Facing our Fears


This is the weekly reflection from The Henri Nouwen Society followed by my own reflection for today.


On the Journey Towards Accepting my Fears

"Sometimes it’s really hard to get up in the morning," the rabbi told us.

He was middle-aged, but he had a very young, enthusiastic spirit as he told us about his synagogue in Jerusalem where people with intellectual disabilities not only were welcome but had become key members of the community. We laughed as he told us funny stories about how people with disabilities had helped to break down barriers between groups in his synagogue. He acknowledged that his congregation’s openness to people with intellectual disabilities had caused some to leave – yet far more new people had joined, attracted by the spirit of acceptance and inclusion.

The rabbi also shared with us some of his own story – about meeting his wife on a kibbutz and, with her, making the decision to stay in Israel and raise their children, now talented young adults off on their own. This remarkable man told us all that, but what I remember, word for word, was that one sentence of admission, "Sometimes it’s really hard to get up in the morning." We had asked him what it was like to live in the midst of such conflict and insecurity, and he had told us the truth.

It is sometimes hard for me too. I don’t live in war-torn Israel, but some mornings I am also afraid of the day. I am grateful for having met that vulnerable rabbi that day in Jerusalem. He took the risk to share with us the humanity of his fear. His story gave me courage to accept my own.


Boy, do I ever identify with that. Sometimes I find it hard to get up in the morning too. Just ask the folks at 8 AM Mass and you will find out about sleeping in on the occasion or two. All kidding aside, the inability to great the day, is not about trouble with an alarm clock, but rather with fear. I think that if we all acknowledge what we feel, e could all admit to having days when we would rather just bury our heads under a pillow. We have conflict and insecurities and pains in our lives and some days they are hard to face. But yet we must. We must continue as there are kids to raise, friends to greet, work to do, jobs to complete, communities to enrich and make whole, jokes to tell, meals to share, a tear to wipe, a kiss to give, partners to love,  relationships to celebrate, hands to hold, wounds to heal, places to go, and above all LIFE to enjoy. That is right life to enjoy. Even when it is difficult to do so. Even when it pains us to do so. Even when we feel that the pain is overwhelming – we have to acknowledge the great gift that life is and celebrate what we can in it. Let’s find the honesty of the rabbi and seek to be able to say – I don’t want to face the day. Then let us have the courage of that same rabbi who has helped carve a beautiful community around him, get up, place our feet on the floor, and be off with faith to meet the day ached of us – facing all of those fears.

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