Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Thoughts on Fear

I have been thinking about fear today. The slave in this morning's Gospel who buried his talent, certainly that is where he was coming from. And since fear has been such a strong theme in my life lately, it got me thinking about how I might be "burying" or constraining myself as a result of my own fear. I feel it in myself...this unwillingness to risk, to live as flagrantly as I might once have done, even when I know something is the right thing to do. I did start reading Bonhoeffer. And like at Convention, suddenly there is a larger context here. The choices I make, the actions I take, they are part of something larger, or perhaps ought to be more consciously so. The choice I made that ended up landing me in my little puddle of hot water pales before the life and death of the camps. And yet I do find myself asking myself now and again...."if I had known, if I had known..." Because Bonhoeffer did have that at least, a fairly clear sense of how much trouble his resistance would cause. I don't know if that is better or worse. If someone had said to me, "Kate, if you do this......shoes will fall. No doubt it is the right thing to do anyway, but be warned, it could have these consequences..." would I have said "I am still doing it because Jesus said this is what we are to do and I am following Jesus?" Or would I have been as afraid as I am now and have buried the idea, kept silence, let someone else figure it out, cut and run.....

The fear now is an ugly thing. It makes me smaller and narrower. Like the slave, I bury things that I am given rather than investing or sharing them or flinging them out there to see what would happen if they landed on good soil and took root and grew. I find myself holding back from love, protecting my heart from those it would naturally go out to. My light is not shining, I am not salt or yeast. As I read next Sunday's Gospel, this gives me great pause. Because as always when we do not do the Gospel work, of course it is the least who suffer. The poor in body or mind or spirit, the ones who need us most. The ones my fear locks me away from. It is a vicious circle. And only I can can end it--with God's help of course. But God will not force my hand. I must chose. The talent was handed to me. What will I do with it? Time will tell.

6 comments:

ElastiGirl said...

thanks for this reflection - it is hard to overcome the fear - lymi

SuzieQ said...

revdrkate,
Thank you for sharing this.

I've been lurking about here and at RevGals for a few months now (creepy of me, I know!), and as a Procrastinator with a capital P, I identify with your comments on fear. I am finding that I've been burying a lot of opportunity, or at least willfully turning away from things which demand my attention.

What does one do about the fear? How can a person really let go of it? Sometimes it's even just hard to name much less overcome. I will be praying for you!

Gannet Girl said...

Thre is a wonderful insight here into the reality that what we fear can so often be defined as the resistance of others. When you bring it into the light that way, it's not so bad, really -- just that bit of understanding helps us understand that our fears of acring on our own authenticity come from the knowledge that others will push back and that each time they do, we will have to become a little more of who we are.

RevDrKate said...

GG...Thank you for that. As I read it I "got" another piece. Not just others' resistance but MY OWN to my own authenticity and to my own responsibility. Resisting that radical acceptance of my own self...sinner, saint, saved and struggling...the whole package. Because the more I know myself, the more I know myself to be not able to walk away from certain truths. And some days, I'd sooner resist that!

Rev SS said...

Some days I just want to say to God: "could I just quit growing for awhile?" It is very painful, this living authentically with integrity, in Christ's counter-cultural way ... his kind of love often hurts!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Yes, I was thinking yesterday about burying something from fear and an effort to try to keep it secure. I've been resisting a major risk that my husband wants to take, and yesterday when I heard the gospel, I felt as though it sliced right through that false sense that I could keep myself safe through such measures.