It seems these violent headlines are coming fast and furious. It is so deeply upsetting. I was planning to take my youngest son and his friend out for a fun night of go kart racing when I saw the CNN headline about the attack in Nice, France. No, I thought to myself, this can’t be another terrorist attack. I immediately went upstairs to my meditation room and started practicing my loving kindness meditation. May France be safe. May France be healthy. May France be happy. May France live in peace. I kept repeating it over and over again for about 20 minutes until I felt calm. Afterward I prayed to God for peace.
I debated whether to take the boys out or not. If am completely honest I wanted to stay home and not risk anything. I knew if I decided to stay home I would end up feeling worse and my mind would get the best of me. I truly believed the best thing I could do was to go on with my plans that evening. Otherwise, terror would win.
We got to the park and it wasn’t very crowded, which was a relief to be honest. Psychologically I feel safer in smaller crowds after terror attacks. While the boys headed off to go kart race, I had a seat on the picnic table under the moonlight. There was live music playing that night. I quickly realized it was a church worship concert filled with teenagers dancing and praising God. I felt like I was divinely guided there to be uplifted myself. My heart was hurting for this world we are living in and the joy from the worship music reminded me that despite the bad things happening in this world, the good still far outweighs the bad. I chose to focus on the good that night. Time with my son and his friend watching them play games and race go karts and enjoy music and moonlight. Life is good I told myself. I have so much to be grateful for.
The next day, while reading an article with more details I felt like I was punched in the stomach! All of a sudden it dawned on me that it was only a short couple weeks ago that my oldest son was invited to spend Fourth of July at the beach with his friend and his mom. I still remember the excitement on his face when my husband and I said yes. Truth be told, I ignored my fear around him being at the beach that particular weekend due to potential increase for terrorist acts. Again, I decided I can’t let fear drive my decisions and agreed to let him go. I never voiced my concerns. When I think about those innocent people celebrating Bastille Day by the water getting killed it makes me sick to my stomach and fills my eyes with tears. This takes my breath away. In a selfish way because it could have been MY son.
I am currently training for my second marathon. The marathon is on September 11th and I consciously signed up for this race to run in honor the men and women who were affected by the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. I confess after the latest attack on France, I have had thoughts about canceling. But I know myself well enough to know I won’t change my plans. I will remind myself to pray more and worry less. I must acknowledge my fear but not give it power over me.
It is so easy to feel helpless or let fear take the driver’s seat in life after events such as these. But I choose to feel the fear then let it go. Meditation is a great way to let emotions up and out by the way. The quicker I can move through the fear the happier I am. The happier I am the more able I am to spread peace (not more fear). I have been finding comfort through meditation, prayer, yoga, running and reading uplifting books and surrounding myself with loving people. As a mother to two teenage sons I choose to live a life of non-violence and to encourage love and compassion for all people. I certainly have exercised my right to vote and have my voice heard. Somehow it doesn’t seem enough. This morning on my morning run I decided the best thing I can do right now is to love my sons, teach them love, forgiveness, compassion and non-violence. I believe in the power of love.
“War and peace start in the human heart. Whether that heart is open or whether that heart closes has global implications.” ~ Pemo Chodron Practicing Peace in Times of War