Alchemy Of Love

vcxa8286“You write a lot about ‘Love’,” a friend recently commented.

“I do,” was my response.

“Why?”

“I write about love because it is what I am, what I am learning, and what I want to understand more of before I leave this world.”

And then, in the style of Almitra, the High Priest of Orphalese, she said… “Tell me what you know about love…”

Love is being truly alive. Living your life wide open without really knowing what that looks like. Having no concept, image, or preconceived notion in your mind.

Love is saying, “Yes” to being fully alive in who you are each and every moment of your existence. It is everything you are — your sorrow, your joy, your life, and your death. It is the sacredness of your being. Love is your true nature, that which you are. Love is the core of everything you do. Love is the expression of your own beauty. Your god essence.

Love is not the picture Hollywood paints it to be. That is the image of romantic love, which is only a minute aspect of love. Romantic love gets too hung up on the other who is merely a vehicle through which you can express your love, not what love is.

“What is ‘Romantic Love?'”

Romantic love is the seeking of love, your true self, through another person rather than finding it within yourself. It occurs because we see parts of who we are in the other and make the attempt to love ourselves by loving the other person. We use the expression “falling in love” because the other becomes the object of our love rather than the vehicle of our love.

“Can you extrapolate on this?”

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In the photograph above, a fire burned an image into the tree. In this image, I see the goddess juggling the fire between her hands. The fire leaves one hand and enters into the other. This is a picture of how I believe romantic love is meant to be. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, our love gets trapped in the other person and we become dependent upon the other to return our love to us. For reasons of ego or lack of understanding, the return often does not occur. We feel unloved. When we love another person, our love ideally flows through that person back into us and we never therefore feel unloved. The other becomes the vehicle for our love not the container. Our needs and the needs of the other are fulfilled simply by being who we are.

“Where do I find love?” She asked.

Love is not something that is “out there.” It is in you always. You don’t find it in the way you find a quarter laying on the sidewalk. You discover love by remembering those times in your life when you felt connected to everything alive. When there existed no discord or tension of opposites in your being. Love needs you for its existence. You welcome the love you are into your consciousness just as the tree welcomes the flame which will consume it. Love consumes you so all you are is love. You know that but you just forgot.

“Once I rediscover the love I am, what do I do with it?”

Your whole being becomes an expression of the love you are. You burn with a flame which is visible to everyone you meet. You become the beacon you are here to be. You leave pieces of yourself behind wherever you go. You give yourself away and seek nothing in return. “For love is sufficient unto love…”

One Word

FCF38573-2929-4C13-B491-12CD9E788FD0But above all, the poet, is he who names things… And that’s the poet’s mission, profound and sacred communication. And another word for that is love. – Carlos Fuentes

If I could have but one word to describe you,
it would not be a word like “love” or “God,”
for although both of you—are true.
One carries too much baggage,
the other too many expectations.
This word would be a new word.
One created solely to describe you.
A word not encased by the rules of language
nor previously written with the hand of man.
This word would be a simple word, perhaps only
one syllable long, and yet it would embrace all
the known and forgotten languages of life.

A breath whispering in the blackness of space,
not audible to the expanding galaxies,
not conceivable to the floating nebula.
The power of this word lies not upon it’s surface
but in qualities hidden from view, like invisible stars—
It unfolds with knowledge, wisdom, magic and intent.
This word would encompass your radiance,
extol the benevolence of your heart,
be made whole by your acceptance.
Humbled, only from your eyes’ light,
This word would be a new word,
one never spoken or even thought.
This word would be the one word to describe you,
but one in which I will not live, confined.
This word, this one word, will live inside of me.

The Grace Of Small Gestures

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24I was surprised and angry a few weeks ago when I read an interview conducted by Nina Utne with Stephen and Ondrea Levine on marriage and love*. A portion of her interview is quoted here.

S: People who get into relationship who don’t already have something that’s more important to them than themselves—generally spiritual practice and growth, or maybe service work—are less liable to stay with the process when the relationship doesn’t give them exactly what their desire system wishes for.

N: Someone wrote that 35 percent of his relationship comes from the fact that he brings his wife a cup of coffee in bed every morning.

S: What a weak relationship! Boy, that’s a miserable relationship. This guy better get himself another hobby!

I was nearly blown off my feet by Levine’s response. How could he so easily dismiss a morning ritual shared by this couple that enriches their relationship — a ritual that has lasted for as long as their marriage?

El is an independent contractor who doesn’t have to answer the 6:15 am call of the alarm clock as I must. After my shower and preparation for the day, I make a cup of tea for myself and bring her a cup of coffee in bed. She loves coffee and looks forward to her morning cup while reading email. Isn’t part of loving someone being in service to that person?

The two kittens, sisters from the same litter, are constantly licking and washing each other. Monkeys continually preen one another. Whose to say these aren’t  acts of love? Maybe not on the same level as Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Jesus but in my opinion these small ritualistic gestures rank high on the spiritual meter.

As a young boy, my mother taught me to stand when a woman enters the room, to walk on the outside of the sidewalk when in the company of the opposite sex and to open doors for women and allow them to proceed first. These manners, as she called them, have for me become gestures of love and appreciation for the people in my life as well as a stranger I meet on the street. I am well aware that the 12 o’clock stagecoach is not going to splash muddy water on my partners petticoats but I still walk on the outside because I want her to be safe, to know that I care about her well being. It is just another small gesture of my love.

Tomorrow morning around 7 o’clock, I will grind the beans, steam the soy milk, add just a touch of raspberry syrup and mix it with that black elixir from the expresso machine. It is for me a ritual, a solemn ceremony; a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. I will carry this cup of coffee into the bedroom and present it to my love. In return I will receive a gracious thank you and a kiss. A small gesture of her love for me.

*Utne, Nina. “Pillow Talk — A Conversation With Stephen and Ondrea Levine About Lust, The Meaning of Marriage and True Intimacy.” Utne — Understanding The Next Evolution. March-April 2006: 52 – 55.

The Crushing Weight Of GoodBye

FCF38573-2929-4C13-B491-12CD9E788FD0She told him what had kept her away was Death. But he rejected that excuse—for Death, he said, can never come between lovers. — Maguib Mahdouz

I never thought the last time we said,
“Good bye,” would be the last time.
If I had known, I would have done it differently.
I would have said to you one more time,
“I love you.” Though I told you all the time,
this time would have been different— if I had known.
Our last embrace would have been much
tighter and a lot longer. Our last kiss,
more than just a brief touching of lips.
It would have been a most soulful kiss.
The kind that made you tingle with anticipation.
The last time we made love would not have been
so rushed by flight schedules and other lives—
If I had known it would be the last time
I would look into your liquid blue eyes,
I would have searched more deeply for reassurance
that you were coming back to me.
I would have made sure we had enough time
to complete the book I was reading to you.
If I had known it would be the last time
I would touch you, I would have defied the Lords
of our Life and Death, the very fates themselves
would be unraveling the threads of death they weave.
For if I had known it would be the last time I would
ever see you, I would never have said, “Goodbye.”

Alicia Keys (January 25, 1981 -)

Listen To Alicia Keys sing Like You’ll Never See Me Again here.

Life’s Greatest Transition

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24You are going to see wonderful things that no tongue or pen can adequately describe. Well, when you return to earth again, do you suppose you can make people believe the story of your experiences? Never! Be thankful if you are the possessor of a secret joy yourself, and do not attempt to impart it to others who will only repel and mock you. — Marie Corelli

The Dark Night of My Soul came on June 29, 2003, fifteen years ago today, when I received the call that Kathleen had drowned while on a river rafting trip in Mexico.

Although our views on death were different, I believed if she could Kathleen would try to contact me but I had no idea how this would happen. I was working on instinct, past experiences, or a combination of both. I closed the windows, lit candles, and turned off all things electric except for the music. I sat down on the floor upon a pillow Kathleen had made from an old Indian blanket. I wrapped the bedspread from our bed around me and waited. I looked at the clock on the CD player, as if there was some appointed hour at which she would show up. As if time mattered in that timeless world of which she was now a part. It was 9:33 PM. “Breathe,” I said to myself and closed my eyes.

Kathleen loved clouds and often spoke of those in New Mexico as her favorite. Seen through her enchanted blue eyes clouds became floating ambassadors of radiant beauty. That evening she appeared to me as a cloud of energy. Her edges were undefined and although I could feel her presence in the room, I had difficulty discerning her visually while the candles were still burning.

Her spiritual energy softened the candles and the walls. They seem to lose their solidness. The flame burned free of the candle’s wick and the walls appeared made of vapor rather than plaster. It was still my room but had been changed to accommodate her presence. She did not communicate to me through words but in thoughts and she knew my thoughts before I could even formulate them in my mind. But first she responded to my heart.

“O honey, I know the pain is great on your soul but please don’t grieve for me. My spirit is free. I know you wish I were there and I am and will always be just in a different way. I know you worry if I were in pain or were afraid. I was nether. I surrendered to the river and it brought me here.”

For clarification I am writing our communication as dialogue but there were no words spoken by either of us. It was as if her thoughts were injected directly into some part of me which understood. There existed between us a shared consciousness which overrode the normal barriers of human speech between one person and another. It was a direct transmission of thoughts. This transmission bypassed the brain. There was no translation of thought into words.

The bitterness of mortality is it’s inability to provide comfort to ease the passing of a love one. In loss nothing works except for the loved one’s touch. I could no longer touch Kathleen but in her new form she touched me and surrounded my body with her comfort. I know for sure we were in a realm beyond the small dimensions of my room. She held me for a long time and reminisced of our times together as if it were important for her to remember one last time. She spoke of our adventures, our everyday joys, and all the laughter we shared while I just sobbed in her spiritual embrace. I asked if she would be returning to this physical world at some point.

“Would we encounter each other in this world again?”

“No honey, I won’t be coming back.  There is no part of my life to complete.

“What will happen to you then?”

“I will become part of the invisible infrastructure which supports the visible world. I am now a part of everything you see and do not see. There is nothing of which I am not now a part. I am everywhere you are.”

Years ago when I studied Transcendental Meditation I learned that everyday our lives are somehow touched by the miraculous but because the miraculous is beyond the realms of the five senses it usually goes unnoticed. Most only believe what their senses tell them is true or real. While in reality our existence depends much more on what we don’t see, like the air we breathe.

I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. It was still 9:33 PM. The contact and dialogue between us which seemed an hour or more had taken place in some fragment of a minute. My room had now returned to normal. I blew out the candles and got into bed.

As soon as my head touched the pillow. I left my body and was floating above my bed. I could now in the darkness see Kathleen more clearly. She was floating right next to me as a cloud of darkness more concentrated than the darkness of the room. She was three dimensional and surrounded by what appeared to be static electricity.

It was at this point that Kathleen’s arms left her cloud and moved toward my body below us. They resembled flashlight beams in a smoke filled room as they approached my back and floated into my body. I could hear the adjustments being made to my spine and neck. For the three months prior to Kathleen’s trip, I had experienced great pain in my upper back and neck for which chiropractic and acupuncture treatments had been ineffective in curing the constant aching. This night my pain ended and has not returned since.

Then from along side of me she moved into me, the part still floating above the bed, and gave me a glimpse of her new existence. In death as in life she was totally free of any self interest. This state of being allowed her to give herself totally to the world. In this world of absolute space all things existed as energy without form and without contrast or chaos.

Soul is something not reducible to pure scientific interpretation so I am having difficulty explaining my experience. All the energies were separate and one at the same time. There was no “other.” There was no sense of a ruler and yet there was total order. All information and knowledge seemed available to me with just a thought.

“Where all is one, one is all there is.”

I was a conscious observer still attached to a mortal body while everything I observed was free of any attachment. I tried to grasp and give a name to this experience but it was beyond thought. I now think of it as sublime but that word too is inadequate. It was an ultimate reality not confined to the limitations of space and time. It was an alchemical environment of complete simplicity without sacrifice. Time and spacial order disappeared. Movement and stillness occurred simultaneously. Love and bliss were the inherent elements of this realm. The mere fact of being alive was a joy to me. I was grateful for everything. All my senses seemed sharpened. I felt an overwhelming experience of love as if no sorrow or disappointment had ever existed. I know now this is what Kathleen wanted me to witness. In someway she wanted to reassure me that she was safe and at home.

“The soul lies outside of time. It is the undefinable essence of a creature’s being. It resides in everything which exists. The soul is indivisible and can never be touched. In this vast emptiness everything is sacred. The only doctrine is love. It is the soul which gives each of us an individuality. We each have a role in our own destiny though we are all one.” These words were  learned by me without a known source.

Then Kathleen spoke, “Our souls have blended and now we each carry a bit of the other. I’m sorry I left you so soon. Many lifetimes were concentrated in our brief time together. I have to go now.”

“I want to come with you,” I thought.

“You’re still needed in this world. It’s not your time. You will love again as great as that which we share. I will always be with you. I love you.”

She began to move away from me into the darker darkness which had gathered around us. My soul screamed when she disappeared. For the second time that day I had lost her. I tried to follow but was still tied to this anchor of a body below me. I was pulled back into my sleeping body and woke up crying for the loss of all I have loved.

In life Kathleen gave me everything and in death she gave me even more. She took me through that small window of experience which very few get to witness and in Solzhenitsyn’s words “the soul cries for.”

I am no longer afraid of death because of this experience I shared with Kathleen. Although life as we know it ends when the physical body dies, there is no death. What seems so is merely one of life’s greatest transitions.

🌹Kathleen Sherrill August 30, 1933 – June 29, 2003 In Memoriam🌹

PostScript: 2018

Kathleen and I were only together for a short period of time, but during that brief encounter we each made the world more beautiful for the other. We believed in the love shared between us. Its beauty and joy blossomed in our everyday lives and in the richness of our souls. I believed for a long time that if I had been there with her on the river that day, she would still be alive, but death happens. Its pain and sorrow is as much a part of our living as joy and love. In order for me continue to live a full and enriched life, I had to learn to accept this truth of our existence. The greatest joy of life is love, and the greatest pain is the loss of a loved one.

Here We Are, Again

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed. — C.G. Jung

I don’t know where you came from —
a dream I had long ago,
now remembered?
Perhaps we met as travelers do
at a crossroad between destinations.
Maybe on a crowded bus going to
jobs which neither of us loved, or
in a smoke filled bar, waiting for
last call before going home
to our empty beds.
I might have been a servant
in your court, washed your feet
with honeyed goat’s milk.
Or you a courtesan, awarded me
the night before battle
and my warrior’s death.
Endless possibilities
which no longer matter.
For here we are again,
together — for the first time.

I Remember

D5D857E1-5E43-41F4-8411-DECCDD41BDD0And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves — only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them. — Ranier Maria Rilke

I remember
the first time
I said to you,
“I love you.”
It was just
an ordinary day
filled with
extraordinary feelings…
The sun rose cautiously
that morning
exploring my room
with gentle light.
You, a warm silhouette
against the cool
white sheets
beckoned me
to act upon my words.