From Fear to Family

by Jeen Wopat

I haven’t seen Emma, my skink spirit guide for letting go of fear, since I last shared about her in the Fall ’99 newsletter story, Fear Was My Compass. A lot has happened with me and fear since Emma and I first met.

For one thing I came to see that for me fear has two tracks, each of which operate powerfully in my mind. The first track is what I call the consequence track -- the one that shouts at me, "if you do that then this will happen." You know the one: if you climb Mt. Shasta, you’ll die. Some people who climb Mt. Shasta die; if you climb the mountain, you will be one of the people who die. Lots of us have this kind of "consequence" fear operating somewhere in our minds. The second fear track, and the one Emma helped me to identify, is the repulsion track. If repulsion toward earth’s so-called lower life forms is a big one for you, there’s nothing like living in the country to rub your nose in your handicap.

After failing to reconnect with Emma through the fall and winter months, I decided I needed to work on my aversions through other "repulsive things." If it’s raining and you have a lawn, one of the most abundant creatures you’ll meet are earthworms. I thought they were a great place to start, because my entire mind and body assumed the posture of yuk! every time I saw one. I don’t care whether you’re bungee jumping or holding a worm between your bare fingers, fear is fear and repulsion is repulsion. It was so hard for me to pick up and hold that worm that I had to yell and violently chant my mantra during the few seconds I required myself to hold it! After putting it down, I told myself that it could only get easier from here.

And indeed it did. Several weeks later I was turning compost when I spied numerous earthworms enjoying the booty. I removed my gardening gloves and picked up one worm after another, gently moving them to the new compost bin. By the time I finished, my thumb and index fingers were absolutely buzzing with energy from the experience. Mind’s comment was "that was cool." After this episode a certain confidence took root in me that colored itself maternal. Earthworms became beings I looked for with an eye to protecting.

This seemed all well and good until the day I was riding my bike and spied an enormous earthworm just beginning to cross the paved road of our subdivision. The mother in me caused me to jump off my bike, pick up the worm, and place it in the grass by the roadside with a concerned and condescending "there, there." There, there indeed! I got such an angry scolding from that worm, something on the order of "who do you think you are? I’ve lived my whole life without you up until now, made all my own decisions. If I want to embark on a suicide mission or cross the road seeking greener lawns it’s my business!" Wow. That was a surprise! Right then and there I had to release all the cozy smugness I was feeling about being a new protector of earthworms. My guide then told me that assistance to others is a case by case deal, no blanket rules.

Something about the case by case idea, along with other spiritual studies I was working with, opened me to the individuality of the life forms I had previously grouped together and found so repulsive. Once the opening occurred it was just a short period of time and a few mental steps to regarding all creatures as my brother. The ants, the spiders, the snails, the wasps, the potato bugs, you name it, they all became my family. And just as with the human family, sometimes we get along well and sometimes we don’t. But you know what? I now know that getting along is up to me. I’m the one who chooses how I’m going to hold the other beings who inhabit this planet with me. And I’m choosing to work with all my heart on growing my friendship, love, understanding, and reverence for all the members of my family!

Copyright 2000, Linda Jeen Wopat, all rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce in any form.