Learning Not To Worry

1.1.2023. An excerpt from Laurence Freeman OSB, “Meditation,” JESUS THE TEACHER WITHIN (New York: Continuum, 2000), pp. 212-213.
River streaming

When he tells us not to worry, Jesus is not denying the reality of daily problems. It is anxiety he is telling us to abandon, not reality. Learning not to worry is hard work. [Yet] despite its “attention-deficiency disorder,” even the modern mind has its natural capacity to be still and to transcend its fixations. In depth it discovers its own clarity where it is at peace, free from anxiety. Most of us have half-a-dozen or so favorite anxieties, like bitter sweets we suck on endlessly. We would be frightened to be deprived of them. Jesus challenges us to go beyond the fear of letting go of anxiety, the fear we have of peace itself. The practice of meditation is a way of applying his teaching on prayer; it proves through experience that the human mind can indeed choose not to worry. [ . . . .]


We do not create the miracle of life and growth by ourselves, but we are responsible for its unfolding. Coming to peace of mind and heart—to silence, stillness, and simplicity—requires not the will of a type-A high-achiever, but the unconditional attention, the sustained fidelity of a disciple.

After meditation: “The Avowal: For Carolyn Kizer and John Woodbridge, Recalling Our Celebration of George Herbert’s Birthday, 1983” by Denise Levertov in THE STREAM AND THE SAPPHIRE: Selected Poems on Religious Themes (New York: New Directions, 1997), p. 6.

As swimmers dare

to lie face to the sky

and water bears them,

as hawks rest upon air

and air sustains them,

so I would learn to attain

freefall, and float

into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,

knowing no effort earns

that all-surrounding grace.

Image by Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay

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