Sometimes it’s hard to write about love.
It’s hard to pay attention to what’s happening in the world, to be sickened by acts of violence and cruelty perpetrated in the name of religion or freedom or order, to care deeply about the health of our planet, to love people who are out of work or underemployed, to watch politician after politician lose his (or her) soul in their never-ending bid for office… and then come here and write about love. I sometimes feel beaten, small. Someone reads me and says, “I wish it were that easy,” and I feel foolish, the girl who doesn’t know it’s a costume party and comes dressed only as herself. Or worse, not dressed at all – naked and glaringly imperfect.
To say that love is the answer when the question involves the bottom line, big oil, golden parachutes, a disappearing middle class and the increasingly desperate poor… it’s silly, right? It’s like I’m having a different conversation from the rest of the world.
I can’t shake my belief that love isn’t just what matters most, it may be the only thing that matters at all. In her amazing CNN post, hospice chaplain and author Kerry Egan talks about the conversations she has with people who are dying. They don’t talk about God or religion or politics or work.
They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.
Isn’t it telling that at the end of our lives, when we are stripped of so much, when there is nothing to distract us because there is nothing left but whatever lies at our very core, what we relive, what we celebrate and mourn, are not our accomplishments or our failed dreams, but the ways in which we did and did not love?
My friend, Michael Lockhart recently wrote a post about pipelines, violins, politicians and love. In it, he talks about his tendency to get angry at the injustices in the world, a tendency I can verify he has. (More than once, he’s had to clarify that he isn’t pissed off at me, just pissed off.) I love Michael for his passion, his intelligence and even his anger. But I love him most because, now and then, he surprises me by writing something like this.
Anger is temporary and ultimately self-defeating. Love has to be the foundation: love for the next generation; love for our human potential; love of our selves and the legacy we’re leaving; love of our fellow humans and the rest of the motley crew of flora and fauna and such that we happen to share this ball of dirt with. Love keeps the tanks fullish, yeah?
I think about Michael sometimes when I’m writing my posts. I think about how he and others like him speak out, protest, fight for the people who are least able to fight for themselves. I think about them and I hesitate, hands on my keyboard, frozen. I wonder if it matters, in the face of such global cruelty and disregard, that there are some of us trying to love through our fear, trying to live like we believe that we hold each other’s hearts in our hands. I stare at the screen, at my blinking cursor and I experience nothing less than a crisis of faith, a wrenching uncertainty about why I’m here, why I do what I do.
In these moments, it is excruciatingly hard to write about love.
And even more excruciating not to.