Last night, my 4-year-old walked into my room at 2am and whispered, “I had a really bad dream. Can you snuggle with me?” I crawled into bed with him and realized he was shaking and shivering. His room was a little cold but I sensed his body was seriously terrified.
“Mom, the birds were chasing me.” I held his chattering body for thirty minutes as he resisted sleep. His eyes would close and he would startle them back open. “Mom, I can’t close my eyes or the dream will come back.” I soothed him, rubbed his cheeks and held his body.
It was quite an experience to watch him avoid his fear. So much that he was literally shaking. As he took deep breaths and allowed his body to relax, I said a prayer out loud for courage and rest and compassion for his fear. Ever so slowly, his breathing quieted, the shivering subsided and he drifted off to a peaceful sleep. I, of course, took over an hour before I drifted off to sleep.
I’ve been terrified to look at my fear for over thirty years. But once I started looking, now I know fear doesn’t like to be looked at. Especially with kindness.
Fear doesn’t like to be looked at
Fear is a bully on the playground Perched high atop of the jungle gym Glaring, bossing, hissing At anyone who will listen
Most day I keep far away From the bully I avoid it at all costs Sure, it keeps me confined Fenced in Half alive But at least I don’t have to look at the bully
Until I realized the bully doesn’t Just stick to the playground Fear starts to follow me everywhere Into relationships with people With my body With my mind With my world
Then one day The bully came for one of the things I love the most And I finally said Enough
Someone told me I could look right at the bully With kindness Compassion Sympathy
And you know what? I gazed at my fear with kindness And it softened It slinked down from the monkey bars Where it had been terrorizing the playground
I smiled at my fear And it sheepishly sat in the swing Next to me Fear even started to smile itself As it pushed its feet into the gravel Fear started swinging back and forth Higher Higher
And my fear turned into joy