A New Year Without Fear

By , January 1, 2011

It would be trite, flowery, and over-dramatic to say that my days lately have been filled with poetry, but that is, in fact, the case. As 2010 came to a close, I looked back on that year’s resolution, to read a poem a day, to assess the project. That meant flipping through my Franklin Planner to remember what I read, and read the various notes I made to myself regarding what I’d read.

One person—I hate to pigeon hole this philosopher, theologian, artist, and poet with just one label—who featured prominently in the project was the late John O’Donohue. I read a lot of poems from his wonderful book, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (check your local bookstore).

I rarely wish for riches, but if I had them, I would give a copy of this book to everyone I love!

On the day I read his piece, A Morning Offering, I copied the last stanza into my planner. I won’t quote it here, but it’s well worth seeking out. They are incredibly powerful words with which to start each day, or, as it happens, a new year. The words speak against living one’s life in fear.

Fear is a great crippler. My life is certainly not free of fear, although we live each day fighting against it.

I once knew a man who belonged to a religious sect that studied the ancient languages The Bible had been originally written in. They claim that “sin” is actually more correctly translated as “fear.” I found that odd, and, as this man applied it, often inappropriate, but it does make a certain amount of sense. If sin can be defined as that which keeps us from reaching our full potential, from being truly happy, or (apply your favorite definition here) then the word ‘fear’ can be substituted with equal meaning and effect.

American society has been in the grip of fear of real and imagined dangers for far too long. Perhaps now, at the beginning of the new year, would be an excellent time to resolve to have the courage, as Mr. O’Donohue said, to live the life we love, to postpone our dream no longer, to waste our hearts on fear no more.

So, I wish you a happy, and brave New Year!

Just like last year, today’s my day to lay out the new year in my planner.

2 Responses to “A New Year Without Fear”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I had never heard sin equated with fear before! But what an apt comparison…I have a lot of fear, most of it centered around my children. I try my best to keep it under wraps, but it’s not easy. I will definitely add that to my list of New Year’s resolutions.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Argh! A touch, I do confess it! That’s where the idea began to break down for me. Is it bad to fear for one’s children? I hope not! I’d go to hell if that were the case, and gladly, because my fear for my daughter could not be wrong, could it? Excessive fear might be the answer to that (if we’re looking for answers here). If we impede their growth because of our fears, that would be bad. I don’t know, I’m an armchair philosopher at best!

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