My Funny Valentine

Yesterday was a day for writing love letters, which was convenient, since today is Valentine’s Day. But I don’t mean I was writing obligatory cards. Rather, my heart was just full – full of love and gratitude for a bunch of people in my life. Some of them probably expected to get a card from me, but I imagine at least a half dozen didn’t. I hadn’t written to them before and I don’t know if I will again, but this year, for some reason, I just thought, “I Love them,” so I went ahead and did it.

I think it’s because of the big Love I’m feeling these days for my youngest daughter Molly Grace. In about a week’s time, she will be having surgery to treat scoliosis with a procedure called “spinal tethering.” It’s a couple days in the hospital, followed by a couple weeks at home, followed by a couple months in a back brace. Though it was a difficult decision, we are confident it’s the right plan and that we have the right doctor. Still, as the date approaches, a low-grade anxiety is permeating our home. And when that happens, whenever Fear appears, I try to double down on Love.

Which is why I am so grateful I encountered this yesterday in the center of a book on my nightstand:

FullSizeRender 9.jpg

I don’t remember where I got the card, but I’m glad I kept it. It surfaces every once in a while, seemingly just when I need to be reminded of the Love I need to give or receive myself. In this case, it’s both. I need to help Molly feel ultimately protected, and safe “in the hollow” of my arms, but I also need to trust that I am being held in the same way. We cannot offer to others what we do not have ourselves. So each morning, as I sit in Centering Prayer, I return my attention over and over again to Love, the ultimate source of my existence. I get up knowing that it is the ultimate action I can take, however it manifests itself that day.

It’s pretty easy to know how to Love on Valentine’s Day, a card, a heart, a bunch of flowers, but on other days, those answers aren’t so clear. How can we act in Love when we’re afraid of (and for) the people we encounter, the decisions we make and outcomes that are beyond our control? But today and every day, I try to come back to this:

Fear does not get to have the final word.

Next week, when I watch my girl go into surgery, I know I will be afraid. Fear will be sitting in the waiting room with me, making small talk with Tim and pacing the halls. But I also know we offered ourselves the antidote to that fear when we named her fifteen years ago: Molly Grace.

Grace.

Outpouring Love. Undeserved forgiveness. Divine presence and strength. Inner beauty.

Love stronger than Fear.

Today, Love in a way that is easy and light, but tomorrow, try to Love into a place that has been dominated by fear. You don’t know where it will take you, but I promise it will be better than where you are.

img_2516

Molly Grace and I at her final water polo game last week. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Marching Orders Continue

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I spent last Saturday morning at the Women’s March. If you were at a march as well, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Where were you? Who did you march with? And finally, the big one: Why did you march?

That’s the question, isn’t it? Why did we march?

While the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington did an excellent job of laying out a positive and comprehensive platform, I think every person participated for their own reasons.

Here are some photos I posted on Instagram that day, where I explained some of mine.

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-4-05-44-pm

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-4-05-27-pm

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-4-04-24-pm

Obviously, I was proud of Finn for rallying with us that day and being such an active participant. I didn’t set out to raise a feminist son, (and he still doesn’t love the title), but his actions speak louder than words.

Here are some other signs, photos and groups I saw and enjoyed that day.

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-29-37-pm

 

img_2312

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-8-34-06-am

 

Here’s part of Tim’s take, which if you follow him on Instagram, you’ve already seen. If you don’t follow him, you probably should.

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-4-40-27-pm

An armchair quarterback, whom I love and respect deeply, posted this article from The Guardian the day after the march. (I call him an armchair quarterback because he’s really good at critiquing the plays, even when he’s not in the game himself.) The author argued that the organizers and participants in the march need to capitalize on the energy of the event and translate it into concrete goals and actions. Too many rebellions start with a bang and end with a whimper. His point was well made, so a friend immediately shared the 100-Day Action plan supported by the organizers of the march to keep the momentum going.

If you haven’t taken a look at it, especially if you marched, please do. What I most appreciate about Step One – The Sending of Postcards – is that they leave space for each person to fill in what is of greatest concern to them. They are not trying to make a blanket statement, or speak for everyone.

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-4-44-53-pm

postcard-back

For some, the march was about women’s equality, for others, respect and kindness in our civil dialogue. For many it was about women’s reproductive rights. I saw signs in favor of earth care, the ACA, common sense gun laws, LGBTQ+ rights, Black Lives Matter, respect for science, and Love Wins. I’m not saying Trump is personally against all of those things, but the voting and governing coalition he put together certainly is as a whole. I did see more than a few signs about our new president and his disparaging comments about women and his coalition’s desire roll back women’s healthcare access, but they were by no means the dominant message.

For me, the march was about all of those things and more. That doesn’t mean I agree with every single person in the march, but I wanted to lend my voice, time, body and energy to a movement of women – for women, by women and supported by men.

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-8-36-17-am

This sign was courtesy of Elizabeth Gilbert on Instagram.

I want women of all ages, colors and faiths to have a bigger seat at decision-making tables, starting with those in their own homes. Don’t tell me they haven’t earned it, aren’t ordained to it, or don’t care enough about it. None of that is true, except through the filter of those who feel threatened by it.

So, onward sisters and brothers of all political persuasions. Stay in relationship with one another. Keep Loving, keep talking, keep trying to find your way to common ground. It may seem further away than ever this week, but I’m not giving up hope and I pray those on the other side of the aisle won’t either.

Post Script:

Over the past week, the Women’s March on Washington has been fetèd and critiqued. I’ve read essays about how wonderful it was, how white it was, how effective it was and yet ultimately, how it won’t change a thing. I don’t pretend to know what the effect of the Women’s March will be on political policy as a whole. I only know what I experienced and how it will play out in the choices I make and those are all good.