Series: White People Homework (30) Love

This last week of June has been full of tears, grief and sorrow. No, no one I knew was sick or died. Wait–yes, someone just this morning reported the death of a cousin. And though I’ve reached the last of the thirty days of posting, the work, thinking, and focus is not over–it’ll never be over.

My husband and I have been doing all right during the quarantine. Some little snarls here and there, but nothing that’s a big deal. We mostly move around the house, separated by a few rooms, and leave each other to our work.

But last night, he came in to check on me during another one of my marathons of ‘Jane the Virgin,’ and just broke down. He didn’t cry, or scream: he expressed how much sorrow and distress he feels for white cops killing Black people, and just wants it to stop. I am doing a horrible job of describing his voice, his body language, and sorrow. But it unnerved me: I know how he feels and what his values are. But this different: he is in a great deal of physical chronic pain, and that’s been his focus to try to manage, and to see the pain of the world and our nation, too…I told him about Elijah McClain and we both started to cry. And we both know tears aren’t enough.

If you don’t think you have a friend, partner or spouse like mine, someone who shares this grief, you do: I can be here for you, too. This is all about love. White people: if you respond to the world with debilitating fear and loathing, it will betray you. It will betray your chance at love. Fear will destroy you.

But if you love, your fear will calm. You find joy again. Love your fellow human.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver