To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.

Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582

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What Teresa of Avila said in the 16th century is no less true now than it was before the 16th century.  As theologian Paul Tillich said life itself, and its fullness and contentment, rests on having the courage to be.

The courage to be.  Yes.  That is the heart of the matter.  Many in the present day lack this.  True, sadly so in religious life as it is in the world of lay existence.

Those without the courage to be seek shelter.  They hide, in effect.  They forfeit challenge, risk, inner growth, honest self-examination.  The result: they become smaller than they are made to be and great anxiety follows – depression, illness, discontent also; likewise, the urgent all-encompassing need to bend all to their postage stamp world.  For them the only things that enter their life are those things which conform to their own scale, are digested into their own thin shadow.

What does it mean to have the courage to be?

It means accepting life as life comes to you.  It means taking the pain in the confidence that it teaches, and it will not last, the knowledge that pain makes you stronger, wiser, more resilient – and that there is no avoiding pain, no shortcut around or through suffering.

It means no one but you can live your life.

It means not looking for others to do for you – not another person, not the government – no one.  It means seeing “entitlements” for the enslaving disposition they create, the helplessness they foster, the incapacity they cultivate, the doubt they produce, the reduction that they are.

It means responsibility, being individually responsible.

It means distinguishing between those who drag you down and those who travel as you do.  In the former there are no friends or companions, among the latter there are only friends and companions.

It means meaning, purpose and living the divine gift of life you have been freely, without merit, given – and being grateful for it.

In a secular culture it means detachment from the views, the language, the mind-set that robs you of your divine identity: who you are and what you can do.

It means measuring those entities that “help” others and those who seek “change” by one yard stick and it is this: do they help people have the courage to be?  There is, you see, no courage in quietude.

In the courage to be anxiety dissipates, life is simpler – stripped of its attachments and compromises.

The courage to be is having confidence in God, a worship in itself, a daily worship – God in each moment, decisions that, in being itself, glorify God action by action, thought by thought, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat.

Those who lead must have the courage to be.  There is no leadership without the courage to be.  

Be alert and wide-eyed, the courage to be derives from the sacred, not the secular for the latter vests itself in itself and the former is linked to the Divine, the invisible reality from which we come and to which we return.

Don’t fret, be.

Shalom.

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