Ebola came to my city this past week. I am sure you have heard or read the news. Two American aid workers, infected with the Ebola virus, were transported to Georgia and are now being treated at Emory Hospital here in Atlanta.
The reaction to their arrival has been overwhelming and not all of it positive. Some people are frightened by the possibilities of an Ebola outbreak in the United States. Others have said that they don’t want these two infected folks in “our city.” Others have blamed the aid workers, saying they don’t deserve special care because they brought the disease on themselves by going to Liberia.
While the words used are different, mostly what I hear is “fear.” Fear of contagion. Fear of illness. Fear of powerlessness. Fear of the unknown. Fear of different.
I hear that same fear when people talk about the children who have flooded into our country from Central America. Fear of “them” coming to “our town.” Fear of being financial responsibility for “those children.” Fear that they are dangerous, maybe even terrorists. Fear. Lots of fear.
I must confess that all this fear floating in the air has made me tired. After all, fear is heavy to carry around. Fear is stressful and anxiety producing. Fear is exhausting. This week I have grown weary of fear. I am tired out by fear. Tired of fear on the news. Tired of fear on social media. Tired of overhearing fear conversations in the grocery store. Tired of fear.
I have no solutions, no easy answers for all this fear. I have no answer even for myself . . . except grace.
Today, grace showed up for me. On my way to work, I stopped by Kroger to pick up a few things. I felt drawn to the florist section (where I rarely go). But I saw all those flowers, and I picked up a $7 bouquet of roses. I brought them to the office and put them in a vase on my desk. I have looked at them all morning as I typed away on my laptop. Their beauty reminds me of grace. Beautiful, life-affirming grace. God’s grace. And today, God’s grace made visible in orange-colored roses reminds me that fear is not, cannot be, the guiding force of my life.
My prayer today has been for all those living in fear–that grace would show up for them and that they might have eyes to see it.
Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.