Walking past the TV at work, the breaking news flashed up.

I have been nursing sadness for a few hours. Telling myself ‘no point weeping’.

Oh yes, I see there is. For the sake of peace and power. For the hope of ending this cycle.

To honour that every life matters. And to acknowledge how violence against one person is violence against all.

I have sat with myself at lunchtime, connecting with a sense of helplessness and longing to remove senseless suffering in this world.

Knowing that the only heart I can really hold is my own.

And yet, connection to yours – to ours, to all our hearts – that’s what gives me such a sense of safety and joy.

As I sat, I noticed a particularly old wound:  the tragic experience of being punished for enjoying life. My own history. And that of so many others. Is that ringing any bells for you?

I was raised in a religion that taught us from a young age to see some people as ‘heathen’ and undeserving. Especially frowned on was partying, music, joy.

I often wore physical welts under my school dress, punished with a lashing of words and cane for reasons I often can’t recall.

So when I think of people being harmed and killed for enjoying music and life and companionship … my body’s habit is to say: ‘see, it’s not safe to enjoy yourself’.

Do you wonder how many others hold this core belief? Perhaps part of you resists joy and pleasure and comfort and peace. Utterly understandable given our life experiences.

And yet, I’m wanting freedom from it. And I entreat all families and all religions to end any form of violence and punishment against children or adults.

Safety and protection and care and teaching, yes. In full force.

But hurting others or removing a child’s access to love and belonging as a way of ‘teaching’? Please, stop. Starting with our own hearts and homes and workplaces.

There are so many other ways to express your pain and meet your needs. Ways that don’t cost us all. Ways that get you more of what you really need and we all deserve: love, trust, safety, belonging … and fun!

Have I punished others through words and actions in the past? Yes. And I celebrate the self compassionate awareness and commitment to grow more and more able to see it, repair where I can, and keep growing my skills to choose joy instead.

I have a broken heart full of sorrow for the people who carried out this terrorism. To have believed that violence was okay in some circumstances. That the means justified the ends. To believe that fellow humans are ‘others’ of some kind. I’m frightened by that. Horrified. And yet, partly recognising how that belief might come about – that’s what scares and frees me most.

Most of all – such a broken heart for the people who have lost precious life and loved ones. Your loss and grief and fear is seen and matters. The theft is senseless and cruel. Your sorrow, your rage–whatever you feel is true. May the outpouring of care around the world come right to your doorstep, right into your heart, may you have companionship through it all. May it help in some small way to know you are not alone, that you matter, that the lives of all lost and affected matter. Every single one, irreplaceable.

I want to commit to taking up the full power and freedom and love of my being right now.

I want to once again free my soul to seek joy. To savour comfort and compassion. To trust what makes my heart sing and chest expand and eyes smile.

How much do we all want this too?

We have the safety and power to keep choosing joy. That joy which is made fuller and fuller by connection with other humans, through the flow of kindness between those we know and depend on at home and work. That joy is also made full by the millions of humans we may never know – yet we are still reliant on each other for safety and peace and joy our world.

My wish for you too is that you move towards joy, knowing that no matter what you have said or done – you are worthy of self acceptance and love and growth.

For from that place comes the powerful gentleness to heal horrible wounds of childhood and separation and hatred.

You are joy. It is there in you. And there is more waiting for you. Flow, freely, flow towards joy. Trust it.

Love and compassion to you all.