I heard someone talking today about a giant animated spider a neighbor has in their front yard along with several other Halloween decorations. The problem isn’t the decor but the animated spider scares the man and his dog each time they walk near the house The spider is motion activated so there’s never a moment when the spider won’t “react” when he and the pooch are near the house. He’s resigned to walk a different way and in a different direction until his neighbor puts away the spider. He’s hoping the Christmas decorations will be less traumatic for him and his dog.
As I listened to his story I thought about fear; our reaction to it and it’s reaction to us. There are different things we are each afraid of. What scares one might not bother the other and the stuff of nightmares to one is shrugged off by another.
The man would be silly to try to tell his dog; “It’s not real. It’s fake. Stop being fearful!” Two things keep the dog from understanding. One, the dog doesn’t speak or comprehend language. Two, fear doesn’t work that way. How the man handled it is spot on. He walked a different way so he and his dog would be able to walk in peace.
Too often we try to convince people not to be scared of things. Sometimes this works but most of the time we and the person we are trying to convince not to be fearful end up frustrated and eventually separated. Facing our fears is fine in certain cases but in others walking with another a different way shows love, empathy, and acceptance.
Earlier today I walked the dog outside for him to have some alone time. I stood on the screened in porch as he sniffed what seemed like the entire backyard. While watching, I heard a flapping and turned to see somehow a butterfly had gotten itself trapped. It was fluttering its wings madly but only succeeded in bumping its way again and again on the screen. I cupped my hands and gently corralled it into a corner. Then, ever so softly scooped it into my palms and then released it away from the screen so it could fly away.
After it flapped out of sight I thought about the times when I’ve felt trapped, banging my head against an invisible barrier, fighting for freedom only to become more frustrated and exhausted. I forget sometimes, okay, a lot of times, that it takes one bigger than me, more gentle than me, more powerful than me, to take me into trustworthy hands and bring me to a place of freedom.