Next week, I’m going to do something that scares me half to death.
In a nutshell: The shero’s journey of a former client (you might remember Cheri) has taken a very dark turn. She’s been given a cancer diagnosis and is in critical need of deep support. She hasn’t the means to fund continuing work with me, and given the dedicated attention her journey demands (and deserves!), I can’t do the work uncompensated.
So I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to reach out to my community for help. Not a little bit of help, mind you. A lot of help. And it’s got me jacked up with fear.
Boy, do I feel foolish/ridiculous/small even saying so. I imagine all the wise and well-meaning naysayers saying, “Whatever for?? There is no rational reason to be afraid and, frankly, it’s Cheri who is at risk.”
And it doesn’t matter.
So for a minute, I’m going to put aside all that gorgeous wisdom and any (all) self-reproach and just tell you my truth.
Three days ago, I felt like I was in mortal danger.
Trying to get dressed and enter my day, my heart was racing and I couldn’t catch my breath. Terror was clearly mounting so I asked Dean for a hug. After several desperate seconds of clutching, my heart settled down, my breath came back, and I started wondering what precisely was I afraid of. A history of anxiety has long since taught me it’s always best to get specific.
First to float up: humiliation.
I’m not afraid of simple failure. I can weather disappointment and there is always a way forward. But this work is my calling. And I am following a delicate thread into the unknown solely because I’m inspired.
So I’ll be putting my heart out there, way up front and naked, to rally other souls to a concrete show of support and I might be met only weakly by lackluster reflection… That would leave me grossly exposed on the tender fields of my brave hope. And that feels humiliating, if not downright mortifying.
But even as my stomach lurched in a nauseating vote for retreat, I knew such fear was superficial. I am aware that mortification isn’t actually a mortal wound. And if it should happen, though I might shrink, I will surely rebound.
So I turned toward the fear once more and took a deeper step into the darkness. Here is what I saw:
I am an ant.
With conviction in my belly, I crawl into a clearing and raise myself on spindly rear legs. I gather my breath and with all my strength, call out to the creatures around me, offering a vision of healing and service, an invitation to believe and belong. I ask them to give of themselves and, by implication, to demonstrate their belief in me.
Not many are moved. My voice peters out, disappointment creeps in, and embarrassment starts to sting. But before I can recover and look for a new clearing (because I won’t give up), the boot arrives.
It belongs to a demon that lurks in my field but from my insectile perspective, all I see is the boot.
The boot is a bully and failure its food. No matter how small or temporary the shortfall, the boot makes a meal of it. And with its filthy, leather creases freshly plumped, the boot rises and bellows:
Who are you to call anyone forward?
Who are you to ask for support?
You who think your vision is worthy, your life consequential… You are nothing. An ant. Puny and common. A speck and a pest.
Who are you to say, “This matters, please help me?”
Back to the earth, stupid bug.
And the boot smashes my body into the dust, crushing my frail and trembling legs, leaving me destitute in its craterous imprint.
The truth is (and I suspect it might surprise), I have lived under threat of the boot my whole life. Its vicious force scares me breathless.
But this is also true. Next week… It won’t matter.
In a few days, I’m going to stand in the clearing and ask for your help and do my best to inspire you to action. Knowingly, willfully, I’m going to put myself in range of the boot.
Because Cheri deserves it.
And because beyond what I see, this is what I know:
If the boot takes me down, I will be brought up.
On Her silver bow, the Goddess will lift me, above the walls of the crater and into the moonshine. And there I will rise, like a phoenix from fire. And I will be stronger and clearer, ever more ready to serve. Cheri, herself, reminds me – the soul of the Shero is nourished by ash.
So stay tuned. Next week I’ll be back, standing on my spindly rear legs, asking for your help. Cheri has a real shot of beating this cancer and living the life to which she’s been called. I won’t walk away from that potential, and certainly not for some dumb-ass boot.
I hope you’ll hear the call and join me.