Fear unites the disparate parts of our false selves very quickly. The ego moves forward by contraction, self-protection, and refusal, by saying no. The soul or the True Self does not proceed by contraction but by expansion. It moves forward, not by exclusion, but by inclusion. —Richard Rohr
God the Mother Hen gathers all of her downy feathered, vulnerable little ones under God’s protective wings so that we know where we belong, because it is there that we find warmth and shelter. —Nadia Bolz-Weber
Jesus invites us to discover that our fear is woven into God’s own life, whose life is mysteriously woven into all the scary things that can and do happen to us as human beings together on this earth. —James Finley
I hear Don’t be afraid and hope that it is not a command not to fear but rather the nurturing voice of a God drawing near to our trembling. I hear those words and imagine God in all tenderness cradling her creation against her breast. —Cole Arthur Riley
If a person feels that they do not belong in the way in which it is perfectly normal for other people to belong, then they develop a deep sense of insecurity. But the awareness of being a child of God tends to stabilize the ego and results in a new courage, fearlessness, and power. —Howard Thurman
Faith does not need to push the river precisely because it is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing; we are already in it. This is probably the deepest meaning of “divine providence.” So do not be afraid. —Richard Rohr
Conversing with Your Fear
Author and broadcaster Lisa Colón DeLay understands fear as an emotion to become curious about, converse with, and ultimately befriend. Here she recommends having a conversation with our fears as a part of our inner growth in God:
We don’t have to hunt fear with a pitchfork. Fear has something to say. Our fears offer us an invitation to engage with the discomfort of the inner places. Will you give your fear a chance to speak to you?
When you realize that you are afraid or not doing well, sit down with your fear and have a conversation. Here are three ways to converse with fear: First, when you feel or notice discomfort, pause. Stay paused until you know more. Second, acknowledge what is happening in the moment. Be honest: “This feels bad—negative. What do I feel? Maybe it is fear, but I’m also angry. What else? I feel overlooked.” Third, dig a bit deeper. Ask, What is this trying to show me? or What else might be going on? Give yourself some time, and delve into the fear: “I’m not sure why I’m angry. Now, thinking about it more, it wasn’t such a good day. Three things happened today that made me feel frustrated, inferior, and like I wasn’t being taken seriously.” . . .
Embarrassment or shame will likely put us in a rabbit freeze-or-runaway mode. Denial, anger, and deflection are other unhelpful responses. Instead, let’s encounter the fear or the discomfort with some questions and curiosity. And then, once we’ve noticed something new, we move on.
Lisa Colón DeLay, The Wild Land Within: Cultivating Wholeness through Spiritual Practice (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2021), 139–140.
Explore Further. . .
- Listen to Richard’s homily “Do Not Be Afraid. We Return Where We Started.”
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Nicholas Kramer, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Washington, used with permission. Paul Thompson, Untitled Sunrise (detail), 2021, video still, New Mexico. Jenna Keiper, Moonrise I (detail), 2020, photograph, Washington, used with permission. Jenna Keiper, 2022, triptych art, United States.
This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Playing with the light found within night, in these images we find beauty and rest even in moments that might feel eerie and dangerous.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.