Go into the heart of danger to find safety

by | Jun 6, 2022 | Faith, Nature | 4 comments |

I wasn’t thinking about danger. Walking in the woods, I talked with Heidi about the landscape project Keith and I wanted the company Heidi works for to create: another trail, connecting the ravine path to the steps behind the dining deck. I took the lead up the existing ravine trail, veering onto the deer path behind our house. Heidi and I stopped at the rock outcropping at the high end of the trail and looked across the beautiful Rockfish Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. 

As we made our way through the trees down to the dining deck steps, I stepped on a bunch of leaves and into a yellow-jacket nest. The beauty of our surroundings immediate changed into fear. Without thought, we took off, swatting at the bees. Flight and fight.

This past week, the new trail came to fruition, revealing another danger. Not bees this time but snakes, three of them, the landscape workers said. My readers might remember that Keith likes snakes; me not at all. And this morning, the dogs brought home the freshly severed head of a small deer. Keith rescued me from that cleanup job—I have a horror of dead animals, too.

Honestly, I don’t like being unsettled or overwhelmed by fear, and I know I am not alone in this. Perhaps that’s why in the Bible, we’re told many times, “Fear not,” and “Do not be afraid.” Of course, we should take care when walking into danger that could cause physical harm. But it’s danger of another kind that I fear more: exposing my vulnerable heart. And yet, in order to truly live, I must “Go into the heart of danger,” as the old Chinese proverb advises, “for there you will find safety.” I must walk steep and slippery trails, risk getting stung or bitten, and come face to face with the reality of death to find the way to forgiveness.

This means rejecting the option of flight (I don’t want to see that) and fight (I want to nurse my angry thoughts) to a Third Way. That is, going into the hurt of our fraught pasts and relationships, thinking about them factually—asking questions and doing some research—then looking at them with our hearts. 

Recently, I read a reflection titled, “Three Ways to View a Sunset, by Richard Rohr, found online here. “Three people stood by the ocean, looking at the same sunset,” he wrote. One viewed the sensory beauty of the scene. Seeing, the first eye. The second person sensed the sunset and thought about it. Imagination, intuition, and reason: the second eye. The third one viewed the sunset through both senses and thought then stood in awe of the mystery, coherence and spaciousness. Seeing, knowing, and connecting with everything: the third eye. 

Viewing the sensory reality of a sunset does not usually evoke danger. But thinking about what the sunset really means can be unsettling, and connecting with everything overwhelming.

And yet, as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in The Little Prince, “It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” That is essentially grace.

Link up with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2022/06/02/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-danger/

I’m presenting a session related to this post at HippoCamp in August; here’s the registration link: https://hippocamp22.hippocampusmagazine.com


  1. Linda

    Seeing with the heart is like faith. Thank you for the beautiful share. God bless.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for your comment, Linda. -C.D.

  2. dawnfanshawe

    Very thought-provoking and challenging, Carole. Thank you. I love Saint Exupery’s ‘little prince’ too! FMF #37

    • Carole Duff

      Faith is challenging, indeed. Thank you for your comment, fellow FMF! -C.D.


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