The words ‘nurturing’ and ‘healing’ are a part of the definition of compassion across almost all cultures. Love is the foundation on which happy and healthy lives are built.
On December 14th, 2012 Scarlett Lewis went through something that no mother should ever have to experience when her six-year-old son, Jesse, died bravely trying to lead his classmates to safety during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Just before Jesse’s death, he had left a message on their chalkboard at home ‘Nurturing Healing Love’, a message that would go on to help his family through this unimaginable tragedy and inspire a global movement to Choose Love.
When I met Scarlett the first thing I noticed about her was her glow, a soft light that seemed to radiate from within. Despite knowing her story already, I struggled slightly to wrap my head around how she was able to cope just two years after losing her youngest son. But after spending some time with her I began to understand where this light stemmed from. It was Love. It was a beacon, a beacon of love that was shining out from her into the world, welcoming others to join her in choosing love. Making the conscious choice to choose love over anger, gratitude over entitlement, and forgiveness and compassion over bitterness to create a much healthier and sustainable world.
During Scarlett’s presentation at UPLIFT, there was one thing that stood out when she spoke about the day her son died, how she saw it as world’s greatest day of compassion. That on that day, no matter where people were or what they were doing, they had heard about the tragedy that had just taken place and grieved with those who had lost their most beloved. It was a day where love flooded from all corners of the world to Sandy Hook, Connecticut to hold and support those most in need of it.
The rawness and deep honesty in which she spoke moved me deeply. Here was this woman who, two years after a terrible tragedy, was speaking freely about it, embracing it and teaching others that in the face of complete devastation you always have the choice to follow the path of Love, to forgive those who have inflicted pain upon you and embrace them and yourself.
Since Jesse’s death, inspired by his final message of ‘Nurturing Healing Love’, Scarlett has begun the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation in order to create awareness in our children and communities that we can always choose love, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion over bitterness, anger and entitlement. Their goal is to create a more peaceful and loving world through planting these seeds of wisdom as well as developing a compassion and wisdom-based curriculum to introduce into schools and communities.
On her recent trip to Australia for UPLIFT Scarlett was joined by her eldest son JT, a smart and gentle young man who, since his younger brother’s death, has gone on to do some truly amazing things. He has started his very own charity, Newtown Helps Rwanda, to raise money for survivors of the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide in order to send them to university. Just after they lost Jesse, JT had the opportunity to Skype with orphan genocide survivors who had heard about the shooting and wanted to reach out and share their own personal experiences of heartbreak and tragedy. But they also shared with JT that through gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion their wounds healed and they were able to go on to lead their lives full of hope and joy. Connecting with these survivors and hearing their stories was pivotal in helping both JT and Scarlett on their own healing journey and inspired JT to give back to those around the world who had shown him so much love after his brother’s death.
Now the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation are partnering with Dr. Lori Leyden, the founder of Create Global Healing, to launch their very first initiative the ‘Choose Love Movement to Create Global Healing’, an initiative aiming to inspire people worldwide to Choose Love so that our hearts may heal the World!
I knew immediately when I saw Jesse’s ‘nurturing healing love’ that it was a message of comfort for his family and friends. Even more than that, I knew it was a message of inspiration for the world. If you look at those three words, nurturing means loving kindness, healing means forgiveness, and love is compassion in action. This is actually the formula for choosing love, in that order. It is really a profound message.