Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Faith this week. She also taught us a new word – palimpsest. It comes from a manuscript (usually ancient) that has been erased or scraped away, but the old is still visible. It’s given its name to something in layers, whereby you see the most recent, but the older layers are still visible. Thomas de Quincy said this about the mind:
What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain? Everlasting layers of ideas, images and feelings, have fallen upon your brain softly as light. Each succession has seemed to bury all that went before. And yet in reality not one has been extinguished. They are not dead but sleeping, there is none of passion or disease that can scorch away these immortal impulses.
That’s how God sees us – all the layers. Faith reminds us of the times we have been afraid and things have turned out well. God sees us as we were and as we will be. Faith is the opposite of fear.
1. When you feel afraid, try asking Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help. Somebody asked me today “What are you afraid of?” I had to admit that as a pragmatist and as a woman over 70 years of age, I’ve come to terms with certain death, and possible illness, and potential loss of friends and family. I am terrified of North Vietnam right now, but I try to remember that in life and in death we belong to God. (For a peek inside my Existential Angst, listen to Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut. You can see the lyrics at the link, and hear the albums on you tube – note particularly “The Final Cut” and “Two Suns in the Sunset.”)
2. Make a list of times you’ve been afraid. Make a list of times you’ve been full of faith. Remember that it’s not either/or. We’re both faithful and fearful, and God loves us all of the time. I’ve been fearful at times when we ran out of money before we ran out of month. I’ve been fearful when my loved ones didn’t check in on time – kids out with the car and late getting home, my husband on remote assignment with the Air Force, and no letter in several days. All those times thing worked out. I suppose faith is remembering that – in the past things have worked out.
3. Ask for help with something each day this week. I really don’t have much of a problem asking for help – although it’s usually something small. I am becoming better about asking for mental and emotional help.