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Afraid

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Gary finds a response to fear on his Faith Walk

From Genesis at the beginning of the Old Testament, to Revelation at the end of the New Testament, God, Jesus, or an angel is regularly calming a listening human with the words, “Do not be afraid.” Dozens of times, this four word imperative comes before some charge or announcement where the “normal” reaction would otherwise be to be scared to death!

Well, here in January 2013… the start of a new year, I am very afraid. And, let be clarify, my fear goes far beyond a lower level worry. Let me list just a couple of fears to clarity:

• That the months-long political paralysis over the “fiscal cliff” implies Congress has lost its ability to govern, defaulting to scoring points, or blocking constructive ideas simply because they came from the other side of the aisle. Governing in a time of great national need seems to me to be the first priority of the elected, particularly when the nation is faced by so many problems: gun violence, immigration, unemployment, etc.

• That the community of nations is currently simply unwilling/incapable of making the kind of energy consumption changes (read reduced carbon emissions) to have a significant effect on global warming. We “haves” want to keep most of what we’ve got; the “have nots” want more of what the “haves” have enjoyed; and, all this puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—year after unending year.

Mindful of the above, I ask myself, “So, what are you going to do about it?”

My head will continue to move me in specific directions. As has been my habit, I’ll continue to voice my opinion (support for or opposition to) major pieces of Congressional legislation through telephone calls to the Hill. A youthful assistant always crisply answers the phone in the offices of Senator Crapo, Senator Risch, or Representative Labrador. I know my call likely becomes nothing more than a “tick mark,” pro or con on an aide’s tally sheet, but I believe our representatives must hear from average citizens, not just highly paid lobbyists, on major pieces of legislation. Likewise, I will continue my engagement with regional conservation groups like the Idaho Conservation League or the Montana Wilderness Association, which serve all of us well by encouraging statewide efforts to mitigate global warming through energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, and more.

My heart will continue to move me in directions of the Spirit. I remain inspired by the simple expression, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” With prayer, meditation, scripture and wisdom literature reading, I’ll seek to overcome my “afraid” and transform that emotion into the daily courage for addressing life’s challenges, big and small. Some challenges are sharply defined as the New Year begins. Others—personal, national, or global—will present themselves as crises slowly simmering or fast erupting. No matter the type, my rational self knows they will come.

To date, no angel has confronted me directly with “Do not be afraid.” But as my faith walk continues, I remain open to that possibility. Across the millennia, others have heard those calming words and the messages which follow; maybe you or I will hear them as well in 2013.  

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Gary Payton Gary Payton is on a Faith Walk that takes him to Russia, Eastern Europe and Sandpoint, Idaho

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fear, afraid, Gary's Faith Walk

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