the product of teachers,
whose faith was every bit
as strong as my doubts.
When I was five, my mother was given six months to live.
I spent the next ten years watching her die slowly of cancer.
When I was fourteen, I
moved to a boarding school in Maine
called Hyde School:
There was a
dorm meeting. The dorm had three floors, I was on the top floor.
The head of the dorm called a meeting and asked us why we were letting the
kid on the first floor fail in school.
We barely knew this kid's name!
What are you talking about? We pleaded.
Again the question:
Why are YOU letting him fail?
No answer from us.
Ok, then you guys are grounded until his grades improve.
We took turns making sure he did just that.
That was the first time I was "persuaded" to see my responsibility to
It wasn't something that came naturally at all times.
I had "enough problems of my own."
Later that same year my mother died. I painted the world as people who
weren't there for me. It didn't matter that I never told people what was
going on with me because I decided they wouldn't understand.
And even if I told them, so what?
What could they have done to help?
At fifteen, that logic made sense to me.
A few years later, I began answering the phone at a suicide hotline in
Over and over I fielded calls from people who kept their pain hidden from
their friends and families.
When I was twenty-six, my oldest sister died.
That for me, was the "last straw."
What was the point of helping others while my life was falling apart?
It was just too much pain.
A friend sent me Caroline Myss' Why People Don't Heal on audiotape.
It is one of the most important things I have ever listened to.
I remember where I was when I first heard it.
I saw how my pain was going to bury me alive.
Yet my resistance kept me far from the healing I needed.
I learned the only way out was through forgiveness.
But after forgiveness, then what?
My mother and sister were gone no matter who I forgave.
All I could see were my "losses."
I immersed myself in the teachings of Ram Dass, Ron Roth, Caroline Myss,
Pema Chodron and many others, I came to realize that the real healing came
when I saw pain as a teaching and not something to be avoided at all costs.
Pain can be denied, numbed away or hidden. Yet the core layer of all non
physical pain is love. Loss points to something we once had. Grief points to
someone we once loved and still miss. Pain as a feeling made me sad and
angry. Pain as a teaching showed me the love beneath. It also showed me that
I was still alive. There was still hope.
I could love the people I still had in my life and there are people who
could be in my life if I opened my heart.
Some years later I began to work for a dating service. I've had the
privilege to interview thousands of people. I began to see and understand
the great love people have in their hearts. Not just love for relationships,
but for families and friends.
The challenge is that pain can make us forget that love.
And while love may be inside us, it is not always shared.
Every single human being on this planet is part of a family.
Yet our families can quickly be reduced to just those in our families we
Can we love those we do not trust?
Can we trust those we do not love?
Love can neither turn us into a doormat nor protect us from every danger.
Love is simply the chance to be alive with the world.
Love is not an act of trust.
It is an act of faith.
Somewhere in the world:
-Is a person who has given up on their life.
-Is a person who is afraid to love anyone again.
-Is a person who has told no one how much pain they're really in.
It doesn't take a terrible tragedy to close a person's heart.
A closed heart for any reason, big or small, is a terrible tragedy.
Imagine a hole the size of a canyon. Pretend the hole is someone's pain.
What good would a teaspoon of dirt be to fill that hole?
If it is the first teaspoon of dirt, it probably won't even be noticed.
But if it were the one-millionth teaspoon, that might ease the pain enough
to give hope.
Not because we hope the pain will end.
But because love, however small an offering, is still love.
Some people don't need to see a million teaspoons to remember their life is
Sometimes it takes only one.
That's a gamble worth taking.
However much love is needed,
it has to start somewhere.
This is my offering.
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