For they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid. Mark 6:50 NRSV
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear…Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”John 20: 19 NRSVUE
After the accumulated traumatic experiences leading to Jesus’ death, the disciples felt fear (perhaps not for the first time) for their lives. The cross’ terror pounded through their bodies. Causing them to hide from the world. Live inside locked doors. Stay on guard. Peek out with wary eyes.
Jesus’ voice on the water and again in the locked room consoles the disciples. Settles their activated nervous systems. Gives them a sense of relief. The space within to see and hear what and who is truly there.
These words, “do not be afraid,” may also console us now. Remind us to breathe into our racing thoughts. Breathe into our protruding visions of what happened. The ones breaking into our everyday moments. Victimizing our survivorship. Directing our words and actions. In hurtful ways.
Yet there may be days in which these words, “do not be afraid,” just hurt. Illicit curses like WTF, Jesus! And questions such as how? How can I not be troubled or worried or afraid? Jesus’ words working not as reassurances. But as platitudes. No better than “God has a plan,” or “God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.” Making our whole bodies, even our toes shout into our socks and shoes, “bullshit!”
Because we are afraid. Fear both saved our lives and brought us to this place in trauma’s afterlife. Life threatening fear still alive within us. Refusing to be calmed like the water by four words desiring peace for us.
Healing Practice: Take Heart
Breathe into your fearful heart. Just breathe into it. Allow your fears their space in your heart.
Picture yourself on your heart. Breathe into your troubled heart. Breathe deeper and wider.
Picture those who weigh heavy on your heart. Loved ones’ suffering. Joining you on your heart. Breathe into your troubled heart. Breathe deeper and wider.
Expand your breath until it dances with your fearing heart. Its wind weaving in and out of heart’s pumping action.
Keep breathing. Allowing breath’s wind to move with all who are on your heart this day. Allowing your breath to bring all of you together in one big dance.
God of troubled hearts, worried heads, and fearful bodies, show us what Jesus meant when he said, “do not be afraid.” For his disciples then. For us now. Help Jesus’ words break into our fear. Bringing us a sense of peace, momentary or otherwise. Amen.