On the open forum page of the Catholic Times, the writer remembers a fishing trip of a few years ago, which left him with some thoughts about life and death. He was fishing at night in an area which was rugged and dangerous. It was pitch dark, and he was a little frightened. He heard a grumbling sound and looking around, about 10 meters from where he was standing, he saw a fisherman with his hat pushed flat on his head, humming. His first thought was to begin a conversation but then decided it was best not to disturb him, and his attention went to his Soju (Korean liquor). When he looked again, he was gone.
Shortly after, he felt nausea and a shivering in his back and quickly left the area. The next day at the fishing store of the area, he mentioned what happened and was told it was a rather common experience of others at that spot, at that time of year.
One of the explanations, for those who like to deal with this kind of story, would be that it was a visit from the spirit world; another explanation would be that it was an optical illusion, that he had mistaken some natural object for what he thought was the fisherman. He mentioned that as a child there were times when similar occurrences did happen to him. Whatever the reason, he admits that it was a cause of fear.
Fear of what we have experienced in the past does not compare to the fear of something unknown, he says. The unknown world, death and the after life presents us with a great abyss. When we reflect on death and what is to follow, can we say, he wonders, that awe and fear have no place in our thoughts, remembering that the God of the Old Testament instills awe and fear. In the New Testament, instead, we find intimacy and love, and yet the fear of hell seems to have more power to move our hearts. As believers we trust in the love of Jesus but also fear the loss of this love. For the writer, this means that both fear and love are motivations for his faith life.
Fear is not the same as being afraid, however. We talk a great deal of reverential fear, the fear of hurting those we love, awe in relating with God and the things of the spirit. When using words it's very easy to give them meanings another person would not accept. We have heard we are limited in what we think by the words we have available to express what we think. A good reason, the writer advises, for us to make the effort necessary to understand what is being said without limiting the meaning of what is said to the limited meanings of our own mental dictionaries.