Thanks for reading my newsletter and a warm welcome to all of you who just subscribed! I hope you will enjoy reading my reflections.
Today, I thought I would share some stories and reflections on our fear of the unknown and the courage it takes to rise each day, to meet our challenges and to keep growing.
I hope you'll find it helpful to you.
Have a great week!
Evolution: Braving the Unknown
The Courage of Everyday Life
Tall, lanky, and wearing aviator glasses, Billy from Brazil was the smartest kid in my fifth-grade class. When the teacher asked us to create plans for a unique invention, Billy created an extraordinary machine with a penguin in it. Its sneeze could freeze products rolling by on an elaborate conveyor belt. And, when the teacher asked us to write our greatest fear on index cards to share anonymously with the class, Billy put "the unknown" while half the class wrote, "the dark." (The teacher was so impressed with his response that she asked who wrote it, so Billy quietly admitted to his brilliance.)
I've always remembered his answer because 1) it was the first time I learned about being afraid of the unknown, and 2) because I thought, at the time, that my answer, "the dark," was scarier.
But since that day, I have dealt with both the dark and fear of the unknown when working with a patient. She was a young woman with a condition that caused progressive deterioration of her vision. Over 20 years, as her vision worsened, she did everything to avoid dealing with the inevitable. Finally, she came to see me because she was depressed, suicidal, overwhelmed, unprepared, and most of all, afraid of the unknown. For, she had become blind.
Despite the information on the initial intake form, every patient is a unique and unknown territory during the first session, especially in holistic psychiatry. But for this patient, I felt I needed extra help to navigate her terrain. So, before I went out of my office to greet her, I paused and tried to connect to divine support, for I was as much in the dark about how to help her, as she was to the objects around her.
During our session, I felt guided to simply listen. For two hours, she shared her life story and her struggles. At the end of our session, I searched for something wise or helpful to say, but nothing came to mind. "God, please help me!" I silently pleaded.
Then thoughts and words began to flow through me. I felt that it was coming from a wiser Source than I. My voice shook as I spoke for the next ten minutes. I talked about my hero, Hellen Keller, and I told the patient that she could have an awesome life and be a heroine to herself and others.
As she listened, the patient smiled and nodded her head in understanding. I could tell that she was catching my vision of how awesome her life could truly be. When she returned the following week, she reported that she felt much better after our session and was able to have a good time hanging out with old friends. In our second session, she shared some sacred spiritual experiences she had, and we talked about life from a spiritual perspective. She shared her belief that people chose the life they wanted to have before they were born, and we explored what that meant to her personally.
From my perspective, I perceived her as a very curious and courageous explorer of Life itself. I believed in her potential to have a wonderful life full of unique and amazing experiences. Being blind could be the beginning of a deeper awareness of the light within a vessel, rather than the light dancing off its surface.
Just as the patient and I struggled with the unknown in her healing journey, everyone struggles with the unknown every day. It takes courage to navigate life's journey. Sometimes we may choose to run away and ignore the work of facing the unknowns in our lives. At other times, we may fail to find ready wisdom or a timely solution and have to reach for divine inspiration. But, it's only when we finally face the unknowns and learn their lessons that we're able to find and receive the gifts they were meant to bring.
Facing the unknown with each of my patients has taught me to expect and accept it more willingly in my daily encounters. It is no longer my greatest fear. Rather, I have come to see the unknown as an invitation to expand our understanding of life and to trust its role in our evolution.