Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Learning To Let Go Of Fear, Live Life As An Adventure

Published August 4, 2005

We are walking along the shore at Neptune Beach, when suddenly a huge windstorm kicks in, with such ferocity that I am sure we are going to be joining Dorothy and Toto at any moment.

Although I grew up in Miami and lived through many hurricanes, this is the first time I am actually aware of how overwhelming wind can be and how insignificant a human being is when compared to the forces of nature.

Frankly, I am grateful that my faithful husband was by my side on the beach, assuring me that we would be fine.

Later, he confessed that he had found the whole thing an adventure.

Generally, this is my husband’s take on life: Despite all the pitfalls, the illnesses, the injuries, terrorist attacks, crime and other nightmarish things, there are still great wonders to behold.

“Life is an adventure,” he says, and because he believes so strongly in the resurrection, he is sure that, no matter how bad things may get, we will win in the end.

Later on the trip, we dined in a restaurant with a big assortment of family members, including six children. Afterwards, the children called us outside in great excitement to show us something I had never seen before:

A double rainbow was arched in full splendor over the restaurant roof.

“What a great gift,” I exclaimed. “What a beautiful testimony to all of us being here together.”

And, of course, the rainbow made up for the wind a thousand times over.

A few days later, my husband and I returned home to discover that the wind had raged through Decatur in our absence and wreaked some serious havoc.

A family a block from us suffered the greatest loss, when a tree crashed into their house and killed the beloved husband and father.

We have lived in Chelsea Heights for more than 20 years, and seen many a tree fall, but this was the first casualty. And although it was a terrible tragedy, what came next is rather sad as well.

You see, some people apparently have become afraid of the towering oaks surrounding their homes and are cutting down perfectly healthy trees.

I understand fear. Believe me, I am a wimp when it comes to so many things, including large bugs, giant waves in the ocean, extremely soft mud (I think I’ll sink), heights (I get dizzy), and even flying.

However, I also realize that even if I were to get rid of my particular slew of fears, a new crop would arise.

Because part of our journey here on earth, part of the grand adventure, is that we must take risks and we must confront our fears.

Think about it: What would happen if we tried to eliminate everything that could possibly harm us?

We would have to get rid of every big tree in Atlanta, which would mean destroying the very essence of our city, which is known as “the city in a forest.”

Still, there could always be a snake or spider lurking outdoors, or a mosquito with the West Nile virus, so perhaps we might decide that the safest thing would be to stay indoors.

Aha, but what if a friend stopped by who was carrying another flu virus? Or a child came over and infected the children with chicken pox?

Some people who feel uneasy around big trees might move to the coast, but there they would face the threat of rising tides during storms. Folks who live in the Midwest, where trees are scarce and the ocean non-existent, still have tornadoes to think about.

At the heart of every fear, whether it is of trees, spiders or heights, is the ultimate fear, which is that we shall one day die.

This explains why I dislike airplanes. Because my knowledge of aerodynamics is so flimsy, whenever I’m on a plane, I always expect it to fall out of the sky or for the wings to suddenly get ripped off.

Then came Sept. 11, and I had more things to fear. Still, I am starting to see that living in terror is not living. Especially for Christians, since Christ told His disciples, over and over, “Fear not.”

In truth, there are two things we know for certain about every person on this planet.

Each of them has a birth date, followed by a dash, and some day there will be another date to show when they departed.

What counts, of course, is what we do with the time in between. Shall we sit huddled in our homes, prisoners of our own terrors? Shall we avoid oceans, trees, heights and depths?

Here’s a better plan: Since we’re all going to die anyway, why not join the dance of life?

Why not have an adventure or two?

As for me, I plan to break my five-year flying fast and go out to visit my family in a few weeks.

Worse-case scenario: the plane falls out of the sky, at the same moment that a tornado develops, and the person next to me announces he has an incurable strain of the flu.

Best-case scenario: I get to play with my great nephews, hug my sister and brother-in-law, laugh with my nieces, and eat, drink and be merry in the presence of people whom I love dearly.

Really, despite all our losses and our fears, life remains, for those who believe in the promises of Christ, a win-win scenario. Because, no matter how often storms may rage, we know that Christ walks with us. And He will get us through it all.


Lorraine’s three books are available on-line. They are “Grace Notes,” stories about her journey from Catholicism to atheism and back again; “Why Me? Why Now?” a spiritual guide for Christian women with cancer; and “How Shall We Celebrate?” reflections about holidays, both sacred and secular, with original illustrations by her husband, Jef. Email: