For Christmas, I asked for a new devotional. As a recovering evangelical I crave the spirituality of my childhood without the need for certainty that came with it. I missed the community and the connection to something larger. I craved the spiritual building blocks and self-discovery that came with Christianity. So my mother checked off my Christmas list with Rabbi Shoni Labowitz book “Miraculous Living, a Guided Journey In Kabbalah Through the Ten Gates of the Tree of Life.”
Each morning I sit by the fireplace with Mozi (my puppy) on my lap and a cup of tea in hand as I read the 2-3 pages of contemplation for the day. Then I sit in a guided meditation from the book.
It’s been a morning routine that brings rest to my anxiety, something ever-growing in the age of Coronavirus. It provides structure to my life and it settles the craving for spirituality that I’ve been looking for. To say I love this book and morning ritual is an understatement and it’s what brought me to this morning’s thoughts.
Today’s reading was all about courage in a time of uncertainty and every word seemed to have been written for this day. I’d like to share an excerpt with you:
“In the midst of chaos, turmoil, and negativity, some people hide from their feelings and close access to their own hearts. Other people react with profound faith, open hearts, and a committed courage to go on. And despairing times and overwhelming situations, where do you get your courage to continue? You do not run away and hide; you turn around and touch the hand of God that holds your heart. You access the heart within yourself and your vision of the heartbeat of the universe, which is not lost touch with compassion, love, joy, strength, wisdom, and understanding there are the divine attributes with which you were season for delivery into this world. Your heart is the center spoke On the wheel of your life. It is the point of intersection of God’s qualities inside of you.
You will notice that stories of courage usually take place during trying times, when people of vision refuse to give up their dreams of a benevolent people in a world of holiness… The stories of courage continue in you as you open your heart and see beyond yourself to the dreams God is dreaming and you. Courage and open-heartedness live in your visions of benevolence and holiness, your acts of compassion and love, your perseverance toward strength and discernment. With courage and open-heartedness, your life increases and meaning and your contribution to this world extends beyond your time in the space. In your heart you set the foundation and draw a template upon which others can tread lightly and live deeply, following their own pursuits, their own image of God, and their own inner visions for serving goodness. It takes courage to live fully. It takes courage also to live to the fullness of your potential being which is as best as your choices and requires you to have faith in yourself and trust in God.
Emotional courage asked you to circumvent your fears and accomplish your desires before they become too great to handle. Go with the beginner’s mind. Innocent of negative perceptions and emotional blockages. Beginners mind is free, easy, empty and opened; it does not analyze or criticize. It speaks it’s truth freely and succinctly.”
These words spoke life into me. I won’t lie and say that I’m not nervous about what the future holds. That’s a trait I’ve held onto since I was a child; always worrying. Between the changing dynamics of our society, the emptying grocery stores, the lack of photography work and even the announcement of part of my paycheck being deferred, I hold a lot of anxiety about what is to come. But just as the greatest heroes in our history took courage in trying times I know that this situation is no worst than any of theirs. In fact, in so many ways it’s a much less trying time, at least in my case.
This time of isolation might just be the perfect time to start looking within and witnessing the truth that God placed in each of us that we haven’t taken the time to discover. Instead of scrolling through social media or nervously watching the news we can be going within ourselves to face the feelings and thoughts we’ve been avoiding. Or maybe it’s embracing the passions that we haven’t been giving time to and now have the space to learn French, or start painting again or write that book that you’ve dreamed of but have been too scared to start.
Courage, my friend, has nothing to do with fear. Fear will continue to exist. It’s when you step into that fear and create momentum that allows your fear to start to back off (just listen to this Andrew Huberman
talk about it starting at minute 32:00). So as we embrace new times and new days that don’t look like our usual routine, I encourage you to step into courage. To walk through the fear, to look into yourself and to be open to kindness, love, and compassion in a time where these things are needed most of all. Know that you aren’t the only one feeling unsteady and unsure but that you can get through this and to do it with courage, you will be able to live fully and to witness your full potential.
As my girl, Rachel Hollis always says, “This isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you.” How do we take these trying times and become stronger for it? How do we allow courage to change us in ways we never thought were possible? The answers to these questions are within you, if you have the courage to seek out the answers.
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