Be Love

Candles in the Abbey at Iona

Candles in the Abbey at Iona

Last September, after more than a year of working with a committee to plan and write a grant application, PW received a big fat grant for her sabbatical. This is enabling her to do a lot of travelling this spring. A little more than a week ago, she and I returned from a spending Holy Week on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, with a side trip to London to see Helen Mirren and Judi Dench in their starring roles in two different plays.

This morning, I dropped PW off at the airport for several weeks of travelling to Israel (the village of Migdal in the Galilee, Jerusalem, and the West Bank if she can figure out how to get in), Turkey (Ephesus and Istanbul), and Provence.

We were both teary this morning as we looked at such a long time of being apart. But the kids and I will be meeting her in France–which still seems unbelievable, even though we’ve been planning for it for more than six months, ever since we heard that she received the grant.

When I arrived at my office around mid-day, the neighborhood was abuzz. My building is two blocks from the finish line for the Boston Marathon. My hospital sponsors a team of more than 60 runners every year. Two people from my office were running today. Our events team is heavily involved in making sure that the runners on our team are well cared for, before, during, and after the race. Many people from my office (which is a couple miles east of the hospital complex) stroll down near the finish line to cheer people on throughout the day.

Well, unless you live under a rock, only to emerge to read my infrequent blog posts, you know that shortly before 3 pm today two bombs went off about 50-100 yards apart, near the finish line for the marathon. In our 9th floor offices, two blocks away, we heard the two loud explosions, and our building shuddered. As we gathered at the windows to look for smoke from our 9th floor vantage point, what we saw instead were hordes of people running in panic away from Boylston Street. It seemed to take forever for the sirens to start, but once they did, it seemed like they never stopped. By the end of the workday, the street in front of my building was locked down to cars and pedestrians, and we were directed to leave via the basement, finding ourselves in the alley behind the building.

I’m pretty sure that all my co-workers are accounted for. The two who were running both checked in safe. Safety. Be safe. All over the book of faces, people are telling each other to be safe. I get what that means, and I’m touched by it. But on another level, I wonder what does “safe” even mean, especially after today?

The most persistent thing I am struck by is the question I kept hearing repeatedly on the radio as I drove home on the Mass Pike, which had so little traffic on it at 5:30 pm that it looked more like how it is on a Saturday morning: “Will we ever feel safe again?”

Safety is one of those things that is so subjective, I tend to think that it’s beyond my control. I mean, a year and a half ago, I was sitting at a red light, minding my own business, and some bozo rammed into my car with such force, going so fast, that his car went airborne over mine and landed on its side, in front of my car. I was unhurt, but my car (that is, PW’s car) was totaled. It was yet another reminder, in a world that teems with them, that even when we think we’re being completely and totally safe, we are at risk.

PW is so much more sensible about safety issues. Before she left this morning, we reviewed the two big things I’m not allowed to do when I’m home alone: get up on a ladder and get on the roof. It wouldn’t otherwise occur to me to not do those things just because I’m home alone. This is just one of the many aspects of our relationship in which we complete each other. For all I know, it’s why I’m still alive.

I climbed a high rock to take this photo, looking west from the Machair on Iona.

I climbed a high rock to take this photo, looking west from the Machair on Iona.

Still, “be safe” doesn’t fit as a watchword for me. It’s not that I want to endanger myself needlessly. But today’s events are yet another reminder that you can be doing everything right and end up cut down by senseless violence and mayhem.

So I think I’d rather Be Love than Be Safe. Be Love is what I want to live by, if for no other reason than the simple fact that it’s a charge I can be completely responsible for, right down to the last breath that I take, regardless of when or how I take it.

Tonight I decided that my ultimate goal is to evolve to the point of choosing to Be Love over every other possible option, at every point of every day. I don’t know exactly what that will look like, or how long it will take me to get there, but I’m pretty sure I need to be in better shape.

Be Love out there, people. Be Love. Who’s with me?


31 responses to “Be Love

  1. Michael Beattie

    I am so with you!

  2. I am with you.

  3. When things happen, you always write exactly what I need to read. Thank you.As you know, I work near the Empire State Building. When I left my office to head home today, the street around it was swarming with police. Overhead, helicopters were hovering over Midtown Manhattan. They were supposed to be keeping us safe, but they were making us feel anything but. Watching people walk through the streets, glancing anxiously at the sky, looking all around them instead of down at the sidewalk, you could see elements of post-traumatic stress disorder, the way 9/11 changed their lives in ways that it didn’t change mine. I was thinking this exact post on my way home, but not in its exact words. The thing is, you can never be safe forever. Sometimes things happen. So maybe relying on safety isn’t your best bet. Love is something you can own. Make it love.

  4. The best on such a crappy day. Thanks Joy.

  5. I am. I decided this a few years ago too. I don’t want to count the times I’ve failed to make the loving choice, minute by minute and month by month, since then. But I also know that waking up to loving not just strangers but those closest to me who hurt and irritate me the most, not just with the words I lecture but with the silences I keep, not just with the way I vote but with how I fold my laundry, has been the most transformative, humbling, radical decision of my life.

  6. By your words, and by sharing them with people you have never even met, you have just demonstrated your own mantra. Thank you, Joy, for being Love today. Be well.

  7. Sometimes (especially since having children) I feel overwhelmed with pain about “how the world is” – and the impossible enormity of attempting to change things.
    Your resolve to attempt to “Be Love” in every situation, feels both precise and small enough to grasp and hold on to – and sufficiently infinite to fill eternity.
    As usual, your post is informative and transformative –
    thank you so much, Joy.

  8. Definitely with you.

  9. Thank you for this – I’m with you, too.

  10. Pingback: Boylston Street | Secret Geometry - James Primosch's blog

  11. Amen.
    …and thanks. I’m grateful that you and PW walk the planet.

  12. Nancy Stockford

    I’m with you, Joy! Thanks for being so eloquent.

  13. I’m with you as well. It also helps me to do what Mr. Rogers’ mother advised him when tragedy strikes . . . Look for the helpers in the midst of the mayhem. It helps me to remember how many good people are out there!

  14. Me! I send my kids out into the world, to school, each morning and….well, hope for the best. Hope they come back the same way they left – whole and happy. I can only cross my fingers and hope (a word I’ve used three times now) that they do not show up on the front page of the newspaper, in video footage shown on tv and blogs and elsewhere in cyberworld. I’m reading a book that is currently taking place during WWII. In London. During the daily bombings and I think, “it’s all just a crap shoot.” All we can do is just Be Love for as long as we’re here. xxoo

  15. Me, too. And Lianne La Havas is a revelation. Thanks, Joybells. xo

  16. With you, dear one.

  17. Thank you, Joy for these beautiful thoughts. Love, Jim

  18. Mary Loulou :)

    This is beautiful. And perfect.

  19. I’m with you, joyhowie. As Bruce Cockburn sings, “all you stumblers who believe love rules, stand up and let it shine.” Whenever I read your words here, I want to shine brighter. Be Love, indeed.

  20. Jennifer Brock Olson

    I am so grateful your mother introduced me to The Crooked Line and your inspiring words. I will fail on a daily basis–especially if I don’t give up driving–but I plan to make a more conscious effort to Be Love. Thanks.

  21. With you, for sure. So with you.

  22. Count me in.

  23. The flesh profits nothing, the spirit brings life. Life in the flesh is precarious at best. Unconditional love is the only safety there is. That way, even if one is blown to bits, the love in one’s spirit is liberated from its cage of the body to travel where it will.

  24. Margaret Johnson

    Yes– with you.

  25. Aww….I’m with you Joy…I’m with you!

  26. You don’t ask for easy things, do you. And as usual, you’re so right about the love thing. And the ways in which we keep each other alive. And so much else. Kip’s comment, “unconditional love is the only safety there is,” says it all for me. You don’t have to like it all the time, but you do have to love, love, love.

  27. Reblogged this on The Crooked Line and commented:

    One year ago today, I wrote this. I feel even more resolved about it today.

    • Marlene Krueger

      The only thing I know for sure is true is unconditional love. If we could all BE unconditional love, my how everyone around us would be given the opportunity to change and who knows where that might lead. Wonderful blog last year and this, Joy.

  28. tears at Pam’s instructions for you on being home alone.
    thanks, joy.

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