To love in the face of fear is bold. To love in the face of hatred is courageous. To make the choice to love even more deeply and widely in the face of moments of anguish is a heroism of the heart that may be our only hope to heal this world.

I re-visit these words, written after the Orlando shootings, in the midst of a heart today that honestly feels too shattered to muster much courage or vigor, yet I still know this truth about love’s tenacity in the marrow of my bones.

I am shocked about the results of the Presidential election. I am filled with bewilderment and fear. The generous, jubilant heart that was so accessible on voting day yesterday, feels like it belonged to a different person I cannot find right now…

At the same time, I know that when I am cut off from the fullness of my own loving heart, I have let the fear and separateness “win,” and it hurts me more than it helps. And so, aching and stretching for some form of healing, I know that the only choice is to muster my courage and rally my hurting self enough to love, still – and to love big.

red leaf heart

Love is a verb – it wants to be active. It wants to be witnessed, felt, demonstrated, shared, flung and sung from treetops and from the bottom of our toes. Love does not want to be subordinate to grief and hurt – it wants to be part of it, it wants to be known as the cause of it. Love longs to be woven into the entire emotional fabric of our lives – winding and revealing itself alongside every thread that is not love. This big, messy, beautiful tapestry of our hearts is the truth.

So, today – the day after the election – I pledge to be bewildered, with love. To feel vulnerable, with love. To be heartbroken, with love. To be afraid, with love. To be shattered by love. And to keep listening deeply into it all, trying to know what is called for; what I – with my big, strong, broken heart – can do to help heal our broken world. 

Tennessee Williams said, The world is violent and mercurial — it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love — love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”

Today, I hope that we will let love have its way with us. In the midst of everything, let us reach out to listen, and stay deeply connected, to each other. Facing anything difficult, we can face it better with linked arms and hearts. And, for the sake of continuing to help shape a future for which all people can be truly grateful, I hope that we will, over and over, choose to “save” love – for ourselves, for each other, and for the world.

Grateful Living Practice:

STOP: Let yourself become quiet in the midst of all that is unfolding around and inside you. Let yourself take a few breaths to help anchor your awareness in your body. Exhale deeply with an awareness of how your breath renews you in every moment…

LOOK: Gently notice all that is working in your body as you breathe. Notice what you are feeling and thinking and practice holding it compassionately instead of with any idea that it should be different. Practice becoming a welcoming home for your emotions right now. Just greet each feeling and thought and let yourself be grateful for how alive you are through the fullness of whatever you feel. Be gentle with yourself.

GO: Consider:

  • Even if your heart feels broken, in what ways and with whom can you show up with an open heart today? Think of who could use your reassurance or connection. Sometimes, in our heartbreak, we shut ourselves off from those we love the most. Can you open your heart a bit more and let yourself connect?
  • If your heart felt the least bit heroic or bold today – even for a moment – what might it do? What might it say? Is there something that you might need or want to write that would help?
  • Is there some way that you are moved to help make the world a bit better today? When we feel disempowered, it can be very powerful to take a small action to advance our values. What a great day to make a difference with your care…

Kristi Nelson is the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living. To read more about her visit this page.

Kristi Nelson

Kristi Nelson

About the author

Kristi Nelson is Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. Her life’s work in the non-profit sector has focused on leading, inspiring, and strengthening organizations committed to progressive social and spiritual change. Being a long-time stage IV cancer survivor moves her every day to support others in living and loving with great fullness of heart. Learn more about Kristi here.