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Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Once again my mouth is agape at the news. This time, at the horrific tornado that ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, leaving yet untold numbers dead, including many young school children.

After the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, someone posted a quote by writer Frederick Buechner that says: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot since then, and again now. My children are only 4 and 2, and it is with growing certainty that I realize I simply cannot keep them “safe” from the world, that there is actually no such thing. As a parent, this is a terrifying realization, and yet Buechner’s quote somehow helps me keep moving forward—helps when my mouth falls agape, or “wide open in wonder,” at the world (which seems to be practically every time I turn on the news).

In the book The Servant, author James C. Hunter gives us another definition of the word “agape.” Taken from Greek, agapé (ah-gah-pay), means love, specifically, “[…] an unconditional love rooted in behavior toward others without regard to their due.”  In other words, this kind of love is a verb, something that you actively practice—a choice you make rather than a feeling you have.

I find a sort of comfort in the idea that I can simply choose to love in the face of a world that feels increasingly vulnerable, where big bad things and little bad things happen every day, but where big good things and little good things also happen every day.

So I can’t keep my children “safe,” but I can raise them to love this big beautiful terrible world ferociously, by making that a habit myself. I can love just as I cook, drive, talk, sleep… it can be a thing I do every day, regardless of how I’m feeling or what’s happening around me.

How can you practice love today? 


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.