Saturday, October 11, 2008

Be Not Afraid; This Too Will Pass Away

So says the reader board at the local Lutheran church on Highway 525. And when it first went up, only hours after I wrote about how my spirits had lifted while singing "Come Sing a Song With Me", it had the effect of confirming my best hopes: we can do this, we can survive and thrive in hard times because we've done it before. We need not fear. We have each other and the beauty around us. These hard times will pass.

In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer this morning, the Rev. Anthony Robinson, author of a regular PI column, writes of his seven part prescription for living in anxious times. He acknowledges the deep anxiety that we as humans naturally feel when faced with danger and challenge and offers his thoughts about managing that anxiety. It tallies so well with the Lutherans' wisdom that I want to pass it along.

Here's my paraphrase of Rev. Robinson's prescription for non-anxious living:
1. We've done it before; we can do it again. Human living is filled with challenge. We have surmounted and conquered those challenges in the past. We can do it now too. The old hymn, Amazing Grace, says it this way: "through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home."

2. Gratitude is an antidote to depression and anxiety. "Count your blessings, name them one by one"---another old hymn comes to mind. If you compare your blessings to your non-blessings, you'll doubtless find that the good stuff outweighs the bad. For example, no matter your political persuasion, isn't it a blessing that a black man is a candidate for president of the US?

3. Focus on the things that are forever, not the limits of our resources. Love doesn't fail; oil and retirement funds may run out, but love is an unlimited resource, like the sun and the wind and the life that infuses all.

4. Service to others defuses anxiety and swamps those bad feelings in a wave of caring for others. So many of our friends and neighbors need our help; reaching out to them puts our lives into a better perspective and creates connections that heal us and those we touch.

5. Celebrate the simple, the ordinary. Pet the cat. Play with the dog. Go for a walk in the autumn glory. Shop the farmers' market. Pick the last tomatoes. Make jam. Pick the blackberries off that annoying bramble pile and be grateful for that silver lining to a pesky invader.

6. Remember to be responsive, not reactive. When we're anxious, we tend to speak before thinking, worry before reflecting, blow up before considering the consequences. We can be agents of peace instead of instigators of more anxiety.

7. Laugh at the absurdities of life! Consciously bring humor and laughter into your life. If you need to watch an old sit-com instead of the news, do it. Read the comics instead of the headlines. Laughing lightens the load and makes it easier to keep things in perspective.

It's easy to be discouraged and angry about the mismanagement of the financial markets, the bumbling of government officials, the high prices at the store and pump, but we need not be despairing.

Be Not Afraid. This Too Will Pass Away.

PS. I haven't been able to get Blogger to let me insert the link, so here's the URL, in case you want to read the column:


Mile High Pixie said...

Wow! This is wonderful! I live the "you've done it before, you'll do it again" thought. What great lessons for living. I'm gonna have to print this our and put it up in my cubicle as well as forward it around to my friends. Good words for anxious times indeed.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Pixie, I'm honored you think so.

Debra W. Haffner said...

This is a nice reminder, Ms. Kitty. In the past four days, six people have told me how they are personally anxious about the election. The tips are great.