Sometimes I think that if I wake up to one more face lined with grief and agony, that I’ll lose hope…that if hardness and meanness is all that’s left of the human soul, I will fall on my knees and beg to be taken from the inhumanity of this world.

“Senseless…hate crime…mass shooting…appears random…” It makes me fear for the human race. That face, those lines of sorrow now permanently etched there, sears into my eyes and writes itself on my heart.

In desperation, I turn to my books of poetry, looking for words that will describe my anguish; that will justify my tears and the ache in chest.

I cannot find them. What jumps off the page is hope. Kindness. I see reminders that nature and the human spirit can prevail and overcome in the worst of tragedies.

At this moment, I don’t want to hope. I cannot make sense of the destruction of innocent human lives. I want to sink back into bed and close my eyes and weep.

But outside, I hear the birds and the summer breeze blowing in the cottonwood tree. They are unaware of tragedy; only aware of this very moment of living. They grasp each raindrop in wish of life. They do not worry about tomorrow.

Faces of my family and friends flash across my mind – how a single act of kindness or loving word lights up the dark. I am reminded:

“Every morning the world is created. Under the orange sticks of the sun the heaped ashes of the night turn into leaves again…” –Mary Oliver

And so, I will not sink into this tragedy. I will choose to empty myself into the world around me, spreading charity and humanity and grace, one minute and one life at a time.

I cannot fix the barbarism of a single human heart that is bent on hatred.

I cannot mend the shattered lives of broken families.

I cannot wipe the blood off of the walls of that church; although I wish I could use it to write a letter of warning to America on a billboard.

But I can weep. I can allow my tears to cleanse the only human heart I can fix: my own. And I’ll start with the kindness I find there, to rebuild my tiny corner of the world. I can teach my children to love and value life and diversity and differences. I can volunteer and donate to organizations that promote acceptance and peace. I can call out hate when I see it.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Hate may win the battle,

But Love will win the war.