On Sunday March 11th (2012) unbeknownst to me my parishioners prepared a surprise dinner following the morning’s Divine Liturgy to celebrate my Tenth Anniversary as their Pastor. When the Liturgy was finished I took off my vestments and with my Deacon in tow (who knew what was about to happen but uttered not one word) we headed over to the Residence at the back of the property. I opened the front door and everyone inside screamed out “SURPRISE!!!” nearly scaring me to death! It was a moment of pure and instantaneous fear followed by deep delight when I realized what was actually happening was a celebration! (click pics for larger)
That initial moment leads me to wonder “Are we afraid to live?” Do our fears constrict our living? I have often wondered if there is a fine line between careful prudence (taking calculated actions in regard to the future) and fear (being immobilized by the unknowns of the future). The issue of fear in daily life is for some no small issue. Sometimes being unsure how to proceed can result in not proceeding at all… a paralysis that holds us hostage to the fear. What would happen if we chose to stop being afraid, if we chose to stop giving in to fear’s siren call? Can we choose to stop being afraid or is fear a reality against which we possess no weapons?
In fact there are some therapies in regard to phobias which gradually… through careful and incremental exposure to the fear… enable the person to become free from being controlled by it. An important point to note is though the person does still “feel” the fear they have learned to live beyond fear’s immobilizing effect. Yes we can choose to stop being afraid! Sometimes just knowing that an option is available can be therapy enough! Knowing that it is possible to live despite fears can help to dampen fear’s ability to terrorize us.
Once inside the Residence and having gotten beyond my initial terrified disorientation, I had one of the best afternoons of my life! The three Nuns for whom I am the Spiritual Father and with whom I meet once a month were there. The two Priests from the Greek Parish in Savannah were there. My mother, sister and two nephews were there as well as my 55 parishioners! Speeches were made, gifts were given, food and drink was consumed… all proving to me that there is life beyond that initial moment of terror if we dare to step in further beyond the fear.