When I was in high school, my Mom was robbed at gunpoint while working in her store, a flower shop. She was alone at the time. In the aftermath, she lived with an almost constant feeling of fear. A few weeks afterward when I was working in the store with her, I noticed she was giving away free bouquets of flowers. A few stems of something pretty, wrapped in florist paper and tied with a ribbon. She sometimes did this for customers who were celebrating a special day, but I'd never seen her give so many out in one day. I asked her what was going on, and she said, "When someone comes into the store who scares me, I give him free flowers." I use the pronoun "him" because the person who held her at gunpoint was a man, and it was the solo men coming into the store who were triggering the most fear. She did this for many months. I'm guessing until the generosity of time and the acts of love had done their work, and the immediacy of the fear had abated.
I've thought about this story often over the years, and thought about it again today in a conversation I was having about fear. Fear is all around us. It will always be with us in one form or another. But in each moment we get to choose. And those times when the fear is greatest are when our capacity to choose and to create love is needed the most.
It doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Anything that connects us to a sense of love within ourselves, and makes it visible in the world. It can be a small bouquet of flowers, wrapped with shaking hands, with fear and love together in the same moment.
To reach for love in times of fear is a struggle. It's our engagement in the struggle that makes our love more real, more muscular, more transformative. Let's stay in the struggle. We can do this.