The weight of love in uncertain times

“How much does love weigh? As much as a stone, a feather, a rose petal, a leaf. It’s more than we can ever bear and less than we have the strength to carry. It is invisible. It’s right there in front of me. It’s made of stones. It’s made of air.” ~ from Green Heart by Alice Hoffman

It has been an interesting couple of weeks for me.  Several times I have come to the computer or opened my journal to write and have found that I simply couldn’t find the words to express what I wanted to say.  Too much was happening inside and putting words to the jumble of thoughts and related feelings seemed premature. Each time a word or sentence came, it seemed to concretize something that wasn’t yet ready to be written down and shared as a statement.  Thoughts kept changing and ideas kept shapeshifting.

It all left me feeling a little unsettled.

I have been waking in the middle of the night for months now, often with a vague sense of anxiety, sometimes with a full sense of dread or even manageable panic. The world seems to be changing in ways that frighten me and that seem to be frightening many people. Because I believe that fear only paralyzes us when left to simmer too long, I focus on moving forward and on all that is good around me. I believe in change, in diversity of experience to help us grow. This is one of those times when we can all step into the change that is happening.  And each of us gets to decide how we will do that, and how the change around us will change us internally.

I just finished reading Green Heart by Alice Hoffman, a dystopian fairy tale in two parts. The line above struck me, made me stop and think.

“How much does love weigh?”

Right now, love can seem like a heavy object. When I think about suffering that is happening in so many parts of our world, particularly human-caused suffering, I want to turn away. My heart closes for a moment and I take a breath. It feels like a stone.

I am challenging myself to stay open. Not just to suffering around me, but to beauty and the tiniest buds of spring starting to open. Not just to those who respond to the world as I do, but also to those with different perspectives and ways of seeing things. I am focusing on what can happen in big moments of creative flux, and my eyes turn upward, to the sky. My heart is light. Like a feather, a rose petal. Like a new leaf waving hesitantly in the breeze.

I challenge myself to see everything around me, including those things that can fade into the background when new challenges come, those things that are familiar foundations of our lives. When I do this, I notice the way our kids are changing right in front of us: feet growing larger every day, smiles wrinkling into the wry smirk of the pre-teen years, questions that surprise me with their content and wisdom.

Love is lighter than what we can carry. It is visible when we look closely and let it take the shape of the people who sustain us and challenge us to keep looking forward, keep looking up.

Love is invisible in the deep of night when I find myself waking to a tightness in my chest, then remember to inhale slowly and focus my mind on what is around me: the rhymthic breathing of my wife, the softness of the blankets, our children sleeping quietly in other rooms of the house.

This is the weight of love in uncertain times, all of it. That which frightens me and that which brings me joy. The unknowing of what things will look like next year and the solid certainty of this day and its rhythm and responsibilities and quiet joys.

I breathe deeply, air coming into the solidness of my body.

I breathe deeply, love reminding me of its terrible, beautiful weight.

Like air. Like a stone. Like a feather or a rose petal. Like a green leaf moving hesitantly in the breeze of change.

 

 

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