Steps of Bravery: Walking into Darkness
It has long been suspected that most human fear stems from ambiguous or unpredictable threats. Fear of the unknown creates most of our anxiety and sometimes leads to unnecessary worry and stress. Especially during busy times of the year, like holiday seasons, we often feel plagued with unwanted unknowns. We worry about unforeseeable weather events creating obstacles to our travel plans; we worry about potential disappointed reactions to the thoughtful gifts we will offer. In a world encouraging self-care, meditation and yoga, how often are we embracing challenging decisions to step into a dark unknown?
In the gospel reading for today, Mary is also faced with fear of the unknown. What level of anxiety did Mary experience during her interaction with the angel? Did her cortisol rise? How stressful was it to learn that she could give birth to the Son of God? Did she anticipate the emotional and physical risks? Did the value of self-care even exist in biblical times, and if so, how did Mary evaluate the competing calls? When Mary made this difficult decision, the gospel reading gives us no indication how long she spent pondering her options—maybe it was a quick decision or maybe we need to read between the lines and allow the possibility that Mary paused to consider the easier path.
While I cannot directly relate to Mary’s situation, I have experienced pivotal moments when I have either stepped into or alternatively, evaded the dark unknown. Predictably, times when I have challenged myself and struggled with anxiety have often led to some of the most rewarding experiences. This Advent season presents us with the opportunity to reflect upon what might ensue from bravely following Mary into challenging situations. We might just walk into a brighter future.
Kristen Tordillos is a member of the Science Department and serves as a moderator for the LatinX Club at Seattle Prep.