The truck at night
Our late-night outings mean we approach the truck well after dark.

“There’s a monster about!” the woman shouts at us as we wander home from the train station late at night. “Keep your children safe.”

Three-year-old Calista has run thirty metres ahead of us and is looking in the window of the only business still open at this time of night — a pizza shop. “I shouldn’t even be out,” the woman continues. “It’s dangerous in this part of town.”

We listen sympathetically, letting the woman share her burden of fear. For she has heard stories that make her so afraid that she is almost reduced to tears when she notices our little girls skipping along the pavement at midnight. “Don’t you know what could happen to your babies?”

This woman has become so preoccupied with the things that she is afraid of that she has to share it with others, with anyone who will listen. And so we listen. We take her burden from her, reassuring her that we’ll keep our children safe and that she’ll get home safely too.

Picture fear as a small, grey cloud that sits over someone’s head. When that person invests time and energy into that fear, the cloud becomes darker and heavier. At some point, it starts to rest on its victim’s head and shoulders and inhibits the way they walk and act. This person can find release by offering some of their great, grey burden to another person.

So we take up the burden of this woman’s fears. And then, as we continue on our way in the dark, we drop the burden and proceed in confidence. For tonight we are not afraid to walk in a “bad” neighbourhood. Sometimes we are not afraid of anything.

We haven’t always been fearless. And we aren’t always so bold. Sometimes we are so paralysed by our own thoughts and worries that our guts churn in anticipation of events that never occur.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

We are learning how true Roosevelt’s quote is. For fear is stepping outside of the present moment and forecasting a future that is dire. It clouds our minds and prevents us from enjoying where we are at the time. Fear is an unpleasant mixture of pessimism and masochism.

This is the day that was made for me. I will rejoice and be glad in it. The future is already written, and it is good, so why should I be afraid?

When we share our fears with someone, it is because we are so consumed with them that we cannot see another way to feel better apart from unloading our burden. A strong listener can receive their friend’s fears and discard them without making them his or her own.

This is what we’re learning to do. We’re learning to pick up on others’ fears, to share the burden and then to let it go without internalising it. When I am strong, no one can convince me to be afraid.

And we are careful not to share our fears with our children. They are innocent of fear stories except for the ones they are told and make their own. If we have fears that consume us, our challenge is to contain them and not pass them on to the next generation.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We want to be perfect in love. And fear has no role in a life that is resting in love and faith. So we release our fears when they creep into our minds and encourage others to do the same.