Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Ballad of Fear

Written by: on September 28, 2020

I pause at the door, my hand hovering over the latch.


The steps out of the Tower and out of the City are filled with Unknowns

I don’t know where I’m going –

I hardly know where I’ve been at this point.

I can still turn back.

I can still I say, “No.’

That’s what the world and culture has told me to do –

It’s what I’ve been trained to be:






Community values, attitudes, and expectations hover over my head

Yearning to leer and jeer in my face that I was wrong all along

And that I’m going to return with my tail between my legs.


“We told you so.”

“We told you it was dangerous.”

“We told you that you were nothing.”


But I have to prove them wrong.

The first steps from my Beginning to my Tower was a path wrought with peril.

It was full of unknowns and I swore –

God, did I swear –

That I would never take that path again.

I earned my peace,

My prosperity,

My title.

Why would I ever leave again?


I fought to prove them wrong.

I fought to make my mark.

I fought to earn my knowledge, my power, my position.


Surely I don’t need to move.

Surely I don’t need to leave the comfort of my Tower.

Surely I can learn to be content.


 They tell me the world is scary.

It’s a place unseen that will only kill me.

It’s a realm too big to understand.

It’s a journey I was meant to forego.


And yet, here I am again

On the edge of that precipice.


Something stirs in my heart,

The soul of my Being,

As I stand on the edge of life and death.

Anxiety floods my senses,

sharpening them to as fine an edge as any double-edged sword.

Is this the way I am to take?

To once again walk the Pilgrim’s Path?

I know where it ends –

It should end where I am –

But why does it not?

Why does this road lead ever on?

Do I not know all there is to know?

Do I not know that I should stop here and be done with it all?


But the voice continues to whisper.


Follow Me into the Unknown.

I am with you until the very end.

Trust me.

Trust the journey I have you on.

Your story isn’t over.

It is just beginning.”


Do I trust it?

Do I start again along the Pilgrim’s Path?


Fear is paralysis cloaked in survival.

How does it work?

Why does it work?

Fear should have no hold over me

And yet it does.


I can’t let go.

I can’t take that step.

I can’t move beyond my Self and what I know

And give it all up again.

I’m turning back –

I have to.

They’ll understand.

They’ll –




Hand in hand,

Arm in arm,

Heart in heart

I’m not alone.


The Pilgrim’s path is not the journey of isolation.

It was my isolation that built the Tower in the first place.

The Pilgrim’s Path is one of community –

The collective journey we all must take.

It is in the Pilgrim’s path that the I becomes We

As heart and spirit are joined.


Fear has no place here.

Only Wonder and Curiosity.

About the Author

Dylan Branson

Small town Kentuckian living and learning in the big city of Hong Kong.

9 responses to “The Ballad of Fear”

  1. Greg Reich says:

    “Fear has no place hear. Only wonder and curiosity.” Brilliant line! Can there be an aspect of fear to wonder and curiosity that creates deeper exploration? Your tower metaphor makes me think of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Both places of fear and assumed power.

    • Dylan Branson says:

      Greg, I think it could go either way, though I would say fear causes us to build around ourselves more than it would cause us to explore. There is a moment of standing at the precipice of fear and curiosity where we can move in one direction or the other. Thinking about horror movies, the fear one faces as the monster or serial killer stalks the protagonists either pushes them to lock themselves away where they hope and pray they aren’t found OR it causes them to seek out answers for how to stop the creature. The natural reaction is to hide away so that we aren’t harmed, but you can’t defeat the monster without taking a risk.

  2. Darcy Hansen says:

    The language you use in the ballad is filled with striving, working, and earning. It carries with it a sense of entitlement, but also isolation and loneliness. But all those behaviors seems to be birthed out of fear- the fear of never being enough or actually being seen. Personally, I know that is an exhausting way to live. In the end, when relinquishment and release happens, new possibilities emerge. It’s hard to move over that threshold though. What have you found to be effective in helping people move from a place of paralyzed fear to one of freedom and trust?

    • Dylan Branson says:

      A big part is helping people to trace the narrative of fear they’re facing. Why are they afraid? How has fear affected their current actions?

      Being able to provide that space where they can simply be is paramount. I’m not one to push until they’re ready to actually dialogue and deal with they fear. It takes time, but you have to build that trust before they’re willing to engage. But once they know you’re on their side, that’s a game changer. We can’t overcome our fear on our own; we need people to walk alongside us.

  3. Shawn Cramer says:

    Other than these posts, what is your discipline and rhythms for writing? Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a great read on so many levels. He believes there is a muse for writing… but that muse dwells in the basement where grit, sweat and tenacity are the ways to get to the muse. Keep stoking this fire!

    • Dylan Branson says:

      It comes and goes unfortunately haha. Usually the summers are my best writing times. I try to spend my mornings writing, but life gets in the way. I’m a bit too undisciplined in my writing these days.

      I’ll check out the Stephen King book though! Cheers for the recommendation.

  4. Jer Swigart says:

    Once upon a time, perhaps we were better at scaling fear. As we did, we developed. Grew. Became confident & courageous. Then, at some point, many of us stopped scaling fear. When that happened, did we stop growing?

  5. John McLarty says:

    “Fear is paralysis cloaked in survival.” Brilliant. We justify fear- and all that “it” makes us do- with language that sounds like survival. But most of the time it’s just because we lack the imagination or impulse to do anything else. It comes from deep within us, so we’re often not even aware of what we’re doing. As our eyes and minds are opened, we are offered another way- what Scripture might call “a more excellent way” of a perfect love that casts out all fear.

  6. Chris Pollock says:

    The return of the Pilgrim, into the unknown.

    There seems to be an easier than having to journey. Destination and arrival seem to be the point. Is there such thing as ‘arrival’ and ‘destination’?

    The expert wants to believe that perhaps. And, to be seen as the one who has arrived.

    I wonder, which step generates more anxiety or wonder. The original step into the Unknown (the one inclined toward a destination) or, the second (the one that not so inclined)? Which step requires more trust?

    Thanks for taking the time to pour into this, Dylan. A gift and full of insight.

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