February 26, 2021

Well, if you live in Texas, Valentine’s Day seems like it was about twenty-three years ago.  We’d always intended to write a blog titled “Beyond Valentine’s Day” after February 14th’s love fest. But we never thought it would look quite like this.

What do you make of love when the world collapses around you? It’s one thing when you weather a personal tragedy. Friends and family rally around you. Community shows up to care for you. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” makes sense because “they” show up for you.

But what of the collective tragedy? What happens when everyone is grieving? What happens after 9/11? Or Sandy Hook? Or Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey ravage entire communities? When everyone is grieving, where is comfort? Where is love? 

For better or worse. In joy and in sorrow. These are the vows we make in marriage. And not just vows between two partners, but into the space between . . . into the sacred “us.”  And it is the “us” we are talking about here. Who is “us”?  Such a critical question in our world today. A question that unravels the myth of individualism. A question that teases the definition of neighbor, of politic, of commonwealth. 

In Texas, where the idea of rugged individualism has been successfully peddled for over thirty years, the pitfalls of going it alone were never more obvious than this past week. No doubt the “us” would have been far better off in a connected power grid. Or, in the broader context, in the connectional community of the united states. 

Pretend as we might, we cannot rid ourselves of the us. We can spin the myth of individualism a million different ways, but the truth is that the universe is knitted together with love and in community. No amount of alternate story telling, legislation, and layers of systems can undo the very core of existence. 

You know this to be true. We each saw it play out in a so many different ways, and suspect you did as well. Connection and community are the scandalous nature of love.

“Us” felt like shared fireplaces and extra blankets. It sounded like knocks on doors, phone calls to check in, and chainsaws removing fallen trees. It looked like family bonding while building snowmen with the kids or sledding down a hill on trashcan lids. It was neighborhood networks putting out messages to anyone needing to warm up or charge a phone.  It was linemen out repairing lines in the bitter cold and plumbers working overtime. We found ways to link to each other through encouraging words and shared resources because that is community spirit. That is attachment. That is survival. That is “us”

So “Where is love?” you might ask. “Where is community?”

 It’s here. It never left. It is you. It is me. It is us.