“When you love, the world becomes larger.” – Eric Fromm
When I first met Grief, she was a stranger. But now she’s never far away. I catch her scent when I pass the carcass of a pregnant deer on the highway. I feel her when white supremacists fill the streets of Charlottesville, raising their arms high in Nazi salutes. I see her as a man raises a bumped-up semi-automatic weapon and blows away fathers, mothers, sons and daughters with a flick of his finger. And when I lose the people, places and animals I know best, Grief is my first companion.
She arrives at my door bearing her knock-off Stradivarius and an oversized suitcase. She claims my living room as her private concert chamber, playing variations of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings so often that even the jays mimic her mournful notes. At night, she pulls out bags of cayenne-spiced popcorn and insists that I join her as she watches celluloid renditions of nuclear holocaust and crying babies. And as she wraps her hair in curlers made from needles, she tosses the extras on my pillows.
But Grief, despite her reputation as the world’s worst houseguest, is also a brilliant teacher. She strips away the trivial, the mundane and the socially acceptable until nothing remains but the raw and powerful truth of love. She reminds me of all that we share on this tiny blue planet called Earth and of all that we are in danger of losing when we replace empathy with indifference, malignant egotism and brutal forms of tribalism. She reminds me that there is only one true remedy for love. And that, to quote Thoreau, is to love more.
And so I begin this blog, For Love of Earth, and dedicate it to the man who inspired and requested it, my former professor and friend, Harald Alexander Becker. He was a kind and funny man capable of great depth of feeling, and he devoted his life to his students. He cared about us, and we cared about him. And on the day that he died, Grief was waiting for me, suitcase in hand, in her swirling cloud of raining glass. – Brenda
Cover painting by Franz Marc, The Unfortunate Land of Tyrol