And a Child Shall Lead Them: The Art of Facing Your Fears

Fear roamed the streets in the form of a pack of starving lions.  Ribs quivering, tails dragging, they stalked the shadows in search of easy prey.  Their yellow eyes scanned the alley ways and doorways, searching for the hesitant ones, the ones who needed to rise from the two-step in front of their apartment and live a new life, but instead remained glued to the spot, lost in the hypnotic gaze of future worries.  The starving lions sniffed out the ones just about to get up and make a change, and slunk in front of them and sat on their haunches, and stared them back down.  But the people did not see starving lions; they saw the forms of those they knew ready to tell them that they were crazy, that they would never make it, and that they were not good enough.  They took the forms of images of failure and destitution, and the more the people let those images stalk their minds, the more the starving lions feasted on their dreams, devouring them with gleeful fervor.  One of the lions of fear glided towards a child who wanted to leap into a pile of crisp, red and orange leaves, but was too afraid of getting bit by a tick to actually jump in.  He stood there hating himself for having such obsessive fears.  He heard the voices of his parents in his head telling him all about the horrors of Lyme’s disease and deer ticks, yet he always wanted to play in the leaves.  The sky was crystal clear and blue and the leaves glowed like a pile of treasure.  The lion brushed passed the boy’s legs and licked its lips, about to gorge itself on the boy’s dreams of playing in the leaves.  And then it happened.  The boy looked the lion straight in the eyes.  The lion blinked.  No one had ever done that before.  People weren’t supposed to see fears for what they really were.  This boy was staring back, and, much to the shock of the lion was smiling.  The boy took a step towards the lion.  The lion snarled.  The boy laughed and then tussled the lion’s greasy mane.  The lion was incredulous, and yet it felt something surge within its ribs—something alive.  The boy had had enough of not living the life he always dreamed of.  “I can do a tick-check,” he thought, and turned from the lion and leapt into the leaves in a huge, splash of autumn glory.  He laughed with joy and when he looked at the lion it was no longer a starving, rib-exposed ghost.  It was golden.  It was majestic and the form of bravery itself.  It let out a roar of triumph that sent the approaching pack of starving lions scattering like mice.  The boy dove back into the leaves laughing, and then popped his head up blowing a yellow leaf from his face.  The leaf sailed and settled onto the lion’s head like a little crown.  “Come on in!” the boy shouted. The lion smiled, flicked his tail, twitched its ears, and them roared, leaping into the pile and rolling with the boy like a puppy, happy to be truly full, truly alive, truly itself.

 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


One White Dove, the Power of Focused Prayer and Personal Transformation

 

The flock of birds flew from beyond the horizon.  Across the water it dipped and darted—a thousand wings catching the sun with every beat.  From where he stood on the shore it looked as if a rainbow had scattered into a million pieces filling the sky with fluttering prisms of color. When it descended around him in a storm of wings, each bird began chattering and twittering all at the same time.  It was an oddly pleasant sound at first, yet it soon overwhelmed him.  He spun around.  So many birds—some huge, like feathery dragons, others small enough to alight on your finger.  He couldn’t move.  There were birds everywhere.  He couldn’t even swim for the water was filled with birds bobbing up and down in the waves. He could hardly think for their constant chatter rained around him in one gray cloud of confusion.  And then he knew what he had to do.  He lifted his arms like branches and stood—still as a tree in the morning light.  And they came, bird after bird landing on his outstretched arms.  After they had settled upon him he slowly drew his arms into a circle in front of himself.  It was a gesture of the greatest gentleness, and the birds adjusted accordingly as he brought his arms to an eye level ring.  He looked at each bird in turn and then sent up his own winged prayer.  And then he blew a soft breath at each bird, and one by one they startled and flew away, until at last, one bird—one white dove–remained.  They stared into each other’s eyes with such intensity that neither moved and neither noticed the flock around them had scattered to other shores.  He sat down and let the bird settle comfortably in the open cup of his hands.  They talked all day and night exchanging stories and laughter.  And when the sun rose again over the ocean, he whispered one last thing to the dove and stood, lifting his hands to the sky.  The dove looked at him and cooed its thanks, and then flew towards the horizon carrying his clear and focused vision.  He turned and walked back to the village carrying the dove’s songs and secrets, and together they changed the world.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Going It Alone–Together. The Power of Paradox

The stream flowed through the autumn woods, steadily, but slowly.  Trees scattered leaves, like so many pieces of gold into the water.  The stream looked like it was filled with golden ships whirling and sailing to the ocean.  The stream believed it decided its own course, yet inside it knew the riverbanks and the rocks, the tree roots and the landscape all had a lot to do with where it went.  It also knew however, its destination—the ocean—home—that never changed.  And while it wavered occasionally in a pool of doubt (created by the debris left by a storm of doubts) it eventually unloosened and flowed again—but only with the help of the pull of the sea.  Even in the winter when, on the surface it was frozen with fear, just below, it flowed on, refusing to give in.  And with the warmth of the sun it gradually thawed and flowed unfettered—a visible song of hope.  One day it merged with another stream which was also heading towards the ocean.  The other stream broadened the course of the first and together they flowed as one.  After a few miles they hit hard times (which come eventually to every stream) and doubts and fears, failures and resentments clogged their path.  So they went underground, visible to no one but the roots of the trees and each other, and they flowed in the darkness, until they were ready, and when they were, they sprang up together, miles ahead, stronger than ever.  “We all have to make our own decisions,” said the first river, emerging from the ground.  “Yes,” said the second, joining hands with the first, “but we must study the land, listen to the riverbanks, and ask other streams for guidance.  We must decide for ourselves, but we needn’t ever decide alone.”  “A paradox,” laughed the first.  “Indeed,” laughed the second.  And the two rivers, laughing and murmuring their prayers to the ocean, talked and powered the waterwheels of thought as they traveled through the countryside, heading for home.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Personal Responsibility and the Power of High Self-Esteem

So there is this tree.  It spreads roots that rise and fall in the surrounding soil like little sculptures of water dragons flowing through the sea.  The wind comes, and the tree sways and leans a little, sometimes a lot.  Birds come, preen their feathers safely in its branches, and then fly away, refreshed for having visited.  Squirrels come and zipper through its boughs like visible laughter.  Sometimes the tree doesn’t expect the intensity of the wind that comes and it whirls in its place like a rooted top.  Sometimes it sways in the evening breeze, slow dancing in the arms of the sky, all night beneath the light of the moon.  Sometimes it scatters treasures into the wind, filling the river with golden coins.  Sometimes it sleeps, barren and dreaming, gathering snow on its shoulders.  Sometimes it blooms fresh buds full of promise and hope, fragrant–each bud a flower, each flower a fruit.  It stands, guarding the newborn’s window.  It reaches down to lift the children on its shoulders where they can daydream and watch the sky through the lattice of its branches.  Its strength stems from its roots, and its roots are named nobility, wonder, grace, determination, blessing, and generosity.  No matter the wind, no matter the season, it stands, sheltering any who wander near, completely secure in being held by the earth, the sky, and the sweeping arms of the galaxy.

 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Internal Demons: the Art of Transforming Negative Self-Talk

The undesirable voice entered the attic.  I stood on a box and shouted, “Get out of here!” The voice only shuddered and grew into two.  I bolstered myself and shouted again, doing my best to resist them: “Get out of here!”  I shouted.  And those two voices, those undesirable, negative voices—grew—they grew into three.  The more I shouted the more they multiplied, and soon the attic was filled with a chorus of undesirable voices all talking at once saying horribly negative, defeated, angry, and fearful things.  And the more I yelled at them to leave, the more they grew.  It was then, discouraged, beaten, and without hope, that I saw a dusty book sitting on shelf.  I picked it up, blew off the dust, sneezed, and then opened it up at random.  When I read the words I was amazed.  Rivers of light and hope coursed through me.  I looked back at the book.  Another line flashed like lightening into me.  I laughed, closed the book, turned to the undesirable voices and said, “What is it you want?”  They were stunned.  No one had ever asked them that before.  They stopped talking.  One of them finally spoke and said, “To help you.  We want you comfortable, in that old place.”  Another said, “To simply be acknowledged, after all, I am only trying to keep you in the place I think is best for you.”  And one by one they spoke, and one by one I listened, and then, one by one, I blessed them, thanked them, and released them.  And as I blessed them, new voices–positive, loving, encouraging, self-affirming voices entered the space.  And the attic glowed, it thrummed with beauty.  After a while, the entire attic was filled with joy.  And whenever one of the undesirable voices entered, I asked it what it wanted, thanked it for trying to help (in its own misguided way), blessed it, and then let it go, replacing it with a new voice—one of love.  I did this by listening and by talking with others about what the voices were saying.  What did I read in the book?  “Resist not evil” and “Love your enemies.”  What I resist persists.  What I hate grows. What I love is transformed into Light.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog