Friday, 30 January 2009

Semi-random thoughts on love and change

This isn't going to be long, just a couple of quotes and a poem, I think. I'll be doing a post on love soon - I'll try to avoid the heinous V-day.

It's been an odd time lately: things seem to be shifting underneath my feet, it's like being in aboriginal Dreamtime, at the crossroads of kairos and chronos. Big dreams, big realisations, synchronicities speeding up.

Those will come up in various posts, the first one probably right after this one.

I've been thinking a lot about love lately: the lack of it, the desire for it, having it, what it looks like.

I ran across this quote just last night, and it was just a HUGE 'YES' - I talk about masks and personas all the time, so this just seemed perfect:

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. --James A. Baldwin

That is one of the truest things about love: it *REMOVES* masks, it does not *IMPOSE* them. Changing for someone else or asking someone to change is about approval and control, not love.

Love removes everything, revealing the essential being in its divine wholeness. Approval does everything it can to cover it over or amputate parts so it looks acceptable.

About a decade or more ago, I gave a friend a card with two hedgehogs on it sitting down to tea and their prickly coats hanging on the coat rack. I can't remember the exact quote, something like "A friend is someone with whom you can be completely yourself", but it seems much the same thing as the removal of masks.

One quote I came across twice in completely different places, within two days of eachother - usually a marker that I need to really pay attention, this is important - is by Rumi, a favourite poet and Sufi. It's even more precious because my grandfather was a Rumi scholar, which makes me feel, weirdly enough, like he's legitimately *mine*.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. -Rumi

Very, very true for me. I have at least one fortress, if not an entire country of them, built in defence - but each constitutes a barrier against love.

And, of course, my favourite love poem, from Kahlil Gibran:

Then said Almitra, "Speak to us of Love."
And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them.
And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart,"
but rather, "I am in the heart of God."

And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Amen. I have yet to find anything that captures love's essence better than that poem; and I first read it over half a lifetime ago.

And the things that are shifting, that feeling of being at the crossroads of kairos and chronos, of deep shifts bring to mind other words from Gibran's The Prophet:

And in the twelfth year, on the seventh day of Ielool, the month of reaping, he climbed the hill without the city walls and looked seaward; and he beheld the ship coming with the mist.
Then the gates of his heart were flung open, and his joy flew far over the sea.
And he closed his eyes and prayed in the silences of his soul.

But he descended the hill, a sadness came upon him, and he thought in his heart: How shall I go in peace and without sorrow?
Nay, not without a wound in the spirit shall I leave this city.
Long were the days of pain I have spent within its walls, and long were the nights of aloneness; and who can depart from his pain and his aloneness without regret?

Too many fragments of the spirit have I scattered in these streets, and too many are the children of my longing that walk naked among these hills, and I cannot withdraw from them without a burden and an ache.

It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin that I tear with my own hands.
Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with hunger and with thirst.
et I cannot tarry longer. The sea that calls all things unto her calls me, and I must embark.
For to stay, though the hours burn in the night,
is to freeze and crystallize and be bound in a mould.

Fain would I take with me all that is here. But how shall I?
A voice cannot carry the tongue and the lips that give it wings.
Alone must it seek the ether.
And alone and without his nest shall the eagle fly across the sun.
Now when he reached the foot of the hill, he turned again towards the sea, and he saw his ship approaching the harbour, and upon her prow the mariners, the men of his own land.

And his soul cried out to them, and he said:
Sons of my ancient mother, you riders of the tides,
How often have you sailed in my dreams.
And now you come in my awakening, which is my deeper dream.
Ready am I to go, and my eagerness with sails full set awaits the wind.
Only another breath will I breathe in this still air, only another loving look cast backward,
Then I shall stand among you, a seafarer among seafarers.
And you, vast sea, sleepless mother,
Who alone are peace and freedom to the river and the stream,
Only another winding will this stream make, only another murmur in this glade,
And then shall I come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless ocean.

I know not yet what these changes mean, what I must leave and to where I must come.

But I know the sea waits.

And as the water has ever been home, I step on board with joy and no little anticipation.

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