Facing up to frightening images

Originally appeared on spirituality.com

“How should I respond to frightening images of a predicted pandemic?” That was the question that came to me many months ago as I navigated a news website reporting heightened alert levels, warnings against travel, and masked people going about their daily errands. I knew that in order to pray about this, I needed to resist the allure of fear and take command over those shocking images in my thoughts. Whether the fear involves predictions of illness, accidents, or any other trouble, prayer is applicable.

As I prayed, I was reminded of an experience I’d had in which I was barraged by alarming images. Several years ago, when I was stationed in the US Navy on a submarine, we had one of the worst incidents possible: an engine room fire while we were submerged. I was on watch and started smelling smoke.

Just as I picked up the phone to report it, alarms started ringing and I could see a small fire erupting in the piping right over my head. The person on watch above me had seen and reported it moments earlier. Within seconds, the entire compartment filled with smoke, as I struggled to get on a respirator and deploy firefighting hoses and equipment.

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