He talked with his wife about his growing anger resulting in impatience or vice versa. Some have to do with age and experiencing the creeping onset and advance of various illnesses and general decline — an assault on his image of himself as a life-long fitness freak and some unresolved issues from the past, but some have to do with everything that is swirling around — politically, ideologically, racially, environmentally and a worldwide pandemic.
He knows all the theological/spiritual responses to the loss of control and while he agrees with those responses and ponders and practices them — yielding, giving up the illusion of control, letting go and letting God, finding meaning in vulnerability, trusting, following Jesus, practicing mindfulness, doing meditations, contemplation, centering prayer, etc. — he is afraid he is far from totally internalizing them.
And then there was that word, that “at the bottom of everything word.” He realized he is “afraid” not just about internalizing the spiritual disciplines but that he is afraid, simply afraid; and in that simple act of verbalizing of fear, his fear and naming the “demon,” and the truth of that revelation, ironically he felt comfort begin to settle in, giving him a sense of calm and hope and the sense that he was farther along the spiritual path than he had thought.
Yes, he thought, we are all afraid of various things for various reasons but ultimately all those things are related to — decline and death in one form or another.
And then his wife said, “It’s a start, dear.”
“A start? I’ve been at this for years.”
“Well, starts are better than stops unless you are driving a car and there is a stop sign ahead, but that’s a stop so you could make another start. Hey, that’s not bad — spiritual disciplines as stop signs along the journey of life so you can survey the situation, accelerate and make another start. Except, don’t accelerate too fast at your age, dear.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Then the proverbial light went on.
“Of course, that’s the other word — the antidote word, the healing word, the courage word, the vulnerability and trust word — love.”