Perhaps it would be nice to think of life as a serene stream in a quiet wood, or a gentle lake in a mountain valley or a yoga mat amount candles, or a chair by a fireplace with a glass of port and a gingersnap slathered in creamy blue cheese. In my experience life often feels more like being inside the clothes dryer, tumbling around with a bunch of clothes and wet ego-sneakers knocking me around. Turbulent. Bouncing. Disoriented.
The great work of not being afraid is founded in the even greater work of knowing our fears and the ego which fuels them – facing fears without any form of anesthesia. Facing the topsy-turvy way life is, can be an act of great courage, and may be the only way we can actually see what we need to see – face down our egos and engage in a Holy Spirit who is willing to take our fears in her gentle hands, with those long fingers iconography always so beautifully attributes to Wisdom, taking our fears up to the Father or Mother whose love turns them from black to white and then, with a little puff, God blows them away into the moisture around stardust. This is Pentecost – the season towards which we careen in Easter joy. We live in a media-storm of fear and then, add to that our own inner insecurities – and we have a mess on our hands.
So what would it look like to look? What would it be like to live our lives so that we take the time to see what is happening in our lives? What would it be like to take note of how we hope to live and then find ways to remember those hopes?
I was recently in a meeting in which there was a subterranean combat. One person was attempting a coup, attempting to hijack the system without the intellect to bring solutions. Disruption without solution is so dangerous. I was aware that I was being triggered. I did what we are trained to do: “Anger, I am feeling anger.” “Anger, I am feeling anger.” “Against. I am feeling Against.” Slowly God seemed to pull up a chair and put His chin on my shoulder. It was grinning. That was annoying! So I just sat there and slowly I began to laugh. The people at the meeting stopped talking and looked at me like I was insane. “Why are you laughing?” one asked. The room decompressed. We changed the subject and a serenity lowered over the room like a blanket over a sleeping child.
I cannot make a room of people peaceful. I cannot make a group or a church or a family function well. I cannot stop misbehavior or manipulation, especially in an anxious system. But what I can do, must do, is face my own fears, my own prejudices, my own anger and name it – really see it and name it. And then believe that God exists – that the Holy Spirit is present in some way, trying to tickle me when I am angry.
What if Easter – all the Alleluias we keep shouting – is nothing more than believing that Jesus is present? And what if Jesus is not angry after all? What if Jesus just finds our angers, resentments, insecurities, sullenness more silly than upsetting? And what if the Holy Spirit is dancing around our meetings and our dining room tables and our lives with a mirror in one hand and the other hand free to attempt eliciting a giggle from us?