I’d invited a group of women to experience a beautiful spot on the far side of a bluff in the high desert of the southwest. I promised to guide them one by one along a well-marked trail, although the last half mule required leaving the trail to follow me through thick brush. I promised to return at a set time to lead them back safely.
Some of the women were afraid of the height of the bluff, others feared the wildlife or being alone outside for several hours. The challenge demanded that they trust me, the terrain and themselves.
As I left the marked trail with the first woman, her pace slowed. When I could no longer hear her footsteps I looked back. She was standing beside a tree tearing pieces of tissue into small pieces, then laying them carefully on the branches. I remember the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. The tissue was her bread trail. Her way back home in case I didn’t come.
I was witnessing the nature of fear. Gripped by fear, I’ve sometimes stayed in dim rooms and dark corners when the power of a bluff awaited me. Because of fear I’ve clung to traditions that bound me and have fallen into a web of repetitious patterns that brought me no joy. I never saw, as I wandered in those dark and lonely spaces, that freedom was one step away, or that the Spirit within could lead me to larger places.
Under the grip of fear, we are unaware of the Spirit within.