Thursday, June 16, 2016

Love is a Verb

Blue Grosbeak, Malibu Creek Post

Love is a verb – it wants to be active. It wants to be witnessed, felt, demonstrated, shared, flung and sung from treetops and from the bottom of our toes. Love does not want to be subordinate to grief and hurt – it wants to be part of it, it wants to be known as the cause of it. Love is longing to be woven into the entire emotional fabric of our lives – winding and revealing itself alongside every thread that is not love. This big, messy, beautiful tapestry is the truth.
Kristi Nelson, from Heroic Hearts: Love in the Face of Despair 

I imagine we're all sort of still shattered by what happened in Orlando and what's happening -- well -- everywhere in this country. I'm in more of a daze than I generally live in, and while I've work to do, children to attend and a myriad of insignificant problems, I feel weighed down and not sure of how to go about lightening up. My usual sense of humor feels dampened. I'm restless and distracted. I'm not often like this, in fact am rarely so, but I'm thinking some kind of extended meditation is in order. Going in and breathing out. Tonglen meditation is a Buddhist practice roughly translated as "giving and receiving." It's about breathing in suffering and breathing out compassion. When Sophie was a little baby and suffering from the side effects of the drugs we were giving her, she'd scream nearly constantly. Some days I'd put her in the middle of the big bed and get into the shower, turn on the water, crouch down on the floor and let the water beat on my back, the sound of it drowning out her screams. Then I read a little book by Thich Nhat Hanh whose title I can't recall in this moment, and I learned a mantra that I repeated to myself, over and over, as I held Sophie while she screamed. I didn't need the shower, nor to take a break. Breathing in I calm myself, breathing out I smile. Breathing in I calm myself, breathing out I smile. I didn't know it then, but that mantra and those breaths were a sort of Tonglen meditation, and they have saved me over the years, over and over again. But this isn't about me. It's about all of us. It's about breathing in to calm ourselves and then breathing out love to others. Maybe that's all we can do right now. Breathe in calm, breathe out compassion. Love out loud.


  1. The feelings will mute, eventually.
    But from now on every time we hear the word Orlando they will come back, not as piercing but still painful.
    Love and compassion - live it, give it, be it.

  2. You don't need anything from me. You know what you are doing and what you need. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself.

  3. Tonglen is my go-to practice when confronted with a sense of powerlessness in the presence of others' pain. It keeps my heart open. It keeps me from turning away. I am thankful for the teaching.

  4. If it wasn't for Buddhism and other women like you I'd be dead. What is this world? Run away with me.

  5. Oh Elizabeth, these are the words I didn't know I needed. Thank you thank you.

  6. I notice your post came out on the same a female British MP was assassinated in cold blood in broad daylight. Hatred killed her. This whole European referendum has brought the worst of people. It has been a terrible week. Orlando, Yorkshire, THAT poster from the far-right party UKIP (they copied an image from an old Nazi poster and instead of Jews put Syrian refugees on it).

    We need more love. When the chips are down, we need more love in the world.

    Greetings from London.



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