For the past three years, right around Valentine’s Day, someone I’ve known, loved, or admired has died. I began to wonder if this was all a strange coincidence, or worse, a cruel joke that the Universe was playing. How thick the irony, that so close to the day of love, such heartache and loss could occur.
Never one to believe that the Universe is conspiring against us, I set out on a journey, looking for love here, there, and everywhere. I looked for it near and far. I even looked as deep as I could right into the eye of heartache. Could love quite possible be there too?
I wanted to know for certain, that even in the face of heartache and loss, love actually is, all around.
Now I’m not just talking about romantic love. I’m talking about Universal love. The opposite of hate. The eternal power that fuels our humanity. The source of joy and longing and optimism. The invisible force that manifests itself on earth only through the actions of those who breathe in and out.
I never cease to be amazed at the rate of return the Universe pays to an active investor in it’s program. Want to invest some time and look for something you need or want? A new job? A new house? A different doctor? A good book? Put it out there, as they say, ask for it, and the Universe pays in dividends.
I did just that in my quest for love. I went out about my days much the same as always do, but with one big difference. I put it out there! My eyes, and ears, were on high alert for anything that even sort of looked like love in the midst of tragedy, despair, or heartache. I set an intention so strong that love, I hoped, couldn’t help but find me at every turn.
I could write volumes describing the love I found when I went looking. But here’s just a sample of the love I found comforting people in the midst of loss and heartache.
The Lunch Angel. When Kenny Thompson, a tutor at a Houston elementary school, heard that students who were behind on paying their lunch accounts were being given cold sandwiches for lunch instead of the hot lunches other kids were getting, he came to the rescue. He paid the students’ $465 overdue balance. “It was the best money I ever spent,” Thompson told TODAY.com. “It was the best gift I ever gave myself. I went into my car and screamed.” Thompson is saving up to pay off the lunch accounts of children at another school soon.
Love in the Face of Cancer. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She is one of the sweetest, kindest, loveliest women I know. She has a husband and two talented children. There’s never an easy way to deal with cancer, but my friend has looked into the eye of her heartache and found love. Recently, she wrote me this:
“I have met some really amazing people in chemo, the doctors, nurses have all been wonderful and my appreciation for everything is at a higher level. I really believe this is making me a better person and look forward to being on the other side of the journey, left with only the positives.”
Saving the World, One Animal and One Child at a Time. Jama Hedgecoth founded Noah’s Ark in Locust Grove, Georgia. Jama has rescued over one hundred species of animals that were scheduled to be euthanized. She has also adopted five children and fostered four hundred and seven children over the years.
Jama believes that in showing these children that they are not disposable and that animals are not disposable, she is causing a ripple effect that will change lives all over the world. When asked how she has the fortitude to carry on, Jama said that she doesn’t feel worthy to do this piece of God’s work, but she sure feels blessed to do it.
A Full House. A neighbor of mine died recently. A relatively young man, he was fun and energetic. A man’s man. He was a good husband and father. He loved boating and fishing. He had a booming voice that quite frequently traveled over the grass into my backyard. His death came as a shock. With his age and vitality, no one expected it, especially his wife, who is battling cancer.
News of his passing spread quickly through the neighborhood. The death of someone who was so respected and cherished would certainly not go unnoticed. Within hours of his death, our street was lined with cars and their house was full of people. His wife, fragile and overwhelmed with grief, was not alone. Love was everywhere – in the cookies, the wine, the half smiles, the long hugs, the exchanging of phone numbers. Love required we form a team. And so we did.
A few days into my journey to find love in the face of despair, I happened upon an episode of Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” with the author, Mark Nepo. While talking about his long battle with cancer, he shared a vivid account of being violently ill from chemotherapy. He was vomiting uncontrollably, when his wife cried out, “Where is God?” Instinctively, Nepo replied, “Right here. He’s right here.” Nepo said that even in the midst of his darkest hour, he felt God’s presence.
The moral of the story, he says, is that there will be times in your life when you are broken. But just because you are broken, does not mean everything is broken. In fact, he says, as difficult as it is, you must actively seek the unbroken things. They will help you survive. It is in everything that is unbroken where you will find the love you need to carry on.
When you understand that, you understand everything.
Do you have a love story you can share? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
Happy Valentine’s Day with much LOVE!