When Jesus prayed alone before he was crucified, did he cry? Did he pray on his knees not out of reverence, but because his trembling legs struggled to support him? Did he yell profanities at God because he did not feel strong enough to face his next moments? Did the Son of God doubt himself? How human did he allow himself to become? Did his stretch into humanity extend far enough to meet us here in our confusion and fear as we walk paths through an unrecognizable world where we stand united against a microscopic enemy and divided against seemingly everything else?
Admittedly, my spirituality stands on shaky footings constructed from doubts and questions, but whether out of desperation or by faith (for they are close brothers), I believe in the existence of love. Pray to your god, my god, his god, and her god. Speak to the love in your heart and the peace in your spirit. Find a way to kindle love and hope within yourself and share it with another. We could all use a little help here.
Whatever you call that love, I like to think it can reach us in every part of our humanity – marching with those calling for equality, standing with those who protect our communities in honorable ways, and weeping with those who have suited up in masks and gloves to live side by side with death for months. Love transcends our divisions and our arguments. It does not choose right or left sides. It encircles us all, guiding and urging us to act in ways that communicate love, rather than hate, to each other.
Many years ago, I experienced intentional actions from another that were the antithesis of love. I struggled for years (and sometimes still) to make sense of what happened and to find my path forward. Sometimes, I hated that person, but then I hated myself because I did not want to share whatever existed in that person’s heart that resulted in their choices and actions. While searching and wrestling with the emotions within myself, I read many books from different faiths looking at concepts like love, strength, and forgiveness. Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor, wrote a book called “Night” that shares the horror he endured and survived while also discussing his questions about God in the midst of those atrocities. His words helped me find a way out, a place where I could feel anger and rage while also searching for love and hope and supporting endeavors to prevent the evil choices of some from causing harm to others in the future.
We stand, now, in our world that feels overwhelmed by issues with no simple answers. I feel scared. I yell profanities at the heavens. I tremble, and I want to run away from all of the challenges. Yet, every morning, I wake up and I find myself still in the midst of them all. I am not in a position to make broad societal changes. I am just a mom living one day at a time. What can I possibly do? Where is my place? What is my role?
My son, a six year-old developmentally in the middle of super hero play, does not believe me when I tell him that love is the strongest super power. But, it is. It stands ready to change our world, but only if we share it. We can share love with our family, our neighbors, and our friends. We can listen and seek to really understand the perspectives of those around us. Shouting our opinions is easy. Learning to understand others’ opinions is hard.
Love is written into the stories of our various faiths and in the deepest parts of our hearts. It is the path out of the darkness and away from the night, and the place where humanity and heaven collide. Let’s meet there, or better still, may we learn to share the love inside us so effectively that we find that place existed around us all along.