Don’t Feed the Monkeys
I lived with my grandparents for a few years before I started grade school. They were of Eastern European descent and were an endless source of ethnic food, culture, and insights which I retain to this day. When I wasn’t immersed in Slavic culture, I was exposed to the influence of 1960s America via the television set resting on doilies in my grandmother’s living room. I was particularly enamored with the colorfully cartoonish Batman show of that era. I would pester my grandmother to let me know when my show came on. This was especially important because I had once turned the television on by myself one afternoon, only to be confronted by the fanged visage of Barnabas Collins, a character on the Dark Shadows gothic soap-opera. I relied on Grandma after that.
Fear is such a common and destructive part of the human condition that our Lord himself often heartened others with the words: “be not afraid.” The unfounded fears of childhood usually fade away into bemused memories. Adulthood, however, has its own ghouls and vampires who strive to suck the Life out of us – and the Way and the Truth, as well. Our health, safety, and prosperity can be precarious. We fear rejection, so we avoid leaving the safety of our comfort zone to form relationships. The fear of ridicule may cause us to selfishly avoid sharing our faith with a world desperate for love and meaning. Fear is an obstacle to freedom. We were set free because Christ overcame his fear.
I had a rough night last week. It probably was just something I ate. Donna suggested it was the extraordinary quantities of chocolate I consumed from our niece’s trick-or-treat bag. Ironically, she went as Batgirl for Halloween!
Perhaps I had a flashback to my early channel-surfing days and the T.V. vampire. Anyhow, I awoke around midnight with an oppressive sense of foreboding. A short walk under a clear crisp sky helped, only to have the anxiety return upon coming in and sitting for a few minutes. So, since I couldn’t sleep, I thought I would wake Donna and spend some quality time with her! She was more sympathetic and understanding than I had a right to expect.
I finally relaxed enough to get back to sleep a few hours later after many more walks, prayers, and reassuring words from my wife. It was a strange experience which I hope to avoid repeating in this life or the next. Donna and I were fairly exhausted from the ordeal and spent the next day together. We treated ourselves to lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant and an afternoon at the local zoo. I can’t imagine going through the despair of the previous night alone. And I can’t be more grateful for the joy of the following day. We might have had a little too much joy at the zoo, though we got some fun photos!
After the Our Father at Mass, the priest says these words: “Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” I don’t know if the experience I had was due to Satan or Snickers, but I do know that sometimes we let the worries and the ways of the world dominate our thoughts. There is an old Polish saying: “Not my circus, not my monkeys!” Be not afraid – to live!