Safety in the Unknown

By: Nermine Mohamed, Writing Intern 2015Venice, Interfaith, Safety

On a foggy and cloudy day, it becomes hard to see what’s ahead of us. We start to think about all the awful possibilities that could happen. I can see the gloom on everyone’s face. Where is the sun? Is it going to rain? How dangerous it is to go out in such an unclear and gloomy weather, full of hazards and risks? The unknown, the unclear makes us afraid; almost anything that we cannot predict or anticipate; darkness makes our bones creak with fear; roads and paths that we are not used to taking, that are unfamiliar to us make us panic. What if we stumbled and fell and broke our necks? What if we got lost and never found our way back? What if we were confronted – out of nowhere – with our greatest fears? What if we lost on this unclear path the important things that define who we are, the important people that make our lives worth living? What if the sun never came out? What if the pictures remained blurry? It is an endless and nerve-racking labyrinth of questions that blocks our vision and trips our steps up.

I have been on this unclear and foggy path for quite some time now. I still don’t know where I am going. I still cannot see the end of the road, only the mist and netted clouds that reach from high above; melting down to earth- that sometimes I cannot even see where I am stepping my foot. But I find safety in the unknown, in the foggy weather and its mysteries and the solitary and abandoned roads, even if my steps are slow, wobbly and unsure; even if I stop sometimes: out of fear of falling into a dark and bottomless pitfall; out of regret that I might have left and lost irreplaceable things behind; and out of shock at how the journey transformed me into a person I hardly know; a person that I’m still not sure whether I like or hate.

If there’s one thing I came to be sure of is that our fears and worries will never go away; that it’s okay to be afraid sometimes of getting hurt, of falling, of failing, of losing. It’s okay even if we just sometimes want to play it safe or not play at all. But we should also learn how to find safety elsewhere: by moving beyond what’s expected of us– outside of our comfort zone and into the unknown and slippery roads, in shoes that are twice bigger than our size and with nothing to guide us but faith and a dream that might seem at the time out of reach…We can find safety in there; in the unknown, in the dark as being there in the first place is a proof that we’re fighting, that we’re not settling, that we’re pushing ourselves to the extreme of fear in order to reach to the extreme of safety, that lies in the simple fact that we’re still here, still breathing and fighting and still have a shot buried somewhere out there in the unknown.

The False Safety of Insecurity

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By: Jenni Taylor, Co-founder

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

e.e. cummings

This little blog project was started out of a need to create a spiritual community. It was like sending morse code messages out to the universe, hoping someone out there would receive our words, interpret them, and send back their own messages of love and wisdom.

Only sometimes those morse code signals are few and far between during a long and lonely night, and sending out love and wisdom becomes increasingly difficult when you begin to fear you have neither.

It is always safer to curl up under the covers in a very turtle-like way when you feel empty and lonely. One may think, “if I keep my head down long enough, I will magically feel renewed and full of light and wonderful things to share. If I hide myself away, I will become an old and wise hermit who will eventually come out again full of wisdom.”

But as turtles and ostriches and any other expert in denial must learn, there is a spiritual truth that you can’t give unless you receive, and you can’t receive unless you give. A wise woman left a comment on our blog not long ago, gently reminding us of the joy of surrender. There is wisdom in opening one’s tightly closed fists, instead of hanging on to the security of self doubt. When we open ourselves, when we surrender, when we allow ourselves to receive from others- that’s when our own fountain of giving can open up its rusty pipes and begin to flow again.

The irony of having insecurities is that they make us feel secure. They paint us a picture of who we are: a safe picture, a picture we know and recognize and claim as our own, so we can avoid seeing the truth- the beautiful possibilities of greatness that fill us. Insecurities give us excuses to stay hidden away, waiting for something else to change us. As e.e. cummings said, “it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

What if we let ourselves see the truth? What if we see the noble, beautiful, BIGNESS of ourselves and step away from the safety of our self doubt?

What if?

So I pray,

Grant me courage to be everything that is already inside of me. Help me give my giant, beautiful, joyful soul free reign to be awesome. Thank you, universe, for being so full of love and wisdom I only have to open my hands and receive it. Help me pass that wisdom on to others.

Amen.

Expanding Safe Spaces 

IMG_0312By: Will O’Brien, Social Media Intern 2015

Yesterday evening I had he privilege of attending a prayer vigil. This in itself is not a unique or infrequent occurrence for me over the course of the past months. This one however struck a different chord for me; I felt that a safe space had been created for all in attendance. This is a feat that is rarely accomplished, and is made even more remarkable due to the nature of the vigil – an interfaith vigil for peace in Israel-Palestine.​

As an Arabic speaking Christian who is dating a Jew, this is an issue that is becoming increasingly present, confusing, and meaningful in my daily life. The firestorm of rhetoric from all sides is ceaseless, and increasing more rapidly than the violence in the region over the past month. A topic with multiple facets – a small sliver of land thousands of miles away.

​However, among this constant bombardment of the twenty-four hour news cycle, forty plus people of all different faiths, ideals, and nationalities set these matters aside. They came together for a shared ideal that they all appear to place above everything else – peace. We held our electric indoor fire safe candles in silence before hearing prayers for peace from both the Muslim and Jewish tradition read in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. This was not a forum for debate, discussion, or argumentation. This was a space of grieving, hope, and safety.

​The most impactful effect of this safe place was the observation of my friend from the Arabian Gulf who had never heard this Jewish prayer read in Hebrew before. He was amazed at how much he understood and how similar the requests of the prayers were. For the first time the opportunity was presented for him to consider these commonalities with the goal to be understanding and not refuting.

​Before we could begin to ask for safety for others without a sense of safety among our own little group. The vigil closed with a word or two about getting to know everyone in the circle and seeing who around us cared and felt passionately about the issue at hand. Trying to take this safe space with us to create a network of safe spaces on a small college campus, that might spread into the surrounding communities, and maybe some day to that small sliver of land thousands of miles away.

The Risk of the Spiritual Journey

Books, Reading, Spiritual Journey,

By: Jenni Taylor, Co-founder

He’s not safe, but he’s good (referring to Aslan the Lion, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) ― C.S. Lewis

Do you wanna come with me? ‘Cause if you do then I should warn you, you’re gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past; Aliens from the future; the day the Earth died in a ball of flame; It won’t be quiet, it won’t be safe, and it won’t be calm. But I’ll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime.― Doctor Who

Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Much of literature is deeply rooted in adventure, mystery, suspense, and a call to jump into the unknown. Holy texts echo that, asking us for radical commitments to love, and to take a spiritual journey.

There’s the key, I suppose. To stop looking at religion as an end, or something to attain, or an identity. “I’m religious,” is a cerebral statement, not one of the heart. “I’m an adventurer, an explorer, a woman with a mission and a long road-” now my belly feels full of the words and yearns to set one foot in front of the other on a new path.

It’s no good at all to stay safe if you want a spiritual journey. First, open your heart like the hobbit to hear the call of the pine trees and waterfalls, the highland music carried on the fog that tells you there has to be so much more than what we have now. There has to be. I refuse to live my life safely, ears and heart shut against the beckoning of adventure.

Spiritual journeys aren’t safe. They involve all sorts of strange things, like crying in a yoga pose or dancing with joy or staying in a tree until something makes sense- and that something usually won’t make sense to anyone else. Spiritual journeys consist of one step forward and two steps back, winding paths, and the same truths repeated over and over in different ways until they are finally ingrained on your heart and shown in your grey hair.

But I for one, would like to pick up that walking stick, face the lion, and grab the Doctor’s hand to journey off into the unknown and see what I can see. There is more. So much more. And I am determined to find it.

Seeking Submissions: SAFETY

jack o lantern, Halloween, Safety

This month at Searching Sophia’s Pockets, we are focusing on the theme of SAFETY. Often what makes us feel safe says a lot about what we are afraid of, what we cherish, and who we are as human beings. We invite you to look deeply and tell us how safety and your spirituality connect. If you are lacking inspiration for your submission, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. When did you feel safest on your spiritual journey?
  2. Is the call to follow a spiritual leader safe or dangerous?
  3. Do you feel safe exploring your spirituality?
  4. How has your spirituality helped you in times when you felt unsafe?
  5. Who/what provides safety on your spiritual journey?

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

The Searching Sophia’s Pockets Team

Practicing Forgiveness

Today’s post comes from our regular contributor David Etim, who is writing from Lagos, Nigeria. Today he shares the wisdom he has gained from practicing forgiveness.

Sun, Forgive

For me, lack of forgiveness is a spiritual virus, a monster that can destroyed us spiritually.I have also learned from my journey of faith that the more I practice forgiveness the more easier it has become for me. My practice of forgiveness is based in biblical scripture. The Bible often counsels against this lack of forgiveness.

Watch out that no bitterness take root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble hurting many in their spiritual lives –Hebrews 12:15

Furthermore, for me, the Bible’s counsel regarding lack of forgiveness is as relevant today as when it was written.

God’s Word says:

 Try to show as much compassion as Your Father does–Luke 6:36

and

Your attitude should be the kind that was shown by Jesus Christ–Philippians 2:5

It is true that some out of envy and jealousy do petty things that hurt me, but I have decided how to respond to those hurts: I will do all I can to make the person happy by showing love.

For me, forgiveness is a biblical command and it is always worth it to stand on my conviction without compromise. What happens to me is not nearly as important as what happens in me.