Holding On To Another’s Fear

fear written on a stone

This heart shaped stone has the word “unacceptance” written on it.  I picked it up at the close of a morning prayer session at a retreat last week.

During that prayer time we were invited to write one of our fears on a stone and place it on a table.  I know that there were readings and prayers offered, but I can’t recall anything that was said.  The real lesson for me that day was in looking at the written fears placed on that table by all the others in the room.

And the lesson has just kept on giving, moving in me and changing me.

What struck me first was that so many of the stones had similar fears written on them, at least they were similar to my own.  “Not good enough” was a common theme.  (Why, oh why do we beat ourselves up with that notion?)

I chose to place this heart shaped stone in my jeans pocket.  I thought of whoever might have written that fear, and sent loving thoughts her way, even though I have no idea who wrote it.  How sad, I thought, that someone among us last week was afraid of not being accepted.   I went back to my room and wrote a sappy, rhyming, silly poem about this…and I won’t even share it here.

The longer I carried this stone that day, the more aware I became of just how much I shared that same fear.  I returned to my notebook and wrote differently:

“Can I tell you that I am holding your fear, that I picked it up from where you left it, that is is carried gently in my pocket, the stone warmed by my body…can I tell you that?


And can I just let you know that your fear is also mine, the word you placed on the stone summarizing what paralyzes me, the fear that stops me in my tracks, is it okay for me to let you know this?


One more question, long and winding, did you know that I feel blessed as I hold your fear in my pocket, the weight of it diminished, but did you see that the stone is shaped like a heart of love?”


Later that day, my head was hurting, so I went to my room to rest.

Rest did not come easy, however, because this stone, this fear that had been expressed was working on me. There came the awful realization that I may have been the cause for someone to feel unaccepted…and I felt convicted.

All I could think was “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”  I sobbed.

Then there was a clear, distinct message that this fear has more to do with not accepting my self.  How, after all, can I accept another if I don’t accept myself just as I am?

At these retreats I always learn more from surprising little things. There are cracks that allow the light to come in.

* * * * *
This morning I decided to take a photo of this stone so I could share it with you here.  It’s been raining here this morning, and I wanted to take advantage of the puddles and get the stone wet.
Here is what happened:
blank stone
Rainwater changed the look of this stone.  “Unacceptance” was gone.
I can’t tell you that the writing, the fear, was permanently gone because that would not be true.  When the water dried I could still read what was written there.
But I can tell you that this simple exercise in addressing fears found a crack in my heart and the light was allowed in.  I have that stone in my jeans pocket again today, and it continues to teach me.
“All who are thirsty, come to the water!
You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat.
Come, without paying and without cost, 
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.”
 
Isaiah 55:1-3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Just the Right Shoes for a Wedding

the right shoes for a wedding
Shoes for the journey.
Not too tight, not too loose.  The fit has to be perfect.
Some shoes will be outgrown quickly, others may last a lifetime.
Boots can get you through the muck and mire, but 
they can also take you down the isle in your pretty new dress 
as you carry your own flowers.
Sandals can get you down the same isle toward the one you love,
and spare your feet from the heat of the day, and they can 
carry you to the dance floor where you celebrate for hours.
But, oh, the getting there.
The hours of preparation.  The fittings. The decisions.
The decorating.  Working with all those vendors.
Making it all come together, along with a team of friends.
I wore simple, comfortable black flats, and carried my camera around
for hours on end, documenting this beautiful day.
What. An. Honor.
I think I just may have stepped into the shoes with the perfect fit…for me.

Noticing

tulips

Have you noticed?
Even in the process of fading away there is unspeakable beauty to behold.
tulips 2
The curl of a petal that will soon drop…
tulips 3
The amazing stripes of color made visible by light from the window…
Noticing.
Taking time.  Being present.
Drinking it all in.

Leaning Into The Questions

My husband brought home a wooden key holder from his parent’s house that was loaded with all kinds of old keys. He tells me that he may very well have been the one who made this, possibly as a Cub Scout project.  As I look at it I can imagine the concentration on his face as he painted it red and put the letters on it.  

The number of keys and the history of them make for some good stories. There is a collection of car keys, another that looks like keys to lock a cabinet or two… hanging on a peg that reads “garage”.  And there is this ring with all these old skeleton keys.  Those are the ones that set me to thinking of old doors and mysterious rooms and key holes that you could see through.  Squeaky hinges.  Old varnish or paint that might be peeling.  And a nail on the door frame, up high out of reach of small hands, a place to hang that key in case the door gets locked from inside.

skeleton keys

We learn at an early age that keys give you access to something, or they keep you out.  Keys to the car when you are old enough to drive.  Keys to your own house or apartment.  Keys to the office.  Access to a place, or a privilege, or information. Keys that we have to return when our job is done.

When I saw this bunch of keys the first time, I knew that there was something for me to learn here.

On my spiritual journey I have come to understand that I try too hard to find the illusive key.  In this culture of fast fixes, rapid responses, and constant information coming at us from all directions, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of having to be certain.  We think we need to have the answers.  I kept searching for the proverbial key that would unlock those answers for me.  

The questions I want to answer:  Who am I really?  And who is this Holy One?

I have been doing a lot of reading, mostly because I enjoy it, and partly because my participation in Souljourners requires it.  No, I have not found that illusive key, but I have learned something important.

Many of us are in the same awkward place, wondering who we really are as opposed to who we think we are supposed to be.  Thanks to some very brave people who have shared their stories over the centuries, I know that I am not alone.  Others have been down this path.

As much as I love reading those stories, I know now that those are not the answers to my own questions.  The stories are helping me see where to go next, pointing the way.  And I will continue to seek the wisdom of those who have gone before.  Which means I will still read books…

But the key. Ah, yes, the key that I want to find.  It does not exist.

What does exist is this Holy One who dwells within me (and you). What I am learning to do is to lean into the questions, wait in silence, and listen for the quiet voice from within.