My heart is with you and all of us grieving, raging, and moving through the day with heartache.
My heart is with all of us and our people connected with Michigan State University (MSU) and all people impacted by gun violence. With DC and Southern California, with so many people, so many locations.
My heart is with all of us living in a state of terror — in the terrorizing nation-state of the United States and in the midst of normalized everyday violence.
My heart is with all of us metabolizing and making sense (beyond logic) of the many forms of structural, institutional, and cultural violence.
My heart is with all of us whose hearts are tender. My heart is tender. I know I’m not alone.
An Offering for Valentine’s Day
In the past few days, I had questioned what to share today ~ for Valentine’s Day ~ and I had hoped to share a guided meditation. I’m still working on that!
While holding the question, I revisited past Valentine’s Day blog posts, including “Writing with Heartache.” That’s a post from February 14, 2018, the day of the Parkland shooting, a day that today feels all too familiar.
Receiving the MSU news this morning, I was struck with the question of what it would mean to re-share this blog post and bell hooks’s writing around the graffiti message: “the search for love continues even in the face of great odds” … Today does feel like searching in the face of great odds.
This question led to others:
- What does it mean when Valentine’s Day repeatedly coincides with mass shootings?
- What does it mean that pretty much every day is associated with mass shootings?
- What does it mean that in naming MSU or Parkland, I feel grief and regret for how many more places and people I’m not naming?
- What does it mean that words always feel too little, even when there is so much to name and name again?
- What does it mean that I feel weary in a way that I’m not even sure what to write or speak aloud?
This last question (about weariness) also relates to my recent research writing.
The past few days, I’ve been writing about burnout, trying to share a follow-up article to last year’s “Honoring Ourselves and Each Other Through Burnout.” I want to offer possibilities for intervening into burnout, while making clear that burnout is never just about burnout. Collectively and individually, our nervous systems are over-taxed by continuous crises and denial of how much violence we’re facing. Collectively and individually, we are being burned up by systemic injustice. Gun violence and state violence are two of many pieces.
Somehow, it helps to remind myself of all of this and to sit myself down in truth-telling. I can re-ground in the wisdom of elders and ancestors, including bell hooks. I can re-commit through remembering what matters to me so deeply that my body aches. When what and who we love are hurt, then benevolent rage + revolutionary love arise to block harm.
So, here I am offering reflections with the hope that they might provide grounding or hold space for you, too, to be seen and held and recognized today.
These words might not be the gift of a recorded meditation or the burnout article just yet … though I am reminded why I want to continue creating these offerings … but perhaps words can be something to knit us together today? On a day that can bring heart-felt connection and call up all the heart-hurts of the world.
The photo above is now several years old, but I remember snapping it on a day when I was weepy. One of these rubber bands (the tan one) broke, hit my hand, and left a welt. Getting snapped helped me release emotions by crying. I was upset but also grateful for the small injury. It made real how I was feeling inside.
The other rubber band (the green one) was already broken and curled into itself in the shape of a heart. It felt like a divine message to remember that the heart has incredible healing potential. It can re-shape itself and find its form, even when feeling very fragile.
Today, when I see this photo, I remember the importance of both/and. There is no need to choose either grief or gratitude. Either pain or pleasure. Either blocking or building. Instead, the truer way through is to recognize it all. As Audre Lorde teaches, we need both anger and eros.
Today ~ on Valentine’s Day ~ may I honor both heartache and the heart’s capacity to love.
May I lift up my voice alongside many others. In outcry. In lament. In longing for change. In praying for peace. In striving for justice.
May I honor the tenderness of my heart and, with gentleness, reach out to those around me. We are not alone. We are aching and longing and striving together.
Love on this ever-complicated Valentine’s Day,
- Next Writing Retreat: Saturday 2/25
- Coming Soon: Writing Group Registration Will Re-Open for March-April 2023
- New Blog Post: “Doing the Holidays Differently: Untangling from the Mythical Norm and Revising Rituals for ‘the Holiday Season'”