Sunday, April 26, 2015


Fearless, Carol Aust (acrylic on wood)
After our Seder, recalling the events leading up to the Israelites being led by God out of Egypt, we were lounging around on the couch and started wondering more about what happened next. Why did the Israelites wander around in the desert for 40 years? Of course, Susan uses this as an excuse not to go camping. “Jews don’t camp!” she says. “We wandered the desert for 40 years, why would I want to go camping now?” Plus, I am unable to sufficiently dispel her concerns about all the hazards of camping, both large (bears) and small (ticks), and so we pretty much don’t camp.  
Back to the Israelites. Why did they wander the desert 40 years? Were they lost? Certainly they didn’t have GPS then, but – really? Forty years? Even I am not that bad, and as we all know, my proficiency in getting lost is epic. (See blog post #4, Getting Lost & Getting Found, published October 20, 2014). Were they just lost? Perhaps not physically, but spiritually. 
Our curiosity piqued, we went in search of the answer. Google, of course. What happened after the Israelites left Egypt, where the Passover story ends? God was taking them to a land of milk and honey. Minor detail that He finally shared with them, of course only after they had already left Egypt, is that this land was already occupied by the Midianites, a bunch of big, strong, fierce giants (not a bit unlike the Seattle Seahawks), and they would have to be removed first. But, God said, hey, trust me, I’m on your side. 
What stopped the Israelites? Fear. The thing that holds us all back from our promised lands. They still couldn’t believe, even after having witnessed miracle after miracle, the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. They just couldn’t quite see the possibility of yet another miracle. Escaping Egypt was not enough. God apparently doesn’t like to be doubted, and so that’s why he made them wait forty years, at least according to Google.  
This raises the question: Which was worse? Being prisoners enslaved to the Egyptians? Or, being held prisoner of their own fears? As always, it is a fundamental question of confidence, faith, and trust – in oneself, others, and God. To borrow a quote from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt  (who could be a long-lost, albeit fictional, cousin of mine), “Escaping is not the same as making it.”
Driving home from work Friday night, I saw a car on Route 2 with the bumper sticker: “I live in fear.” I couldn’t believe it. I felt so sorry for that driver. Of course, as I was drawing closer, to try get a better view, and make sure it really said what I thought it did, I probably just further added to their fears. What did they mean by that?  

As it has been said, many times and many ways, courage is not the absence of fear, but going forward even when one is afraid, acting “fearlessly” – courageously – in the face of our fears. 

“I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
                                                                                                                      Nelson Mandela
"Courage is being afraid, but going on anyhow."
                                                                                                                      Dan Rather

This was just a natural follow-on to the prior blog post about miracles and believing. So excited to have picked up the painting, titled “Fearless,” by Carol Aust, from the Left Bank Gallery in Wellfleet. I saw the painting last September and found it so inspirational, I would have bought it on the spot, but I was afraid of adding another large ticket item to my credit card bill (I know, pretty ironic right?), and so I have been quietly, patiently paying for it on layaway over the long winter. Happy to see a good chunk of wall space devoted to Carol Aust’s work at the Left Bank Gallery for the 2015 season.

Post Script
We continue to celebrate all the miracles of spring, with new life, leaves budding out on trees, and babies being born or on the way. Another miracle, we finally put our humidifiers away, so it no longer sounds like we’re living in an aquarium. And, my Dad is planting asparagus again this spring!

I’ve added a few more books to the pile on my nightstand:

-       Images of America: Tiffin, by Keith Elchert and Laura Weston-Elchert. Congrats to Keith and Laura on the publication of their book this year!

-       Mudhouse Sabbath and Wearing God, by Lauren Winner. I attended her talk Sunday April 12, 2015, at Trinity Church, and found her journey fascinating, from being born and raised Jewish, to converting to Christianity and recently being ordained an Episcopal priest.

-       The Real-Life MBA, by Jack and Suzy Welch.

Coming Next
I will give my take on the talk, “Business & Baseball,” held Wednesday night, April 22, 2015, at the Seaport Hotel, essentially an interview with two local Boston business icons, Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) and John Henry (owner of The Boston Globe, Boston Red Sox, and the Liverpool Football Club, and by “football” I mean soccer), moderated by Globe Editor, Brian McGrory. An edited version of the talk was aired on NESN Saturday, April 25, 2015, and yes, that was my question at the very end, for anyone who happened to catch it. More to come.

And then back to the rugby vs. football thing, and maybe another one of my Dad’s letters.

© 2015 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life.” Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me.

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