Fear and Prayer

Fear: my daily emotion.

It’s the word I use with myself to encompass
my now-normal mix of anxiety, uncertainty,
and battling a million unknowns.

I worry about my life. My job. My students.
Going to the office. This very process.

How vulnerable am I willing to be?
How much risk am I willing to take?
Can I support my students well, remotely?
With this political climate, where is the
………nation headed?
How much should I probe with a Black or
………minority friend?
If I don’t ask enough, am I negligent
………and complacent?
How much is appropriate and helpful?
Can I find confidence anywhere within this
………much unknown?

Prayer: my daily devotion.

Faith is the place I find the most
peace; it brings much-needed ease.

Home improvement is important. I know how to
do it right. Basic knowns make things work.
I find comfort wiring ceiling lights.

I find comfort spending time in the afternoon
with my wife.

What I know: the answer to every question is maybe,
………and the answer to every prayer is rest.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

This person was thoughtful and contemplative. He spent his days working with medical students. He was the one they brought their questions and worries to. He didn’t have answers for them, other than “maybe,” and was feeling the same anxiety as they were, but couldn’t share that. He feared there were going to be a lot of very unhappy people after the match this year, given the way the entire interview process had to go virtual. While he worried about many things, his faith, his journaling, his prayers, and spending time focusing on his life outside of work were very rewarding. He told me that prayer always led him back to the same thing: rest. “I’m in a constant battle to find rest amidst the uncertainty and anxiety I experience every day. Fear is a well-known theme in my journaling these days,” he said, “but even though I’m more open and verbal about the fear than most people would be, the rest is winning.”

Interviewee: Anonymous, Administrator
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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