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Beside Restful Waters

“Love is important not as one of our feelings, but ….

as the shifting of the very center of our personal lives.”

Vladimir Solovyov as quoted by Cynthia Bourgeault in

“The Meaning of Mary Magdalene”

So, what kind of cliché's help you to deepen your ‘love’ relationships and perspectives?

Love is an action.

Love isn’t love until you give it away.

…. the greatest of these is love.

Love one another as I have loved you.

Love is a decision.

I am sure we could extend this list to fill reams of paper. Yet, the one quoted at the top, which is new to me, literally caused a gut level shift in sensations.

The context of this statement is a discussion about the depth of loving relationships between committed partners. Reverend Bourgeault is sharing the evolution of erotic, sexual love from the often selfish and self-satisfying lustful experiences to the transformation of becoming ‘one flesh’. She explains that erotic desire is transfigured to a self-giving love that returns to a mysterious sense of wholeness and fullness and oneness.

Personally, this is reallllllllly deep stuff!

Yet, with a bit of pondering the waters begin to clear a bit.

Let’s take my transformation from addiction to sobriety. My early years of recovery seemed totally self-centered. I was out of control. My life was unmanageable. I was lost, alone, disconnected from any semblance of relationship. I had to sort through my character defects and my fears and my trauma. I seemed alone in these early steps.

The first word of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is “WE”.

It took me a long time to ‘see’ that word, even though I heard it at every meeting I attended. It took years to appreciate that from the first, desperate cry for help, there was someone answering my cry. My first contact person, the people at my first meeting, and now, there is an entire community surrounding and supporting my sobriety. My “personal life” is one of community. My “personal life” is immersed in a halo of sacred presence. My “personal life” IS the presence of each of you, of the reality of first snow, of the freshness of a tasty strawberry, of the pain in the scars shared in various faces and souls who dare to share........

My “personally life” is in constant change and shift. Some of these shifts are subtle, almost imperceptible. Other shifts rock my soul to the core. (I prefer subtle.)

My feelings of love are also shifting. Often times these feelings are expressed in my internal happy dance when someone has shared a milestone in their transformation – or even a mile pebble. “We’re expecting a new grandchild”, “my son’s team won their soccer game”, “Our daughter has gone to counseling”, “We caught a bucket of fish” .........

Others are deep down pains in the news of another’s tragedy – “I have cancer”, “My grandchild is ill”, “We had a serious fight” ...... These personal news flashes that hit my core with empathy and compassion.

These are feelings of love that shift my core.

Wait, what do these things have to do with erotic, sexual love??????

Erotic, sexual love is an expression of deep desire. What is at the core of this deep desire?

I desire to have purpose, to be part of a plan greater than my eyes can see. I desire to be rocked, shifted in my very center. Yes! This is truly my desire.

So how does this happen?

There needs to be an object of my desire. Sexually, this seems obvious that my desire is for intimacy with another individual. Simple....makes sense.

Why so much pain and anxiety with these relationships? Not to simple – while the object of my desire is in relationship with another, the transformation churns from within. The foundation of relationship is honesty. Honesty is in conflict with ego. Ego must surrender self to the other. Yet, when this happens, love happens. Not just love for the other, but love of self.

Yes, I am confused because the words …. well the words get in the way but I need them.

The words of Francis of Assisi come to mind

It is in giving that we receive

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I can’t have it till I give it. I can’t give what I don’t have. When I’m in pain, I seem void of life. Yet, in sharing pain, I am filled..........................

Yes, I find this terribly confusing so in my moments of vulnerability, I give up. When I give up, you are there and the healing continues.

This is why I love the still waters. When I am beside the still and restful waters, the confusions calm, the pains ease, the desire is met. We can hear the sounds of the waves on the shore and the sand between our toes; we can splash and be goofy; we can join in a drenching happy dance and be.

Hakuna Matata


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