At our worst/best.

I remember the morning after September 11th, when the full impact of what had happened was just beginning to be known, and folks were still reeling from the horror, I noticed something, and it was this–people were kinder. Gentler. More apt to speak softly and to extend help. I know this wasn’t true everywhere–I know in some places tempers raged and grief lashed out and fear struck in anger…but in my corner of the world in Lexington, Kentucky, there seemed to be an effort to be decent human beings. To recognize WE had been hurt, and that WE would only rise from the rubble of it all if we did so together.

Sort of like those 4 men in that Mexican bakery in Houston a couple weeks back–who, stranded in their place of employment went to work making bread for those who would survive Harvey’s wrath. In their time of need and danger they focused on others. Or that furniture store owner who said, “Y’all come,” to his fellow Houstonians in need of shelter, no matter who they were or what damage it would wreak on his merchandise.

Sort of like all of those–of every nation, religion, tribe and tongue–who have commandeered boats and made human chains in flood waters and activated social media networks to find the missing and made sacrificial gifts of time and money to help those who have needed it.

I cannot even imagine what it has been like in Houston. Or what it is like right now in the midst of Irma. And I knew no one who died in those twin towers or in that Pennsylvania field 16 years ago. But I know that my heart has raged in pain for all of it. Just as my heart raged after Charlottesville. I have wept for those directly affected, and prayed in my own perceived helplessness.

But my heart has also swelled with joy at the ways I’ve seen people rise from the wreckage and terror and into their very best efforts at being human.

I recently came across these words from Glennon Doyle, one of my favorite writers. She said, “When the shit hits the fan, the only damn thing that matters is people.”

Hashtag truth, y’all. We are so often at our very best when we have been through the absolute worst. Because when we’re in the midst of hell, it doesn’t seem to matter whose hand is reaching down to pull us out.

I’ve no idea what the science of this is, or if there even is such science, I just know it happens. And each time I am grateful, and wonder, too, why it takes such awful heartache for us to recognize the bits of God in one another, and why we can’t hold on to it, why, weeks and months later, we are back to our bickering and othering and being selfish and pointing fingers. We are capable of such hopeful and beautiful triumph in the midst of despair, and equally as capable of forgetting our common lot as human beings once the immediate crisis has passed. Such selective memory we have, you know?

Still, the moments of beauty, they give me hope. Because they are tiny glimpses into the grace that comes when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to one another that we’re able to say, “I see that you are so much more like me than I’ve ever known.”

Generally, vulnerability can be a beast. When I am feeling vulnerable, I’m generally prone to sharp words, quick tears, and then really fast emotional-wall building. I gather my fortress of defense mechanisms around me, shutting out anything gives me a sense of threat. Self-care perhaps, but also something that can make me miss out on really amazing possibilities, especially when it comes to relationships with other people.

I think this is true of us corporately, too. When we feel threatened, left out, or experience grief we do not understand, we shut down and shut out, and retreat into our own kind and our own ways and our own spaces. It’s easier that way, or so we think.

It’s only when, as Glennon says, the shit really hits the fan that we’re able to set aside all our futile armor and finally, joyfully, even if painfully, see that for the love of all that is Holy we are so very much alike one another. We’re all scared. Pained. Hurt. Grieved. And we were all made for beauty. For relationship. For love.

People are the only damn thing that matters, y’all. And I know this is terrifying, the trusting of ourselves to this truth. Our dearly held beliefs, our bank accounts, our material possessions, these things we cling to as if our entire self depends upon them for any worth at all, and it’s such a farce. Such an evil trick played upon our hearts. Without one another, without the shelter we offer each other in our finest moments, we fall apart. Completely. Utterly. With little chance of resurrection.

So maybe we could all just take a breath. Realize what a complete mess we’re for so many reasons and in so many ways in this country. And have the courage and heart to make a little space for grace to grow. For mercy to pour down on our angry and frightened lives with all the healing it can bring. For enough vulnerability on each of our parts to recognize the vulnerability in others, and so find a way towards strength together.

Hate is always going to riot. Evil is always going to try to sink its tenacious claws into our existence. But I still believe love is stronger. Grace is mightier. And that the human spirit, when clothed with both, is capable of triumphing over all that threatens to undo us.

May it be so. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our only hope (she says, in her best Leia voice…).

You can’t tell what church they go to (or if they go at all). You can’t tell how much money they make or where (or if) they vacation every summer. You can’t tell what school they go to or where they shop or who their parents are. You can’t tell if they are first-generation Americans or not. You can’t tell who they voted for. You might be able to see shades of skin color, but even that is blurred. You can’t tell if they are gay or straight, married or divorced. You can’t tell any of that.

All you can see is the one thing they all have in common: water has destroyed much of what’s around them, many of them are in imminent danger, and life as they knew it before this past weekend has been changed drastically and forever. Because no matter who they are or where they’ve been, Harvey has come for them, and very little in their lives will ever be the same.

Natural disasters do not choose their victims. We are all vulnerable to them. And while some of us have greater resources, more contacts, better lots in life to survive and rebuild, the initial horror itself does not discriminate. The divisions we construct in our daily lives are irrelevant in the face of real-time, desperate need for survival.

It’s awful to just watch it happen (drop in the bucket awful, let’s be clear, compared to the hell of those living it)–I feel entirely helpless in the face of the news footage and the social media posts from the friends and colleagues I know in South Texas. Today, praying is all I know to do, even as that seems so futile. It’s gut-wrenching and terrifying, and I wish I could make it all stop.

And yet…and yet…I am struck by the beauty already emerging. The people helping people. The efforts to save and protect. The reaching out and pulling in and neighbor helping neighbor, even as the waters continue to rage. I am humbled to tears by the power of the human spirit at its best and brightest. THIS is the United States I love. THIS is the part of being human that makes the rest of our selfish ways worthwhile. THIS is what we were made for…to walk each other through this life as if we believed the truth that we are all in this together.

There’s no other way to do it and survive.

My heart is torn apart for this country right now. While Harvey rages, hate does too, and I don’t know how to stop it. While we claim to be one nation under God, we judge who and who isn’t God’s–the worst blasphemy of all, in my book, because as if any of us can truly grasp how it is that God works in the world. All I know is that God is love, and I hold on to this with all I’ve got these days. Because if God is love, there is no room for the way we are biting at one another in our own fear and anxiety and grief as a nation.

I read a story a long time ago that stuck with me–it’s main idea was that we can choose to be people that edify (build up) or we can choose to be people who destroy. I’ve been both, even if not consciously so, and what I want now, more than anything, is to be a person that consciously seeks to edify, to build up, the world around me. And what I want now, more than anything, for the United States, is the same–to be a nation that builds up, that edifies our own citizens and the world around us. This, it seems to me, is, in the midst of destruction and anger and division, our only hope.

If it helps, you’re more than welcome to imagine me saying that Stars Wars style…”You’re our only hope.”

Because you are. And so am I. And so are we together. All of us. Our only hope. And I don’t want to see us destroy ourselves. Too much has already been sacrificed. Too much hard fought and won. Too much on the line. And maybe if we each just said, “Ok, I can’t fix this mess we’re in, but I’m damn sure not going to make it worse,” that would be a step…albeit a baby step…in the right direction.

I don’t believe God causes tragedy and heartache. And I believe God cries with us when the worst things happen. But I also believe that in the midst of the most awful things, it’s possible for something good to be known. I have no idea how this works, I just believe it does–even if whatever that good is happens beyond our lifetime and in ways we never really see. And today, I am holding on to this thing I believe, and praying it will be made true in Harvey’s wake…and across our nation…in ways that will made very plain to all of us. Very soon.

Because my great hope is that on the other side of this helluva a time we’re in, there’s something new struggling to be born. And I think it’s up to us to make way for it. In ways big and small. We have to make the choice to set about edifying–our relationships, our families, our communities, our country.

Goodness emerges only when we are able to tap into the very heart of what it means to be human, discovering there the truth that when you strip away all the trappings, all the supposed status, all the hate and mistrust, all the things, there is room made for mercy to work her gentle grace among us, so that we might be reminded how we’re all so very much the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To our knees.

Rainy Monday morning. Favorite coffee shop. Vanilla latte splurge.

A beautiful weekend personally. A difficult one otherwise.

A broken heart at the things that are tearing us apart in these United States. My home. My country.

Charlottesville. 

I don’t want to add to the social media frenzy unless I can do so in a helpful way. Because fingers having been flying across keyboards and posting things helpful (and also not so much…) for 48 hours now. Such is life these days. The blessing and curse of the internets.

But good lord my heart hurts this morning. And I don’t know what to do but write it out. I didn’t have words yesterday. Or the day before. And I may not have the right ones today (if there even is such a thing). But these are the things at the forefront of my heart this morning…and I offer them to you out of heartache and anger and grief and, I’m praying for, a dose of humility as well, because there is so much I do not know, and so much I have not experienced.

  1. I’m angry. But that anger is rooted in grief and heartache. This is not what we were made for–this vicious hate and unending rage at one another. The people of color that I love are scared. So are those who love them best. And I am desperate for something to ease their fear. Desperate for the right words and actions to help them feel safe. Held. Loved. No matter what. I feel woefully insufficient in this regard, so much that all I could do yesterday was fold into a fierce hug a dear friend who is white, but who has a black son. I cannot know her pain. But how I wish I could stop it.
  2. I stood at the communion table at the church where I work yesterday morning. And invited people to it. And I did so making clear that the communion table (in my faith tradition) is not ours to define. It is God’s. And that means all are welcome. My voice caught…and I imagine that those listening thought my voice caught because I was imagining all the people who have been excluded from events or places or lives because of the color of their skin. But what I was actually thinking about were those men who held those torches and said those awful things and cast that awful fear and caused those three people to lose their lives in Charlottesville. Because the thing is? God loves them too. I cannot. But God does. And this is both tremendous challenge and tremendous grace. My hating them for their hate does not create space for love. And I grieve, deeply, for whatever causes them to hate so. I do not excuse it. I do not condone it. I outright condemn it. And in the same breath know that whatever pain they bear that causes such deep pain for others…this is heartache, too.
  3. This is simply a variation on a theme if you’ve read much at all of what I’ve written in the last year, but when we make white supremacy purely a partisan issue, it is not helpful. Over the last couple of days, folks from both sides of the aisle have condemned white supremacy, Neo-Nazism and the KKK specifically. This does not absolve those who did not offer such a condemnation. But it is an important reminder that we cannot judge every single person in an entire party, in a terribly broken and dysfunctional political system, by the silence and/or actions of some. Even when that “some” seems to be the majority and is highly visible. Republican does not equal racist. Democrat does not equal liberal fascist. Full stop.
  4. At the same time? It’s time to speak up. Make clear that hate is not to be tolerated. In our words, in our actions, in our lives. Every day. All the damn time. In whatever ways we can. Commit to loving harder.
  5. We’ve done this already, y’all. We fought a whole war over fascism and hate. The whole world participated and/or watched it unfold. And in my book, patriotism means that we honor those who fought that fight and do our damnedest to protect what they secured. We cannot simultaneously celebrate liberty and the Stars and Stripes while also propagating hatred of our neighbors and equal citizens.

The fact that I fear hitting the “publish” button on this blog is in itself indicative of how angry and divided we are as a nation. Because I know it will not be enough for some folks I love so much. But if there were ever a time for speaking our hearts, for sharing our fears and desires, for seeking a way forward, this is it. I want to be part of a solution. And I cannot live in anger and hate. Because as was once said, “Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I don’t even know how to stop it. Except by naming it. And sticking with love when and if at all possible. And standing in the brink of what hate creates and declaring, “No. We’re not having this. Not in these United States.”

When you have been brought to your knees in grief and pain, the grief and pain of others is easier to see. Even if you cannot entirely understand it. Charlottesville’s heartache is all of ours. And so I think my prayer for my country this morning is that we would, in fact, be brought to our knees for this time we find ourselves in. And from that vantage point, seek to understand how, together, we might restore hope.

Cease hate.

Embrace humility.

Seek peace.

 

 

Fear. Love. Prayer.

I’m fearing for my daughter’s future this morning.

With every breath. And not because she is in danger. Or even in crisis. Or even the target of any perceived threat. She’s fine. More than fine, really, even as she faces challenges beyond her years and that she should not have to face. My fear for her is not imminent. But it is no less real.

Because there are things I know that she does not.

She does not know that 1300 Kentuckians have died already this year of a opioid overdoses. She does not know that the United States and North Korea are engaged in what I can only describe as the most jacked up and most potentially devastating game of Chicken I’ve ever seen. She does not know that I sometimes stay awake at night worrying about the future of healthcare in our nation. For her and me both. She does not know that her social and emotional wellbeing are more at risk these next few years than they have ever been or ever will be in her life–because such is being a girl tween and then teen in this day and age. She does not know that tensions run fast and high and vicious in our community and in our country when it comes to race and ethnicity and every other way we can “other” a group of people…and I fear for how those tensions may explode for her and her peers in really scary ways. She does not know… She does not know… She does not know…

What she knows, even with the heartache she’s lived, is that the world is full of good people. And that it’s possible to face the unthinkable and survive. And that she is loved. And that there are safe places in the world for her to grow and learn. And that she will never, no matter what, be alone.

With all that I am I want these truths to hold for her. With all that I am I wish that every child knew these truths.

And yet, still, I fear for her. Because the world seems hot and angry and brutal right now. Not so much our small corner of it. But the world at large. The world she’s growing closer every day to being aware and a part of.

I fear for all our children, because we don’t seem to be doing a very good job of listening to them. Of putting them first. Of securing a safe and bright future for them. We’ve got our priorities all wrong as a larger community, and our children are the ones who will suffer most.

And I cannot fix it. I cannot wave my wand or push a button or flip a switch and make it all forthelovestopalready. I cannot. And this pains me every moment of every day. This morning it feels particularly heavy. Because this morning a whole lot feels at stake as I see and hear and read about what’s happening in the world and try to process what it might all mean.

I fear. For her. For all of us.

And in the face of it I know only two things to do: Love more (and harder). And pray.

DO NOT understand me to be saying that if we just love and pray everything will be okay. I’ll leave that to cheesy greeting cards and Facebook memes, thanks. Loving harder and praying more does not at all guarantee that everything will be okay. Not by a longshot.

But it’s all I know to do. And I can’t help but think that in doing it, in loving harder and praying more, I stand a better chance of being reminded of all that’s good in the world. Of being challenged to speak up for those who can’t, and speak out when it’s necessary. Of being inspired to work even harder to help…wherever help is needed. Because loving harder and praying more…they do not fix what is wrong with the world, but they do transform me. They transform how I enter into relationship and how I face conflict and how I handle difficulty.

And we’ve got no chance of a transformed world if we cannot first see the things in ourselves that need transforming.

And so as I pray fervently for peace, I pray to also be a peacemaker, especially because I know I can so often be the exact opposite. As I pray fervently for a way forward for our country, I pray to be a part of the solution. And as I pray for all the broken places–both globally and personally–I pray for the strength to be a healer.

And I pray for my daughter. And her friends and peers. That we might somehow find a way to leave them a better world than what we’ve currently given them. That we might somehow–by some beautiful miracle–understand that our profit, our gain, our power, our winning, our supposed greatness–none of it means a damn thing if we have not accounted first for our children’s wellbeing.

Because otherwise…I do not know what is to become of us.

And so somehow, some way…may it be so.

 

 

Something beautiful.

If you know me at all you’ve likely heard me mention my love affair with The Sound of Music. Captain Von Trapp is my dream man, y’all. From the get.

There’s lots I love about the film, but my favorite part, hands down, is the duet the Captain and Maria sing in the gazebo once they’ve found the strength to admit they love each other.

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth…
…Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

And so they sing. Out of the heartbreak and fear they both have known. Out of the sadness they’ve each lived…this moment. This “something good,” that is their life together.

I thought of the Captain and Maria when a friend forwarded an email to me–from Love Does (which, if you aren’t clued into…get on it!). The email held this important reminder, “Like the anger of fire shapes the metal/Like the sorrows of a writer create poetry/Everything that is beautiful does not always start beautifully.” (Noor Unnahar)

Some things do, after all, begin just as beautifully as they become. But what I think is that very little true beauty, very little beauty that’s worth it, comes without some ugliness, some heartache, some downrightgodawfulpain along the way. And it’s more than an ugly ducking becoming a gorgeous swan. It’s more than a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. We know these stories. What we don’t know–or at least sometimes have to learn again–is that on the other side of darkness, light dwells. On the other side of hate, love wins.

It’s so hard to see when we’re in the thick of it. So hard to comprehend in the midst of the pain that somehow life might feel good again one day, that maybe all is not lost and there is still a chance at joy. At love. At belonging. Most days I have to talk myself into it. And that’s okay, talking ourselves into it. That’s part of putting one foot in front of the other. It’s pure grit sometimes and that’s all there is to it. Right?

Right.

But here’s the thing–we do not transform without having known pain. We do not become without having been through something significant. We do not grow without having to learn more about who we are–and that sometimes hurts like hell.

(Sidenote: For the love of all that is holy, do not hear me saying that God or whoever causes our pain in order to teach a lesson. That’s utter nonsense at the least and incredibly harmful at worst. No, in our sorrow God sits with us. Constant. Always. In the crap and desperation with us, pointing us towards the light until we’re ready to see it again.)

Because out of the ashes, new things are given life. And out of the despair, hope is born. And in the midst of the darkness, we search for light. This is what it is to be human. To have been so beautifully made. To triumph, as the human spirit so often does, in the midst of the most horrible things.

My heart breaks for so many people and so many things right now. Every day. And there is no way around it. But I also believe with all I am that we only know what it means to be wholehearted once we’ve been fully broken apart. And once we know, once we see what is possible, that’s where beauty is. That’s where epic songs are written and gorgeous stories are shared and twisted, angry metal becomes something lovely to behold.

I can’t quantify it for you. I can’t tell you when or how. And the truth is, so much of what matters most in life can’t be fully measured or known or described. But I know it’s true. And today, knowing that there’s so much pain in the world, and in so many of your lives, my hope is you, too, will know it’s true. Deep in your bones. Something good is possible. Something beautiful can still be made. In spite of–and perhaps, even, because of, in ways we might not ever understand–what has been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

pain, untransformed.

“Pain that is not transformed is transmitted/transferred.” (Richard Rohr)

I came across these words of Richard Rohr’s on a friend’s Facebook page this morning. They struck me. In that “full-stop-catch-your-breath” kind of way.

See, yesterday, I saw my dentist. He’s great, my dentist, but going to see him is not my favorite thing (thanks to a childhood dentist who was, well…not so great), so it had been longer than it should have since my last visit. Thankfully, he does not judge. And simply said, “Let’s go ahead and get some X-rays just to be sure all is well.” So we did, and mostly, all is well. No decay. No disease. And that root canal from a couple years back looks fine. I was feeling pretty great about it all until he said, “But Julie…did you know you are grinding your teeth?”

Now, the truth is…yes, I suspected I was grinding my teeth in my sleep. A sore jaw and neck being the biggest indicators of that. But I mean, I didn’t know. You know, for sure (she says, sheepishly). But it’s hard to argue with X-rays showing the wear on my teeth. So we talked about keeping eye on it, and he said it wasn’t so bad quite yet and blah, blah, blah and maybe next time around we’d see if I needed a mouthpiece, etc.

But what I’m thinking about now is what Mr. Rohr said about pain. About how if it doesn’t get transformed it transfers. About how our physical bodies feel, and how our minds/hearts feel, are so often connected. And so it isn’t  hard for me to imagine that maybe…just maybe…that teeth grinding is really me working things out in my sleep. Things like stress. Things like grief. Things like adjusting to significant change.

You know. Things. All the things.

It reminds me of something Glennon Doyle says, “When I feel someone has been unkind, I know that all that just happened is they felt the hot loneliness, but they didn’t know how to be still with it. So they just treat it like a hot potato and pass it to the next person. But pain is not a hot potato. Pain is a traveling professor. And it just goes and knocks on everyone’s door and the smartest people I know are the people who say, ‘Come in and just don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.'”

Read that again (trust me…read it again).

The smartest people are the ones who let the pain do its work, instead of passing it off to another person in anger or cruelty or harsh words or betrayal or selfish behavior.

God, I’ve been guilty of just passing it on before. Of simply reacting out of my own heartache and misery instead of bravely letting it all do its work so that I might become a better version of myself. And every time…every time…I have eventually regretted that choice.

The truth is that we all bear such deep sorrow. Such hidden hurts. Because this is what it is to be human. Even the most fortunate among us know (or eventually will know) what it is to have the life knocked out of us temporarily and so have to make the difficult choice of whether to emerge victorious from that which has broken us or just…survive.

But passing that sorrow on to others, flexing our pain by transferring it to someone else–gah. This is not the way towards healing.

Nor is letting it fester inside. A wound that just won’t heal and so spreads its heat and toxicity everywhere, throughout us, making the whole of us feel as if nothing will ever be okay again. Or, you know, at least just grinding our teeth down to stubs.

We have to let it do its work. We have to let it drag us down to the dark places so that we can find our way towards light again. We have to let it transform us…from what we were, into what we can be on the other side of it all. And it’s damn hard work, this transformation. Mostly because our plans, our dreams, our images of what who we wanted to be and what we wanted for our lives get dashed along the way.

And y’all, there is very little more painful than the loss of a dream. Than the loss of what we wanted played against what has actually happened. It is so, so hard to let go of what we’d hoped for in our lives. What we’d planned on.

And the pain of that loss…it either destroys or transforms. It either eats us alive or makes us whole again. And some days, the line between destruction and transformation is a very thin one indeed. And sometimes, staying on the transformation side of that line is due to equal parts grit and grace, neither of which requires much strategy or planning ahead.

In the long run, I suspect that our pain’s transformation requires the very uncomfortable work of being vulnerable to it long enough for the pain to lose its power. When we’re vulnerable, when we offer ourselves towards one another and to the Universe with all that’s ugly and torn in us, and ask to be loved anyway…that’s when mercy shows up. And does the slow work of helping us out of the pain and into life again.

Not having transferred that which has hurt us…but having been transformed by it, after all.

 

 

 

 

 

from allthingsclipart.com

WARNING: If you have not seen Wonder Woman, but plan to soon, maybe don’t read this. Or do read it and just consider yourself spoiler alerted. If you have not seen Wonder Woman, and don’t plan to, DO read this. It might change your mind.

I’ve seen it twice now. And started to write about it at least 10 times now. Every time, my thoughts have flooded my fingers faster than I could type, and I have had to back away–not ready. Not focused enough in my thoughts to communicate them effectively. Because there so much to say. So. Much.

Look, the critics, the experts (and some not), the thinkers–they’ve all written about it. And I don’t know that I have anything new or somehow provocatively insightful to say, I just know if I don’t say something, I’ll regret it…because 2017’s Wonder Woman is hands down my new favorite movie. And Diana Prince my new favorite hero. And here’s why:

  1. Because there are times when this life we live feels like a No Man’s Land. After loss or heartbreak or death, our lives can feel like desolate plains of existence. No map. No rules. No sure way through. And it’s tempting to give up. Or to at least focus on the path of least resistance in an effort to simply keep breathing. And the moment when Diana makes the decision to march across that No Man’s Land, bullets or no, bombs or not, destruction be damned, is the most powerful visual I’ve ever seen of what it means to just keep going. To just keep going. No matter what. Through literal hell and into raging battlefield. To just keep going. Because you have to. It’s the only way forward. The only way into something good.
  2. Because sometimes it takes a has-been marksman who can spin a Scottish tune, a Middle Eastern goofball who wants to be an actor, a brave and strong Native American who has lost his homeland, and a slightly nutty but surprisingly smart and willing secretary to round out an earnestly brave soldier and his superhero love in getting the job done. Which is to say–we’ve all got our gifts. Our place in the story. The Story. And we all matter. Help often comes from the most unlikely of places and far be it from us to judge whether a person is capable of being a hero in any given moment. One of the most achingly beautiful parts of the movie for me was hearing Charlie sing again, playing the piano as he did, after they’d saved that sweet French village. All the heartache and horror in his life had been suspended, just for that moment, so he could really live again. Only he could have filled that particular role in Steve Trevor’s gang with such bittersweet heart and tender courage.
  3. (Paraphrasing Steve and Diana) Because very little in this life is about what any of us deserve. Most often it’s about what we believe should be possible for all of us. Because  the best things we know in this life–grace, mercy, love–these things are not about deserve at all. Thanks be–because I’ll tell you right now I wouldn’t always deserve any of it. None of us would. These things are simply and beautifully gifts that the goodness to be found in this life can offer us. And extending them wherever we can, without stopping to think about who or doesn’t deserve them is maybe the best way we can live into really being human.
  4. Because yep…we’re dark. Capable of such selfishness and hurt and wrongdoing. But that’s not all we are. We are so much more. So. Much. More. Diana Prince sees this about humanity in the selfless and full-hearted sacrifice Steve makes, and her ability to see how his actions are what define humanity–not a raging war–is maybe the bravest thing she does. It takes a heroic heart to find beauty when all around you pain and death are evident. But Steve…he is all love…all grace…and in him she’s able to see such healing and powerful hope for the world. And then she’s able to fully take her place in the story. Fully embrace who she is. Completely step into her destiny as Hippolyta’s daughter and do the work she’d come to do.
  5. Because rising above the things that tear us apart takes enormous courage. But we’re built for that kind of courage. We’re wired to be more than our suffering. And as Charlie and Sameer and Etta and The Chief join Diana on Armistice Day, to find their Steve among the wall of heros, they do so standing tall. Bound together irrevocably. More, together, than each of them, even a superhero, could ever be on their own. Having triumphed over tragedy and pain to come full circle into the grace that binds together those who have known heartache and survived.

More than anything, I found in Wonder Woman a challenge to be real. To be vulnerable. To be brave. To rise above the horrible things and give our lives to beauty. To care for one another. To stand up for those who need it and not back down in the face of hate and anger, no matter how loud or fiery or insistent those things are. Because in the end, as is always true and has been since the beginning of time: Love wins. And so the battle is always worth fighting.

Or, as Diana Prince says:

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. And I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be.