By Stephanie Jue ’19
Archbishop Mitty’s newest liturgical theme song is Jasmine Murray’s “Fearless.” Each year, a new liturgical theme song is selected to embody a single facet of life that serves as a thematic focus for the school year. The songs are at the heart of many school-wide assemblies and events, serving to unite and uplift every member of the Archbishop Mitty community as we celebrate, grieve, and navigate the hills and valleys of each academic year together. This year, as the song’s title suggests, revolves around being fearless.
Fearlessness is not so much the absence of fear but rather the willingness to move forward in spite of fear; it is not so much a passive state of being but an active choice to take action and to love. The most fearless people in history did not wait around hoping some dose of confidence would fall from the sky. As pointed out in many Archbishop Mitty classrooms, people such as civil rights activist Rosa Parks, Holocaust hero, Corrie ten Boom, humanitarian Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and nonviolent civil disobedience leader, Mahatma Gandhi were compelled to carry out courageous actions which shaped the world not because they were fearless but because they were propelled by love.
Not long ago, in mid-August, I was juggling immense fear and anxiety while attempting to navigate the first few weeks of a busy first-semester senior year. I showed up to the first day of school, like many students, a ball of nerves and excitement with an overwhelming sense of self-awareness. As I settled into the bleachers for the first assembly of the year, I could hear the animated chatter and mumbles of the student body come in waves. Is this finally my year? Will I be liked? Is senior year going to fulfill its reputation of being torturous? Many similar doubts pounded in my ears through the cacophony.
Then, the gym quieted and the assembly began. I remember hearing Mr. Wesmiller introducing the new liturgical theme song and sharing anonymous quotes about personal doubts from a few students to illustrate the insecurities of many students. At one point, the student body sighed at a quote from a student who wondered if her friends actually disliked her – it was sad, yes, but even more so relatable.
Eventually, Exodus, our liturgical rock band, began the upbeat, invigorating tune of “Fearless”: “I wake up I feel it / Those fears are back again / Can’t shake them, can’t make them / Ever fade ever end.” I, along with the rest of the student body, rose to my feet as members of Life Team started to lead the student body in song. “I wanna be fearless / No holding back no backing down / Fearless.” The beat of the music grew familiar, the hand motions more natural. “I wasn’t given the spirit of fear / I was given the power of love.”
It was then that I understood Mr. Wesmiller’s point that the two guiding forces of the world are love and fear. The so often overused “choose love” statement surfaced in my mind, and I realized that love is truly a choice. To want to be fearless and to pursue fearlessness is a choice. And it is in the full embrace of the pursuit of love that one becomes fearless.
Indeed, the liturgical theme song this year serves to empower every member of the Archbishop Mitty community by fostering a courageousness that radiates into our community. It’s a song for dealing with the difficult challenges of the year but also for celebrating the forthcoming moments of joy and victory. It’s a song for the freshmen who are just beginning to find their way, the sophomores who are dealing with new responsibilities, the juniors who face at times overwhelming academic demands, and the seniors who have one shot to get the college admissions process right. It’s a song that inspires me to maintain a genuine love for others and that pushes me to venture out of my comfort zone, opening my eyes and my heart to new – albeit sometimes scary – experiences.
I hope to remind myself every day of my senior year that fearlessness is a choice. I will soon be moving on to the new and unknown world of college, but I feel ready, and I feel fearless. Archbishop Mitty has prepared me for whatever is next. Now, I look to the future knowing that with every reason to be afraid, there always exists the choice to be actively and boldly fearless.