It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear, but is instead the ability to move forward in spite of our fear. THIS is the lesson and meaning of life and what Jesus came to teach us. This courage is what we commemorate and give honor to in our Good Friday observance and what we are invited to embrace in our own lives. Whether we profess Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, the Buddha, Amma, Anandamayima, the 13 Grandmothers, Spider Woman, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene or any other formerly living human as our teacher, the lesson is the same:
Do not fear the darkness of life. Instead, let it lead you to freedom.
In every spiritual tradition, the invitation is the same – FREEDOM. Some describe this freedom as salvation. Others speak of it as presence, bliss, oneness, unity, peace, or love. No matter what word is used to describe this freedom, the sentiment is the same. We are here to remember the freedom we once knew and will once again know and we are here to remember this freedom right here in the midst of our human experience.
Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of my favorite scenes from the life of Jesus. Here he wrestled with his doubts and his fears. Because of his foresight and wisdom, he had a sense of where his path was heading. He knew there were those threatened by his presence and that if people truly believed what Jesus had come to know, many would lose their perceived place of power and privilege. Jesus knew they plotted to kill him. He was afraid. Terrified. And in this, he wondered if God really had his back. Had he simply made it all up or was what had been revealed to him really true? Jesus fought hard with these fears and doubts. He was tempted to chuck it all and return to a normal human life. Instead, through the agony of prayer, he found peace. He discovered resolve. He harnessed the deep well of courage within him to face his greatest fears – suffering and death.
But Jesus’ struggle didn’t end in the Garden. His fears surfaced over and over and over as he took one step at a time on the road to Calvary. When accused. While on trial. When he was whipped and beaten. When the soldiers placed the crown of throne on his head. When we was given the cross to carry through the city of Jerusalem and up the winding road to Golgotha. As people mocked and ridiculed him, spit on him, called his names. When he fell. When he stumbled. Every step of the way rose up another fear. Jesus did not overcome his fears, he walked through them. He faced them. He bore them. And he walked. One step at a time. As the executioners nailed his body to the cross. As the cross was lifted and his body sunk under its own weight, crushing his lungs. Terrified. Feeling abandoned and betrayed. Suffering the excruciating death of crucifixion. Jesus was afraid. In pain. Suffering. In his suffering he turned to God and this is where he found his courage. Where he found his acceptance and peace.
Hopefully none of us will have to face the death of crucifixion, but fear, suffering, and death are all consequences of the human condition. We cannot escape it. We will all experience suffering. We will all face challenge and difficulty. We will all experience loss, betrayal, and death. This is the human condition and this is why the Jesus story is so important – for all of us. In the crucifixion narrative and the events leading up to it, Jesus shows us how to face the darkness of life. He shows us how to find our way through our fears (he never promises the elimination of fear) and most importantly, how to walk on in spite of our fears.
What darkness are you currently facing?
How are you being invited to be with your fears and in being with them finding the courage to walk on?
Authentic Freedom is a protocol inspired by Jesus which shows us how to face and move through our fears in our own journey toward freedom. Learn more HERE.