One who can't see with his eyes can certainly help those of us who have eyesight see more clearly.  In her artical "Light without sight" (Christian Century, April 2, 2014) Barbara Brown Taylor introduced us to a French resistance fighter who was imprisoned by the Nazis. Jacques Lusseyran, in his book, And there Was Light shared how he could see light when he went blind. According to Dr. Taylor, "one of his greatest discoveries was how the light he saw changed with his inner condition. When he was sad or afraid the light decreased at once. Sometimes it went out altogether, leaving him deeply and truly blind."

When it gets really dark in our lives, it is hard to see where we are going. Fear of loss narrows our world and swallows light. When we fill in the unknown future with anxiety that tomorrow will not work out well, we become afraid. It is hard to make decisions about moving forward because we have trouble figuring out what the consequences of decisions might be. If we are too anxious that they will be bad, we will narrow our world, moving forward tentatively and haltingly.

But Barbara Brown Taylor then said, "When he (Jacques) was joyful and attentive it [the light] returned as strong as ever. He learned very quickly that the best way to see the inner light and remain in its presence was to love." The Bible puts it this way, "Perfect love casts out fear." Love of life, love of others, paying attention to the joys and pains of others, reduces our fear. Paying attention to our own strength, our own courage, our own resiliency, can give us the energy to step forward into the unknown without as much fear to hold us back and drain our strength. 

Why does love help reduce fear. Because love is the connecting spirit that helps us know that we are not alone. Love is what binds us to each other so that when our hearts weaken, we know that others are there to share our journey with us. Love is that which overcomes our isolation and enables us to live in the strength of shared time and space.

So take it from one who can't see with his eyes. Love your way into the light. It is better than shrinking in fear.



“Do you know what those round balls are?” Michael asked me as we were standing at the hotel door beside the 12th century city hall which made up the front of the hotel.

He was referring to 2 beach ball sized spheres which each had blood shot looking eyes on the circumference.  The balls were hanging from the railing on one side of the kidney shaped crystal pool.  

“To keep the birds away?” 

“Right.  They think they are the eyes of a predator.  It scares them away from the pool.”

I wondered.  “How many times have I been scared away from something that I wanted to do because of the manufactured eyes of a predator?”

It doesn’t seem to matter if the eyes are blind or not.  It they appear to be watching, do I run from something that is potential nurturing?

And, I wondered, “How much of my early childhood was spent worrying about God’s eyes watching me as some predator who might do me harm?”  

I was raised in a family where the eyes of the divine were used to scare us into good behavior.  Did I believe God was a predator who could do me harm if I didn’t stay on the straight and narrow?  Or, were they simply dead eyes who were filled with power because of the imagination of a scared little boy who projected onto them the power to see and the strength to harm?

And how many times do I fail to act with bold brashness or courage because I believe there are eyes watching me and might do me harm if I act?  How many times do I fail to speak because someone might judge me or hurt me if they didn’t like what they saw or heard?

If God is our ultimate concern, then the sighted or blind eyes of what we care about most take on power to control our behavior.  And they keep us from trying the new, the risky, the unusual, the bazaar.   

So, I guess the theological question is, “Are God’s eyes just round beach balls with blood-shot pupils painted on the circumference which are designed to scare us away from an interesting and exciting life, or do they live with a sensing sensation, observing us with tender tears, feeling with us the ache and pain of mistakes and the delight and joy of love?”

I don’t know, but I wonder.


When I am open to hear and see, insights come from every direction. A friend posted an article on a blog called Momastery.  In this particular blog, "Our Sacred Scared" author Glennon Doyle Melton says that there are two kinds of people who have one thing in common. "The people who are running the world and the people who are sitting life out are exactly the same. They are all messy, complicated, confused people who are unsure of what to do next. They all have messy relationships and insecurities and anger and blind spots. They are ALL AFRAID."

I find this statement (and the whole blog) to be right on target. When we all get down to the core of who we are, we find that we are complicated and filled with conflicting desires and motivations. Our relationships are often confusing, frustrating and satisfying (sometimes all at the same time). We are afraid of losing ourselves in the midst of sharing in community but we are afraid of not belonging to communities and being left out. (I remember very keenly the longing to be included as a teenager in the "cool" people while at the same time desiring to express my unique individuality). We are all scared.

And as Glennon continues in her blog, there are two kinds of scared people: Those who show up and live in the world and those who are waiting till they get it all together before they show up. She quotes the artist Georgia O'Keeffe who said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every second of my life- and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”  Glennon suggests that when we show up in relationship to each other with the messiness being revealed, we offer encouragement to others to go ahead and live even if they are afraid.  Sharing our fear is a sacred scared.  It creates courage for life.

I don't know about you, but I think life is too short not to show up. And knowing that fear is going to be there, I want to not let it keep me from doing what I choose to do.


Have you ever been speechless? Have you ever been so deeply moved that you no words would form? When we hear of a diagnosis, a death, a loss, and find words are simply inadequate?

It happens to me a lot. I get a call and someone I care about has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. What do you say? I want to be encouraging, but not sure I feel encouraged. I feel awful and find that no words are powerful enough to express my sadness for them or my helplessness in relation to their illness. I sometimes say "That really sucks!!" But, those words are no sooner out of my mouth when I feel foolish. Nothing is strong enough.

So, what do you do? I find that it helps to realize that nothing will be adequate.  The conversation will be awkward because both parties do not have words to express their feelings. It sometimes helps to ask some questions like, "When did they find out? or What kind of treatment are they going to do? or Who else have you shared this with? or What do you think you are going to do." But, we will run out of questions and silence will swallow any other word we might try to utter.

Now, the fact is, most of us will feel awkward and inadequate. There may be long periods of silence.  And silence often scares us.  When no one says anything we fill in the blanks with the anxiety we are feeling.  We project our feelings on to others. Silence has a certain emptiness to it.

But, remember, you are making contact.  You are reaching out. You are trying to speak a language that is unfamiliar to both you and the person you love. Neither of you has been here before. This is a foreign country with a foreign language.

Remember that we can't solve other's problems, but our silence communicates our respect for the depth of life with which another is struggling. And we can accompany another as they seek to work out their fear and their future. And the awareness that another person cares to be silent with us can sometimes be the strength we need to take the next step on an unwanted pilgrimage.

Silence in respect for the depth of another's experience can be a sacred space where some healing can happen. 


One of the problems with the future is that it does not exist. It exists only in our imaginations. The future is an empty space. We fill it with our imaginations. The future is what we think it is in our minds.  When the future comes, it no longer exists.  It has become the present. It is no longer empty space with images of what we think, but it is what is actually happening.

What we imagine may not become real in the present. Imagination and what materializes do not always match. But what does happen is that what we imagine about the future has a significant influence how we live in the present. What we think the future holds will pretty well determine what we do with our time today.

So, our real question about the future is, "What do we fill that empty space with?"  

One thing we fill the future with is scary images. We create horror stories. What can go wrong? What can happen to hurt us? What will my children do that will be dangerous? What will happen to the economy?  We can "awfulize" the future.  This helps us by alerting us to dangers. We do this to protect ourselves from unpleasant surprises. The ability to imagine unpleasant eventualities keeps us on our toes.

But, to live there is to live in constant fear. To fill the empty uncertain future with thing that threaten us and scare us leads us to hide from life. Or, as Shirley Valentine said in the movie of that same name, "I've lived such a little life." Living in fear shrinks our lives.

Since the future is empty and we can fill it with our imagination, what would happen if we filled it with images of blessing and goodness?  What if we leaned into that space with the courage to love and embrace what shows up in that space? What if we expected life to offer us grace rather than judgment?

Well, we can be sure to be disappointed. For when we imagine good it might not happen. But, imagining good opens the eyes to seeing it. Imaging shapes what we look for.  It might contribute to the good actually materializing. To imagine life as an adventure of discovery opens us to "live large."

I don't know how tomorrow will turn out. But, I do know that the images I project into the empty space of the future can help me live with more or less fear. And I do know that love has power to, if not eliminate fear, at least put it in it's place.