Sometimes it's so hard to know what to say after darkness comes.
How to be helpful. How to be a change for good. Because I fear that anything I say will sound trite and simple and hollow. But as I listen to the dialogue going on about right and wrong, fear and freedom I'm left with this sad pang in my heart that this is what the darkness would want. For our hearts to harden and our communities to further divide.
So let me offer up this instead: never let the darkness in so deep that it hardens your heart.
Feel, yes. Grieve, of course. Do not deny the anger or fear that stirs within you. But then let the darkness shape you into a vessel of good.
Because, perhaps, the best way to push back hate is with an outrageous, extravagant dose of love.
So much love we're all but drowning in it.
A love tsunami, if you will.
Because by showing the world more kindness and compassion I can create meaningful change in small yet significant ways. And those tiny spots of light in the darkness might just be the most powerful gift I have to give.
Because right now we need all the goodness that we can get. Love in every manifestation.
Like the quiet love that takes the form of non-judgement, acceptance, and allowing. Or love-in-action in the shape of helpfulness, random acts of kindness, and full-on out-loud encouragement. Yes, even the self-love found by following your heart and accepting who you truly are.
And the brave, courageous love of speaking your truth and standing up for what is right – no matter the cost. Even if you tremble.
And then raising our children to do the same.
Perhaps a simple place to start is by choosing kindness that we can measure. Just a few acts of pure love each day. Even if we have to force it at first. Because it's difficult to find the goodness today. Because our hearts are growing hard from too much grief.
Let's start with five. Just five small acts of kindness.
Five moments when we say no to hate and yes to love. Five chances to be on the side of good. Five moments each day to let your heart soften and open wide.
Leave an anonymous note on a co-workers' desk saying that you see his heart and it is kind. Make tea for a weary friend, or pay the fee for the car behind you at the toll booth or the drive through.
Bring a sandwich to the homeless person you pass on your way to work or hand a fist-full of dollars and a gift card to the grocery store to that man with the cardboard sign at the intersection on your way home.
And here at home, kindness comes through listening, patiently, when our loved ones falter. If we want more gentleness we must be gentle. If we want compassion we must fill the world with our own.
Because more than anything we teach our children through our actions.
They see how we look at those different then us; they hear what we talk about when they're in the next room. Let them overhear talk of compassion and love, not judgment and negativity. Because they're taking notes.
Our truths become theirs, and our words settle into their very hearts. Let's put love there instead of hate. Hope instead of fear.
We can change the world in these small but vital ways. If only we decide to. And right now that's the best that I have to give.