An Old Fashioned Antidote to Fear
I’ve really grown to love religion. I know for some the word “religion” connotes judgmental people and cold institutions with too many rules, but for me it is a great, vast synonym for MYSTERY. I can’t get enough religious testimony, poetry, hymns, songs, or prayers – no matter the tradition from which they come. If it speaks or sings of divine love, big light, and ineffable wisdom, I gobble it down like fresh baked bread with extra butter.
Most of you know that I started my religious path with Zen Buddhism. I was drawn to its simple teaching about getting down to the pure, bare bones of life, a.k.a. cutting through one’s own bullshit. Zen comes with a lot of warning about going past our attachment to preferences, including the way we carve up the world into things we think we like and things we think we don’t (extra emphasis on THINK). When I formally left Zen to live with Brad, it took this principle about not being attached to trickster preferences to a whole new level.
Mostly because Brad, like all old school shamans, gets his marching orders and teachings from on high. This means he is sometimes unpredictable. It turns out living like this is a great way to keep the ego in check, because no one can choose what comes down the visionary pipeline. As soon as we think we know best what direction to take, what we should write next, and so on, we often receive a totally unexpected visionary lesson. It’s a good thing I love surprises.
(I’m guessing that the people who keep hanging out in our mentorship program love surprises, too).
The point is, I have found that the more open I am to welcoming all the packages in which religious mystery is delivered, the more able I am to taste and be nourished by the sacred bread and butter. So on that note, Brad was sent to the spiritual classrooms recently and brought down this teaching about facing panic and fear. It has been feeding us ever since:
Last night I dreamed I was at the elementary school I attended as a child in Smithville, Missouri. When I looked out the classroom window I saw a colossal tornado heading toward the school. It was obvious that we would be struck and likely destroyed by its mighty whirling wind. The children and teachers immediately ran to the cafeteria and went underneath the tables. Everyone was screaming with fear. People reached out to hold each other’s hands, hoping this would help anchor them so they would not be blown away by the wind. I started to do the same, but suddenly noticed that I had no fear, nor did I feel the need to take cover. I felt the deepest sense of peace and relaxation amidst all the panic and chaos.
The tornado hit the school straight on with maximal impact and the walls were immediately peeled away and tossed high into the sky. I watched all the children in front of me be lifted and carried away as well. I remained sitting on the floor unaffected by anything—neither the storm nor the torn away walls had upset me. All I could feel was the trembling of an inner sacred vibration within my body, the dynamic presence of God’s blessed assurance. It had proven to me that it was stronger than all the forces of nature.
Then suddenly without notice the storm ended and the sun came out. I sat trembling with peace and joy rather than fear and worry. I was flooded with the understanding that the more you are infused with divine thunder and lightning, the less frenetic with panic you become in the face of calamity and disaster. In other words, the more excited you are about God, the calmer you are about the challenges and troubles that are a part of everyday life. Or perhaps it is better said this way: the more frenzy you whip up for the Creator, the more steady and peaceful you become.
Out of the blue, I heard these words spoken: “Wonder working power.” The chorus of an old hymn came over me: “There is wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb.” I was jolted by the phrase “wonder working power,” as it perfectly described what I felt during the storm. This power comes as a sacred vibration that pulses inside us when we feel so close to God that ecstatic joy and song can erupt at any moment. Though I have experienced this wonder working power rock me in praise houses and Kalahari dance circles many times before, in this vision I profoundly felt its truth in a new way.
More than anything else, each of us needs wonder working power. When the strong winds blow, nothing less than the earth shaking medicine of holy spiritual power will keep you grounded, steady, and wrapped in peace.
Get down on your knees or take a stand and call for the wonder working power of n/om*. Request it out loud like you are sincerely asking it to come near you. Wait to be moved by something that by comparison makes a tornado seem like a sparrow’s breath. The wonder that arrives is nothing like the illusory trick of a Hollywood movie or the cheap thrill of an amusement ride – it is the wonder working power of heaven’s inspiration and the holy life-giving breath of spiritual respiration. Pray this way: “Holy Spirit, breathe on me, and instill your wonder working power.” Asking for anything less usually leaves you in a mess. Only call for the wonder working power. Its sacred vibration delivers you to highest love, holiest grace, and safest place.
*Kalahari Bushman word for Holy Spirit or “wonder working power.”
– The Keeneys, June 24, 2017