By Kathy Harwood Long
Dear friends, I’m living with the unrelenting question: What can I do? What is ours to do? We all want safety for our children and each other, but while life does not always give us what we want, we can bring what we most want to life. Right now, hundreds and thousands are providing the essential healing ingredient to Michigan State University students and their families—kindness, compassion, and community.
A dear friend once said:
The antidote to fear is love. The antidote to despair is community.
What can we do to generate healing for ourselves, our children, our families, and our communities? I’m inviting monthly learning about the ways, and the power of love, starting with our family.
Children often lead us, demand of us! to learn more about love. For our own sanity, and when affected by traumas, we learn to:
- Show up and be more present.
- Create stability through consistency.
- Be nurturing by listening and being available to listen.
- Stop scaring our children with doom and gloom news.
- Reduce violent films and games while providing calming and creative family activities.
It may seem less obvious how to apply these same actions to our extended family or communities, especially when there is division, anger, blame, estrangement, addictions, and so much more, working in opposition to love and harmony. The great teachers of non-violence, like Gandhi, Jesus, and Antoinette Tuff, knew being more present through prayer (see the Family of Light prayer in the January issue of BMS Guide) is the beginning of loving actions that disarm fear and hatred. Creating consistent comfort by sending encouraging and affirming texts or cards, plus nurturing listening skills instead of the ego-centric “I can fix this” mentality, fosters safety and a reduction of defensiveness. It will be counterculture to consider forgiveness instead of blame and shame, but forgiveness unties the chains that imprison us. Not them. Anonymous forgiveness practices have proven to free up both parties. Ancestral forgiveness unlocks chronic patterns in DNA–and darn narcissistic attitudes!
I, and we, will not be perfect at any of this, but we can make steady progress with the power of love through our families and communities. Let’s do this!
Kathy Harwood Long: mom, minister & mentor
Senior Minister, FriendsofUnity.org
Youth & Family Ministry Liaison, GreatLakesUnity.org
Legacy Teacher at UplandHillsSchool.org