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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
Finding the sacred in everyday life
How to take care of what scares us
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About this blog
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
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Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.\x34
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Nov. 20, 2013 12:16 a.m.



IMG_3798That almost-man of mine, the one who turns 15 this month, he has a generous and helpful heart.

Iíve seen him bus tables for people in need of a Thanksgiving meal and bend down low to take his brotherís hand and check a skinned knee. Iíve watched him spend his last dime to buy candy for someone else and take part of his vacation and feed animals that other people had given up on, animals that needed refuge.

The woman, the one who runs the refuge, she showed him how she prepares the food for the 250 exotic animals that were once pets. The tiger that was a Christmas gift for a 5-year-old. The peacock that previous owners found to be too loud.† The turtle that grew too big.

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We humans did this to them, she said as she doled out blueberries and chopped up melon. We captured them. We made it so they donít know how to live in the wild. And now itís up to us to fix it.

She patted a horse, greeted an iguana and fed two lemurs. When the gate closed behind us, I slipped in the question Iíd been wanting to ask since I first heard about Safariís Sanctuary Ė the one where I ask how she takes care of the dangerous animals. The bears. The majestic lions. The alligators. The snakes.

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How do you care for an animal like that, one that terrifies you?

Fear is often learned, she said. And anytime Iíve been scratched or hurt, it has been my fault. She misread the animal. She missed a cue.

She and Jessie walked ahead. I followed along but my mind was still processing how much of my own fear was natural and necessary Ė and how much fear I had simply taught myself.

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I choose to fear failure. I agree to worry about what people will think of my messy house, my rowdy boys and my written words. I use fear as an excuse for not helping more and that truth cuts as deep as a cougarís claw.

Fear is easier than faith. It makes it OK to pass on that rewarding job or that amazing volunteer opportunity. It stops us from pulling out the guitar or the paints or the running shoes.

Fear requires less but it also makes us less of who we were made to be.

We walked to the animals with the high fences and fierce teeth and all the while she talked about safety precautions and about love and responsibility. But no more talk of fear.

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