I was recently reading a story by Tosha Silver about a time when she was in India and attended a fire ceremony for Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty and wealth. During the ceremony a huge spider crawled on her hand. She was extremely afraid of spiders so she gasped and swatted it away. One of the priests came over and yelled at her asking what she was doing and then saying it was Mahalakshmi herself coming to bless her.
This really struck me. How often is the Divine presented in one’s fears as a blessing yet the blessing cannot be received because of not wanting to stay in the fear and see it differently? Tosha later tells of a night where a huge spider was on the ceiling and instead of spinning stories of fear she entered a conversation with it. Looking at the spider as a blessing while also letting it know it can have the ceiling while she can have the bed.
What would it look like in this season of political and circumstantial uncertainty, which can stir up the most basic of fears, to instead of reacting in fear, one tries responding by interacting with what is most frightening. As contemplatives engaging oneself is the step before engaging the circumstance. Facing fears, (or insecurities, resistance, exhaustion) and all the issues within before just swatting at what frightens us. Bringing God in and asking where is the blessing in this?
I tried this once when I moved into my home, which had been empty for several months and had very large roaches enjoying the empty space. I am not a fan of roaches and they do cause me to want to run and hide. There were so many I could not just run away and hope they also would disappear. So I asked what is the blessing in this roach? The answers where numerous! I have a home, there has been a lot of rain, my home is surrounded by beautiful plants and trees, I am free to act in many ways, and I am no longer fearful of roaches. Now I need to say I am not so enlightened that I could coexist with the roaches running all over my home. I called an exterminator. Yet the reality of where I live with all the plant life is that bugs are a part of it and when we bump into each other I am now able to see the blessing.
Taking this to larger issues takes more time and practice. I have to say just asking the question “What is God’s blessing in this?” has helped me to at least stop and look at my fears. Try this week as we enter a political shift and uncertainty. Let me know what you notice.
If you are looking for help in this area, I highly recommend the Rising Strong workshop on Saturday and Quiet Places on Sunday. The book I was reading is called Outrageous Openness and it is our Intentional Reading selection in March.