In Hebrew, the word for fear, yrah, is also the word for Awe and Reverence, a progression that describes my journey through the challenges and gifts of the last year. Yes, the virus and the fires and nefarious political scene launched me into fear, but it was love that opened my heart to Awe and Reverence.
The word love in Hebrew, ahav, means ‘to provide and protect what is given as a privilege’ as well as ‘to have an intimacy of action and emotion.’ Perhaps it is the action of protecting as well as the awareness that intimacy is a privilege that cracks us open, especially in frightening times. And perhaps we should be afraid when we realize love is in our lives, remembering that this gift requires the actions of intimacy and protection.
These words, ‘yirah’ and ‘ahav’ are not linguistically related, but they are spiritually intertwined, and have been called ‘two wings of the same bird.’ Together these wings lift us from fear into a reverence for life and those around us. And as two winged ones dance in the air, it is the ahav of one that heals the yirah of the other.