My breathing was rapid and my little legs were shaking as I stood there at the door. My older brother had done exactly what our mother had asked: “Please walk your brother to his kindergarten class.” …and then he left. So there I stood at the door’s threshold on the first day of school completely overwhelmed with the unknown. This is my first memory of having to make a courageous choice.
“Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences. To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world: to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about: with a person, a future, a possibility in society, or with an unknown that begs us on and always has begged us on.” – David Whyte
Every day each of us have the choice to be courageous. And this looks different for each of us. Literally getting out of bed is a courageous choice for some. For others, it is taking a stand in the face of great personal risk. How is it we muster up the courage to step across the challenging thresholds of our life?
Reflecting on those times in my life when I felt like I had to make a courageous choice, it has been the combination of perspiration and inspiration. “Perspiration” comes from a sense of doing that which is right. These are moments when I am both completely aware of the challenging circumstances and what my mind, body and soul are telling me is the right choice. “Inspiration” comes from the modeling of individuals and communities who have or are demonstrating significant courage in very trying situations. Scripture reflects this combination as the Psalter speaks of the “perspiration” of courage in the words, “be strong, and let your heart take courage (PS 27:14, 31:24). And the Apostle Paul models the “inspiration” of courage as he writes to the faith community in Corinth, “We are always of good courage.” (2 Cor. 5:6, 5:8).
Part of the real challenge in this time in the world is the choices that each of us are facing. Previous go-to responses are now often inadequate or ineffective. We find ourselves standing at the threshold of our lives where we can choose to stand frozen in our tracks or we can begin to let our “perspiration” and the “inspiration” of others help us to make the courageous choice.
“To live our lives based on the principles of a love ethic (showing care, respect, knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate), we have to be courageous. Learning how to face our fears is one way we embrace love. Our fear may not go away, but it will not stand in the way.” – Richard Rohr
“I’m a dweller on the threshold
And I’m waiting at the door
And I’m standing in the darkness
I don’t want to wait no more” – Van Morrison
“Courage, my soul, and let us journey on,
Tho’ the night is dark it won’t be very long.
Thanks be to God, the morning light appears,
And the storm is passing over, Hallelujah!” – Charles Albert Tindley