Lasha Morningstar

February 6, 2012

Fear cripples. Most of us have that miserable black shadow lurking in our lives. And most of us deny it, citing all sorts of rational and irrational reasons as to why we do or do not do something.

Not Louise Penny though. The author of a masterful mystery series set in Quebec's Eastern Townships, Penny responded to Proust's Questionnaire on CBC's The Next Chapter with disarming and, at times, startling honesty.

To imagine fear would invade Penny's psyche is, well, unimaginable. A former CBC radio host, Penny's mysteries based on intricate woven relationships meshed in mind-twisting plots are regulars on North America's best seller lists. She lives with her retired haemotologist husband - also a writer - in a mellow village in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

Yet when asked by Proust's analyst-sounding voice what her principle deficit is, Penny's answer is immediate.

"Fear. I struggle with it all the time."

It has been a life-long thing with Penny as she lists off her fears - "fear of being alone . . . fear of being left out, being judged badly."

She softens her admission by saying the fears are not as intense as she ages - but they are still there.

So brilliant. So successful. So human.

To be aware of her fears means Penny acknowledges the impact they have on her life and works to overcome them.

And that's the key.

But when you are a child you don't have names for feelings. You just know they hurt.

My first memory of being tarnished with the brush of fear is when I was three and one-half. I was put on a train, ordered not to move from the seat. They told me there was no room for me at home anymore. As the train started, I squeezed the levers on the window. I thought they were the train's brakes and would make the train stop. Kept squeezing and squeezing. But it didn't stop and I was sent away.


Doesn't take a CBC Proust interview to let me understand my fear of abandonment.

When a tendril of that poisonous memory works its way into my presence, I mentally crawl into the verbal arms of John Paul II.

"Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you. Therefore no harm can befall you. All is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence."

Right now I fear the rampaging politically correct tsunami that is ploughing its way across North America and Europe. Its name? Secularism.

Where would we be without our saints, Jesus, Holy Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . whomever we turn to in prayer.


Where would we be without our saints, Jesus, Holy Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . whomever we turn to in prayer.

No more crosses. No more kippahs. No burkas. No mention of God.

Hate crimes are on the increase.


What is behind this vengeful purge?

And this is when my fear mutates into anger. How dare these sanctimonious elitists demand that our society be stripped of religion!

I weary of bully-boy authors grabbing centre stage trumpeting their right to trod the atheistic path. Go ahead.

But let the rest of us have our faith, be allowed to practise it in our own way. (Be aware though should any of those atheists slip and fall we will pray for them.)

Take away prayer from school or organizations? In truth, what harm does it do to a wee child to say the Lord's Prayer or whatever prayer of their faith and acknowledge that there is an omniscient power that loves, cares and protects them? In today's violent society, it just might be the anchor these little ones need.


Prayer is mighty powerful. For those demanding proof, just ask a physician and chances are they can tell you of an unexplained healing, or two or more. Granted the word "miracle" probably won't pass their lips. But those who prayed for the healing know.

Prayer is the harbour for those seeking respite from life's storms. Slipping into church the moment the doors open, sinking in front of the tabernacle in precious silence, listening for God's guidance.

Yes, it is good to be silent there.


But it is time to raise our voices when the bullies turn Christmas trees into holiday trees, take the Lord's Prayer out of civic occasions, sneer at our acts of faith.

Where would we be without our religion? Where would we be without our saints, Jesus, Holy Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . whomever we turn to in prayer? Who would listen to our outpourings of gratitude?

God never abandons us. We cannot abandon him now.

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)