Searching for True North

Every month, this column will seek out a direction that we can each follow, to find our "true north." Part of a spiritual person's quest is to find the way to their own understanding of life. In a tradition that values a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the way to "true north" may be different for each of us.

In my monthly column, I will highlight ways to find a spiritual "true north" that seem meaningful to me. As I get know you all, my sharing will be greatly based on the things I see and hear in the fellowship.



Fear of the Future

Dear friends,
Have you ever had reason to fear the future?  I know I have.  When asked about what the future may portend, I like to say, “Well, you see, it’s like this...  My crystal ball is foggy.  I just don’t know!”  As it happens, that’s the truth – my very real crystal ball is, indeed, foggy (it’s milky quartz!), and I really do not know what the future holds for any of us.
In the online article, “How to Enjoy the Fear of the Future,”  Dr. Marcia Reynolds wrote:
Many of my friends and colleagues are going through a difficult time in their lives. Their discomfort is not about bill paying though money is tight. Fortunately, they can take care of the essentials. What has them frightened is the loss of direction. When life was going well, everything seemed to be in order. Now that the security rug is pulled out from under them, they feel wobbly and can't get their bearings.
Are they going through a crisis? They are experiencing a crisis only if they choose to call it a crisis.
The truth is - they are experiencing a life transformation. The brain registers the early stages of transformation the same as a crisis, leaving people in panic. They struggle to rise above the anger over the expectations they didn't realize, their disappointment for what has ended, and their fear of an unknown future. 
It seems to me that I have been in this place.  Perhaps this ‘place’, this experience Dr. Reynolds describes above, feels familiar to you as well.  Holding tight to what we believe “should have been” is only, in my estimation, a method for causing ourselves pain.  The Buddhists advise a philosophy of non-attachment – not holding so close to that which has not and will not happen, to the point that we cause ourselves suffering.
Dr. Reynolds concluded her article with these words:
Instead of viewing this moment in time as a crisis, consider seeing it as an emergence. You are shedding the skin of the past. A part of you is dying. And a part of you is emerging. The pain feels the same but the result is different. Can you shift into being curious instead of afraid?
This is the challenge for each and every one of us, at some point in our lives.  At some time or another, we must decide whether we wish to fear change, or embrace it.  To fight it, or to grow with it.  To listen to and learn from the inner voice that is telling us, something better will come along – just trust...
“Come, come, whoever you are...  
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
Ours is no caravan of despair...  
Come, yet again come.”
– Jelaluddin Balkhi (Rumi)
May it ever be so and blessed be you all! 
– Rev. Mike

Psychology Today, Nov. 2010. “Wander Woman” blog, “How to Enjoy the Fear of the Future,” by Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D.