June 25th, 2018

The Literal Power of Love

 width=When I was five years old, I got lost at Walt Disney World. I remember the moment I looked around and realized I was in a sea of people, none of whom I recognized, and that I didn’t know where my family was. I immediately started crying, and within seconds, a gentleman approached and picked me up. He asked if I was lost. I said yes just as another gentleman approached and asked the first if I was lost. The first gentleman answered in the affirmative as my increasingly anguished wails grew louder.

The next thing I remember, I was in what seemed like a lounge of sorts. There was a couch, and I sat on it sobbing while a few grownups spoke kindly to me about how I was liking Walt Disney World and what kinds of things I liked to do back home. I had no concentration for any such conversation, however, because I didn’t know where my parents were or what was going to happen to me. The prospect of never seeing them again and not having any idea how they might find me brought forth an emotional overwhelm I couldn’t begin to describe then and am still at a loss to articulate now, 36 years later.

The kind adults gave me postcards with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on them and asked if that might help me stop crying. Even at age five, I remember wondering if they were out of their minds, thinking a postcard might help me stop crying when I had no idea whether I’d ever see my family again.

I was not comprehending at the time that my parents had already been located and were on their way to the lost child center where I was.

All in all, I think I spent a total of about fifteen minutes being lost. (I was astonished to learn that years later when my parents and I were talking about it.) It felt literally like hours to my child self, though a more accurate description is probably that time itself seemed immaterial because every instant was a moment I didn’t know where almost everything I had up to that point found familiar about my life was.

So to recap, at the start of the ordeal, I had been approached almost instantly by someone benevolent who wanted to help me, followed by someone else just as well-intentioned. I was taken to a place where people were kind to me, and I was offered both words and gestures to comfort me.

And I still found those few minutes some of the most unspeakably, and unavoidably, terrifying of my lifetime.

I cannot stand that there are children at the border of this country going through an experience 1,000 times more terrifying and traumatic than mine given that they are without kind people wanting to help them, without being offered comforts to console them, and most importantly, without their parents on their way to arrive within moments to take them back home.

I melt into tears as I write that. And as I have almost every time I actually read something about or just stop to consider and pray for the families that are undergoing indescribable horror and trauma at the border of the United States of America. It is something I hereto would not have imagined would occur in the United States of America…well, until November 9, 2016, that is, when the wretched sense of foreboding I had about what had just occurred in this country made seeing this a year and a half later not entirely surprising, if no less horrifically surreal-seeming.

Here’s the thing—and I am being utterly sincere and non-hyperbolic here. There is no reason, no excuse anyone can give, that makes what is happening at the border justifiable. I don’t care what your political perspective it is. I don’t care what your legal perspective it is. I don’t care what possible reason you could be using to justify not finding what is occurring a complete disgrace. Because there isn’t one. “It’s the law”? So was slavery. Seriously, are you fucking kidding me? You truly think it’s okay to take children who aren’t even old enough to speak away from their parents and let them experience acute and indescribable emotional suffering because “it’s the law” without recognizing that obviously any legal framework into which such a thing fits is profoundly distorted and calls for immediate shift?

If so, you are in a frightening place. And that means humanity is as well.

If you think Trump has not been fully complicit in what is happening and could have indeed put a stop to it at any time, that indicates a different and less immediate threat but a grievous one nonetheless. It means that for some reason you are perceiving something in as distorted or close to as distorted a manner as Trump himself is. Often it feels difficult for me to know how to support everyone’s (including Trump’s) awakening from this distortion because the sheer insanity of it can seem so mind-blowing. I continue, however, to wish for that awakening indeed and aspire to do all I can to support and facilitate it.

It can feel difficult to know what to do right now or how to help. For those, like myself, who want to, I offer this:

Love. Love everyone. Love all. Truly.

I understand this may make no sense. And that if it does make sense, it may appear an extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, order. In fact, I invite anyone reading this to not try to “figure out” or understand what it means. Instead, take a deep breath and just let the offering penetrate. See how it affects you. “Love.” Because there is a part of us that is aware of what love truly is, and that part of us is also aware that love is ultimately what we are. All of us. Yes, that means Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani too. All of us are love. It cannot be any other way.

Love is what will get us out of this mess. It is what serves to remind those who have forgotten, who are consciously cut off from this awareness and acting from utter unconscious distortion, of what is true. The incredible strength, courage, truth of fierce love.

I understand the challenge. I do. I will falter in this aspiration at times as much as anyone will. But please, if you want to help, love. Love with all you’ve got. Take a deep breath, allow the fury, the overwhelm, the awareness of the horror. Don’t hold that back. That is real, and that is true. It is a part of our experience, and it will do no good to suppress or try to avoid it. Allow it. Be with it. Breathe consciously and feel it in your body.

And allow love at the same time. Hold it. Hold it all.

Let love do its job—a job we ourselves cannot control or actually even do. We can only allow it. Allow as much love in—and out—as you can. It is our only way out of this.


I’m relying on your common decency, so far it hasn’t surfaced but I’m sure it exists…
-Depeche Mode “People Are People”

5 Responses “The Literal Power of Love”

  1. Lisa Frank says:

    Very powerful, Emily. And so true. Thank you for sharing. If only the world had more people like you in it!

  2. Emerald says:

    I love you, Lisa. Thank you… I miss you! <3


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