Winter: The Other Side of Fear

Winter streamIn just a few days it will be the official start of winter, or at least that’s what it says on the calendar. In Five Element tradition the season of Winter marks a time for death, for entering the unknown. It is represented by the element of water and the emotion of fear. Water represents the womb of our consciousness, the place where our dreams can safely gestate until they’re ready to be borne into the world.  It is the quiet place where we can hear that “still small voice”.

We often view fear as a “negative” emotion, one we need to eliminate or squash. To be sure, an unbalanced relationship with fear can lead us down a path that is filled with panic, anxiety, suspicion, and mistrust. And the experience of fear can have an addictive quality to it, drawing us back, again and again to the things that terrify us. Fear sells. Think: Mainstream news and 95% of all advertising.

“When we fail to maintain our spiritual balance, when our connection to divine guidance is clouded or broken, we will have trouble remembering our Divine Destiny. Without this inner knowing, we can struggle to make decisions that are in our best interest. As a result, we may run after money or material goods or relationships that do not serve our best interests. We may go without sleep or decent food or neglect important relationships, creating undue stress on the mind, emotions, and body in order to achieve a goal, only to find little satisfaction once we have it in our possession.” – from Soul of the Seasons by Melody A. Scout

But our fear can assist us in some very essential ways. First, fear challenges us to consider the risks in making the choices that support our physical, emotional and spiritual survival. It then supplies the excitement of stepping into those choices. Fear pushes us to the edge, demanding that we reach deep within the dark corners of our spirit to access the wisdom we need in order to move forward. By facing our fears we can more easily access that creative spark, to create new beginnings, and to experience the excitement in birthing our dreams.

Following our dreams requires us to step off into the unknown, however, to say good-bye to old ways of being, to trust that we’ll be supported in our endeavors. To know that we are enough.

The approaching season of Winter is the perfect time to take a quiet rest rest and answer the following questions:

What needs a good death in your life right now?
What dreams lay dormant in the mire of your past pain and the fear of disappointment?
When did you last take a deep and quiet rest so that you might hear that “still small voice” of wisdom?

What awaits you on the other side of fear?

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Thinking the Unthinkable

IMG_2815The recent events in Paris and now San Bernadino, CA and Savannah, GA are just the latest in the string of unthinkable losses that befall us each and every day. Somewhere on the planet someone is experiencing their own horrific trauma. Rest assured, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we all feel it. No one is exempt, not even terrorists. It is our collective unacknowledged grief that begs for our attention. Violence and hatred find a perfect breeding ground of a denial that separates us from our grief.

The mind simply doesn’t want to comprehend these hugely tragic acts of violence–that they are a part of our everyday world.

The events in Paris, California and Georgia and countless other locations around the world resurrected within me old feelings of anger, powerlessness, fear and despair. So many questions have been running through my mind. What would I do during a catastrophic event such as this? How can I protect myself and my family? What do I do with my grief, fear and anger over so much tragedy and loss? When will enough be enough?

As I prayed and meditated on these questions, questions that have been troubling me since 9/11 I asked God the following: In the face of senseless destruction how do we keep from being overwhelmed by our fear and grief? What do we do in the face of such evil, an evil that wants only to destroy? How do we deal with a group of people who’s credo is ‘We love death more than you love life.’?

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St. James church ruins overlooking the Potomac in Harper’s Ferry, WV

Here is the response that came to me:

“You can start right now by building and strengthening your communities at the most personal level. Develop more intimate relationships with your family, your loved ones and especially your neighbors. Build relationships that embody compassion, kindness and affirming another’s worth. Learn to resolve conflict with an empathy that includes both the laughter of children and the wisdom of your elders. Create a space of honor, respect and value for all–a place where all benefit just from being there.  Comfort each other. Be a witness to another’s pain and grief and help them to bind up their wounds.  Create a place where together you can work toward the best and prepare for the worst.

“When you develop your communities in this way there’ll be no room for evil. By developing your relationships and becoming more intimately acquainted with all you encounter you will KNOW when your brother or sister is in trouble, becomes filled with darkness or is being led astray. In this way you can help others become more aware of their needs and their gifts, their capacity for love and the depth of their shame. Of course, you will first have to do the same for yourself.”

Once again I’ve underestimated the power of my prayers. It was crystal clear; my responsibility to my community included a responsibility to myself.  I need to work toward the best but prepare for the worst. I need to comfort and bind up my wounds in order to have the capacity to heal or comfort others. I need to resolve my personal conflicts with empathy and kindness. I have no excuses. There’s no reason to throw up my hands in despair declaring, “What can I do?” There’s always a soul to comfort and a spirit to lift and that includes my own.