Friday, May 06, 2011

what this world needs: more lightness and more love

Years ago, our children received the book "The Man Who Walked Between The Towers" as a gift.


We have really enjoyed this book. Not only because it has fantastic illustrations, but because the true story of a man walking on a tightrope stretched 140 feet between two buildings ... 1,340 feet in the air ... is a real page turner.


The man's name was Philippe Petit.


He was a street performer who loved to juggle and ride a unicycle ... but most of all, he liked to walk on a rope he tied between two trees.


Philippe had dreams, though.

He dreamed of tying a rope between the two towers and walking across the air in the space between. So, he pulled together a team of friends and they put his plan in to action.


It wasn't easy carrying 440 pound reel of steel cable up 180 stairs to a roof.

Nor was it easy shooting an arrow across a 140 foot expanse to secure the line.

It took several hours to get the cable in place.

But once they did, Philippe stepped out in to thin air, over New York City on the morning of August 7, 1974.


Very soon, people a quarter of a mile below, noticed something far in the sky above them...


Could it be?

Was it possible?

Someone was WALKING on a tightrope between the towers?


The police were summoned.

But they had to wait for almost an hour, while Philippe walked, danced, ran, knelt and laid down upon the line, staring up at the sky above, while the city bustled about, beneath him.


Eventually, Philippe surrendered and was arrested.


The judge sentenced him to community service, by performing for the children of the City.

I'm not sure if it's more unfathomable that someone would have it within themselves to formulate a plan to walk between the two towers ... or that someone would have it within themselves to formulate a plan to knock the two towers down.



I thought it was interesting that out of the blue, with no prompting from me, the children selected this story to read one night this week before bed time. As I concluded the story, the children wanted to know, "Why aren't the towers there anymore?"

"Because they were knocked down," I told them.

In the past whenever I've read that story, I'm certain that was enough of an explanation. But my children are growing up and becoming more inquisitive by the day, so this week, they needed to know more.

"WHY were the towers knocked down?" they begged to know.

So, I tried to explain it in a way that they would understand.

But the truth is, I don't really understand.

How do you explain hatred to an innocent mind?

I am extremely proud of our military. We have several friends that are in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. I extremely proud of every single one of them, who have possessed the dedication, commitment and resolve to never give up their search or desire to protect our country from terrorism.

But I am also struck with an extreme sadness that anyone has died because of hatred.

Virtually every single day since March 20, 2003.

There is even a part of me that mourns this past Monday, hiding in a compound in Pakistan, the culprit of the attacks above, died. From all accounts, he was cloaked in hatred until the very bitter end.

I know that I'm not a political expert by any means. I know that I'm not even remotely aware of how many enemies my country has ... or why.

But just imagine for a moment, the possibility that instead of inflicting pain and suffering on this world, the life that perished on Monday from a single gunshot wound to the head which would be celebrated the world over, instead brought the exact inverse of goodness and love to this planet.

Imagine. That.

Imagine the sadness that would be flooding the streets, instead of the joy that would be punctuated around the globe, because someone died.

Dr. Martin Luther King said it best, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Tonight, I tucked my precious children in to bed and then I sat down to read the newspaper. On the front page was the story of a 23-year old man who lived five miles from us. He was killed in an Afghani combat earlier this week. My heart aches for him and for his family ... and quite frankly - for all of us.

So I close my eyes and I say a prayer for a world with more lightness.

And more love.