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. (Kahlil Gibran)
It’s not at all what I imagined. There is no clearly delineated crisis. No affair. No argument. No absence of affection. Love abides.
The predator is more insidious. Incestuous even. So close that we cannot pull ourselves away to get a good look. At other times so subtle–that we wonder if we’re imagining it.
WHAT’S GOING ON! I want to scream, but I don’t know who to ask. We are both complicit without knowing how.
The only thing that seems to ease this dark place is “presence.” And so I breathe, and soften and try to let their be space.
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Didn’t we choose those exact words for our wedding? But did we honor them?
We were too afraid.
My mother cautioned me about our incessant togetherness. But what did she know? Two marriages ended on her.
And then we multiplied our togetherness–becoming parents–collapsing in on each other while simultaneously finding ourselves further away.
It is only now, this many years later, that we seek to plumb the depth of our intimacy and reclaim that which brought us together.
Perhaps the words we chose 20 years ago were meant to find us here in this place. Perhaps they were unknowingly sent ahead as scouts.
Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
Perhaps Kahlil Gibran wasn’t so much talking about separate vacations and different friends, but about a deeper kind of space–space for the winds of heaven.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Weren’t we listening?
Given the the depth of the words we chose, how is it that we are now surprised by this season of darkness.
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.
Perhaps, it is not only between the two of us that there needs to be space, but all around us, so that we may surrender to love’s course.
…And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
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…
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.
And so, we step onto this small clearing of meaning created long, long ago–and hold fast to the knowing that our hearts are being opened to the deeper secrets of love.
And how about you? Have you been in the forest too?? And where has love taken you by surprise? (Scroll down to the comment section below.)
(excerpts from Kahlil Gibran, on Love and On Marriage)