I did a 9/11 Reflection ride on the Peloton the other day—and amidst the many tears—two lessons from that time, which speak to today’s hurt and polarization, came to me: BE WITH and BE IN. To be with is when, no matter one’s religion, race, politics, gender, sexuality, etc., we 100% have each other’s backs. To be in is recognizing the only way through life’s messes, is to go INto the mess. While I don’t want to idealize that time, with how we scapegoated Muslims and such, I can’t help but feel getting back to the spirit of being with each other in this together, would do us a world of good.Know what I mean?

There’s something about collective trauma and big losses that brings to life the Big Love lurking inside each of us. Time and again, after disasters like Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the earthquake in Haiti, and Japan’s quake and tsunami, people have shown we rally to selflessly help one another. Why do tragedies call out the unconditional love we usually keep locked away, while much of the time we fight about presidents, masks, vaccines, black lives, LGBTQ+, and such? I think it’s because when Death confronts us, it wakes us up to what matters most in life—like lovingly being withone another in and through whatever faces us.

This is why Saint Benedict’s reminder, “Keep death always before your eyes”, is so powerful and important.

The “trick”, I believe, is to remember this divine spirit of being with and in is always inside us, waiting to be called upon. This is why it’s SO helpful to have mantras, reminders, and/or a life mission statement that help us remember what truly matters most, so we can refocus on that! In the air force we had a phrase I believe gets at some of the struggle we have with loving one another as fully and unconditionally as we can: mission creep. Mission creep was code for how as we planned a mission, nonessential, but good, interesting, or enticing, side tasks would creep into our plans and detract from getting the primary mission done. So, we did our best to eliminate mission creep and refocus our efforts on the mission.

It seems to me, we divide, polarize, and fight because “mission creep” causes us to lose focus of what matters most in life … at least I know it does for me. With that in mind:

I believe our mission here is to love first … and ask questions later, by being WITH one another, as we walk INto and through whatever life throws our way, together.

Hugs & Love,


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