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Be Not Afraid: Walking Among the Stars



Editor’s Note: Communications manager Kim Puchir shares how turning to the rosary in the face of fear has led her through many difficult times.

Fear seems like the end of the road. When loss, sickness, and uncertainty bring this familiar feeling, I imagine myself standing at a ragged edge of asphalt. A bridge has capsized, it is night, I am alone. My feet can’t take another step, but my fingers are wiser. They reach for a rosary.

Sometimes the words come easily and I can disappear in the familiar rhythm. Other times, my mind is so noisy that I keep stumbling and coming back, trying to finish even one prayer, one part of a prayer.

Once, I heard a priest say that the rosary is about doing your best. You go in with the idea of reaching perfect contemplation of the mysteries of faith, but it quickly becomes about confronting the mystery of human frailty instead. Most of us are faulty radios that have to be readjusted many times to the right station. It’s humbling. But with prayer, weakness turns out to be the best guide. Here, having nothing is the whole point. You empty yourself and let the ritual flow through you.

Another of my fear images is losing the thread of my life. That it will forever be a bunch of senseless events without meaning, fragments I sift through but can never put into a whole again.

Through the rosary, we surrender to our need for healing. There is a wound that I can’t stitch up on my own. Maybe that is why there is nothing better than an endless string to help close that gap.

Then I realize it’s already happened. Somehow, even at this low point, I’ve said a whole decade and am already on to the next one. The rosary shows that at some point, some other force will carry us. It’s up to us to try. Even when my mind can’t get there, my hands feel the truth of connection.

The very act of trying to communicate with Mary is to fashion an earthly link with the eternal, stepping from bead to bead as from star to star. It’s a chance to walk a path where everything makes sense in its proper place. There is a plan for us.

For the last few years, I gazed at the blank space where my bridge to the future should have been. Slowly, what materialized in front of me was the desire to serve. Now that I’m able to answer that call, there will still be a lot of roadblocks, a lot of answers that seem beyond me. Happily, fear is a wise counsel. By admitting that we can’t, we leave space for one who can.

Reflection questions: When has prayer been a support for you? What is easy and what is hard about your prayer life?

Kim grew up in NC and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Warren Wilson College in Asheville. Her first job out of college was working in a state psychiatric institution, and this interest in people living with mental illness carried through to later positions as a psychiatric social worker at Fountain House and a job with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In between, she spent a year of service with Mercy Corps in the greater New York City area, where she developed an interest in people experiencing homelessness or poverty.

Always interested in people’s stories, Kim later turned her attention to communications work, but it’s at FMS that she has found a way to combine her spiritual journey with writing and editing. Kim is very inspired by the Franciscan charism, as well as inspiring others about FMS programs. link