#wearenotafraid – even if we are

London Underground logo overwritten with the phrase "We Are Not Afraid"

#wearenotafraid

I support wholeheartedly the sentiment of #wearenotafraid.

And it also has me reflecting.

Because of course inevitably, humanly, naturally, reflexively – many of us will be experiencing fear. In our thoughts, our emotional reactions, our bodily sensations.

Some of us will also be experiencing great sadness. Or anger.

And it’s important to not mistake the #wearenotafraid message for the more pernicious, shaming and bullying “man up” attitude that is so detestable, out-dated and psychologically ill-informed.

At its most inspiring, #wearenotafraid, as I relate to it, means something like

“I might be afraid, and there’s nothing wrong with me for being afraid, and yet, I will find within me the courage to carry on with my life in spite of my fear, as an act of defiance and resistance.”

With a big nod to Susan Jeffers, we both allow ourselves to feel our fear, and to “do it” – live, love, gather, work, travel, laugh – anyway.

I personally often need to remind myself that one of the essential steps towards finding the courage to “do it anyway” is first feeling and owning all the feelings and physical sensations I have in response to something, and if they’re overwhelming, talking to someone else I trust about them. Without this step we’re dangerously close to the realms of dissociation, denial, and supression, which have no part in true courage.

In the immediate face of danger, of course, the amazing human psyche is capable of suppressing debilitating fear in order for us to save ourselves or others. I am constantly in awe of what people are capable of in the face of terror. And men and women who regularly face threat in the line of their duty know better than most of us that some form of after-the-fact, healthy, honest decompression, mixed, usually, with an impressive dose of black humour, is essential to getting up again the next day and doing it all over again.

#kindness

This caught my eye at the beginning of my commute. Not left on the floor but kindly placed where it might be found. “Please touch”? I was touched. Message for me?

IMG_8531.JPGToday, kindness is the key.

#busy doing nothing

Light filtering through trees in a forestWhat if the most important thing you could do today was show that sometimes it’s ok – it’s essential – to be doing nothing? Here are some thoughts from Quaker Faith and Practice. And you might also be interested in this poem about the sacred gift of doing nothing.

Living a full life

There is, it sometimes seems, an excess of religious and social busyness these days, a round of committees and conferences and journeyings, of which the cost in ‘peaceable wisdom’ is not sufficiently counted. Sometimes we appear overmuch to count as merit our participation in these things… At least we ought to make sure that we sacrifice our leisure for something worthy. True leisureliness is a beautiful thing and may not lightly be given away. Indeed, it is one of the outstanding and most wonderful features of the life of Christ that, with all his work in preaching and healing and planning for the Kingdom, he leaves behind this sense of leisure, of time in which to pray and meditate, to stand and stare at the cornfields and fishing boats, and to listen to the confidences of neighbours and passers-by…

Most of us need from time to time the experience of something spacious or space-making, when Time ceases to be the enemy, goad-in-hand, and becomes our friend. To read good literature, gaze on natural beauty, to follow cultivated pursuits until our spirits are refreshed and expanded, will not unfit us for the up and doing of life*, whether of personal or church affairs. Rather will it help us to separate the essential from the unessential, to know where we are really needed and get a sense of proportion. We shall find ourselves giving the effect of leisure even in the midst of a full and busy life. People do not pour their joys or sorrows into the ears of those with an eye on the clock*.

* My emphasis

Caroline C Graveson, 1937, Quaker Faith and Practice 21.22