Nora's News ~ December
God Is Love
A man named Levi wrote today and asked about Nora's News. He was worried that since I hadn't written anything since the September 11th attacks that maybe something had happened. Levi, we're all okay. Our offices are located in midtown Manhattan, away from the downtown area where the tragedy occurred.
Since that day, I tried so many times to begin writing again but nothing came. I felt somehow that I had to be a listener rather than yet one more talker. I wondered if perhaps it was meant to be a time of profound listening.
For two months, I listened to so many people talking, so many ideas, opinions, conclusions, assessments, speculations, analysis', declarations. Very little of what I've heard brought me any comfort. Nor did it resonate with much wisdom. My heart ached listening to the stories of families and friends closely effected by the tragedy, and I had many good cries. But still, I had no "ideas."
My reaction was one of profound silence. There seemed to be no idea that I could find within myself, nor one that I heard from any one else, that could express or comprehend the magnitude of what happened. So, I listened, waiting to hear, through the noise, the sound of something that I might recognize as being Truly meaningful. I suspect it will take years, if ever, for this deeper, truer idea to fully emerge.
Maybe because of my utter lack of "thoughts on the matter" a sense of space opened up inside me. But still, no words to write. I go to my dad who encourages me, "Nora, all you can write is what you see."
Out of the horrific destruction I witnessed, I had a strange, yet very clear, experience. It's something that I've yet to hear anyone talk about on television or on the radio. It's something that's gone strangely unnoticed or unheard by even those who were covering, and continue to cover, "the story" second by second. It was a recognition of something - a sense of something - that I will try to give words to. And I want to just tell Levi, I guess this is for you. Since you wrote.
As I watched the tragedy unfold, I became tuned in to the voices of the people in the towers and of their final words. These words were literally amplified in my ears. Over and over and over again I heard the exact same words flooding the cell phones and the answering machines of the families of the victims. As I sat listening, I wondered, and still wonder, did anyone else hear what I heard?
The words were powerful and clear. They came through repeatedly, like an unbelievably clear message coming through cosmic speakers from some unknown realm that contained the weight of a Truth recognized and realized. Their words expressed the spontaneous summation of their lives. And to me, it sounded like they were telling us all the Conclusion of all their varied experiences and understandings. A true teaching which I will never forget.
The last words of the people that died September 11th stunned me. They were simply, "I just wanted to tell you, I love you."
The finality and utter completeness of those words continue to be with me and remain my deepest experience of September 11th.
It reminded me of a dream I had a few years ago. In the dream I was dying and a voice asked me "who did you love?". I was very surprised because that was the only question they asked! They didn't ask "what did you do?". They didn't ask "were you successful?". They didn't ask "did you clean your house," or "are you a college graduate?" All they wanted to know was "who did you love?" And, quite literally, they wanted the whole list! I realized that, in the moment when your whole life passes before you in an instant, your life will be defined solely by who you loved, literally nothing else.
I have a painting my father did in the early 50's, just about the time he realized that he was suffering the symptoms of Huntington's Disease. On it he writes in large, broad strokes the words "God Is Love."
At just about the same time he wrote:
"God is Love.
God is really love.....
Love is all force.
Love is all power.
Love is all energy.
Love is all strength.
Love is all health.
Love is all beauty.
Love is all good work well done.
Love is all fun.
Love is all pleasure, all joys known.
Love is all eternity.
Love is here now.
Love makes all things one thing."
(You can find the entire 13 page piece in Pastures of Plenty, pgs. 226 - 238. You might want to spend some time with it. I suppose you could spend the rest of your life with it!)
Is there anyone out there that truly believes this? I don't mean who just likes it as poetry. I don't mean that you think it's a pretty sentiment. I mean, scientifically does anyone believe this to be true?
What did he mean? How did he know this? Could it be true? Is this worth investigating?
.... If God is Love, then is the inverse also true, Love is God? And would that then mean that anything, anywhere by anyone that is not a total act of love, then that act has nothing whatsoever to do with God? Is it possible that if God is Love, and we become Loving, that we actually become God? And if God is Love, and Love is all Power, is it therefore comprehensible that the most powerful weapon against hatred, scientifically, is Love? And if this God-Love-Power is also all Force, is it conceivable that we might somehow harness this Force and direct its Power back to Love to realize God? ....
I remember the voices and the messages from the inferno again, and it strikes me that no ones last words were "kill those bastards!", "revenge me!", "go get'em!". The words they spoke were completely isolated from all our darker thoughts and feelings. As if they were purposely separated for us to hear.
"Love casts out hate.
Love gets rid of all fears.
Love washes all clean.
Love forgives all debts.
Love forgets all mistakes.
Love overcomes all errors and excuses and pardons and understands the key reasons why the mistake, the error, the stumble, the sprawl, the fall, was made."
I'm left wondering if this journey that we are all on, whether through our personal experiences, our personal relationships, our individual work, our politics, our religions, all of our seekings will lead to a same final conclusion, this final expression. With so much going on, is there ultimately, as Woody wrote, only ONE thing going on?
Could it all be that frighteningly simple? Could it be that everything we disagree and argue about, all of our conflicting conclusions and beliefs, ultimately come to naught? Could it be that all the varied things we are doing here, with all the seemingly opposing lines of thinking we are following, ultimately lead us to the same, unified conclusion? Is it possible that all these differences literally evaporate the moment we realize we are no longer going to be part of the intense drama of life?
Is it possible that when life ends we will "get it". I wonder what life would be like if we "got it" now, if Love became the active and predominant ingredient of all our choices, our expressions, our relationships, our politics and our religions.
And is it possible that the last words all of us will want to speak will be "I love you" as we have to read off the list of names with no other words allowed to be spoken or entered in the record? And will we wonder "why didn't I get this sooner? Why can't I begin again, right now, with this burst of love? Can I get a reprise, a "do-over"" ?
The final words of the victims, the stories of love from their families and friends, my father's final thoughts, and dreams all lead me to wonder even harder if Love itself is the destination of Life itself. And, if that is so, then Life does not really even begin until Love begins.
I thank the ones who've left us for allowing me to hear their most personal and private words of love. I want them to know that my memorial and tribute to them will be to let them know that I heard them. I am Their listener.
*All words are copyrighted by Woody Guthrie Publications. Any use without permission is illegal.