Fear

              On a pleasantly warm August evening in 2016, my husband and I took our one year- old grandson in his stroller for a walk in a nearby park.   A dog got loose from its owner, raced past me, his leash wrapping  around my leg, knocking me to the ground, leaving me unconscious and bleeding. After a night in the hospital, my scalp stitched back together,  I was grateful to have come through it as well as I did.  But I was left with a fear of dogs.   I “therapized” myself, searching for wisdom that might help me overcome this. 

              “The fears we don’t face become our limits,” was one bit of direction I leaned on. 

              “You have to remember fear is not real.  It is a product of the thoughts you create.  Don’t misunderstand me.  Danger is very real but fear is a choice,” was another quote I found.  There is some truth in that quote.   But I posit that fear is not always a choice.

               I think of the story my husband tells of an experience in Vietnam when he was ordered to take a particular village.  He deemed it a very poor decision on his superior’s part, that he would almost certainly lose a lot of men with nothing accomplished by their efforts.  He initially thought he would act just as soon as he got over his fear.  But he quickly came to the conclusion that he was going to have to use his fear to propel him to carry out the order.  As one quote I discovered noted, “Sometimes the fear won’t go away, so you’ll have to do it afraid.”

              One of the most helpful pieces of wisdom I found was from Dawn Markova:

              “I will not die an unlived life.  I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.  I choose to inhabit my days, to allow living to open me, to make me more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.  I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed, goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.”

              Occasionally, I still feel wary when I see a dog.  But I choose to not let fear disrupt my peace.  We do well when we refuse to acquiesce to fear and instead embrace life.

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  One last quote:  “What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it.  We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.”  Jiddu Krishnamurti

Peace

Years ago I was working for an agency whose financial secretary had been fired after the discovery of her theft of funds.  We were without a director at the time and as senior staff I was tasked with covering a lot of bases, to include making the daily deposits.  There was a teller at the bank whose face just radiated peace.  In the midst of this chaotic situation into which I had been thrust, I looked forward to making the bank deposit to bask in that calm presence she exuded.

 I regret I did not ever go back to let that teller know what the bit of peace she offered had meant to me and to thank her for it.  She certainly embodied the words of Wayne Dyer: “Peace can become a lens through which you see the world.  Be it. Live it. Radiate it out.  Peace is an inside job.”

“Every day brings a choice:  to practice stress or to practice peace,” wrote Joan Borysenko.  Thinking in terms of this as choice, as what we choose to practice, puts a different spin on this.  We have choice?  More likely we feel we are trapped in stressful circumstances not of our own making.  Yet Borysenko offers two key concepts: the matter of choice involved and the fact that this choice to be peaceful takes daily practice. 

This serves as a reminder that we impact our own quality of life by that daily choice.  My experience with the bank teller also emphasizes that what I carry into the world affects other people.   While we may tend to think of peace and peacefulness as difficult, even impossible, in this world full of hardship and hostilities,  it isn’t always so complicated.  Once when I smiled at a homeless man, he responded by straightening up, giving me a broad smile in return— a simple exchange.   Peace begins with a smile, Mother Teresa said.  Let us choose to practice peace. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Gabriela Green offers a recipe for Sweet Calm Tea.  Combine 1 t. chamomile, ½ t. rose and 1 t. linden.  Put all the ingredients in a strainer (or tea ball, etc) and make sure to mix well.  Bring water to a boil and pour over the tea, let steep for 3-5 min. Add honey if you like.  If you like the mix of herbs, you can make a bigger batch and store it in an airtight container.  Use as needed to reduce anxiety and induce calm.