Faith in Five Words

I did not sleep well last night. After earthquakes of the natural and man-made kind rocked Mother Earth, I could not blame my heart when she could not find rest. Paris. Baghdad. Beirut. Japan. And all the other earthquakes, big and small, that didn’t make the news or that we don’t hear about. I felt them shake us, I started shaking, and I was shaking long after the news sunk in.

When everything is falling apart: Love, first. Everything else, after.

For all the posts of light and love that I share in the aftermath of horrific violence, I also feel fear, engage my anger, and desire to taste revenge. This is my humanity. When my sisters and brothers lay cold on the ground, anger shows up. Anger is protective. Anger is fear’s defense. Anger is love’s warrior; when what we love has been trespassed, anger is there to let us know. Anger is hot to the touch. Without anger, my heart would not know where she is. I am grateful for anger’s protection, but I don’t let her take the wheel. Instead, I am a good listener. I let her talk, scream, rage on. I let her keep me up all night because she needs to be heard.

Now the sun has come up. Light fills my room. Anger is cooled. She has let me know that evil doesn’t have the last word and I’ve listened. With all her grace, anger has made room for light.

Faith in five words: Love, first. Everything else, after.

My faith is a challenging practice of love. Love is uncomfortable, and it doesn’t always look how we think it does. Love is selfish as much as it is selfless. Love is profoundly kind. Love is humble. Love knows. When you listen to love, you know. When you are flowing with love, you know. Love first, and you will be shaken.

Thursday morning, one of my first thoughts was of my friend in Maui. I thought about how much I loved her and how I missed her very much. I took an imaginary flight, over the plains and the Rocky Mountains and the desert and the Golden Gate Bridge and over the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. I landed on her island and we shared tea and crackers on the beach and caught up. A few hours later, she texted me to say hello. I told her what I had thought that morning and suggested that the magic of my heart had made its way across the ocean as I had imagined.

Yesterday afternoon, I started to feel dizzy. I started to feel sick to my stomach. It wasn’t the flu or an autoimmune reaction. I knew and I even said that something is wrong but I could not place it. I did the gut check and a physical check of my surroundings, and nothing seemed out of order. Then, hours later, I began to hear horrific things happening in Paris. I knew my sinking feeling yesterday was the pain of many hearts making its across the Atlantic Ocean to my own. I knew before I knew. I want to un-know. I want this all to un-happen.

The practice: Love, first. Everything else, after.

I feel fear, but I choose not to be afraid. I listen to anger, but I choose not to let her have control. I want to taste revenge, but I choose to make a cup of tea. I took another imaginary flight this morning, over the Appalachian Mountains and the glitter of New York City and across the blueness of the Atlantic Ocean. I landed in Paris and and tended to my brothers and sisters in a park where we broke bread and wrapped each other in white linens under the delicious, warm sun. I hope the magic of my heart made its way across the ocean. This is my humanity.

Love, first. Everything else, after.

Image credit: Greg Rakozy