The Lens of LOVE
Do you remember what it feels like to fall in love? Not the circumstance, or the events, but the actual feeling in your body?
Buildings disappear and trees become more plentiful as the unfamiliar road curves on my way out of town. I notice colorful trees and pines lining the edge of the street, at first in single file, and eventually filling in heavily from the roadside down to the lake. As my car follows the twists in the road, landscape flashes in and out between the trees, a strobe light pulsating with bright blue sky. White clouds gracefully streak the horizon, like swaths of heaven laid out just for me, and I swear I can feel my heart open right then and there. At once, and for no particular reason, I am filled with unconditional love and understanding – an understanding that we are all one. I turn up the radio, and tune in.
Hearing my baby cry in the middle of the night, I groggily walk to the nursery down the hall, and click on the small table lamp so I can see. Baby Bennett stops crying as soon as I place my hand on his chest, and scoop him up cozily with my other arm. We sit together in the plush rocking chair my mom bought for me, and I lower the neckline of my loose pajama top to nurse. The window with the yellow curtains frames the black branches of the big oak tree that stands in front of the house. Even though dark, it’s clear it is a cloudless night. A thousand stars glitter like polished diamonds against the crisp, deep indigo sky. I look down at Bennett, and despite my crippling sleep deprivation, despite my sore breasts, despite my wonder at how I will ever recover from new motherhood – in that moment, I feel held. While holding my baby, I too feel all wrapped up in peace and love.
Our initial meeting is unexpected and exhilarating. His face emerges from the shadows of the evening air, and I examine his features more closely as we talk. We exchange numbers, and meet on the phone a few days later. His voice sounds foreign because I am not used to it, and I realize how easy it is to overlook someone’s voice while you’re looking at their eyes. I try to match the voice with his face, still equally foreign and shadowy. My stomach flutters a little as we talk, and I breathe mindfully, paying close attention to my chest rising and falling - especially the falling.
Mothers walk the long road with their children, risking a perilous escape in order to reach a seemingly better place. The news articles use maps to demonstrate their journey – tiny red dots indicate their path from one country to the next, which does nothing to illuminate the realities of their road. I try to imagine their tired feet, their sore arms and backs filled with babies and necessities. I try to hear their voices, calmly assuring the younger ones and the scared ones that it will be ok.
The truth of what they leave behind must be worse than the risk of being sent back, of being denied a safe-haven, of being stripped of any basic human rights – life, liberty, safety… What they leave behind must be worse than separation from their own children. What they leave behind must be worse than death. Their choice is full of pain and unknowing (or maybe knowing). With an open heart, their journey inspires me. But it also rips me open, and fills my chest with our collective pain. I fear they will not find safety. I fear they will not find peace - not once they get here.
What if love is our lens?
When your heart opens, you fall in love. For your heart to open, you must be vulnerable. To be vulnerable, you must be willing to leave the safety of illusion and only see truth, no matter how shaky or painful.
To the new mom, you don’t know if your body is supposed to feel this way, or whether or not you’re doing a good job. Is it okay to cry, feel scared, lose faith?
When you first meet, you don’t know if your feelings are even real. Does the other person feel the same way? Is it worth risking your heart getting hurt?
As we watch the news from our comfortable seat on the train, our cozy living room sofa, our office with a view - what is this pain we feel on account of someone else’s experience? After all, we’ve never met them, so why do we care? Why does my heart hurt when I consider the whispers of brave mothers into their babies ears? Why does my breath emerge as a sigh when I envision their steady footsteps among crowds, heat, and illness? Is this feeling empathy? Is empathy supposed to feel good? Because it doesn’t - but is that the point?
We are not separate human beings. We are not one wave in the middle of an ocean, needing to curve and crash independently of all the other water around us – we ARE the water. Can you imagine? An ocean wave not understanding that it’s part of the ocean? That’s like us. Our human experience is like ocean waves unfurling as they long to reach the shore. There is no need to fight for independence and fame, for separation and glory.
As families make the treacherous walk. As mothers carry their babies, with open, drowning hearts, I too carry the weight of my role. The heaviness of my white privilege sits on my chest like an anchor, yet begs my heart to remain open - despite the tightening pain, despite the nauseating guilt, and despite the immediate relief of denial. Our collective joy will only manifest out of our collective pain.
The feeling of oneness arrives when our heart is open, and is the same feeling of falling in love. It is from this vantage point, the lens of love, that we can do no harm. For the sake of the rising feminine, and the dignity of our collective humanity, will we be here for them when they arrive?