This is what I mean when I say I love you.

I say it often, repeatedly, and it occurred to me on a long walk in the deep woods that love sometimes is something that needs clarifying because we've invented too many rules about the what, where, how and why of it.

I love you.

I say it to strangers—to ones I've never met, and ones who fill rooms with their hearts and bones, inviting me to invite them to come home. 

I love you.

I say to morning, afternoon and night to the four-legged bodhisattva that shares my life. 

I love you.

I say to the sisters who have held me while I broke into a thousand pieces and maybe more; to the women who have fallen into my arms, raw and unadorned, and let me catch their tears while they fall. 

I love you.

I say it to brothers from others mothers, and more recently, more often, to my own blood brother who knows the most intimate grief of losing the first home we've ever known. 

I say it as much as I can, sometimes in the bathtub, late at night, candle burning, my own heart simmering with a desire to reach as far and as wide as I can with a love I was entrusted to carry. 

Hoping that with each repetition, with each vibration the words are encrypted with, one by one, the walls that keep us away from a love we deserve can start to seep in, finding centre. 

I love you.

I say it to the trees and to the lake I sometimes dream is the sea; I say it the earth as she crunches or melts beneath my feet; I say it to the jump of each heart beat.

I want it to be more—I want it to go deeper, but my only responsibility is to carry the message. To be a reminder, to nudge a light on in the place of remembering.

I say it as many different ways as I can get out of the way and allow it to move through me but in case this it is unclear, this is what I mean when I say I love you.

I mean that all of you is welcome here, wherever here may be. Wherever and however you find me, all of you is welcome. 

I mean that you can show up broken, bloody or lost and I will sit down beside you and hold your gaze until you ask me to hold your heart and there I will stay until you are ready for me to let go. 

I mean that we can disagree often or not speak for days or weeks or years—and whatever portal is yours and ours will remain accessible through the secret entry code you've always known. 

I mean that no matter how raw or messy or unwound you feel, I will not look down or frown upon or judge your being just so. 

I mean that there is nothing—no mistake, not a thing you can say or do that will stand in the way of me seeing you for who you are or where you are or how are you, that will ever prevent me from treasuring even the most difficult moments as they come to pass. 

I mean that I will always put myself first. My self-care is dedicated and non-negotiable—and I defend her borders because it’s from this place of unashamed holiness that keeps me strong and tender and vulnerable.

I mean that liking each other isn’t always easy or necessary and so I know there will be times when we can’t stand to be in the same room or same planet together, and I trust the current that runs under all that righteousness is one built of unwavering faith. 

I mean that I was taught that this was the way before I understood that I could also choose to be this to be my way.

I mean that as a child, love was never threatened or withdrawn—it flowed freely and vivaciously and there are no moments that come to mind that I was ever left to doubt whether or not I was loved by the ones who dreamed me.  

I mean that I can sometimes see things in the people I love or who I have just met that they might be able to see in themselves. I think this goes to say that, sometimes, you will look at me and see things that are hidden in my blindspot and if we are careful and take our time, we can provide a glimpse into places and spaces we thought an impossibility. 

I mean that you are holy and sacred to me—and for eternity, I will remind you to breathe because in your remembering, I find mine, too. 

This is what I mean when I say I love you.