Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Be Not Afraid!

Here I am!  Gazing at the beautiful waters swallowing the sun the evening of November 20, 2011.  This is Port Phillips Bay (Melbourne, Australia).  Contemplating this lovely moment I recall how I kept putting off this trip to Australia because of my fear of flying over so much water, or for that matter, flying over all those hours.  Now that I have visited this land and returned to my own land, there are so many lovely moments that I carry in my treasure house of memories.  I sit on my soul's front porch and allow the memories to become icons that illuminate my prayer.  Much of my meditation these days has centered around the invitation to move through life without excessive fear.  The gospels are full of words encouraging us not to live in fear.  These words sound a bit like a commandment, at times.  Even in the Christmas gospel announcing the birth of Jesus, Luke has the angel saying to the shepherds,

"Do not be afraid: for behold I proclaim
to you news of great  joy
that will be for all the people."

I have been reading Tony Hillerman’s memoir, Seldom Disappointed and am quite moved by some of the things he shares about his mother teaching him not to be afraid.  Listen to these wise words:

“Mama’s life had taught her that youth must have its adventures, whatever the risk.   She passed that wisdom along, … and also somehow taught me that even day-dreaming has value. Her most important lesson was not be afraid of anything.   “Offer it up, Mama would say, hugging us while she said it.  When life seemed awful, cruel and unfair, Mama would remind us that it was just a brief trial we had to endure, a race we had to run, a test we had to pass as best we could.  We were born, we live a little while, then we’d die.  Then would come joy, the great adventure of Eternal Life.  So children never be afraid, never, never.  Not of spiders [avoid the black widow and she avoids you]  not of lightening [avoid standing under trees in storms] not of storm clouds [see the beauty in them, the majesty; but if you see tornado funnels, we’ll have a little picnic in the root cellar].  Not of drowning [God loves you but expects you to use common sense]  Not of snakes [they were  our allies in humanity’s war against rats and mice].

Sometimes we can’t hear the encouragement of “be not afraid.”  sometimes we have to fly over the big waters of our own life to find the joyful news that we really can take risks; we really can listen to advice and make choices.  We don’t have to do everything alone.  And we don’t have to do everything together.  We are always juggling solitude and community.  Each of these are angels of good news.

The flowers above are a gift from the sea.  They turned out to be a  symbol of great beauty for us on my last night in Melbourne.  Sister Aileen found them on the beach during her morning walk.  She didn't find them all together but at different intervals of time.  We wondered, as we enjoyed them on our last day and at our evening prayer, if we were being intrusive in someone else's life celebration.  Obviously these flowers held a story, a memory of love celebrated and shared, a beautiful mystery whose story we would never fully know.  We thanked and prayed for the original owners and brought them to our prayer.   

All this is to say that the fear in my heart has softened.  Of course it is necessary to be cautious but life is a gift to be lived.  And so, I encourage you, whoever you are, to sit on the front porch of your soul embracing your fears.  Who knows but in that embrace they may become angels of joy flying you to places you only day-dreamed about.  I, for one, am very happy about the angels who were responsible for flying me into this lovely mystical land.


  1. This is an inspiration! How much do we miss of life's adventure and beauty when we look out through fearful lenses!
    Thank-you Macrina!...

  2. God bless you, Macrina! I thank God every day for the inspiration you have brought into my life since your visit to Christchurch, NZ.

    You have taught me so much and continue to do so through my notes taken at both retreats and through your writing.

    I will send this link to my three sisters, and also to my daughter!

    Today is close to the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere while you are close to the winter solstice. Light and dark, summer and winter... The same world and the same Christmas.

    Thank you for being the light of Christ to me and to so many others.