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  • Leah Van Someren

Fear Giants

I’m laying down in a pasture, cuddled by the greenest of greens. I breathe in the air. It tastes like honeysuckle and morning dew. Trees, far off in the distance, shake and shimmy in the gentle wind. Sunshine cradles my face and contentment soaks my soul. Restoration on every level. Just a stone’s throw away, the soft whispers of waters so still collect my wandering mind and welcome me into the present. Life is greeted by my smile and delight is ushered into my heart. My best friend is near. He holds my hand and I hear him breathe long breaths. Inhaling hope, exhaling love. He led me here and I am grateful.

Then, in a moment’s notice, yet without worry or haste, we are up and on our way. Decamping from my beloved pasture. Space and time distances me from dancing trees, greener than greens, honeysuckle air and my whispering water friends. I tread down a paths so different than that of the pasture. They are called ‘righteous’, though, at the time, I failed to recognize why for they are dark, winding and restless. Yet, He leads me, just as before. This best friend of mine. Not even for a moment did he surrender my hand, the extension of my heart. It’s safe, still intertwined securely in His. Trailing down each passage, half a step behind and threatening the back of His heel, I’m unsure of our destination. It’s for His name’s sake, I follow. He is worth it.

Our pace slows. Emerging from our latest path, we arrive at the mouth of new open space. As long as it is wide, I reminisce about the pasture, reveling in similarities and shivering at eerie inconsistencies. A valley blanketed by a shadow, cold and dark. The dead grass crunches under my feet. Surely He will take me another way. Perhaps around this way or that, maybe we fly over or go under? Or maybe we’ve gotten lost altogether and trekked down the wrong path. Maybe the only option at this point, I reason, is to turn back. My best friend knows me and isn’t a stranger to my thoughts. With rod and staff, he turns his face toward the valley and its shadow, dissipating the fear of evil wafting in the air. It’s comforting…Him and His rod and His staff. I know He is with me and I am with Him. Together, we keep walking.

In the middle of the valley, surrounded by shadow, I see something up ahead. We arrive and take a seat on a long, wooden bench. My elbows rest on the solid, oak table before me, prepared with a feast surpassing my imagination. Wine, meat and steaming, hot bread are among the morsels gracing the table. The dead grass tickles my bare feet as my toes nervously grip the blades doing their best to offer the assurance of unshakable ground. My best friend takes up residence next to me and together, we wait.

And then, they arrive, each step threatening to crack the ground. Much too tall to not be giants, they tower above our table. With menacing eyes and breathless growls, I lock sights with my enemies: Fear Giants. I tremble and shake, drawing blood from my lip, bitting hard as not to scream. I want them to vanish or to vanish myself. I want to be rid of them, bashing them from ever taking up my space again. After all, I do such a prudent job at neglecting them, I couldn’t fathom why my best friend would lead me to their doorstep.

And then I realize, eyes wide with unparalleled surprise, the empty spots at our table are reserved and the rightful guests just arrived. I look to my best friend, his eyes anchored in eternity, and my heart, though it quivers, understands. This table isn’t set to mock, banish or taunt the Giants. It isn’t a symbol of segregation or entitlement. It’s an opportunity. A gift from my best friend to me, to offer them to take a seat and partake. It’s my time to love my enemies. To invite them to the table, ask them their names and lend an ear to their stories. Because everyone has stories…even Fear Giants.

Eyelids brimming with tears, I nod, beckoning their approach. The bench sags under the weight. With puffs of heavy breaths, they blow out the candles’ flickering flame. I can’t tell if on purpose but either way, the shadow over the valley is darker still. We sit for many moments, staring. This space either too sacred or too fragile to disrupt without rupture. Suddenly, a small gasp escapes from my mouth. A thick, warm substance trickles down the back of my head. Without turning, I glance to discover my best friend hovering above me with a beautiful vessel. And I comprehend, yet again. I’m overcome with courage as he anoints me with oil. It is time to open my mouth.

“What’s your name?” I manage to squeak out.

“Anxiety.” grumbled the Giant.

“Hi Anxiety, my name is Leah. Tell me about yourself. Where are you from?” I ask.

And so it begins. The tales of the Fear Giants. One by one, they speak up. At first, the smell of their breath alone was reason to stop the unreasonableness of the whole experience. But then, I see…the tears in my eyes mirrored by tears in theirs. The hand of my best friend reaches for a spoon lodged in a savory dish in the middle of the table and the ice is broken. Giant hands are reaching for this and that, obviously hungry, painfully uncared for. I’m still too frozen to reach for food but then steam sneaks into my nose from directly beneath me. I glance down to see a plate full of piping hot food, accompanied by a cup overflowing. My eyes dart to my best friend. He winks, his mouth full and spoon on its way up with another delivery. I manage to direct my arm, “Pick up some bread and bring it to my mouth.” Following it with a sip of wine, I remember who I am and open my mouth once more.

With my curiosity at the helm, the Giants paint pictures of where they came from and why they are here. Between stories and accounts, memories and tragedies, in some ways, I begin to follow. I notice my best friend’s head nodding next to me, compassion and empathy flowing liberally. It’s as if His eyes are giving the giants a hug. Loving without withholding. And as time ticks by, the most peculiar thing happens. As the Fear Giants are heard, they start to transform. Not bigger, not meaner, rather smaller and meeker. Affected by Love, the Fear Giants shape shift into their truest selves…terrified, little kids longing to be safe, seen and heard.

My heart interrupts my mind, offering up unbridled care for the children before me. Tears fall from my eyes, not out of fear, but compassion. After hours and hours, though the sun hangs high in the sky, a natural lull rests where a the shadow once was. The kind of lull that’s holy and lovely, like a feather floating to the ground. And as I take in the sight before me, it’s not Giants I see, nor fear or terror, but eager kids restlessly waiting to be excused from the table. I offer up a game for us to play in the grass, once dead and now alive. The greenest of greens have made their way to this valley turned pasture. The kids leap without remorse, chasing after my best friend who is already halfway across the field waiting gladly to be tackled.

We play and play until the sun finally decides he is tired and retreats. As crickets join our party, dusk illuminates something curious in the distance. A home, warm and inviting. All the kids begin to run toward it as the smell of steaming hot bread entices my nose. “That is their home…” A thought given to me from deep within. My best friend waves me down and asks if I want to go to His house for dinner, pointing toward the home. Caught between conflict of sadness its all over and joy it still happened, I realize I’m not alone. Standing in my new pasture, I’m met by Mercy and her friend goodness. They join my journey and together, we walk toward His dwelling place of forever.


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