If I Love Them Enough

     Georgia O’Keeffe once made a comment that has stayed with me for many years:  “God told me that if I painted the Pedernal (a mountain in New Mexico) enough times, He would give it to me.”

     The artist’s comment came to my mind recently as I watched a bright-eyed titmouse, perched on the edge of the feeder, while I also savored the sounds of a couple of juncoes nosing about in the brush.  If I love these birds enough, I wondered, can I save them?  Can my love protect them from the hardships imposed by global warming and a degraded environment? 

     As I savored the sights and sounds of the birds around my home, I remembered something else.  I recalled how, many years ago, I told a wise woman of the grief I felt for the planet, of my sense of helplessnes and frustration that, despite my great love for many of my fellow species, I was impotent, utterly unable to help them survive the threats they face.  

     Then, a thought I’d never had before popped into my head, and I asked her:   “Do you think it’s possible that my love itself could make a difference?” 

     “Of course it does!” she answered, without a moment’s hesitation.   Her reply comforted me.  Someone whose opinion I respected so much was sure that my love actually benefitted the creatures I love so deeply.

     Was she right?  Well, I’m at least certain that my love does no harm to the birds and all the other creatures whose beauty fills my heart.  And I’m sure that the love I feel is good for me, even though it is inextricably mixed with grief.  After all, I am more alive than if I turned away from the love because of the pain.  

     A poet I admire, Stanley Kunitz, said it very well:  ”The heart breaks and breaks, and lives by breaking.”–April Moore 


a titmouse at our feeder

a titmouse at our feeder



one of Georgia OKeeffes paintings of the Pedernal

one of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of the Pedernal



11 Responses to “If I Love Them Enough”

  1. Diane Artz Furlong Says:

    A heartbreaking post, April. But surely you know that you have done and continue to do a great deal out of love for the planet? And what more do we have to give?

  2. Jean Oswald Says:

    I DO BELIEVE that your ‘love itself’ IS HELPING ALL THE BIRDS RIGHT NOW! As you are centered in your loving feelings for the birds, you are raising your energy field (your vibration). As you raise your vibration, you raise the energetic vibration of those around you. I think of how your smile makes me smile and it makes me feel grateful for you, but it also makes me feel happy inside. Thank you for loving the birds because by loving them so much you enrich my life too. I believe we’re all connected and what we do affects everyone/everything else. I send you hugs today……….

  3. Tanya Says:


  4. Gila Says:

    Your writing moved me. It also happened that s I was reading it I was listening to Krista Tippet’s program “On Meaning.” Her guest was talking about the Biblical idea that man has dominion over animals, and making the point that it requires wisdom and care. I wrote down something she said: “In order to have hope, we need to see the depth and complexity of he problem…if you don’t shed some tears while you are here, you have missed the point.”

  5. todd Says:

    i find this difficult to grasp.
    i would trade for love anytime — i think.
    but if i must have grief in order to feel love, that is too much grief for me.
    i think i would give up love, in order to avoid having the grief.
    i probably mis-understood it, since i don’t think that could be what you’re saying.
    i’ll re-read it again, later.
    considering how many problems i’m facing, and the grief that accompanies them, i wonder if
    nature isn’t a relief from the world of people.
    again, i probably mis-understood …………. i’ll read it again, later.

  6. Katharine Says:

    Hi April,

    Your piece, “If I Love Them Enough” was simply wonderful. How well I know that feeling of love for all of the life on this planet… wanting for all of it to be given priority over everything else …wanting to honor our creator by cherishing and caring for all He created…wishing everyone felt that way.

    Possibly the time I was most overwhelmed by the feeling of despair that inevitably follows a passionate moment with beautiful creations was just over a year ago. I had heard on WMRA that there would be a show, “Planet Earth Live” in Baltimore where the composer of the music score for the movie, “Planet Earth”, George Fenton would conduct the Baltimore Orchestra in playing the music while the scenes from the movie were shown on a giant screen above. I had to go. I asked Bart if he would take us, and he did. He, Kate and I (and several hundred others) were enveloped in sight and sound while some of the most amazing life forms on our planet leaped, swayed, fluttered, swam, soared, gave birth, lived and died before our eyes. Each detail of the scene was perfectly punctuated by orchestral music that precisely described the event in sound. Some of the scenes had required film crews to face some of the harshest elements and wait for unconscionable periods of time to capture a special moment, such as the Spring emergence of a momma polar bear with her twin cubs from her icy den where she had given birth while overwintering…and the only existing footage of a snow leopard hunting on a near-vertical cliff-side somewhere in the remotest parts of the Himalayas. Other scenes had required some ingenious logistical creativity, such as the use of a hot air balloon and a cineflex attached to the underside of a helicopter to film elephants without frightening them. For over an hour and a half we watched, listened, laughed and cried as we experienced the most intimate moments of life on our planet. And when it was over and the composer/director and orchestra had been given the standing ovation they deserved, everyone rose to leave, find their cars, head home ….I seamed to be the only one crying. I was a mess! Didn’t anyone else understand? The beautiful things we had seen here would be gone in just a few years…that this film will be put into time capsules to be buried here on Planet Earth and flung far out into space so that some day some intelligent life form may find it and see what our planet was all about? I realized that no one else understood that this was a tribute to and scientific and artistic documentation of life that will never ever exist again. I could hardly stand it. I just kept thinking, Forgive us Lord for we know not what we do…and yet many of us know what is happening and can’t make it stop. How can this be?

    I share your sentiments April, and I wish there were something more that I could do. But maybe all we can do is love….just love. This is the most powerful force in existence, so it must be our saving grace no matter what the circumstance.

    Keep on “Connecting”…you are reaching a lot of people with your messages of love!

  7. Monika Kienzle Says:

    . . .and how can we not cry silent tears, when we see a new grandchild’s smile connecting with us at the same time that we know what we are doing to the environment that he is inheriting from us??
    More greenhouse gases than ever, even though we should know better. . .

    But still we have to remain optimists in the face of this reality. After all, we are the ones who can give love and laughter to the world and help in a small way to make life better for the young ones, the older ones, the birds, and of course ourselves right now, at this time, in this life.

    Thank you, April for your thought provoking messages,

  8. Priscilla Says:

    A lovely and thought provoking post, and great responses, too. It really is heartbreaking to contemplate the impending loss of so many life forms…

  9. judy muller Says:

    Dearest April,

    This is heart-breaking, breath-taking. I feel my chest tighten as I read this. You have such a tender heart, so much love, such depth of caring. Ultimately, when all else seems to fail, love may be what we have left to give.

    April, this piece has inspired more replies than any other I have seen. And your readers share with such depth and eloquence. I give thanks to you all.

  10. Emily Says:

    This is not one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. It is Pedernal but not by O’Keeffe.

  11. Jeffie Digrazia Says:

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