Where Does it Hurt? Everywhere.


Three days ago, on June 10, deeply saddened by all the pain I saw around me, I posted this on Facebook.

So much pain in the world these days – over the last couple weeks.

The continued migrant drownings

The 19 women burned alive by ISIS for refusing to become sex slaves 

The Stanford rapist sentence and what it reveals about the travesty of our justice system – especially for women and minorities 

The political race/system in the US, which is about to get even uglier

 And yet, this poem by Wendell Berry has given me hope today.

 Hate has no world.

The people of hate must try

to possess the world of Love,

for it is the only world;

it is Heaven and Earth.

But as lonely, eager hate

possesses it, it disappears;

it never did exist,

and hate must seek another

world that Love has made.

With optimism, I wrote,

Let’s keep making the world of Love – again and again and again.

Yesterday, after the Orlando shooting, I was less hopeful, at least momentarily. When I first heard, I went numb with shock, then every cell in my body started to hurt. We were in the car and Tim pulled over so he could comfort me, while I cried myself out in the passenger seat.

We sat there together, holding hands, and I tried to believe Berry’s words – the ones I had posted just 48 hours earlier. But this time, I couldn’t stop thinking of Warsan Shire’s poem, “What They Did Yesterday Afternoon.”

later that night

i held an atlas in my lap

ran my fingers across the whole world

and whispered

where does it hurt?

it answered




I felt that in my body, in my heart and mind.

It hurt everywhere and I kept thinking, “What can I do? What can we possibly do to make a difference?”

Yesterday, for a moment, I forgot the answer.

Today, despite my grief, I know.

If it hurts everywhere, then it means that we have to BE everywhere.

We who believe in LOVE – of every gender, culture, nationality, religion, belief system, political party, orientation – We have to LIVE everywhere, WORK everywhere, HEAL everywhere, LOVE everywhere. This is our task.

There is no backing down to hate. This is no time to fight fire with fire – to join it with our own version of the same.

This is the time for the kind of Love that Krista Tippett calls “muscular, resilient,” instead of the watered-down version we’ve been taught to pursue, dependent on our feelings, eroticized, romanticized, limited to personal agendas, and over-attached to its own happiness.

This is time to embrace what Rilke taught:

“It is good to Love – Love being difficult. Love is perhaps the most difficult task given us, the most extreme, the final proof and text, for which all other work is only preparation.”

This is our time and this is our task – to Love everywhere – more deeply, more actively, more faithfully (which is to say when we are full of doubt), more vocally and consciously. Whatever it means to you, wherever you are, Love someone today.

If you haven’t been deeply disturbed by the tragic news of the past weeks, then you haven’t been paying attention. Or perhaps, you do not yet know that we are, in fact, all connected. In every one of these news items, I saw myself, my child, my family. I grieved for them, as I would grieve for my own, if not in degree, then at least in kind.

  • The continued migrant drownings

(my ancestors who crossed the Atlantic to come here)

  • The 19 women burned alive by ISIS for refusing to become sex slaves

(my 14-year-old daughter)

  • The Stanford rapist sentence and what it reveals about the travesty of our justice system – especially for women and minorities

(myself and all the times I drank too much in my younger years, and, if I’m completely honest, my young, white, athletic son, who knows and is and Loves  so much better and yet, at 17, still has so much more to learn)

  • The political race/system in the US, which is about to get even uglier

(my neighbors and friends with whom I avoid political and religious discussions)

  • The shooting in Orlando and the threat on the Pride parade in Los Angeles

(our gay daughter, friends and family members)

If our Love is muscular enough, there is no pain in the world we cannot connect to and carry with those who are directly affected. It doesn’t mean we have to fix it, but the least we can do is acknowledge it, which will hopefully inspire us to do more.




Leave a Comment

  1. You know your old dads ” love is a decision not a feeling”, thanks for saying it with so much more eloquence.


  2. Dear Alison, you have expressed such a deeply thoughtful response to circumstances almost beyond written reflection. Sitting here in our little RV on Oregon’s Rogue River, we are able to connect with the vigils for Orlando victims through your words which I have just shared with Phil. Bless you for sharing your thoughts so tenderly and with great honesty. Love, Bev


    • Yes! I had a friend who commented that her first instinct was to withdraw – from the world, work, people – to go live on an island, but then she realized that what she needs to do the ENGAGE! The antidote is not to pull back, but to go even deeper into the experience of the grief and suffering of all, so that all may be healed!


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