One of my PCAs has been telling me stories from “the other side” – the part of America that is black and poor. Another child shot dead. A homeless family staying in drug users’ apartment because it’s what they can find, hoping the teenage children are not learning the wrong things.

I say, “I’m so sorry that’s happening….”

I say, “I can’t imagine…”

I say, “you are so strong…”

And now here I am, wanting to write about loving the world. I am standing on four centuries of white privilege and I know my truth is only a shard. It has not been challenged by want, violence, or hopelessness. Still, I offer it.

Loving yourself is key. When you can be kind to yourself and live gently, your heart opens.

Loving those close and dear to you (especially with their funny little ways), you strengthen them and yourself. With the foundation of love, you soar in the good times and find your way through heartbreak.

Loving those you imagine unlovable drops you below the illusion of differences. When you understand that there is only one, then

you love the world.

We seem to live on different planets, my PCA and I. My child is studying fashion in London. Hers are mourning their slain friend in the crowded apartment here in the US. But when she leans in to pull my dress over my head, our breath mixes. She and I are sisters and I love her.

I must be willing to feel the smallness of my world. I must feel my heart break for her. More than that, love demands that I know myself to be the murdered child and the one who did the shooting.

Often, when I think about loving the world, I sink into the bliss of flowers and leaves, of rain forest and deserts. I think about the landscapes that bring me joy.

But this, too, is loving the world, this prickly, painful connection.

Loving the world is both blissful and sorrowful, and this is the way home.