Love One Another
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.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart.
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
On this day in which we celebrate all aspects of love, I find myself reflecting on ways in which I have personally experienced this powerful emotion. More often than not, love has been the driving force in many of my life decisions and directions. It has taken a process of growth and maturity to discern the various presentations of love and one that I continue to focus intently on even today.
My story is not a unique one. I come from a large and loving family. Yes, we have our differences, but we genuinely care for one another. As a young child, I recall bearing witness to the great love that my mother and father have, yet at the same time not having the benefit of discussion about what it meant to deeply love another. It was in every way, an education by example. Born into this caring environment I had no reference for the difference between infatuation and love, that lesson was yet to come.
Given my innate curiosity, in my teenage years I was attracted to the darker side of infatuation and unknowingly feel into its grasp. The man that would become my husband was much older than myself and had already experienced many things in life. Not being able to discern the difference between lust and love, I was completely drawn in by this relationship and felt trapped by my conservative moral obligations. It was not a healthy relationship, in fact it was quite damaging for me on many levels. Similarly, as one the connects very deeply with anyone I choose to give my heart too, it took great strength and will power to unravel these connections as well as two decades of my life to be completely free from the grip of infatuation.
Thankfully, I did not leave this relationship without having experienced true love in some form. Having given birth to two children by the age of 24, I was deeply blessed to experience the unconditional love of mother to child. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to continually engage my heart in the way God intended in loving these children. If not for them I do not believe I would have felt alive during the darker years of my marriage, the despair was that intense. They are two beautiful angels that have held my heart when I could not find the strength on my own. That is love in every sense of the word.
“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”
Recently, beginning a new adventure that requires bravery and some faith, I find myself feeling tentative and protective of where I have come from and where I now stand. In reading the poem by Khalil Gibran, I identified with a common theme that speaks directly to my current state of affairs. Loving another is not remotely the same as ownership, it is a partnership that allows for both parties to breathe, grow and be uniquely themselves. It is being one half of a whole and at the same time separate and apart. In a healthy love there should be no loss of self, not degradation of the other, just a gentle and persistent lifting up. When one falters, the other steps up and carries the weight of life’s many challenges until balance is regained. That being said, a loving partnership cannot and should not be one sided. It takes both people choosing to show up authentically every day, willing participants in a transformative experience for both heart and soul. One person alone cannot carry the work of the relationship; this is neither healthy nor prudent.
Love is also accepting a partner, child or family member for everything they are not, without stipulation. It is easy to love others for their strengths, but quite another to show up each day and see the shadow side of a loved one. Each of us has this side that we hide from the world. It takes a strong and trusting relationship to pull the shadow out of the darkness and explore ways to support one another in that discovery.
Finally, as Gibran so eloquently writes “Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” I wish nothing more than to have my soul connect deeply with another. It is within the expansive and flowing nature of water that love is best demonstrated, moving and morphing against life’s many continental conditions. Love finds a way to erode the walls that we erect and seep into our souls, breathing new life and hope. What a beautiful thing to behold.