Spirituality

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled and Do Not Let Them Be Afraid

Why do we fear?  Fear is a universal human experience.  None of us are completely free of fear of one kind or another.  Sometimes life ‘teaches’ us to fear.  We have experiences that we remember and we are afraid of them happening again.  There are associations we make which produce fear in us or we mentally predict the outcomes of situations, and that brings fear.  We can be afraid of what is unknown and what is out of our control, of upcoming events and things we must face and things that are not there at all.  I remember my great-grandmother, a wonderful, no-nonsense, upright Presbyterian woman, saying, “Step ahead gaily, the trouble up ahead isn’t there”!  Each one of us would have things in our lives that we recognize as triggers of fear and that we do our best to avoid.  Sometimes we invest a lot of emotional energy in those fearful imaginings.  In terms of the evolution of our species, as with that of all other species, we are hard-wired to fear.  Fear is necessary for our survival.  We need to be able to sense what is threatening to us and take action to avoid it.  In this sense, fear is a positive thing and it is there to safeguard life and the future of life.  But fear can do just the opposite.  Our fears can define our lives, setting parameters around what we will try or do.  These fears can be utterly debilitating and if we are not careful can lead to severely diminished lives.  There is also a pervasive, general fear that is common to all humanity and that is what we might call an existential fear.  It is the fear of our own nothingness, our own mortality and often much angst is produced by this fear.  This existential fear has also produced some of the most powerful art, music and literature and much energy often goes into the rage against it, as the poet Dylan Thomas exclaimed, “Do not go gentle into that good night / Old age should burn and rage at close of day / Rage, rage against the dying of the light”…

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Ms Kerry McCullough

Dean of Mission