These are dark days indeed that we are living in. Every day more news of horror and despair, death and destruction. The life we lived in 2019 seems like a dream. And surrounded by all that is painful and appalling, that insidious liar—Fear—has been having a field day in my mind. Fear of the future, fear of death, fear for my children, and fear of all the unknowns has been eating me up, destroying me emotionally and mentally. To put it baldly, courage has been glaringly lacking in my thought process these past few weeks.
When you’re befuddled by the fumes of fear, even the smallest tasks seem herculean. It’s almost paralysing in its power. And even as I struggled, futilely trying to free myself, I felt those tendrils of terror slither close around me, tightening, contracting, and squeezing the life out of me. Exhausted from fighting those frightening impressions—all that fear was whispering in my ear, all that it was implying, and all that it threatened—I wanted to give up. The spectre of death haunted me, filling me with dread. I couldn’t function.
So I did what I normally do when I’m struggling – I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You might say it was my way of coping with reality.
To some it might seem like escapist fantasy, but having grown up on a steady diet of fairy tales since childhood, if there’s one thing I’ve learned is to never underestimate the power of an excellently written story.
In the book—and movingly depicted in the movie—there is a quiet, yet powerful conversation between Frodo and Gandalf. After hearing the terrible history of the One Ring,
‘Frodo sat silent and motionless. Fear seemed to stretch out a vast hand, like a dark cloud rising in the East and looming up to engulf him…
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ’
That last line deeply moved me.
I realised that I cannot control anything that I am currently experiencing or might experience in the future. Death and all the sorrow it entails is not within my purview.
Of course I wish—like Frodo—that the pandemic had not occurred in my lifetime. Yet, I don’t get to decide that. What I can control is my reactions and behaviour during this period. When faced with fear, I can respond with courage. Not because I know what the future holds, but precisely because I don’t know, I can choose to respond in faith.
That takes courage.
It’s a daily choosing. A daily reminder. To employ this time that I’ve been given, not cowering but rather, holding my head up, looking ahead with a clear-eyed gaze, and putting my hands to good use.
It takes a rare kind of courage to find hope in the midst of despair. To not give up but rather endure. To, one day, say like Paul – ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’ (2 Timothy 4:7, The Bible)
I hope I can live that courageously today.
Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash
2 Comments Add yours
Such thoughtful writing ! Enjoyed reading it 🙂
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Thanks Irene! Glad you enjoyed it!
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