Thursday, April 25, 2013

Don't Despair

Love recognizes no barriers.  It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
-Maya Angelou

Last week I sat in on a presentation by local political cartoonist Joel Pett.  Two days prior, he was working on his day's drawing when he heard about the Boston Marathon bombing.  He scrapped his plan for that day and drew a symbol of terror running toward an unreachable finish line. 

Whether or not it was his intended message, I heard despair. 

I think in the minutes and days following the bombing many felt that emotion.

In some ways, feelings of desperation have been replaced with relief, celebration or at least determination to go forward.

But I still hear murmurings of despair around me.  Friends and strangers dealing with overwhelming circumstances, heavy local and world issues, unsure how to overcome.

I'll admit I've felt it myself.

In the fight for freedom of the world's 27 million slaves.  More enslaved people than ever before, despite the efforts of history's numerous hardcore abolitionists.  In the agonizingly slow journey toward global gender equality.  Being allowed to learn and to vote and to choose a spouse and a job is bittersweet when some sisters are being killed because of the value their culture places on testosterone.  In the work of child abuse prevention. When you make that your full-time job then turn on the news at home to hear about the death of a precious two year old.  Any child reached fades away when you see the pale blue eyes of the one you missed.

Your list is probably different from mine, but I do not think I am alone in sometimes thinking: 'Is anything even really getting better at all?  Is there even really any point in trying?'

When those doubts hit.  When I go to bed at night bone-tired, weary and defeated, this is the thing that convinces me to get up the next morning: Love.  It wins.  And always will.

That's not something I made up.  And it's not just a Pollyanna outlook. 

All of the great thinkers, change-makers, scholars, theologians, prophets and deities agree.  Love prevails.  It conquers hate.  It overcomes evil.  It rights wrongs.  Love has the final victory.

You can see it in love's response to tragedy.  The thousands who spontaneously rebuild the destruction of two.  More than once.

Love is often quiet.  It doesn't draw the same attention as wickedness.  But rest assured, it is at work around you.  If you look, you will see it.  If you close your eyes, you may be able to feel it.  It will fill up your empty soul.

And when you are bombarded by bad, when you are gripped by despair, remember that everything will be okay.  Better than okay, actually.  Love -- the most powerful force this world has ever known -- is working to make it that way.

Grieve.  Mourn.  Wallow a little (and a little more) if you need to.  That's just part of having a heart.

But then dry your eyes, square your shoulders and get back to the task you've been given on the side of love.

We'll get there.