We must ask ourselves, “How can I bring love forward and be a part of the healing process?”
As a part-time elementary school librarian, I spent most of my time reading aloud to children on Zoom for the past year, encountering their never-ending curiosity, constant open-heartedness, and unceasing desire for connection. I think we can unequivocally say this was a demanding and difficult school year for everyone—students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Yet, at the same time, I can also say there have been some invaluable gifts that I’ll hold onto and remember for the rest of my life.
Day after day, I sat in front of the computer screen reading and bringing books to life, while being present and listening to the children in front of me. Throughout the many months, I experienced such genuine desire in our students to connect and share their thoughts and feelings, as well as their Lego structures, drawings, and pet cats. During our time together, I felt like we were magnets drawn to one another, despite the small squares that enclosed us on the screen. We laughed over silly things like a frog putting on flippers to swim, found courage in stories about people overcoming obstacles, and felt inspired by books about artists, scientists, and activists.
One day, after reading a book about sheltering in place to a group of 5th grade students, and discussing how love in our hearts was something we all shared, one of the boys said, “During this time of staying inside, I’ve realized how connected I am to everyone in the world.”
…students expressed joy, gratitude, and their love in many ways, like making heart shapes with their hands, blowing kisses across the screen, and giving virtual hugs.
Yes, he was right, this pandemic experience has given us an opportunity to realize we are all interconnected, and that love is our common ground. I believe we are all connected to a constant flow of love, and our hearts seek to connect and share this love with others.
During our last online class of the school year, students expressed joy, gratitude, and their love in many ways, like making heart shapes with their hands, blowing kisses across the screen, and giving virtual hugs. Feeling their grateful hearts overflowing with love, even virtually, has reminded me once again how powerful the energy of love is, and how love can transform any situation we face.
I truly believe that an attitude and stance of love and gratitude can help us move forward out of the paralyzing fear of the pandemic and into a sense of greater trust in the present moment. Just the other day, my husband and I were sitting outside having lunch at a local delicatessen when a man in his forties, wearing a gray shirt with his company’s logo, asked if he could join us. He pointed to a bracelet around his left wrist that read, “I’m vaccinated.” We’re vaccinated, too, my husband said. He and his 15-year-old daughter sat across from us, unwrapped their sandwiches, and we all had lunch together, talking and eating out in the fresh air. At first, I felt myself freeze after so many months of Covid worries, but then I reminded myself that we were fine, and I opened my heart to the present moment. It was pleasant to chit-chat with strangers and enjoy a few moments of connection.
In my new book, The Divine Heart, I talk about love as a dynamic relationship that is always growing, expanding and unfolding, and that empowers us to face our current challenges:
“As we are called to integrate so much paradox and pain, we need love to help heal, strengthen, and restore ourselves….Born of love is hope. In the depth and breadth of our sadness, we will find grace, love, and a way forward.”
Hope is knocking on our door, and love is waiting.
We must ask ourselves, “How can I bring love forward and be a part of the healing process?” With a grateful heart, (a “great-full” heart, as Kristi Nelson, executive director of gratefulness.org, often says) we can trust that the more we choose the path of love, the more we will be a part of the way forward.
This is a good moment to connect to the abundance of love, to its energy, and to strength and kindness, and to remember that we’re capable of growing in love. I experienced that all year with my students, each of them a gift to me with their open-heartedness, curious minds, and playful intimacy. As we embark on this collective journey from fear back to love, can we offer each other inspiration and encouragement along the way? Hope is knocking on our door, and love is waiting. Let us welcome it in and rebuild our sense of community together with love.
7 Ways to Live in Love, Every Day!
Love is the most generous and healing energy we experience as human beings. When we’re anchored in the source of love, we can find a way to move forward with greater happiness and hope.
Find Quiet Moments
Find quiet moments throughout the day to drop into the depth of the love that holds and sustains us. Pause and take a few deep breaths. Breathe in the energy of love and then breathe out the energy of love.
Listen to yourself or someone else with a compassionate and caring heart. Listening is everything—give yourself and others the space to truly be heard. Being heard is healing, so don’t feel like you have to rush in and give advice or try to fix anything.
Delight in the Joys of the Season
Notice the gifts of the season that are all around us—the flowering trees, the singing of the birds, the surprise of new buds. Pay attention to how you can water the seeds of joy in your life and the lives of others, even during difficult times.
Be Kind to Yourself and Others
Practice the gentleness of acceptance and enfold yourself with love, whatever you may be feeling, right now. Place your hand over your heart and breathe in compassion for yourself and others, remembering that most of us are feeling some level of stress and strain these days.
Remember to find gratitude for all that is sustaining and supporting you, even in the midst of fear and loss. You may want to start your day with a simple expression of gratitude by saying, “I am thankful for this new day.” During the day, make a habit of noticing the things you are grateful for.
Nurture Your Heart
Identify what can anchor you in your heart during these uncertain and shifting times—is it being in nature, finding moments of peace in meditation or prayer, talking to someone you trust? You could make a list of these to help you remember.
During this last year, we’ve come to realize how important connection is for our well-being. Find ways to stay connected to life by interacting with people, animals, and nature. Share a meal with the people you live with, spend time in nature, or connect with your pets. Recognize how interconnected we all are with each other and with all of creation.
These are just a few of the ways it’s possible to cultivate love on a daily basis. Please share any other ways that may work for you in the comments section below to contribute to the healing and growth of us all.
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Thank you for your perspective on connection!! I so agree-connection is so important to well being. I have been very isolated for many years from those I love, even prior to covid, so I want to share this.
Every time I read Love Connects Us something new touches me. So much is encouraging and inspiring. I especially appreciate that the Practice Listening section includes listening to myself. Giving myself “the space to truly be heard” has not only been healing, but also has increased my ability to extend this same spaciousness to others when listening to them. Thank you, Colette!
Heidi, It always strikes me how powerful true listening is–it is truly a gift of love we can give to ourselves and others. Thanks for highlighting that practice. Thanks! Colette
The pandemic devastated so many communities, separating loved ones, and creating social disconnection.. The examples of simple human connection highlight an important idea (also made in Colette’s book): that paradox and pain can be more easily understood, and integrated, in a spirit of love and connection. And, I find this a wise and grounding question for our times: How can I bring love forward and be a part of the healing process? Thank you for your wisdom Colette!
Thank you, Veronica, for highlighting the value of the question I am inviting us to ask ourselves: How can I bring love forward and be a part of the healing process? Peace, my friend!
Thank you Colette, your essay is beautiful. ❤️🙏❤️
These are such loving ways to cultivate hope and connection. The fifth grader was so right about how we have felt more connected to the world! even as we have been isolated. What a gift the children had in your reading to them!
The reading was definitely mutual, a circle of giving and receiving, which is what the flow of love is. Thanks, Liz!
Valuable suggestions for sustaining the most essential component of trust. As a therapist, I rely on such as these for both self-care and responding to others.
Dave, thank you for bringing in the “essential component of trust” into this conversation.
Being kind to ourselves and others is such a compassionate way to live each day. I try to find one way each day to be kind to myself and someone else. It is amazing how this can change how I feel about myself and the other person. This is a new practice for me. I hope to stay with it!
I will join you in the practice, “to find one way each day to be kind to myself and someone else.” Thank you, Mary!
As a clinical psychologist I know that the most important ingredient I can bring to my clients is presence in the form of unconditional love. Colette’s voice and reflections on love are a beautiful affirmation of this. Much gratitude my friend💕🙏🏼
Mary Ann, thank you for your words, “the most important ingredient I can bring to my clients is presence in the form of unconditional love.” I hear it as an intention and a practice.
Taking time to do a body scan can be very helpful for those of us who struggles with anxiety. It helps to relax and release tension and is an instrument of self love.
I really appreciate body scans and conscious relaxation. Thanks for sharing that Carol!
Thank you for telling your stories of being with your children over the past year and of eating lunch with a man and his daughter. I didn’t think I had anything to add to your list of ways to cultivate love, but then I realized that offering my affirmation of what you have done to create connection creates more connection.
I love that you said, “offering my affirmation of what you have done to create connection creates more connection.” So true.