LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
Before my alarm clock pours the sound of a trickling forest stream into my bedroom; before I have kicked back the bed sheets and dropped my feet to the floor; before I have read any texts or emails or checked
any phone messages or have spoken to another soul… dread often makes a guest appearance.
This is what the panic feels like: It is as if I have casually stepped off a curb,and suddenly looked up from my reverie just as speeding car is bearing down on me! Does this sound familiar? And, at such times, it is only by the grace of God we have survived. The feelings stay with us. The adrenaline rush is breath-taking and, too
often, crippling. How can I experience this feeling first thing in the morning without ever having left the assumed safety of my bed? What summons this panic that can paralyze? And what can be done to assuage the panic?
I have tried “self-medicating”: using people, work and exercise a panacea. Also, I have sought out therapeutic methods of psychoanalysis and prescriptive medication. Today, following such attempts for relief-- which failed or ran their course--I chose to pray.
I have several lines from scripture that I repeat as a mantra while praying: “Be Not Afraid” is one of them.
God instructs us seven times in the Bible to “be not afraid”; 43 times to “fear not” and eight times to “have no fear". I finally got the message: Christ wants me to give my fear to Him so He might relieve me of it. I think He puts it inside His most Sacred Heart where His Love extinguishes the "smoldering worm".
My prayer begins with those three words: “Be not afraid”, then stream lines into “I seek the mercy of God”, only to end with some of the most important words that Jesus gives us:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. “
John 14: 27
I think about what I want and what I want is only Jesus’ particular kind of peace. For me, any other is as meaningless as milk toast. “My peace I give to you….” "My" ...is essential here for the peace that belongs to Jesus, His serenity, His sense of tranquility, His calm is restorative and He offers it freely and abundantly to us.
As I pray these words, I think of what His peace feels like, how it looks, how it sounds. I see Him as a vessel containing the only peace that can heal me and, suddenly, the dread vanishes, and I experience no more panic.
“ Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not
your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
I listen for the words of Jesus as I pray; I hear them...and I am made better.