October 3, 2023

Weeping in Whataburger: a Tale of Choosing Love.


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Weeping in Whataburger.

The incongruity and surreality of this phrase brought a smile in the midst of agony.

There are many credible reasons to weep in Whataburger, or any of the clone fast food machines that inescapably mark the landscape of North America. It’s actually a very logical response. I don’t doubt the deep depression that runs through the veins of this system, built as it is on destroying health and numbing emotions and vitality.

This particular insuppressible weeping arose from a heart breaking open in excruciating agony. It paid no heed to the few lone morning workers, huddled over the light of their phone screens. It paid no heed to the stark lighting and cold air. It knew only the truth of loving more, and that this love is a fire that burns away everything false.

In being here for this, love has more space to know itself beyond changing form in the cycle of incarnation, facing the agony and finding oneself again “alone” in a body. Soul in a body, on a planet, flying through space at 67,000 miles an hour. Why?

Many of the humans who find their way through Whataburger, or any of its compatriots, have their own existential agonies inside, just swallowed down with some burger and a gulp of fizzy sugar. Soothing the burn and fueling the labor machine. I have only compassion for us all, alongside grief.

We all do it to some degree—consuming food and drink, scrolling, watching screens, sex, alcohol, drugs, work, business, relationships. All have a place in turning down the volume of feeling in a world overflowing with beauty and turned upon itself in distortion.

It takes so much courage to open the heart, and tremendously more to keep choosing love. These are words we hear thrown about by those seeking romance and in the immature ranks of new-age spirituality. The actual truth is searing. The truth is death to everything we cling to: achievements, gratification, identity, control, and permanence.

The truth is also bliss that has no beginning or ending. Joy that explodes cells and universes.

Love is undying. But the death of each idea and attachment to its expression is “la petite mort”— the orgasm of life dying and convulsing us open a million times over. In these times, there is a burning that peels the skin from the body. Or it feels so, viscerally. Skins of ideas, skins of beliefs, skins of identities, skins of preferences.

It can take us to the center of why. Of what. Of who. And what answers can there be?

“It’s simple. To love. And to decide that is the only thing you will do with the rest of your life.” ~ Andrea Gibson

Maybe we will be born again. Maybe this is our one precious life. But we get to be love in a body. We get to radiate this truth. We get to shape form and create from love on the minute scale of a tender kiss to the grandest visions of clean oceans and harmonious communities across this blue-green planet. Perhaps one of the greatest loves there is is in bearing witness to our raw, breaking hearts.

I am shocked to discover how excruciating the pain is as it tears wildly through, rising and disappearing as unpredictably as the winds. Simultaneously I am in wonder and gratitude that, as it passes, deep breathing as I did birthing each of my children, I have midwifed myself into more love.

The choosing is unshakeable now. The ego will throw all its best tricks. The familiar thoughts, not the least being “I can’t bear this.” But love can. Love can hold the child, the terrified one, the body that remembers trauma in its cells. Love is the nature of all things and that which creates all things.

It is the stillness before and always. It is the ineffable all. The same love that gives breath to sail the seas is the winds of our hearts.

Weeping or sailing smoothly, love has it all.

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