I was at a tiny Saturday mass at my tiny little parish when the priest came up to me and asked, “How is everything going, Nell?”
And I made the decision to answer honestly and authentically instead of with the socially expected and standard “well” or “fine.”
I told him that there were so many things I wanted to do that, sometimes, I was scared. Sometimes I sat in my work-church and looked up at the stained glass and prayed the simple prayer, “Jesus, help me to be brave,” that one phrase, simple, but repeated over and over and over.
I said these things quickly to him, matter-of-fact-ly, as it were.
He looked back at me, answered equally quickly and matter-of-fact-ly: “Be sure to pray against the spirit of fatality,” he said to me.
I must have looked perplexed. He offered an explanation, this man who teaches spirituality wisely and deeply, but also straight-forward and in a way that is easy to understand.
The spirit of fatality, he said, or the crippling fear that stops us from trying, for concern for the things that will “go wrong,” and stop us in our tracks before we even start.
And then he turned about and walked away, on to a different responsibility, dropping treasures of insight as smoothly as if he was talking about the weather.
But I don’t hold onto conversations about the weather.
And this one has stopped me in my tracks each time I have returned to reconsider.