Last Wednesday morning, I flicked on the television to news of, not one, but two incredibly violent events: the shooting at a Congressional baseball practice, injuring several U.S. House members and two law enforcement agents; and the terrifying fire that incinerated a London high-rise apartment, with an untold death toll and horrifying images of people throwing their children out of upper floor windows in attempts to save them.
As my nanny was loading my son into the car, I caught myself wanting to give her guidelines for what to do if there was an active shooter at the park. I have been considering a long-weekend escape to Paris, my spirit city, in advance of my second child’s arrival and working through logistics with my husband. But the seemingly frequent violent incidents occurring in my beloved Paris had me rethinking the trip in this globally unstable moment. I recognize the media’s role in promoting the evils of the world, but doesn’t it feel as if there is an escalation of horror and terror in our daily lives? Coupled with the bleak political narrative that we all seem to be held hostage to, how are we not hiding in our basements behind concrete walls with our six months’ worth of nonperishable foods?
This is not like me. Not at all. I looked up and marveled at a bright blue New York City sky on the morning of September 11, 2001, on a carefree walk to work, and twenty minutes later experienced the horror of a city gripped by terrorism; yet I continued on with life as a New Yorker, just as millions of others like me did. My growing angst about the state of the human condition is altering me a bit, and perhaps my pregnancy hormones and mothering instinct are fueling it, but what’s underneath this emotion is pure and simple fear. When I was prompted by one of the Living Hope editors to write about fear as it relates to current events, I remember that I am a woman who was Called to create a counter-narrative to hopelessness.
Fear and anxiety is simply a call to prayer. It’s a moment to stop, reflect, reorient, and earnestly hope for favorable and peaceful outcomes.
It is in this moment that you Begin the Practice of Surrender: conceding your powerlessness in controlling your outcomes, releasing the fear of a narrative of escalating social and political tensions, and realizing there is a pathway to Joy. That pathway to Joy is your choice. So, on Wednesday, I chose not to feed the narrative of hopelessness by giving our nanny a thirty-minute lecture on what the British are promoting as “Run, Hide, Tell” (which I could soap-box about as well, but then I’d be ranting). My friend and I ultimately made the decision not to go to Paris, not out of fear, but because of the simple fact that six hours on a plane wasn’t really optimal at thirty weeks pregnant, deciding instead that a short car ride and a lounge chair by the beach would be better suited to a pre-baby, girls’ getaway.
We may be powerless over whether we are impacted by gun violence or a simple accident of faulty electrical wiring that incinerates an entire building; but we do have power over our willingness to submit to the release that comes when we Surrender, and we certainly have the choice to control our own narratives.
For every gut-wrenching story that flashes across our mobile device screen, there are a trillion and one instances of hopefulness that occur without any promotion and media attention.
We can energetically feed the narrative that we are living in a degenerating society or we can choose to actively practice and pursue Hope in the face of adversity, and encourage others to do the same. This is Living Hope.
You are loved,