Sometimes I feel like this old window carved out of stone, covered with moss, hundreds of years old. There's a sense of being on the downslide of the mountain--sliding towards death. And that changes everything in this life.
I care more about people. Not just my family, my partner, my children, my grandchild, my mother, who at 93 says she has no intention of dying. Not just my friends. But all people, really. The suffering of people I see on the streets of Portland, sleeping on sidewalks, shuffling along, wrapped in old blankets and older pain. The people who have so little, all over the world. The war, the violence, the hunger, the rapes, the unkindness and the uncaring. The injustice in our country that favors the white, the powerful, the heterosexual, the cis-gendered, the rich, the privileged. Some days my bones ache from the pain of life, with its casual brutality.. Sometimes it's hard to remember the counterweight of love and joy and giving that exists side by side with the pain.
When I sit in the room with couples, I care about them deeply, too.. Because I've been that couple, and sometimes I can still be that couple, stuck in old patterns. And because I want them to push through the pain, the way I have done, and am still called on to do. (One morning I slammed the door on my partner in frustration and headed off to work to "heal" others. That's irony for you.)
I care because I know how hard it is to love. Not to fall in love--that's easy. But to love--despite their flaws, in the face of our flaws. To love, day in and day out, especially on those days you don't feel especially loving. To ache as your relationship slowly peels away parts of yourself to reveal the raw, messy, vulnerable you, the you that you hide in shame. To love because that is all we can do in the face of so much grief in the world. To love, knowing that we don't have 800+ years; we just have this time, or as poet Mary Oliver wrote, "this one wild and precious life."
12th Century rock church window, Lalibela, Ethiopia