1. Tiny dogs
2. Making mistakes
5. Teenage cats
6. Singing bowls
7. Getting Stuck
8. Hurting someone
That's just the beginning of my list of fears. When I was told to do an inventory of my fears one day at church, I thought it might help me face some of the fears. However, I didn't know how to begin or where. Life has a way of showing us some of our lessons. The question is, will I listen?
The past weekend, I was leading a retreat in the beautiful north woods of Pinewood, MN. We sat around the fire one night looking up at the stars as they appeared almost one by one. We shared some of our fear inventory. Then going inside the log home to my bedroom in the loft I attempted to go to sleep when a teenage cat, named Bobby, came jumping onto my bed. Scared, I pushed him out of the room. Without a door to my loft room, there was no way to keep him from scaring me all night. He kept coming back to me. Finally, in the darkness, I search for something to put in front of the open doorway to block Bobby. I lay down certain I can sleep now for I had put a large framed picture in the doorway. In two minutes, I see a cat flying over the picture and knocking it over with the sound of the glass breaking into a million pieces followed by my scream of terror.
At this point, Bobby's owner comes running to the loft. I apologize profusely for breaking her framed work of art. She says "never mind the art, what about my heart? I thought something tragic happened when I heard that scream!" She thens cleans up the mess and I notice the art is a beautiful nude woman in all her vulnerability.
This little incident was representative of how I deal with my fears in everyday life. I have a fear, as I try to push it away, the more it comes to me. Then I set up a blockade made of my vulnerabilities and feel safe until I realize my blockade was made of fragile glass and my most vulnerable self. Until the moment comes when my fear presents itself with a crash and I finally let out my primordial scream of release, no longer able to control, hide or deny my fear.
Bobby, the cat, was one of my greatest teachers during the retreat. He asked of me, to look at my fears, share them, and ask for help instead of building walls out of fragile parts of myself.
What are your fears? How do you try to protect yourself from your fears? Would it be better to face the fear and live without the fragile walls we build around them?
Fears are one of our greatest teachers....embrace and face their lessons and gifts.