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
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.

soulful changes

It was early morning. I stepped out with my camera just to get an image of the clover, those sweet little white flowers that cover the yard until it gets mowed. In the morning light I saw a patch of white on the grass and realized it is a spider web, one of several of it’s type just glistening in the sun, nested there by the clover. 

Often I can look back and an image a few days later and it will say something new to me.  That was the case with my last post, and the image of the luggage at the bus station.  At the moment I took the photo, I knew I was moved in some way, but not until a couple days later did I understand the message for me.   The result is what you read there.  

Spider webs are a different matter.  Don’t know where I learned this, perhaps from doing dream work, but I have come to understand that a spider web can be a symbol of creativity, of new life. When I think of that it makes sense.  The spider weaves her intricate web to creatively attract and catch something to eat.  We talk about spinning a yarn, weaving, even making connections with others, all kind of making reference to what a simple spider will do with what it has.  

My own “web” has been blessed and fortified recently….

One connection I have made this week is with an artist named Liz Lamoreaux and the Inner Excavate – Along.  I have her book on order and am enjoying this 7 week read along in an online community.   

Through my connections on this blog I have “met” and shared with talented people like Julia, who just published this book. Yes, my book is on it’s way. (Have I ever mentioned that I think we are “book poor” in this house?)

So many of you have been such wonderful blogging friends, commenting and giving such heartfelt words that lift me up in ways that you may never know. 

And my dear friends here in the same town that I know personally are so encouraging and… well, lets just say I have some beautiful people in my life.

Yes, blessed and fortified. Strengthened

This little “web” of mine is also evolving.  Blogging can become a numbers game. Blogging can also take over your life. Yet blogging can and does connect us to other souls who share the same interests.  It also gives us a fabulous outlet for our creative pursuits.  I see myself as the little spider who is spinning and weaving and creating…while knowing that there is a better way to do this.   

So as I send you peace and blessings this day, I ask that you also keep me in mind as I discern how to best share what Life is teaching me, to do it in a balanced way, to continue to listen to what my heart is telling me.

Namaste….