When I pause for a moment after a tragedy such as the bombings in Boston, I can feel my heart enter a sort of comatose state. It’s as if my mind begins to reel with pictures of devastation but my heart can’t take it and a curtain is drawn to hide the pain, to keep out reality. It’s weird. I recognize this about myself. When something sad is reported on the news. When a co-worker gets cancer. When a relative goes to rehab. Bombs at marathons, planes crashing into towers, public shootings, abducted children, genocide in faraway countries, daily war in distant cities. I feel like if I take enough time to process these things, it will knock me down and I won’t be able to get up. I’ve always been empathetic. Sometimes it seems like I feel more deeply for people than they can feel for themselves. As if I want to take on burdens for people because I can’t imagine them having to do it themselves. Since having Olivia my empathy has multiplied, if that’s even possible. My heart is constantly worn outside my body, and constantly beaten and bruised. By seemingly little things. By puppies outside in the cold. By tulips frozen in a storm. By glancing at an elderly man and seeing him wistfully looking at a baby, remembering. The big things are too much. I can’t imagine letting the reality of death and destruction into my heart. The indescribable pain of a man whose 8-year-old son is gone on a day that should have been a celebration. The confusion and heartache of the woman whose daughter is not allowed to go to school in their country. The fear of the men who hear bullet blasts outside of their homes every day. The uncertainty of the scared girl who doesn’t know if she will be hit again today. With each news report about yesterday’s tragedy, I want to draw deeper into myself, to hide farther in my own safe world. Yet there is a piece of light trying to break through the curtain over my heart. Saying "it's OK, let it in, and I will uncover the darkness and show you the beauty." It wants to shine light that will outdo the shadows of pain, to reach out to people everywhere and to spread. It has a voice that whispers, “tragedy is not all there is”. “Open your heart’s eyes. Use your heart, not as a punching bag of empathy, but as a basket of love. Let these hurts be a catapult to join the human race as we run toward each other as helpers, as friends, as Love. Do something tangible if you can, in the wake of devastation, but even better, do something everyday to be Love. Defeat the pain and the evil and the hate. Donate money, give blood, or simply smile at your server, ask your dentist about her son, take your old coat to a shelter, plant a tree, mow your neighbors lawn, sing a song to your great grandpa. Inspire. Create. Share. Don’t let fear, hate or pain win. Let love win. I want to show Olivia and Cade that love wins every time, even when it may not feel like it. Social media is quite the tool, isn’t it? It can spread lies, it can repeat damaging information or scary images, but it can spread hope, too. I’ve loved seeing the uplifting quotes, stories and vidoes that have weaved people together not only after the Boston Marathon, but after other heartbreak as well. Take a look for yourself. People’s hearts are big. Love is big. Everyday love, love in the office, love in acts of service, love as a career, love as a hobby. Love wins:
Hundreds of people doing 14 kind things in honor of a boy who would have turned 14: http://aninchofgray.blogspot.com/2013/03/fourteen.html
Inspiring images following bombs in Boston: http://www.businessinsider.com/inspiring-images-from-boston-2013-4
Love flash mob for a homeless teenage mother: http://momastery.com/blog/2013/03/05/love-flash-mob/
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Mister Rogers
I want to add to this love.