“I’m scared – afraid – terrified. J’ai peur.” These are words the world is hearing every day – on the news, around the office, on social media, in our own heads.

For centuries throughout the world, there have been hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, fires, etc. that have struck fear in the hearts of people. Cancer, COVID and its various strains and other medical diagnoses have shaken and continue to shake people to the core. The January 6th attack on the Capitol of the United States terrified people who thought that civil unrest would be followed by civil war. The unimaginable earthquakes in Syria and Turkey killing over 25,000 people are soul-wrenching and foreboding for those living on earthquake faults. The Chinese balloon and unknown object that were shot down over the U.S. and the object that was shot down over Canada by the Canadian government today, have begun to spark frightening images of espionage and evoke the fear that nothing is private anymore. Russia’s ongoing assault on the people of Ukraine, (not only fearful for the people of Ukraine, but for the rest of the free world) is a daily reminder that if Ukraine falls, other countries will not be safe and neither will democracy.

Anxiety seems unrelating and fear is rising. Feelings of helplessness, abandonment, and lack of control overwhelm.  Our breathing becomes shallow. Our heart races.  Our mind won’t stop thinking.  The images seem everpresent: images of the children; the elderly; the disabled; the farewells; the frigid weather; the explosions; the baby buggies at the train station; the line-ups for food and water; the babies born in bomb shelters; the demolished hospitals / schools / churches; the bodies; the families running to escape the fires … The images don’t stop. Neither does the fear.

What to do in the midst of experiencing fear that is a “gut-wrenching … can’t explain … keep-me-awake” type of fear that is being felt as we see the horror of it all? Is there something we can do to allay the fear, or at least not have such fear so present all the time? Perhaps there is … sometimes.

Sometimes, admitting our fear to ourself, to another, helps.

Sometimes, something as simple as saying, praying, thinking, whispering the word ‘peace’ as we gently, and slowly, literally inhale a second of peace into our body, mind and spirit, helps.

Sometimes, saying, praying, thinking, whispering the word ‘fear,’ as we literally exhale the consequences of that fear from our body, helps.

Sometimes, creating something in the kitchen, garden, shop, studio, on the computer, in our Journal, helps. 

Sometimes, repeating Dame Julian of Norwich’s words (“All shall be well.  All shall be well.  And all manner of thing shall be well”) can help and using our breath to say them: … as we inhale, say / think / whisper / pray / sing “all shall be well” … as we exhale, say / think / whisper / pray / sing “all shall be well”; inhale “and all manner of thing”; exhale “shall be well.”

Sometimes, it’s helpful to remember that somewhere in the world, every minute of every day, someone is … meditating … inviting peace for others … sitting cross-legged and chanting … saying the Rosary … receiving Communion … reciting the Shema … praying the Daily Office … thinking / sending / praying / whispering good thoughts for the world … holding those experiencing fear in their heart, mind and spirit … thinking a comforting thought.

All of these contribute to an energy force that is more powerful than negativity and because of our common humanity (regardless of our religious or spiritual belief), we can begin to know that we are not alone.

May we never be too afraid to begin a journey of healing and say “J’ai peurI’m afraid” because there is power in naming the evil. The man known as Jesus did that – often. Such an admission can be healing because for admitting our fear can help move the dark fear out.

To all in the path of war; in the path of the fury of Mother Nature; in the path of anger of human nature; in the path of COVID and other nasty viruses; in the path of politicians out of control; in the path of terrifying medical diagnoses; in the path of grief;
in the path of air attacks, earthquakes and aftershocks;
in the reality of frigid cold, no food, no electricity, no safety,
may you be comforted and know that you are not alone. 

It may feel like you are alone. But you are not, because in some way, we are all connected by the intangible essence of compassion, empathy, prayer, love.  We are connected by our humanity.

© June Maffin