Wrestling with Fear

It’s 3:30AM. Pat and I watched Of Gods and Men last night. I was torn between the beauty of the community services the nine Trappist monks faithfully offered their mostly Muslim community in Algeria and their equally faithful daily routine of traditional (ancient) Catholic ritualistic practices. I was curious as to how such routinely ritualistic practices could sustain the monks as they faced terrorism, corruption, and ultimate martyrdom. What was their relationship with Jesus Christ and with the formal structure of the Roman Catholic Church? How did these bring peace and direction to their lives?

But I am up well before dawn, so something disturbs me. I see that this film took me back to my liturgical roots in the Lutheran Church. For me my church experience was so much form without substance. The liturgy became monotonous and its meaning irrelevant to what was true in my life – a going-through-the-motions. But was I missing something? Can such daily ritual, weekly for me, sustain one?

The formal rigid routine and ritual I grew up with in the Lutheran Church, complemented with its inflexible dogma, left me in a straightjacket of fear at a profound level. This movie took me back to this fear. I realize that reading Pathwork Lectures and through these writings and practices wrestling with my own faith and my own relationship with God and Jesus Christ is a journey of healing and purification that brings me more joy and peace. This Pathwork journey, as I am living it, seems closer to Truth and resonates more deeply with what is alive within me. It calls ME forth from the “dead.” It leads to awakening.

But still, is my chosen journey under the guidance of Pathwork OK? The old inner critic again stands at my door saying, “No Gary, get back to the Lutheran dogma you grew up with. Bible, Bible, Bible!” But another voice, a deeper voice, rejects turning my life over to something that is not ME, something that does not fit me. So I walk into the desert ultimately alone. It is the way it has to be. Grounded in my own truth, in what is true for me. I feel so fortunate to have Pat and friends who can be present to me on this journey that I have chosen.

But the fear still surfaces. How do I face what appears to be so solid in the faith of others but does not seem to fit me? My helper-friend’s meditation on Jesus Christ at last week’s transformation program went well I’m told. On one level I am eager to hear the recording she made of it. On another level it brings up fear. Something screams from within, “Gary, you, as she does, should also have this ‘faith’ in Jesus Christ as central in your life! You are a reprobate!” Can I be with this voice, and hear it, learn of its history and of what makes it so strong? This voice is full of fear. I feel the fear. Yes, this voice is full of fear. It is a young voice, a very young voice. So can I pick this fearful part of me up and just hold him, stroke him, comfort him, have compassion on him? “It will be fine.  It will be fine, my young friend.”

And this young part of me is fearful about a lot of things. Even the past three or four blogs frighten him. “Gary, you have gone too far, shared too much, shared inappropriately. Do you realize some of your family reads this, some of your friends? What are you doing?!” Yes, I can recognize this voice. It is the same young voice, scared to be the ME that is. And yet the ME that is will not be silenced. It seems it can’t be silenced. Even when it scares this young part of me. So this is a process of helping the fearful young one in me to grow and mature and eventually outgrow his fear and celebrate life. The slow and patient work of God. But it is why I am here! Wrestle on.