by Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert
Road of Life
We can say with some certainty what our
plans will be on any given day. We may start with
coffee, a shower or some exercise. Most of us go to work
or school from Monday to Friday. Saturday is for
shopping and errands. Sunday’s we wake up late; go to
brunch or a church service. Maybe you get up and create
art or work nights. A routine is not a bad thing,
affording us the comfort to stretch emotionally and
physically without distraction. However we have learned
from experience that our comfortable routine can be
jarringly disrupted. Tragedy strikes. We go to work and
lose our job. A relative is stricken with a serious
illness. Or we look in the mirror and realize this is
not the life we had planned on living.
A Crucial Point
Whether we planned it or not we are
standing at life’s crossroads and are forced to make
decisions. Most decisions are a normal part of life we
make every day. We decide to wear blue instead of red.
We drop an umbrella in our bag at the last moment. Do
you want paper or plastic? Some require more thought. We
must decide what school to attend or to leave a
marriage. Is now the time to have a baby or should I
wait until my career is established? Other decisions are
thrust upon us. The longed for dream house is not longer
affordable. An illness forces critical choices to be
made about a loved one’s care. At this crucial point
in life’s journey the decision we make can have
long-range ripples. What is the wisest choice? Do we
take a risk, or the safer route? Both options require
courage and faith that the outcome will be for the best.
The Fear of Fear
Any moment at a crossroads can be filled
with some trepidation. The feeling of fear is one of
those great reasons to stay home behind closed doors
watching people change their lives on Oprah or Dr. Phil.
Fear has gotten a bad rap implying weakness, a lack of
mettle. I think fear is just common sense. What is it
but an awareness of danger? We no longer have to worry
about the big bad Saber Tooth Tiger swiping a wayward
child for a noontime snack. However, we do have to
consider terrorism or natural disasters and the loss of
our livelihood. When faced with danger you have some
choices – run and hide – a good option when faced
with something bigger then you. Or, get the biggest
stick you can find and fight back. Swing that stick and
beat back the thing that scares you. Stand your ground
– face the thing in front of you and see if it
shrivels under your glare. All valid options depending
on the situation. What is important to know is fear is
an emotion that gives warning. It asks us to pay
attention. Something requires action. Here are some tips
that have worked well for me:
Face the fear. You have heard it before.
A little problem can become a monster if you let it.
Look at the problem and brainstorm some solutions. Speak
to friends and families – ask their thoughts. Taking
some action can help you feel you have power over a
Do something different. When faced with
fear in the land of unemployment I decided to try
something new and write an e-course on writing. I spent
my time while laid off creating something instead of
just hanging out. I had a choice to live in fear or try
something new. That choice sent me down a completely
different path. Since then I have had several articles
published and will write my first monthly column.
Move your body – Cuban salsa lessons
went a long way in getting me out of my head. Fear is
nothing when you are trying to learn to move your body
in a completely new way. Movement also releases tension.
It is hard to face an issue when in high stress mode.
Exercise, good nutrition and lots of rest will help
alleviate and curb anxiety. Care of the body can improve
your mood and clear the mind.
Take some time to reflect. In the middle
of a crisis, some quiet time is called for. Recharge
your spirit. Try 15 minutes of simple deep breathing or
meditating. Take a walk in nature, browse through a
favorite bookstore and enjoy some time alone. In
addition, reflection helps to look at a situation
calmly. You can view it with a rational mind. You might
find a problem has more solutions then previously
Above all, respect your emotions. It is
all right to feel afraid - we all do from time to time.
Faced with a challenge it is OK to feel the beating of
your heart. It reminds you are still alive.
Crossing the Unknown Sea
In his book, Crossing the Unknown
Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity, David Whyte
recounts a life-changing event at work. In moment of
exasperation he stuck his head into a meeting at work
asking if anyone had seen David. A stunned silence
followed by laughter answered him, since he was the only
David in the office and he was indeed looking for
himself. In that moment he knew he had been lost and the
ensuing year was about reclaiming who he was and
becoming a fulltime poet. In a conversation that evening
a friend said to him, "You must do something
heartfelt, and you must do it soon." It was a
challenge to him to move out of a comfort zone and to do
something with real meaning.
Despite reassurances life does not offer
guarantees. It is capricious. Nice cars, a good
education and a high IQ don’t mean things will go
smoothly. When standing at life’s crossroads you don’t
necessarily know which way is the best. One road may
mean happiness, another adventure, and yet another means
safety and security. It takes heart to be alive in the
world. You have both, courage and heart; do not be
afraid to express either.
How About Love?
"We must meet the forces of hate
with the power of love; we must meet physical force with
soul free." Martin Luther King, Jr.
This quote is part of a larger article
in which Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about how he and
his fellow peaceful resistors should act towards the
white men who were persecuting them. He wanted change
through love not hate. Not the daisy in the gun barrel
type of love but a deep and profound kind. Allowing him
to follow a path that would change his life and the
world. Our decisions may not be this profound but they
still require a commitment. Each day and every decision
we can choose how to approach life. Can we have a deeper
love influence our lives?
"We must be willing to get rid of
the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is
waiting for us". Joseph Campbell
Our careful routine may be dramatically
changed by events out of our hands. Or we take a risk
and change our lives around. We can’t really know what
tomorrow brings. There is something new around the
corner to be discovered. This uncertainty is part of the
thrill of being alive. My friend recounted the story of
meeting her husband. She walked into a pub looked around
and decided to leave. Something made her turn around and
voice called out asking her to come on in. The man that
called out to her was a fireman. She sat across from him
and next to the man who would someday be her husband.
The fireman would witness her marriage and the adoption
of her son. Later he would lose his life in 9/11. She
said, "I don’t know what made me turn back."
On the street near the pub a sign bears the name of the
fireman. Each moment bears in it the possibility for
- An excerpt from Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a
Pilgrimage of Identity and the conversation between
David Whyte and his friend.
- A roadmap for change. There is a lot of work to do
here but the style is so breezy and home style that it
makes you want to make changes, at least for the
Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
of Martin Luther King, Jr., by
Martin Luther King
© Copyright 2004
Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert. All Rights
Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert is
an interfaith minister, writer and founder of Wild Woman
Ministries and Wild Woman Network a forum to explore and
express creativity and spirituality. As a minister and
coach, Rev. Schubert helps people discover and unlock
their creative potential -- through creating art,
producing classes and workshops or just pursuing a life
long goal -- and is committed to assisting people in
fulfilling their dreams. She also leads workshops and
facilitates a popular writing program called the Wild
Angels at the historic Cathedral of St. John the
Divine. Her subscription e-course - Writing for
Life: Creating a Story of Your Own, is available: http://www.selfhealingexpressions.com/courses.shtml
or visit www.wildwomanministries.org.
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