These dark days—literally, it’s winter, and figuratively, recent school shootings—have consumed my thoughts at this time of the longest night of the year. We have no control over the amount of darkness in the sky or what someone else does, especially something so incomprehensible as shooting young schoolchildren. So what can we do when it all seems so overwhelming?
Buddhists tell us that we live our lives only in this very moment, to be aware of what we’re experiencing now and to bring ourselves back to this second. Concentrating on the breath is one way that I stop the pondering over the past or the planning for the future, but in doing so, I open myself to the sadness and helplessness I feel about the recent, senseless killings. Is there anything I can do in the face of such horrific happenings? After a recent session with my meditation group, I realized the answer is yes. And it isn’t complicated or impossible.
It is as simple as choosing to show love—saying the loving thoughts and stopping to touch my friends and family. I don’t always take the time to think of and say the positive things, and touching doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t usually pat an arm to express my caring, and others usually initiate a hello or goodbye hug. Why? I feel vulnerable—I can’t control the outcome, and there’s always the possibility of rejection.
At the same time, I know that showing our soft underbelly to each other and going toward our fears is how we connect and create a caring community—which is what I so want in the world and precisely what the world needs. It’s risky, but I’m thinking that there’s only good in resolving to show love, and it might just bring about the transformation we want.