To Risk Love

I watched as a twenty-year old waiter spun a tray on his forefinger beside the coffee station while he chatted with the bartender who blended drinks for the 8-top beside the water.

It was the year 1986, and somehow in that moment, beyond the fine qualities that I’d already appreciated (as a manager and as a woman), my soul recognized in my future husband someone who had the capacity to live outside the box, stretching the limits of happiness and realization and love.

I wasn’t wrong.

But first, my heart would need to be broken by another.

And still, there was no happy ending.

Love is not only an ever-unfolding adventure but an invitation, again and again, to deepen, to risk, to transcend.

Separate, we may have selected different paths.

I would have returned abroad.

He may have stayed put.

7 years after we found Love in a Crab House beside the intercoastal waterway, an every-day tragedy extracted us from the comfort of our familiar.

We arrived in the Green Mountains about the time other souls conspired to arrive here at the center of their soul’s longing.

Healers. Teachers. Counselors. Organizers. Artists. Visionaries. All simultaneously playing out the day-to-day of paying the bills, and repainting the house, raising kids, losing a spouse, divorces, affairs, house raisings, house fires, betrayals, relocations.

25 years later and we have arrived at the beginning again, the nest we built emptied, me restless for a new horizon.

“What we call the beginning is often the end,” said the poet T.S. Eliot, “And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

Our souls are called to climb, and Casey and I take turns challenging the ascent and alternately insisting, as needed, on the spiraling descent, in the dance of presence and possibility.

Once upon a time (and sometimes still), I feared such a coupling for so many reasons:

1. Infidelity (not just his)
2. Boredom (see #1)
3. Loss of self/power/identity/expression/choice (see #1 & #2)
4. Loss of love

“For a marriage to be vital, divorce must stay on the table.”

I read that line some years back and it’s echoed what’s been true for me, and it’s what enabled me, almost 30 years ago, to say, “Yes,” to Casey’s desire for convention, even while I refused to claim a name other than the one to which I, like Casey, had been born.

We were walking the 2 blocks between his mother’s house and my mother’s house on a busy road 2 blocks from the bay, when he finally understood that what he was asking of me was not only a charming construct but a longstanding form of gender oppression that would, in fact, annihilate me (and everything I had to offer Love.)

By the time our boys came, there was no question.

A weaker man, a man with less capacity, a man who was too afraid to breathe beyond the confines of culture, and thus refused the call to greater love, would not recognize the gift in my refusals.

Some time ago, soon after we built the house and mortgaged it, Casey went two years without his teaching salary. At the center of this crisis, like the loss that brought us to the Green Mountains, we stood at the precipice of realizing something true. But it was not to be.

Casey found a good job locally; one he still holds to this day.

Have you seen the film Revolutionary Road? It explores the tragic cost of stability on “one” woman’s psyche. But it may be that both of us were too afraid, each in our own ways.

“There is no such thing as a faithless person,” writes Marianne Williamson, “We either have faith in the power of love or faith in the power of fear.”

Saying, “Yes,” to our coupling is a daily act of creativity, just as saying, “Yes,” to love (instead of fear) makes you a Creator.

November 6th will reveal our nation’s faith in love.

“Faith is an aspect of consciousness,” says Williamson; and consciousness, say I, isn’t a happy ending, but a day to day invitation to love, to risk, to transcend.

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