Author’s Note: This post is part of a cooperative effort of Unitarian Universalist writers to commemorate the annual Thirty Days of Love campaign, which is part of the Standing on the Side of Love initiative – a community of people speaking out against oppression and uniting in the common belief that love is our guiding force. Thirty Days of Love is a month-long period of intentional action, education, and reflection, with daily and weekly themes and activities. This post focuses on this week’s theme of Building Bridges. Click here for more information on Standing on the Side of Love, and here for more information on Thirty Days of Love.
I have fallen a bit behind. I had high hopes this year of completing the Thirty Days of Love activity calendar with my kids, filling our journal with words, our minds with thoughts, and our hearts with love.
But, alas, we have fallen behind. Our ambitious expectations have been thwarted by dinner preparations and laundry and homework and basketball practice.
Our journal is filled with many blank pages of good intentions.
We have fallen behind, but we are still trying. So this morning, we pulled out the activity calendar and set out to making up for some lost time. We talked. We wrote. And we talked some more.
One of the things that we talked about was Brave Love (an activity from February 2 – I told you were are a little behind).
I asked my boys what Brave Love is and how we see it in action. My seven-year-old son Jackson said that Brave Love means standing up for others. We talked about how Brave Love is tough and scary sometimes and how sometimes Brave Love isn’t so much about love for a person as it is love for humanity as a whole. We talked about how Brave Love is forgiveness and second chances.
We talked about how love isn’t just flowers and hearts and fuzzy feelings, about how Brave Love is doing the right thing even when it’s really, really hard. Jackson told me about how he showed Brave Love when he stood up for a friend who was being picked on a few weeks ago. He talked about how a classmate showed Brave Love when she agreed to go last in the game they were playing at recess. He talked about how another classmate showed Brave Love when he told some kids to stop kicking down their snow fort.
Yes, love is patient and love is kind. But there is a tough and clumsy and scary side of love, too; there is Brave Love.
And, really, I think that Brave Love is the one that trips us up over and over again. Because Brave Love is confusing and messy and hard.
Brave Love is an action, not a feeling. It means listening more than we talk. It means pausing for a moment before reacting. It means meeting another person where they are at, taking one step closer to bridging the gap. Brave Love means standing up for the underdog even when it means that we might suddenly become the underdog ourselves.
Brave Love is a deep breath and a gentle touch when what we really want to do is walk out of the room and shout obscenities. Brave Love is being the first one to say “I’m sorry,” even if we are convinced that we are 100% right. Brave Love is speaking up when we need to and shutting up when we need to, and knowing when one route is better than the other. Brave Love is the courage to love ourselves just as we are. And sometimes Brave Love is simply showing up, with an open mind and a welcome heart.
Brave Love is tough and clumsy; it is unattractive and scary. Brave Love makes us vulnerable to hurt and embarrassment.
But Brave Love also builds bridges and opens doors and changes lives.
In a way, I suppose, Brave Love is like our attempt at the Thirty Days of Love activity calendar: a little disjointed and stumbling, with its fair shares of missed opportunities; but filled with good intentions and compassion and big-heartedness, with try-again’s and new beginnings.
What do you think Brave Love is?