

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I AM A MAN AND NOT A WORM

A prince considered himself a to be a worm and was so afraid of the chicken that he always hid himself under the table. The king announced to all in his kingdom that a big reward awaits anyone who succeeds in bringing the prince out of his hiding place. Many magicians and medicine men tried but failed. One day a small boy came to try his luck. He went under the table, sat down with the prince, played and talked to him. Finally he managed to bring the prince out. The king was very happy and asked the small boy how he did it. The small boy said that he asked the prince to say with him, “I am a man, not a worm.”

All of a sudden the prince ducked under the table because a chicken appeared. The small boy went after the prince. He asked the prince if he believe that he was a man and not a worm. And the prince answered, “I am a man, not a worm. But does the chicken know that?”

Source: unknown

CONSIDER THIS

There’s the right kind of fear that keeps us alert, attentive and awake. But there’s also the overdose of fear that cripples, blinds, deafens and petrifies.

“When it is scary to jump, that is when you jump, otherwise you stay in the same place your whole life.”Film: A Most Violent year

Do you use fear as a counsellor or as a jailer?

FEAR AND PLAGUE

A traveler was wandering in the desert when he met Fear and Plague. They said they were on their way to a large city  where they were going to kill 10,000 people. The traveler asked Plague if he was going to do all the work. Plague smiled and said,  “I’ll only take care of a few hundred.  I’ll let my friend Fear do the rest.”

Source: Iam A. Freeman (Todd A. McCain),
Seeds of Revolution: A Collection of Axioms, Passages and Proverbs, Volume 1 (iUniverse, 2014) page 33.

CONSIDER THIS

  • What is it that you fear?
  • How much of your life is stolen away by fear?

Here are two quotes to chew on:

  • Do that which you fear to do, and the fear will die. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Fear enlarges as you move away from it, but shrinks as you move towards it. -Anon

REMEMBERING THE GIFT OF WINGS

There was a bird who loved to fly. One day, while it was high up in the air it began to rain. Its feathers became so heavy that when it tried to land, it broke its wing. Time passed, and the bird became better. It wanted to fly, but no matter how hard it tried, something inside stopped it from leaving the ground.

Day after day it tried, and day after day fear held it down. Then one day, a strong wind came and lifted it high into the sky. It opened its wings and the bird remembered as if for the very first time, that it could fly.

Source | Based on a story told in the film “Shadows in the Sun”

CONSIDER THIS

When you think that something is impossible, stop, relax, unwind, step back and slow down a bit … stop long enough to remember.

 

TWO SEEDS

Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile spring soil. The first seed said, “I want to grow! I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth’s crust above me . . . I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of spring. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!”  And so it grew.

The second seed said, “I am afraid. If I send my roots into the ground below, I don’t know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my way through the hard soil above me I may damage my delicate sprouts . . . what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them? And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground. No, it is much better for me to wait until it is safe.”  And so it waited.

A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.

Source | Patty Hansen, Jack Canfield & Mark Victor HansenCondensed Chicken Soup for the Soul
(Health Communications, 1996) pages 174-175

CONSIDER THIS

  • Those of us who refuse to risk and grow get swallowed up by life.
  • It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. | Dag Hammarskjöld

THE PARABLE OF THE BIRDS

Once upon a time there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug. He wasn’t a Scrooge. He was a kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all his dealings with other men. But he didn’t believe all that stuff about Incarnation which churches proclaim at Christmas. And he was too honest to pretend that he did. “I am truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, who was a faithful churchgoer. “But I simply cannot understand this claim that God becomes man. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

On Christmas Eve his wife and children went to church for the midnight service. He declined to accompany them. “I’d feel like a hypocrite,” he explained. “I’d rather stay at home. But I’ll wait up for you.”

Shortly after his family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. “If we must have Christmas,” he thought, “it’s nice to have a white one.” He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his newspaper. A few minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another.

He thought that someone must be throwing snowballs at his livingroom window. When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the storm. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his window. “I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze,” he thought. “But how can I help them?” Then he remembered the barn where the children’s pony was stabled. It would provide a warm shelter.

He put on his coat and galoshes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the door wide and turned on a light. But the birds didn’t come in. “Food will lure them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn. To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction – except into the warm lighted barn.

“They find me a strange and terrifying creature,” he said to himself, “and I can’t seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me. If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. . . .”

Just at that moment the church bells began to ring. He stood silent for a while, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. Then he sank to his knees in the snow. “Now I do understand,” he whispered. “Now I see why You had to do it.” 

Source | Louis Cassels,  The Parable of the Birds as told in Greg Johnson, The 25 Days of Christmas,  pages 30-31

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • They shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.” | Matthew 1:23
  • And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. | Luke 2:7
  • For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven …  into the midst of the land … | Wisdom 18:14-15
  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us. |  John 1:14
  • Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. | Matthew 25:40

FEARLESS AND THE FEARFUL SEEDS

Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile spring soil. The first seed said, “I want to grow! I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth’s crust above me . . . I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of spring. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!”  And so it grew.

The second seed said, “I am afraid. If I send my roots into the ground below, I don’t know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my way through the hard soil above me I may damage my delicate sprouts . . . what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them? And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground. No, it is much better for me to wait until it is safe.”  And so it waited.

A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.

Source | Patty Hansen in Jack Canfield & Mark Victor HansenCondensed Chicken Soup for the Soul, pages 174-175

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. Dag Hammarskjöld
  • Those of us who refuse to risk and grow get swallowed up by life.