Loving This World

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Oh, Texas.  

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry that we live in a world where worshipping to your god, in your place of sanctuary, becomes your worst nightmare. Where your loved ones are taken from you. Where you are taken.

I'm so sorry that we live in a world where one person's hatred, pain, and anguish can ripple out with such a reverberating effect.

As I wrote after the tragedy in Sandy Hook in 2012, it can make you want to retreat from this world, to shrink from life, to avoid exposure in order to avoid tragedy. That's definitely how I felt after Las Vegas. 

"The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good."

But we just can't.

I know it can be daunting to imagine that any of us can have that much of an impact on the big scale. I so admire my friends and mentors that are trying to tackle the world on the BIG scale.

But... do you remember when I wrote about Bird by Bird?

We need to embrace this life bird by bird, person by person, moment by moment. That's the small-scale way we can impact this world. Every one of us, in every moment... we can choose to do good, to love good.

I turn to Mary Oliver on mornings that leave me feeling like I could just float away forever.  She always reminds me to love. Today, I re-read this one:

Morning Poem

Every morning

the world

is created. 

Under the orange 

sticks of the sun

the heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again 

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---

and the ponds appear

like black cloth

on which are painted islands 

of summer lilies. 

If it is your nature

to be happy

you will swim away along the soft trails 

for hours, your imagination

alighting everywhere. 

And if your spirit

carries within it 

the thorn

that is heavier than lead ---

if it's all you can do

to keep on trudging --- 

there is still

somewhere deep within you

a beast shouting that the earth

is exactly what it wanted --- 

each pond with its blazing lilies

is a prayer heard and answered


every morning, 

whether or not

you have ever dared to be happy, 

whether or not

you have ever dared to pray. 

 from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver © Mary Oliver

 Every morning the world is created again. Every morning the sun rises, whether we can see it through the clouds or not.

Today, I dare to pray.

I'm not praying to a god. I'm praying to all of us. I'm daring to pray that we wake up each day and find the sun. I'm daring to pray that we see each bird by beautiful bird. I'm daring to pray that we choose love over hatred in every single interaction. To remember that "there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted"?

How can you awaken your beast, the one that loves this world so deeply, and actively choose that love today?

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.