47: The Blessing of Fear

47: The Blessing of Fear

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

The Blessing of Fear

If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.

~Paulo Coelho

Is it possible that a miracle could lie hidden, dormant for years, like a frightened wildflower seed — waiting and waiting for the right time to grow and make itself known? Its path, blown by the winds, burying it beneath the soil until the day that God says, “It’s time.” Finally, it sprouts and pushes through, reaching, no longer encumbered by its earthly bounds, only to bless the world with its colors and scent.

Fears are like seeds, too, mere shells or wrappings to break out of if you view them with the right perspective, waiting to transform into miracles if you really look at them.

It was a long time coming for me, but that’s what I did. I faced a fear and visited the Metropolitan State Mental Hospital in Norwalk, California, the place where my mom had been a patient back in the mid 1970’s. I was fourteen at the time and visited her there only once, but I remember it well. As though it were yesterday.

Soon after ending her stay there. . . . she ended her own life. I never got to say goodbye. Years later the aforementioned became “the seed” for my art, my writing, my passion for helping others. But, much like the wildflower seed, I needed to push past my earthly boundaries. Hence, my visit there that day.

During my visit I was drawn to a particular set of dilapidated old buildings, which were built over 100 years ago. Some say they are haunted, and from the looks of them I would be inclined to agree. On the other side of the mile-square property are several other buildings, still used today. These house the criminally insane, among others. Many sheriff deputies were on high alert and, of course, wondering why I was there when I appeared one day. But I explained my mission and with raised eyebrows they sent me on my way.

Soon I discovered the abandoned building my mom once resided in. It seemed to be calling me as it sat stoic, even in disrepair, covered in vines. Its broken windows peered back with a blank stare that I am sure many of its long ago patients also shared. In spite of my reluctance I entered the building. The eerie ambiance was straight out of the movies. Long pitch-black hallways, old brick arches and well-worn linoleum floors spread throughout. The giant catacomb of rooms was dark, dreary, dusty and trashed. A wild cat or two scurried about, as did my heart.

Soon I found the very same room that my mother once called home for a while, with the same teal colored paint I remembered so well, now cracked and peeling. Brighter unblemished patches of paint shone where pictures once hung like windows to the past. Oh what these walls must have seen.

And then it hit me — many things I had put to rest came flooding back in an avalanche of emotion. Cascading memories flickered by so fast that it made it hard to focus. Were these windows to the past really working?

I reflected for a moment, letting everything sink in. I thought of forgiveness. I thought of the good and the bad, the memories. And, I thought of my mom’s fondness for horses — a result perhaps of her having grown up very close to Santa Anita racetrack.

I looked into the shadows and saw something. A small plastic horse lying in a corner covered in dust, a symbolic reminder of why I was there. A gift, if you will, for facing my fears. I can’t put into words all the emotions I was feeling, other than to say that my visit there felt like an atomic bomb of emotional confetti going off. A bomb of closure, healing, sadness, and yes, strangely enough . . . joy . . . all at once. I finally got to say goodbye.

One of the hardest things I have ever done was to visit there that day. Yet I needed to do it. And thus, I received the miracle of closure — in a brief instant . . . an instant that took forty years.

When you face your fears, they become your strength to receive the miracles laid out before you. And this is when God says, “It’s time.”

~Stan Holden

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