Ours is a time of anxiety because we have wiled it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force form outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.

Sanctity in such an age means, no doubt travelling from the area of anxiety to the area in which there is no anxiety or perhaps it may mean learning, from God, to be without anxiety in the midst of anxiety. 90

I like Merton’s first idea – “travelling from the area of anxiety to the area in which there is no anxiety.” That is where I want to live, in “the area in which there is no anxiety.”

Jesus instructed his followers,

25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. (Matthew 6:25 ESV)

It is easy to say, “do not be anxious.” It is less easy to find my way to that calm anxiety-free place. For me, I am unsure an “area in which there is no anxiety” actually exists.

So, Merton’s second suggestion seems, if less appealing, at least more manageable. I might be able to accomplish “learning from God, to be without anxiety in the midst of anxiety.”

Anxiety is my natural terrain. I am an anxious person. I have always been an anxious person. I will always live “in the midst of anxiety.”

But, perhaps it is not the anxiety itself that is my problem. Perhaps the problem is being anxious about being anxious.

Having counselled his followers not to be anxious, Jesus went on to ask,

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25 ESV)

Is my life not more than my anxiety? Is there not within me a dimension that is deeper, more real, stronger, and more profound than the worrisome visions that inhabit my mind in those uneasy hours of wakefulness that haunt my sleep?

Anxiety is just a story in my head. I do not need to give anxiety more power than it merits. I do not need to listen too closely to the endless carping voice nagging in the back of my mind.

What am I anxious about?

What happens if I do not take that anxious voice in my head too seriously?

Advertisements