Florence (not her real name) was worrying herself to death. Worry ate at her like termites. I was her pastor. She made an appointment. We met. We met again and again and again.
She also conferred with a psychologist, a spiritual director, a reiki counselor, and a shaman once or twice.
Florence was sweet, gentle as a lamb. But when it came to protecting farmlands and watersheds, she was a pit bull.
In her teens she’d read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. She worried about DDT. She worried about urbanization encroaching on animal habitat, industrial waste destroying the environment, the toxification of oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, ground water. She worried about the proliferation of plastics.
She wrote angry letters to corporations. She enclosed reams of data and charts. She refused to buy bliss with ignorance.
Florence worried about inequality, racism, sexism, the public schools, homeless children. She worried about her husband, her children, her cat. And nuclear arsenals.
She also worried that she wouldn’t remember all the things she worried about. So she made lists: I have five things I’d like to discuss with you today.
She’d bring up one item after another and then check them off.
During one session, I interrupted.
Florence, if you don’t mind telling me, how old are you?
And how long have you worried like this?
All my life.
Well, Florence, I hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure you’re never going to get over worrying about things.
You really think so?
Well, what should I do?
I could say, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” But that won’t stop you. So just accept the fact that you are a worrier and be the best worrier you can be! And be happy.
She stared at me, blinked, and smiled.
That’s good. I’m going to write that down.
I don’t know if it made a difference, but I do know there are some things we’ll never attain no matter how hard we try.
Like unconditional love.
A friend recently told me that was his goal—to attain unconditional love for everyone.
Who was he kidding? He’ll never love unconditionally. Dogs do. And that’s pretty much it.
As far as I can tell, human love is always conditional. But it’s still love. And any kind of love is better than none at all.
So be the best lover you can be.
And be happy.