Archive for the 'soul mates' Category


March 7, 2012

Having alluded to having had a sort of spiritual experience back in 2000, I thought I might write about an aspect of it that I haven’t yet understood to my satisfaction.  I wrote that “I found myself connecting with faith, joy, hope,”in my previous post, and that’s true.  I also found myself with a really strong sense of yearning.

My immediate association with the yearning was high school and unrequited romantic love, which was quite an experience at age forty-two.  I felt moved to write a poem, the first one I had written in decades, and it turned out to be about longing and previous loss, about the narrator as an adolescent and about a younger boy named Icarus lying dead on the beach beside her.  In it also figured her burnt hands, an accident, a great love from her past whom she hears singing in the distance behind her.  It started off with a question about how do you capture the emptied heart, and it seems to resolve it by not trying to possess the love of this man in the background but to accept it, to bask in it as being for her but not hers.  She winds up by the end of the poem being able to look at her scarred and misshapen hands and not hide them, as she had, and somehow by accepting his love as for her and but not as generated, in its origin, on her behalf, [“It is just what he does / for a living, his living], her heart has grown full again.

There are three kinds of yearning I’ve read about since I had that experience and wrote that poem that have rung a bell for me in connection with that experience.  One was C.S. Lewis’s sense of yearning in his own spiritual journey, another was something I read in a eastern religious context about yearning and about not confusing the willingness to serve (which does lead to a requiting of that yearning, through union with God, which does not and instead results in a “fall”) with desire to merge with God and experience that love and resolution), and the third was about a yearning for admiration and righteousness, as I recall it from memory from a recent David Brooks column.

So, to me, this all indicates that the yearning is for love, and for a very deep love.  Maybe some people hope that the sum total of the love they receive from others in response to their upright behavior will be the path to that love, while others seek it through an interior experience.  I’m going to speculate that the orientation of pursuing admirable and righteous behavior is a way, and a wonderful way, of keeping a person’s heart open during adverse circumstances.  My own experience of needing to keep my heart open was in the context of creating a family, and I knew after losing a baby, that I needed a child to nurture in order to keep from becoming angry and bitter, which I knew with a great certainty was something to avoid.  So my husband and I adopted children (which was actually something we had planned to do after having a couple through the biological process), and my heart was kept open through that (maybe also broken, but I’d prefer heartbreak to a closed heart).  When the heart is kept open, I think great things are always possible.

This leads me to my latest understanding of my old poem.  That there is, in the context of romantic love, some sort of equivalent to loving a child born to another set of parents, and that somehow I am trying to figure out how to do that, and to do it without lapsing into petty emotions like jealousy and selfishness and whatever emotion “neediness” comes out of.  If I can figure out how to locate that purer strand of love in the midst of romantic love, I think I will find the blessing in the difficulty of the situation in which I found that love, and, paradoxically, come to accept and appreciate the difficult context.

How that experience of love relates to love of the divine and to spiritual merging I am not sure, but I have this nagging and annoying suspicion that it involves learning to love myself better than I do.  I think my sense of what it meant to buy flowers might be an opening to that understanding — when I love someone deeply interpenetrated with me, I love myself, perhaps inadvertently, and that experience allows me to prime the pump and feel what self-love feels like, and from that have that kind of love grow inside of me.  I’m not sure, probably because I’m in the midst of it.  I know I try to love and help other people in a way that probably is unhealthy, that doesn’t come out of a place of strength and deep resource, and I am aware of trying to adjust what I do so that I love people and help as I can but not become drained myself.  My sense is that my struggles with this are related to my difficulties with self-love.  I think for me a huge challenge is how to love myself in the face of loss, to not let difficult outcomes that I can’t control affect my regard for myself.  And I do know that I am a work in progress (although I do have that voice that keeps asking, “Are we there yet?”  We are when I don’t hear it anymore, I think.)

In the meantime I am thankful for having great love in my life, even when I feel frustrated by its context.  I guess I hope that recognizing the blessing in that perceived difficulty, welcoming it, and developing the gift it offers me will lead to a sense of peace that may quiet the yearning, either directly or indirectly.


And they all lived happily ever after

November 15, 2011

I’ve come to think the deeper meaning of this tag line at the end of fairy tales and the like is actually an allusion to leaving the confines of the tale, waking up from the dream, not looking for an ending — kind of like getting off a carousel while it’s still in motion — and by doing this, sliding into a more timeless and contented state of being.  I think doing it involves no longer needing a particular outcome, rather than having achieved a desired ending.

Getting to the point of not needing a particular outcome seems to in turn involve re-enacting some scenes from the past and accepting this time around others’ limitations within them and the limitations of our own part in the play.

What I am puzzling over at the moment is how we sometimes remain part of the troupe and within the drama even after we seem to have reached this point of reconciling ourselves with it, so that others in it can finish playing out their scenes.

Love letter

September 13, 2011

I was speaking the other day on a piece of a text that says that “the essence of all healing is love,” and I was commenting that reading a biography of Henri Nouwen gave me the awareness that we should follow the love in our lives where we find it rather than where we think it should be.  My reading of events towards the end of Father Nouwen’s life is that the love was coming from, and through his father, not from the person from whom he wished it would come.  In other people’s lives, I think I see that the love they find most accessible is from, and through, their children.  In our society I think we sometimes assume it will come from a romantic partner.

Which leads me to my other sense of a related common misunderstanding of ours, namely what our relationship to a soul mate is about.  I hold with the understanding that we experience our greatest spiritual challenges within our relationships with our soul mates, that they are like our spiritual gym buddies, or something.  I don’t think our relationship with them is about fairytale bliss.  Sometimes I think it may be more like they hold our hand or hear our screams while we go through our spiritual labors and rebirths.

When we do connect with love from and through another person, including a soul mate, I think that love helps us in our more individual struggle to reach our full potential, in our work on ourselves.  Sometimes it’s emotional intimacy, sometimes physical (with parents and children, this isn’t sexual), sometimes both — finding a combination that suits both people can be tricky.  My fail-safe is to pray about it when we can’t figure it out — our failure of imagination should not be confused with the universe’s, and there is always the possibility of grace.

I should probably add that this is my thinking on the subject when I’m thinking about things in a more detached and less participatory way, and that I’m not especially happy all the time with where these thoughts lead me, that at times I’m hoping that I will come to a more comfortable understanding rather than that I will become more comfortable with this one.