Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. –Psalm 30:5
Once again, I find myself nearing the end of the year...surprised. Last thing I remember, it was Thanksgiving, and now poof! Christmas is almost here with the new year close behind. I will join others in reflecting more personally on this year, but today I want to offer one more post on what seems to me to be one of the prevalent qualities of this year.
Fear. And fear’s spawn – anger, hatred, judgment, anxiety, greed, blaming, isolation, selfishness, vengeance, stress.
We saw a year full of violence all over the world and in our own back yards, shattering not only lives but also innocence. In the United States we watched as a fiercely bitter political climate continued to polarize our country, with no end in sight even now. Nature added to the devastation with storms reflecting the human climate.
What to make of a year like this? I loved what Julie Barrett of A Clear Sign said in a comment to my last post. “I actually feel more hopeful. It feels to me as if there has been a huge shift in energy to the positive. I'm not sure why that is - it just feels that way to me.” Me, too.
There is something so radiant and resilient about the human spirit. Something in us, sometimes in our darkest hour, reaches for the light and transcends the fear that would keep us shackled in the pit. We can all think of examples, some that are known only to a few, some that inspire nations and even the whole world.
I need not look further than my own family. I think back to when Dan joined our family. He was a classmate of my son James, both in a special classroom because of their autism. When Dan was 14, his parents died within a few months of each other. They were refugees from Vietnam who came to the US after the war and Dan had no other family here. And so he became part of our family.
He was a 14 year old boy with autism and limited communication skills, an only child who had known only one home, with a family who loved him and protected him from the things in the world that he didn’t understand. Then suddenly he lost everything and everyone he ever knew and loved, and was thrust into that very world. He came to a new home, filled with strangers, with new food, new language, and a dog that terrified him.
It’s more than many of us have ever had to cope with, especially at a young age, and many of us have more obvious coping resources than he had. Yet Dan was not down for long. He quickly adapted and soon his sunny nature was beaming again. Dan has a zest for life that many of us aspire to. It never bothers people when they can’t understand him. They respond to his open spirit and his eagerness to be friends. He is my hero of indomitability, a phoenix rising from the ashes of the life he was forced to leave behind.
So like Julie, I am filled with hope because I know what we are made of, we humans. I know what we can do when we move through our fear and let our lights shine. And how do we do this? By heeding the lesson this young warrior learned.
A young warrior once had to battle fear. She did not want to, but her teacher insisted. On the day of battle, the warrior stood on one side, feeling small. Fear stood on the other side, looking big and wrathful. The warrior bowed to show respect and asked fear, “How do I defeat you?” Fear thanked her for showing respect and replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast and get in your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”
As we wrap up this year, let’s respectfully refuse to do what fear tells us to do. Let’s move towards the morning of the new year with an open hand reaching out, with sadness perhaps for what has been lost, and joy in our hearts for what is to come. Blessings to us all.
related posts: It Is Not So; Game Change