“I Am Afraid”

I said this aloud to someone the other day. It took me hours to accomplish the task. Why?

First, I had to figure out what I felt, at bottom. For me, this requires a sifting, or sorting through. When I have fear-based reactions, they often propel me quickly into solutions – actions to take; things I must say. So quickly do I move into action that I may be unaware of the initial feelings.

I have come to see that, although there seems to be a certain urgency to do or say something, action is rarely required, or rarely the most suitable response. After all, I am not doing triage in an ER. No one is bleeding on the gurney. Although, it may feel as if I am.

Knowing this about myself, I waited. And, the realization came to me: I am afraid. I had named what it was, and backed off the need to fix it. And then the urgency quieted.

Urgency is one thing. Shame is another. I have, until the last decade, not understood that my shame around fear doubled my dilemma. Not only did I feel afraid, and in need of action; I also felt my fear was deeply wrong.

Many of us have felt deeply wrong about something. It can be about emotion, as in my case. It can also be about addiction; a medical condition such as depression; or a traumatic event that victimized us. It can be about identity, as we know from the phenomenon of the closet.

Shame is insidiously powerful. It denies access to those parts of us that need the most attention, love and integration. It cuts us off from others.

How then, can we heal – sitting alone, with the strong-box of our dis-ease stashed safely under the bed?

This is why the story-telling component of recovery is so powerful. Or, why, I think Jesus asked so many people “What would you have me do for you?”

We need to be able to say it, aloud, for the healing to begin. To name the thing that needs attention and love. To coax it out from under the bed.

It’s paradoxical….we’d rather die than say the thing we most dread. And, yet, to live, we must.

Amen.

About Soul Intention

"Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with...desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality." from The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser. Paraphrasing what Gerald May has said, in his book Will and Spirit, spirituality is our experience and interpretation of our relationship with the Sacred. The intent of this blog is to explore for myself, and to invite others to explore with me, just what is it we do with our desire? What is our spirituality? Mine has been shaped by many things...in my formative years, by the Roman Catholic church. In the last decade, by the 12 steps. Most recently, by the Episcopal Church. And, always, always, by the sense that Nature helped to reveal the Great Mystery, of which we are all a part. So, my spirituality includes concrete practices, like the Steps, as well as probing more philosophical matters. I was certified, in January 2011, as a Spiritual Director by the Haden Institute. During those 21 months of study, which included a broad range of topics from Celtic Spirituality, to the Christian Mystics, to Jungian Depth psychology, I was given the space and time to ponder my own spiritual journey, hear about others' paths, and benefit from participation in an intentional community. My hope is that this blog can engender a similar conversation. Peace, Paul
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