HERE AND NOW is what I’ve come to; it’s where I’ve landed; it’s what I’ve come to. Here and now is the only place I want to be.
You helped me find that; you helped me learn to find that space, that extra space the heart grows into because there’s always room for more love.
Your love makes me want to make the most of a moment.
(Hear Colm Wilkinson singing) THIS. IS. THE. MOHMENNT!!
(Are those tears of laughter or joy? Or both?)
I’M SO GLAD you are here and now; it’s the perfect place to be, here and now is. I’m so honored you chose me to share your here and nows with. (‘I’m so honored you chose me to be the one with whom you will share your here and nows.’ I think that’s better but it’s too long? Why take so much time with a sentence, you know what I mean?)
TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY!!
(How old are you??…Younger than me. Right. Point made. Thank Youuu!)
Even though we are apart on this your special day, when I think on you, I feel like I’ve come home.
(Ladies and Gentlemen, Mister Colm Wilkinson)
HERE AND NOW I am sending you all of my
LOVE and MEGA BIRTHDAY WISHES
in a birthday poem for you on your birthday, which I have entitled,
“A BIRTHDAY POEM FOR MY WIFE ON HER BIRTHDAY!”
It’s a poem grateful for all of the perfect moments we’ve had and have yet to have had (is that even English??…I mean, come on!!!…sorry…where was I?…Right.)
Here and…now is a poem…(I don’t even kn—)
Look, here’s my point: Even if I only have one day more with you,
ONE! DAY! MORE!!!!
(Dammitt, Colm!!!…Can you PLEASE?!…It’s my LAST. NERVE… Okay?!)
(Tears still? A kiss for both your eyes, then)
I WANT TO SPEND all of my days with you and have all of the ADVENTURES!
HERE AND NOW is what I’ve come to; it’s where I’ve landed; it’s what WE’VE come to. Here and now is the only place I want to be.
TODAY ENDS a very tumultuous forty days of exploration for me. During this period of Lent, I have been engaged in an experiment which replaced the word Love for the word God in my everyday thoughts, prayers, and contemplations.
The experiment began because of my interest in what is going on when we utter the term, God. For some time now, I have been deeply interested in what the referent for the word God is for different groups of people as a whole and specifically for groups of people who call themselves Christians.
What does the word God mean to them? What does it mean to me?
As I have previously written, my upbringing lead me to understand the term God as a literal *being* who is the best possible everything—the greatest conceivable being. We were very concerned with what NOT to do in our lives when I was growing up. That certainly does not discount the many wonderful things our community did and what that community continues to do.
I just remember being confused about what it meant when we said we “loved Jesus.” I remember feeling like I didn’t know who we were praying to, and wondering if smoking that cigarette or dancing in public was really going to count that many points against me on the cosmic abacus.
This Lenten journey I’ve been on has taken me up, down, and backward on a kind of rollercoaster I’m not sure I would have gotten on if it had been up to me. What I mean to say is, I don’t know if I would have chosen all of the things that have come my way, especially lately. At the same time, I fully realize I wouldn’t be in this present moment without them; and where else am I but right here, right now?
In my experiment where I substituted the word Love for the word God, I noticed a few things. One thing I noticed was when I was thinking about Love in even the most generic way, I could almost immediately see it in others—mothers interacting with their children, friends doing loving things for one another, drivers letting other drivers go in front of them during heavy traffic, stories of lovingkindness became the kind of story I decided to click on instead of hateful nonsense. This wasn’t true 100% of the time, to be sure, but I was noticing; I was present to these Love-filled moments.
A dear, dear friend of mine died in a split second on Wednesday, and I was so terribly sad. Loved showed me I didn’t have to try to say the right words to a *being* out there, living somewhere I couldn’t get to.
Love showed me it was okay to grieve, and that I could never even possibly be away from Love’s embrace. So many people showed such brilliant outpourings of Love, remembrance, and comfort.
Love proved to me we cannot even begin to realize the kind of influence our lives have on other people. There is no possible way my friend Erick could have known how many people loved him and how his life had made such a huge impact on so many. I believe he knows now.
Resting in Love itself, I believe he now knows fully what Love truly is.
My experiment also taught me we don’t truly believe in God. If we did, all we’d be doing all the time would be loving one another. To be true followers of God, we would do as Jesus instructed. If Jesus was God, then it was God who told us that the way others would know we were followers of God/Jesus/Love would be if we loved one another. I’m not making that up.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples: if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
Imagine if we actually took that seriously? It’s hard as hell, I know; but can you imagine? It seems impossible to me sometimes, but taking Love seriously is what I have continued to come back to time and time again.
After all of the intellectual philosophy, after all of the theology, after all of the atheism and the throwing away of having to “get it right,” and after all of the trying to name the un-nameable, Love is the only thing that remains.
God is Love. Love is God.
One might argue, “Aren’t you just using the word *Love* to name God?”
I don’t think so. Can you explain Love? Can you predict where you will encounter it or what amazing things can occur in our lives when we become present to it? Have you ever thought you knew what Love is only to be blown away by a moment of realization that you never actually will?
When my daughter, Mikaela, was born I had never before experienced the kind of love I have for her. It was so different and new and remains that way to this day. I was sure nothing would be able to surpass that kind of love. I was too afraid to have another child—I didn’t think my heart could possibly contain anymore.
Then, four years and two weeks later my son, Connor, was born. Remember how the Grinch’s heart grew three times its size when he encountered Love? When the nurse first put him in my arms, I felt my heart grow and grow and grow. Love was not finished with me. Love had so much more to show me. Love is what we live for. Love is what keeps us alive, and we may not even know it.
When I say we don’t believe in God, I don’t mean *believe* in the sense that we affirm something to be factual; that God *exists*, for example. I mean believe in the way someone who loves you “believes in you.” As Rob Schneider would say, in virtually every Adam Sandler film, “You can do it!” You know, that kind of thing.
Do I believe in God?
Honestly, I’m not interested in that. Maybe I just don’t think it’s a very good question, anymore. Maybe there’s a better question—one worth asking over and over and over again:
Do I believe in Love?
I do believe in Love. Oh yes, my friends, I do! I’ve seen what Love can do, and I am here for all of it. Love restores; Love transforms; Love saves; Love never gives up and, most important of all, Love never dies.
I have only very recently realized that though I have been seeking God my whole life, what I have really been after is to know Love more fully, more clearly, more deeply.
Happy Easter to you all!
Love has become known to all Humanity, and even when we die, we continue to exist as a part of this world through the gift of grace, which allows us to remain in the very presence of Love itself.
Love is always calling us, sometimes gently, sometimes with great heaviness, to become present to how we are filled up with and surrounded on all sides by Love, every single moment of every single day of our lives. Our humanness makes us question and wonder if Love is real or a lie, but Love is the only light that illuminates Truth in what can sometimes be seen as a very dark world.
To believe in Love is to seek after it, being certain you will know it when you encounter it. Love is always right where you thought it might be, right where you expected to find it. You might doubt sometimes, and why not?
We’re only human.
Love is always there. Love never leaves. It can’t leave. Love is the very stuff we’re made of, and Love exists so that we might live.
I pray you will find Love. It is always right here, in plain sight. You’ll know when you’ve found it because you will instantly want to start giving it away, only to find the more you give away, the more you get!
Love is in every beautiful melody you hear, in every encounter with the poor, in every conversation with a friend, in every embrace, in every communication, in everything you can possibly think of and especially in everything you can’t.
Do we believe in Love enough to let Love fully reign over us, around us, and through us?
To quote the cast, as they sing to my stick-in-the-mud Harvard admissions director:
“Yes, we believe in love, how ‘bout you?”
Well, just like my Legally Blonde alter ego answers so shall I:
FIVE DAYS AGO my daughter, Mikaela, turned twenty-four, which is crazy because it was only five days ago that I turned twenty-four. I don’t think I quite understand how time works, anymore.
What I do know, better than I know anything else in the world, is my life has meaning because my daughter came into this world. Twenty-four years ago, I got a serious education in human subjectivity when Malisa delivered the most beautiful six pound, two-ounce human I had ever seen. (Had I ever seen a six pound, two-ounce human before?)
I had no idea what it could mean to hold something so beautiful. There was no way I could have done anything to adequately prepare myself for the kind of love I would be in when the nurse put her in my arms for the first time. She was half of me, half of her mother, and one-hundred percent of herself at the same time. It is an experience I will never be able to duplicate — that first moment with my firstborn.
When Mikaela was just about four-years-old, we were living in Oklahoma City in a small, red-brick house we were renting on 51st Street. One summer evening, Mikaela and I were doing something we always enjoyed (and still enjoy) doing together — watching a movie. Snuggled up together on the living room couch, our VCR was illuminating the television screen with an absolutely beautiful adaptation of the Francis Hodgson Burnett novel, “A Little Princess.”
If you’re not familiar with the story, a young girl named Sara Crewe is left at a boarding school while her father (her mother has long since died) goes to serve in the trenches of World War I. When her father is presumed dead, Sara is relegated to the role of servant by the deeply tragic but terrible headmistress, Miss Minchin.
When all seems lost, we find Captain Crewe is not dead but has been wounded and blinded by the horrific, toxic gas used on the troops by the enemy. In addition to what turns out to be only temporary blindness, Sara’s father has also lost his long-term memory, and in a series of fortuitous events, ends up recuperating right next door to Sara’s boarding school, unbeknownst to all parties involved.
As Mikaela and I lay next to each other on the couch, situated comfortably underneath the afghan which had its home on the back of the sofa during the hours it was not being used for snuggle time, we were both caught up in this deeply compelling story of a daughter longing for her father’s return.
In the climactic scene of the film, Sara sees her father, who has recovered from all of his physical wounds except his memory loss. When Sara cries out to him, Captain Crewe doesn’t recognize her. She pleads with him to remember, but he simply cannot. I was so caught up in the story that I was not prepared for what would happen next.
“Why doesn’t he know her?” Mikaela cried. “Daddy!! Why doesn’t he know her? He has to know her! He has to!!”
Mikaela jumped off the couch, crying and screaming.
Mikaela would not be consoled. I had to rewind the video to make sure she could see everything turned out well in the end. I don’t know quite how to put into words what that moment was like for me. I don’t know if Mikaela remembers that specific scenario, but it has been burned on my heart for the last twenty years.
My sweet daughter has always had such a huge heart. Her brother, who would come along exactly four years and two weeks after she was born, is just the same. How do you express what it feels like to have your children teach you so much about what it means to live a life so full of empathy? To have such a care and concern for the world and everything living in it is a rare thing to find in a person. Mikaela has that kind of heart, and she walks the kind of walk only someone with such a heart can do.
It was no surprise to me, then, that on her birthday, Mikaela chose to raise money for RAICES, a nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.
It doesn’t matter to me on which side of the political spectrum you stand. The fact of the matter is, children are being separated from their parents at our southern border. That is a fact.
Every time I see or hear something about these migrant families and how their children are being taken from them, I think of how my four-year-old could not be consoled when presented with the idea that a father might not remember his daughter after having been separated from her, that I might not remember her should we ever be apart from one another.
Mikaela’s beautiful four-year-old heart has grown exponentially in the last twenty years, always looking for a way to serve and make people’s lives better. I wish every day I could be more like her.
Won’t you please join me in donating to this worthy cause? RACIES is an organization that is doing incredibly important work, and you can make a difference by donating whatever you can afford.
We have an opportunity as a society to bring an end to the suffering of these children and their parents. It is not some far off, lofty dream. The solution is right in front of us.
Please, join me and the many others who have chosen to no longer sit on the sidelines but to make a difference, instead. Click on the link below and become a part of the positive change that is happening every day. We can change the world with the magic of an empathic heart.
But remember, in the words of Sara’s father, Captain Crewe, “Magic has to be believed. It’s the only way it’s real!”