By Nanci G. Hutson The News-Times, Danbury, Conn.
Carla Barzetti and Scarlett Lewis didn't meet until after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, when Lewis' son, Jesse, was one of 20 first-graders and six educators murdered that morning.
But the two women, one a former airline pilot and the other a published author, share a passion for the belief that the choice between love and hate must always be love. It's a message they want to spread to a global audience.
On a recent evening, the two women sat underneath a "Choose Love" banner in the incense-filled barn at Sticks and Stones Farm to unveil a global healing project conceived by Barzetti and sponsored by Lewis and her foundation: a Web site where people can access short videos on meditation and other healing exercises.
"When people calm down, they are able to make loving choices," Barzetti said.
The site's address is www.allcalmdown.com. The videos are also posted on YouTube.
Donors are helping to cover the project's $5,000 cost, Barzetti said.
In one video, Barzetti leads a group of two dozen people, many seated on oversized cushions on a barn floor, through a 15-minute guided healing exercise that includes movement, breathing and tapping the energy in the room. She considers the exercise a form of "intense prayer."
Other videos will target teenagers and pregnant women -- to avoid passing stress to the fetus -- as well as general audiences. The women also are collaborating on a "guided healing" curriculum for school-age children.
Lewis endorsed the project as one that intersects with her own endeavor to spread the message he left on a kitchen chalkboard: Nurturing, Healing, Love.
"This was a message of comfort for his family and friends, and a mission for the world," said Lewis, who wrote a book about her own healing journey using her son's words as the title.
For Barzetti, the importance "choosing love" cannot be overstated.
In 2000, her twin brother, Chad Bates, was attacked by three youths who hit him with a brick and put him in a coma. One of the boys was sent to prison.
"I had so much hatred," Barzetti recalled.
Then one day she decided to write the imprisoned youth a letter.
"I'm going to stop hating you right now," Barzetti wrote, thanking him for not killing her brother, the "kindest, gentlest, most loving person in the world."
She told the youth she was sorry he did not grow up with the ever-present love she had felt in her own family.
"You are lucky because you have the ability to change," she told the youth. "ANd this hatefulness and toughness: No one is impressed."
"I've had to forgive in my life, and so has Scarlett," Barzetti said. "In service to other people, you just feel so much more fulfilled."
Barzetti's childhood friend, Maggie Colangelo of New Milford, said she admires her friend's determination "to do something for the greater good."
The videos will allow people with little time or lacking the money for expensive therapy to meditate wherever they are and whenever it is convenient, she said.
"I love the idea," Colangelo said. "It's incredibly positive and wonderful."