Of Fear & Potholders

It was the day I accidentally lit a dish towel on fire.

I had a pot on the stovetop. I used a dishtowel to take the lid off and poke the broccoli inside. I put the lid back on, tossed the dishtowel on the counter, turned to the bathroom, and turned back to see a small, silent flame coming off the dishtowel.

I threw it in the sink, turned the water on full blast. There was, wonderfully, no damage. The dish towel, which had caught the flame under the pot, would spend the rest of the day in the sink, then be retired to the trash. The broccoli would be lunch for the week.

The whole dish towel affair rattled me. My mind rotated on What Ifs. What if I hadn’t turned? What if I couldn’t put it out? What if…? What if…? It’s like fear reached into my head, grabbed my mind with two big hands, and shook it up.

I remember once reading about fear and respect; there’s an important line between the two, isn’t there?

It is important to have respect for fire. But fear of it can mean we have nothing but cold soup, takeout, and tap water. Fear puts a big NO TRESPASSING sign on the things that scare us. Respect asks that we be in relationship with it, a relationship that we must be present and awake to, as we are called to be in all the best relationships.

My mind doesn’t particularly enjoy the awful clutch of fear. So of the two, I’ll go for respect. There’s so much more we can do in relationship than not.

The other day, I got more broccoli. I also got a pot holder. And so the relationship continues.

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