How do we breathe when the world is on fire? So many nights I have asked this question as my lungs turn to stone. If the world is dying, then surely I will die with it too.

I first asked when I saw the picture of the little boy on the beach. Drowned as he tried to flee from war. Drowned as cruise ships circled in the same sea as his rubber raft.

I asked again when I heard the story of a woman born into sex slavery. Born to be owned and devoured by powerful men. I didn’t want to believe it was true.

I asked yesterday, after the play about racism. I know I am racist, it is knit into my being by the society that raised me. Undoing those knots is uncomfortable and my hands are clumsy.

My actions support a racist system in ways I don’t even understand. Giving power to some through the oppression of others. I feel helpless to make any real progress, afraid my ignorance will cause more harm.

I asked again tonight watching her performance, a voice for all of us who have been there too. Surrounded by others, claiming life over death. He could not destroy her.

Judyth Hill says to wage peace with my breath. To imagine my grief as the outbreath of beauty. She says that our lungs can transform, can bring healing to a broken world.

So I will expand into this despair. And release hope with my breath. I won’t look away, I will breathe in their pain.

If the world is on fire, I will breathe in the smoke. Through the flames, I will breathe out love and I will breathe out love and I will breathe out love again. I will listen.

It’s all that I have.

*Wage Peace, Judyth Hill.