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    Risk Taking by Tricia Layden

 For me, taking a risk means stepping out of my comfort zone, either to expand my world in some way or to reach out into other worlds. In most cases these two ways overlap.

 I'm essentially shy, so when I choose to connect with someone I'm taking a personal risk: they might not like me. I might not know what to say, or say the wrong thing. To expand my world, I need to trust that I am generally as likable as the next person, and to realize they may even wonder if I like them! It's taken time and practice (and meditation :-}) to be able to open up to people, to put myself and my heart out there.

 I like to think of myself as an artist, but it takes courage for me to show my creations. It has taken time for me to believe that what I create is good enough to show, that I could even enter a juried exhibit, or offer my work for sale. I risk criticism (or even rejection in the case of a juried show); if I show to sell, people might not buy, and that needs to be OK if I am going to step out.

 On the other hand, I believe passionately in justice with compassion, and to act on this means I have to risk reaching out into another world. I am involved in jail ministry and am friends with several returnees from prison. My husband and I support the work of the Freedom Project which brings Non-Violent Communication into the prisons, and though we don't go into prison ourselves – just into jail with religious services – we attend Freedom Project's Community Circle every month, a support group made up of returnees, ordinary people from the community and the volunteers who go into the prisons. Being part of the community has been richly rewarding and opened my eyes to the hardships – and prejudice – endured by ordinary men and women who have been incarcerated for sometimes terrible decisions on their part. I value their friendship and am grateful for the risk we both take to connect.

 To live fully, I believe, is to risk every day in some way, and involves a willingness to be open to life as it is, as much as possible without judgment of myself or others.