• Donna Brown

Lying awake worrying about the world



For the last few nights, I have lain in bed for hours unable to find sleep though I have been exhausted. Worries cloud my mind and abruptly wake me if I begin to doze. As I turn, my dog at the foot of the bed half sighs and half growls like the old man that he is. Never opening his eyes, he resumes his slumber leaving me to return to my fears.


I know we all worry to different degrees, and I have such a blessed life that I am usually worrying if I have made enough onion dip or if my hair can go for another day before I have to wash it. Small stuff, but now I am overwhelmingly concerned with the welfare of the Americans left in Afghanistan, their Afghan interpreters and families who face imminent death. I also ponder if it is naivety or nefarious actions that led our government leaders to put them in this situation.


How can any of our allies ever trust us again? How can we accept the injustices that will plague the Afghan women who have made such progress in the past 20 years? How can we let China and Russia take over that region and aid terrorists? How can we let everyone cross our southern border, but yet the Afghan people who assisted our soldiers have not been able to get into the United States for the past 10 years? Is America stupid or selfish, or both? Did our soldiers die for nothing?


Worry nags at me about the racial issues in our country and that our media continues to report the divide constantly causing it to fester, and that various groups thrive psychologically and financially on the chaos and hate that is being spread. How can this end?


I fear that we can no longer trust our leaders on both sides of the aisle because they seem to care more about their political future than our safety and prosperity. I am concerned that we can no longer trust the medical leaders because they too have become political.


Trouble plagues me about the environment and that people are too lazy to stop using bottled water and too selfish to cut back on their trash. I worry about the mile a minute vines and lantern flies that are invading my woods. I am fearful that we are so busy thinking about what television shows to watch that we are forgetting to teach our children about the joys of walking down a trail or gazing at the night sky.


I fret about my grandchildren. Will my grandson never embrace kindergarten because of the face mask he is forced to wear, even though he has had COVID-19? Will it make it impossible for him to read expressions and understand his teacher? Will his progress be hindered? Will he and his sister have long lasting social issues because of this mandate? If not them, what about all the children of small means, or with uneducated parents who can’t help them, or dysfunctional families where there is abuse? How can we ever fix this gross neglect and their feeling of helplessness if teachers aren’t able to see their faces?


Worry clouds my brain about the businesses that will never reopen and the churches that will close. What will happen to the families who have sacrificed for their businesses? I am very concerned about the Presbyterian Church in Hammonton. The church where my grandmother taught Sunday School, where I met my husband and where my sons were baptized. In another decade will there be a Presbyterian Church on Bellevue Avenue?


I remember Bible School in the 1960s when the church was filled with children and had 150 people attending each Sunday. When I taught Sunday School 25 years ago, I had 15 kids in my class and today most have moved away or chosen not to bring up their children as Christians. I now have three students in my class. Before the shutdown we have about 40 people in church each week and now less than 20. I am also concerned that soon the members will be too old to continue the church’s many missions, including the Clothes Closet which distributes clothing to the community each week.


My worries seemed endless and with no solutions. Then last night I finally fell asleep when I remembered to give all my worries to God. That sentiment is what will ultimately help us individually, help this great country and help the entire world.


Donna Brown is a former Hammonton Middle School librarian and a columnist for The Gazette. To reach Donna Brown, send an email to wescoat@comcast.net.