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The Purpose of Fear, Part 1.

To quote one of my favorite fictional characters, Captain Kathryn Janeway, "I've known fear. It's a very healthy thing, most of the time. You warn us of danger, remind us of our limits, protect us from carelessness. I've learned to trust fear."

Fear keeps us from sampling the poisonous plant, it motivates us to wear thick boots when hiking in potentially snake-filled brush, makes us more attentive to our surroundings late at night in a parking lot.

It can be difficult right now, finding the appropriate level of fear. Somedays, I read a  first-person account of a medical professional who was with someone who died of covid-19, and almost start gasping for air myself. I'm overwhelmed by fear that I, or someone I love, will contract the novel coronavirus.

But other days, the threat feels so far away, that all of the precautions I'm taking feel ... unhelpful. I am reminded of the game of "lava" I used to play as a kid. You could walk on sofa cushions, the coffee table (sorry, Mom), and would streeeeetch so you could step from one chair to another, just as long as you didn't touch the floor, which was hot lava, and would kill ya.

Walking in the neighborhood, 8 feet away from my mother, masks on both of us ... are we hopping on sofa cushions?

Well, that's the reality of our lives right now. There are some things we know about covid-19, but so much more that we don't.

I live in Texas, and what scares me right now are the people with no fear. Politicians, yes, who flaunt the Stay Home, Stay Safe ordinances, but even more are the people who are so at home in their own feelings of invincibility -- "It could never happen to me" -- that they aren't even willing to follow the lightest of guidelines. Don't gather with others. Wash your hands. Cover your nose and mouth.

I worry that until we personally know multiple people fighting coronavirus, know someone who has died from it, that even those of us who have had an appropriate level of fear are going to begin letting some of it go. Taking a few more chances.

I have friends in NYC, Washington state. I am a minister, as are they. They are figuring out how to do memorial services. Death has come to their congregation.

I've learned to trust fear. 


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