Do you know what the antidote for fear is?” the minister asked. The answer jumped into my head immediately. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:17, NASB). But since it’s generally frowned upon for a member of the choir in an Episcopal cathedral to shout out answers to rhetorical questions from the pulpit, I kept quiet.
Some years ago I visited a Roman Catholic parish in one of the poorest areas of Mexico City. Mass was being held outdoors, and I arrived as people were setting up plastic chairs and wooden benches in a circle around the brightly dressed altar. The Virgin of Guadalupe smiled her approval from a mural on the side of the church as a few stray dogs settled down to nap in the warm dust.
To understand what I am going to tell you, you need to know that my parents were scientists and that my mother’s mind had a decidedly unpoetic bent. Nonetheless, they read me poems from the time I was very young because they paid attention to what gladdened my spirit.
It’s been almost 20 years, but I can still recall the uneasy flutter in my gut as the sun went down and my first night as on-call chaplain began. A chaplain who was on her way home, and familiar with the look of panic that identifies a rookie, patted me on the shoulder. “You’ll be fine,” she said.
I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. I like to run marathons, for example, because they turn my daily training runs into a work in progress. What I do today will get me closer to the finish line several months from now.