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Fear and Freedom

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. /
I would like to see you living / In better conditions.”

“Move from within. / Don’t move the way that fear wants you to. /
Begin a foolish project. / Noah did.” 


I smiled yesterday when lucy commented about my journey of fearlessness because this subject of fear and freedom has been on my heart a lot lately.  There is something very liberating about living into the freedom I am being invited to and not letting fear dictate the choices I make.  Most of the time I am at the cottage I experience a sense of deep peacefulness and joy, a sense of such rightness about the place and the season ahead. 

But there are certainly some moments when I begin to question this choice, how can I make this writer and artist path financially viable?  Will I ever have any security if I keep following this way?  How long can I live on savings?  Thankfully one of my practices right now is intentionally not trying to figure things out, to try and be fully present and simply live into the invitation I feel stirring within me, whatever that may be in a given moment — to make art, write, stretch, walk, eat, sleep.  I have given myself this season ahead and I don’t have to anticipate what comes next because doing so takes me away from the experience of this gift.

Our dog Tune is a Weimaraner, which means her breed was developed for hunting.  She loves being outdoors and when she gets a scent she becomes completely focused on it.  For this reason I have hesitated about letting her off leash, I worry she will run and run, following the scent and lose her way back.  She also spent most of her life in a kennel without much freedom at all until we got her in January, so it feels safer to keep her tethered.  Walking on the beach the other day, I realized that the path is bordered on one side by the water and the other by a high banking, so there are really only two directions she can go.  I took a risk and released her.  She suddenly began to run in this joyful burst of speed and playfulness, romping to her heart’s content, running back and forth and acting much younger than her ten years.  I realized my fears have kept her from this exuberant gallop and so I am going to keep letting her off leash down on the beach and positively reinforce her return to me. 

Something else happened as she took off running, I felt a physical shift in my own body.  I experienced her sense of release and being so fully herself in my blood.  The connection to her deepest desires in that moment rippled through me in an encounter with pure joy.

“A false sense of security is the only kind there is” said Michael Meade when I heard him speak last month.  There is a part of me that longs for the package that comes with full-time employment — retirement benefits, health & disability insurance, a regular paycheck.  But as we know from the suddenness of corporate lay-offs, those securities are fleeting.  There are, of course, no guarantees about anything.

The more I live into the places that feel risky and uncertain, the more alive I feel, the closer I feel to what the Holy One desires for me — a life of freedom — unleashed.

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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20 Responses

  1. Thanks so much Kathy, I love this line of yours: ” I’m walking toward my truth, and I am being led, and that is the sweetest freedom of all.” Amen.

    I adore Lynn Ungar’s poetry and this is one of my favorites, good to be reminded of it. My favorite line is “Gone to the fields / to be lovely. Be back when I’m through / with blooming.”

  2. Your entry today was so touching. I danced along with you and Tune….I have so grappled with this issue of fear. That was my New Year’s resolution. My sons and I wrote down what we wanted to let go of, that was no longer serving us. We each took turns burning our pieces of paper in a bowl outside and then let the wind take it away. It was night and there was a gentle snow falling. The sky was an illuminated pink, mother-of-pearl hue. Such a feeling of being held and released. Fear still creeps in, just like you describe. Like most recently, paying my graduate school tuition and thinking, “What are you doing?….that could have gone toward your retirement!” But then I get that sweet feeling in my soul that I’m walking toward my truth, and I am being led, and that is the sweetest freedom of all…I leave you with a poem:

    Camas Lilies
    Consider the lilies of the field,
    the blue banks of camas opening
    into acres of sky along the road.
    Would the longing to lie down
    and be washed by that beauty
    abate if you knew their usefulness,
    how the natives ground their bulbs
    for flour, how the settler’s hogs
    uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
    oblivion as the flowers fell?

    And you – what of your rushed and
    useful life? Imagine setting it all down –
    papers, plans, appointments, everything

    leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields
    to be lovely. Be back when I’m through
    with blooming.”

    Even now, unneeded and uneaten, the
    camas lilies gaze out above the grass
    from their tender blue eyes.
    Even in sleep your life will shine.
    Make no mistake.
    Of course
    your work will always matter.
    Yet, Solomon in all his glory
    was not arrayed like one of these.

    Camas Lilies © by Lynn Ungar

  3. Ann, thanks so much for sharing your story, I am very moved by your courage and finding a kindred spirit in the need to “continue this path until I feel led to the next one” — Amen. Many blessings, Christine

  4. Christine,

    I haven’t checked your blog in awhile as I moved last month from Tennessee to Florida. I’m so glad I checked it tonight! Your post spoke volumes to me as right now as I am also not gainfully employed. I am taking some Sabbath time to get settled, help my six-year-old get settled in a new school and just listen to what God is telling me. My brother is having fits about this as I am also living off my savings and since my husband’s death am responsible for all the income. Even so, I feel that this is where The Spirit is leading me and I plan to continue this path until I feel led to the next one. Good for you for doing the same! I loved the photos of Tune – how expressive they are! Blessings . . .

  5. Thanks Suz, she is so soulful and a great companion. I am enjoying having a place to bring some of the fruits of my time.

    Thanks for the comments J, Me, and Bette. I am grateful you are all here on the journey alongside of me.

  6. so glad Tune enjoyed her freedom. you gave her a special gift by letting her do that. seeing these photos of her excitement was a pure delight for me as well :)