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.
This morning I burnt my tongue. I drank too much coffee, too fast and am paying the price. I’ve scalded my tongue before and it hurts, every time. I don’t like the pain or the sensation when I rub it against the roof of my mouth. There are treatments I could try to dull the discomfort but, from experience, time is the greatest healer.
As I’ve dealt with my injury this morning I’ve reflected on both the damage a tongue can receive and deliver. What if hot beverages and spicy foods weren’t the only ways to harm our tongues? What would happen if our tongues were burnt when we used words that were too hot, highly charged, and injured another? What if our speech inflicted wounds upon us when they did to our brothers and sisters? How much more careful might we be with careless, rushed, rude, insulting, judgmental language if we too felt the pain our words can cause?