Choosing Love Over Fear
We are a community of seekers, often seeking to know and understand love again. It seems in every heart circle I participate in, or Men in Goddess Spirituality workshop I facilitate, there is at least one person (but often many) relearning what it means to have spirituality on their own terms and choose love over fear. There is hurt, trauma, and a lot of breath holding coming into our community because when other faiths say no, Paganism often says yes. I recently was talking to a guy who said that he wanted to feel safe, but just didn’t. Even surrounded by a new spiritual community that loved and supported him, he still felt fear.
I write often about love, about breath, and to committing to the belief that Love is Stronger than Fear, that Love is still the Law. Recently however, I have had some people say to me that my writings about love–specifically a response I wrote for The Wild Hunt–are “too new age”, “not rooted in theology or paganism”, and simply “not realistic for today’s radical or hostile world.”
I couldn’t disagree more. Choosing love is not easeful. To choose love may mean to abandon everything known to you: the family you grew up with, the person you divorce, the faith tradition you walk away from. It may mean standing up for what is right over the accepted or traditional. Choosing love can often be the hardest thing a person does, even choosing to love and forgive ourselves. No one is washed in the blood of the Goddess in Paganism and thus magically absolved. Being pagan is commitment to practice, an active engagement in the unknown that is more. Giving oneself the permission to lean in to that fear of the unknown with love, and daring to breathe into an empty and unknown space and choose love, THAT to me is fearless magic! But how do we do it?
To me, love is actually holy! For years, I understood God to mean “God is love,” as in 1 John 4:8 and 16. Coming out of the difficult orthodoxy of my childhood religious experiences, “God is love” worked for me. I think it works for many. How many look past the bindings of orthodoxy and just say love? Even when love is predicated on dogma, like “love the sinner and not the sin,” can we still choose love? Now lean deeper into what might be uncomfortable, into a love that is holy.
Theologian Brennan Manning says, “Holiness is not a personal achievement, it’s an emptiness you discover in yourself. Instead of resenting it, you accept it, and it becomes the free space where God can create anew.”
When confronted with Love as the answer, I first breathe into the space in my body that is emptiness. It takes permission to breathe into that active space, to listen to our most inner self. In that space that is holy, can we expand Love to conquer fear? When I stopped seeking a personal achievement in ‘God as Love” and felt true emptiness, that is when I came to know love as Goddess, specifically the Goddess as the immanent divine who dwells within the heart and flows in, among, and around us. I found to know that generative Goddess, who is all Goddesses, was more interested in “possibility:” try on Goddess as “possibility.”
Here’s that Brennan Manning quote again: “Holiness is not a personal achievement. It’s an emptiness you discover in yourself. Instead of resenting it, you accept it, and it becomes the free space where possibility can create anew.”
It is in that Goddess space of love that we find ourselves fearless, where love is still the law, and where we can, even in hard times, still choose love over fear. Now, what might it mean to truly believe in the possibility of the holy, the possibility of justice, the possibility of peace? And yes, the possibility of love?
When I speak of love, it is not an untenable abstract, and it is not romantic or romanticized. It is action that is holy: the holy that is not known today as part of a Christian paradox, but from the Anglo-Saxon: “hal” or “hale,” means “whole” – as in wholeness, that which yields wholeness and health. This is the generative space that is Goddess. Belief in this Goddess is the emptiness in ourselves we lean into in times of fear, when confronting love over will, that god-shaped space, the space of possibility: how we align and center our hearts to invite the possibility of love, justice, and peace. Are we ready to invite holiness?
What might it be like to give ourselves permission to let Goddess be the generative breath and feel our parts come into alignment in that god-shaped space? What if we choose to cherish that space as holy emptiness? With attention and devotion, with spaciousness, and possibility of choosing Love over fear, as we breathe?
Last night the moon was waxed to full, representing for many in the Goddess community the expansiveness that welcomes the magic of possibility. I chose to light a candle and breathe into the fear of the unknown, of the hurt I hold in my body, and into the law that is Love. It is this action that allows me to realchemize my body and nurture my soul, that changes the fear to love. It is the daily practice I return to when times are hard. The practice of intentional knowing, of inviting Goddess, and leaning into emptiness that is transformative.
When I speak and write of love, what I am saying is “Let us commit to the practice of breathing that hale-whole-wholeness-health-holy emptiness that transforms fear into love.” Let us come into presence and alignment, not as a personal achievement, but as an emptiness: the emptiness we discover in ourselves, the space where Goddess can create anew, where the law is Love.
This writing was first published at Patheos.com, at Alone In Her Presence