Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WRANGLING WITH FEAR


Why is it we talk so little about being afraid? --Jennifer Louden

As often happens when I read Jennifer Louden, or listen to her, I experience a bell ringing when she puts her finger on something that is fluttering in the back of my mind but hasn't yet emerged into full consciousness. Fear was filtering through the depression I'm coming out of:  the underlying fear I can feel when I'm home alone at night, the fear that my business won't ever emerge from being a "hobby," the worry that my writing is really irrelevant and mediocre, the concerns about my children and now grandchildren, the occasionally nagging little thought that I've had so many sinus infections I may have to accept my doctor's suggestion about surgery, upcoming forays out of my cocoon-like comfort zone to take the train to see my granddaughter in her first high school play and then later to a writer's workshop even farther away, and even the little weekly nervousness that I will play my French horn poorly at Mass on Sunday or at choir rehearsal Monday night and I will be drummed out, even though most of us are volunteers.

I suppose even the most self-confident of us try to wrestle with our fears, either shoving them back down into our subconscious where they burble along with a nasty little murmuring dissonant tune or facing them and doing what we need to do even when we still feel afraid, and often discover that the reality was not so terrifying as we had imagined.  And perhaps if more of us are willing to talk about being afraid, we will rob our fears of the sting that lurks in the darkness when we cower before them alone.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

WONDER UPON WONDER

"If you become Christ's you will stumble upon wonder upon wonder, and every one of them true."     --St. Brendan of Birr

I came upon this quote yesterday and it has mesmerized me ever since.  It has dropped into my consciousness as I am climbing out of a longer period of depression than I have experienced at any time since my husband died.  The depression wasn't so deep that it seemed bottomless, as my other depressions had (the last one was over 20 years ago), but it took me by surprise since in general I judged I had been adjusting well to widowhood, keeping busy with my family and especially my new business and looking for all the blessings I do have.  Perhaps the longer hours of darkness as well as longer hours home alone have had an impact.  In addition, at the beginning of the year I spent a week planning my goals for the year and scheduling the implementation on my calendar and for a while I looked forward to seeing how I could move them forward each day, but somehow getting sick and allowing distractions to creep in, and putting my list of goals in a folder rather than where I can see them, meant that they started fading into the land of lost New Year's Resolutions.  

Yesterday, I drove about 45 minutes to a gathering of our Christian Community, originally four couples all of whom had been World Wide Marriage Encounter presenting teams. None of us are presenting any more, and I am now a widow, but we continue to share our journey in living our shared Faith.  We talked about how much fun we have in our lives and I certainly realized I need to plan more.  As I drove home, I suddenly saw a huge rainbow in the sky, though it wasn't raining. At first, I just saw the end of it, but as I drove further north, I could see it stretching from one end of the sky on my right to the other and it stayed with me a good part of the drive home, and then the western sky was filled with a pink and coral sunset painting huge banks of clouds back lit by a bright golden sun just below the glorious colors that yet gave off so much light that I didn't feel sunk into night until well after I was safely home. 

I reflected on the "wonder upon wonder" that filled my heart
as I did the drive alone that I had done so many times in the past twenty years with my beloved husband, but instead of feeling alone, I was filled with gratitude towards God for the signs he put in the sky to remind me he is still guiding my life.
Before I went to bed, I pulled out my goals and printed them out with a lovely frame (courtesy of my Adobe Elements program) and will now go back to scheduling the steps on my calendar--as well as a visit to the doctor to see if I can get rid of whatever it is I have that has meant I frequently have a bass instead of a soprano voice, or even no voice.  

In addition, while my son was at a Super Bowl party, I gave myself a day off, finished reading Dorothy Sayers' Have His Carcase, ate sugar snap peas right off the vines that are six feet high in my garden, deadheaded the azaleas, and braided the narcissus leaves that have finished blooming and was very thankful not to be dealing with blizzards and shoveling snow as many of my children and sisters- and brothers-in-law have been doing.  I shall finish designing a First Communion card for my website and delight in the fact that an earlier poem was just published in a poetry journal, and it's one of my favorites!  And tomorrow is Candlemas Day, surely a sign that light is growing!