Here I am at the service station this morning, after having gotten pulled over last night. One of my headlights isn’t working. I don’t know about you, but getting stopped by the police is right up there with root canals in my list of fears. And it doesn’t really make sense. I always follow the rules. I knew I hadn’t been speeding or making an illegal turn, and even if I had, then I would have paid the ticket and gone on my way. Despite the truth of all that, my hands shake, my heart pounds and I have this strange need to suddenly clean up the back seat…as though he’s making a housekeeping check. Of course doing that looks suspicious…like I’m trying to cover something up. Could I have something illegal there? Like an open bottle of liquor, or a stash of drugs, or, or, or…. Nothing of the sort. I rarely drink, and won’t even have half a glass of wine if I’m driving. Drugs scare the heck out of me, and the doctor has to get me in a headlock to take any medications. I hate taking drugs of any sort. I pay my taxes. I have never in my life done harm to another man, woman or child in any way, shape or form, except perhaps my younger sister in one of our “disagreements” at ages 7 and 4. So what is the big deal?
It’s the old PTSD stuff and authority figures. Major problems.
It’s why I have trouble staying at a job. And I say staying, because my work is never in question. I’m conscientious. I am enthusiastic and take pride in doing a job well. I most often get along pretty well with people. But people are people, and usually, after a certain period of time passes, something will happen. Someone will abuse their power in some way, and that feels impossible to stick around for, or even try to work through. I tell myself I’m not helpless anymore.
But the fear gets the best of me.
Pema Chodron tells a wonderful story about a warrior who has to defeat fear, and learns that what she has to do is not to do what he says to do. Even though he is huge and scary looking and he will get right in her face, the way to win the battle is simply not to act on the fear, even if he has her convinced. That can be a pretty tough order. That can even be an impossible thing for some folks.
Pema Chodron showed up in one of my dreams. It was strange. She would just appear, sitting on a bench with other people. I’d look again and she would be gone. I suppose the wisdom of her teachings is having an impact on my life. And that is a good thing. So a Buddhist nun is showing up in my dreams. I wish she’d stick around long enough that I could speak to her. Of course knowing me, I would probably be too shy to say the right thing, or ask the right question. But I’m usually a bit bolder in my dreams. Anything is possible in that strange land.
“Be Not Afraid.” That’s always the time to sit up and pay attention when some angel shows up announcing something important in scripture. Of course it seems a little ridiculous to say that to some poor, bewildered human being who doesn’t know what the heck is going on with all the light effects, and hosts of angels singing “Glory….” And besides that, even the most visionary of prophets never gets more than a glimpse of the bigger picture. And the people that angels appear to, and Jesus gets involved with, are just plain, ordinary people like you and me. “Be Not Afraid” just doesn’t feel like quite the right greeting. A plain old “Hello, I’m an angel, and no, you are not schizophrenic or psychotic. You’re just an ordinary person who is part of a bigger story, and I need to tell you something important. So listen up. Yes, I know you are so scared you’re afraid you’re going to pee your pants, but I promise, you’re going to get through this. I’m here to help.”
That would be a bit more down to earth. But then, angels aren’t particularly down to earth most of the time.
Fear Not my friend. Traffic tickets, police lights and sirens; tornados and floods and loss and trouble are part of a bigger picture. There is help about. Angels in disguise. And who knows but a Buddhist nun might show up in your dreams to calm you down, slow you down, make you think. And you too could find yourself typing a blog in a service station.
And what would be the point of that you say? Well…I don’t know. I can’t see the bigger picture. But it never hurts to reflect a bit upon the subject of “fear.”
copyright 2011, Caris Cerdwyn, All Rights Reserved