"Silent, wordless, everything was still.
You breathed us, yearned for us,
our hearts began to thrill..."
I'm not sure why Corinne May's "Your Song," brings this story to life, for me. But, perhaps, it is the message of surrender. Yes, maybe it is...the message of giving one's self to a greater purpose -- which she sings so humbly about -- that reminds me of that day. Whatever it is...here's the story.
The air was soft...fragrant with the scent of wood fire, and eery with the echoing call of loons...that mid-October afternoon in 1988. My husband was traveling in South America, and I was enjoying the "alone" time...reflectively.
It was, for me, the most beautiful time of year. I loved each quiet hour of walking along the water's edge on our small New England pond, and cool evenings spent staring out to sea from my sandy perch on a nearby beach.
This particular afternoon was no exception, it was spectacular. The bright leaves of autumn were still clinging to tree branches along the shoreline, and reflected in the still blue water of the pond. It took my breath away. I pulled my sweater close, making my way towards our dock, and up the pathway through the now empty wild blueberry bushes and raspberry canes.
Walking through the leaves, I was lost in thought. I'd been pondering a recent call from a friend. She was in the throes of heartbreak, and needed to be with someone. I'd invited her to come spend the weekend with me on the water, and was waiting for her arrival.
Love and loss were not foreign, or distant, to me that autumn. I'd experienced a fair share of recent heartaches, and I knew how thought-consuming they could be.
I also understood how lonely it felt to suddenly not be part of a the dreams you'd hoped would soon come true. And from past experience, I knew how an unexpected breakup could leave you asking the "why" question -- obsessively.
It didn't take long until I was plunging heartlong into the past. I found myself thinking about a heart-shattering breakup of my own. Wondering what had, at the time, not made me love-able enough. Asking myself if I was still "that girl." The girls who was always trying to prove her deserving. And remembering how much I tried to transform myself into whoever I needed to be so that "he" would want me. Oh my, how I'd so wanted, to be wanted.
But as I scuffed through the leaves that day, I could see -- for the first time -- that my version of a "love" story, was full of me. If I loved someone, shouldn't I be loved in return. If I was in love, didn't I have the right to expect to feel loved. And not just loved, but loved best. To be someone's one, and only, love. To feel loved, by the object of my loving. Me, me, me.
It was about this time, in my self-reverie, that a stanza from the 15th century Persian poet, Hafiz came to mind:
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
"You owe me."
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky."
I found my knees buckling with something akin to swooning. It was as if all the colors in the autumn landscape started shimmering with a new light. And it wasn't just a visual light. It was a light that actually had sound. It was a visceral light...one that somehow felt like the sparks from a Fourth of July sparkler against my skin.
And it was a light that had sound, playing a song of love along the strings of my heart, my soul, my mind.
Its message reached me in a new way as I hovered between a version of love that was full of attachment to an object of my affection, and a sense of love that needed no personal target, radiating light without any specific object of intention.
The sun was my teacher. So I let her show me what love does. How love acts.
For instance, I knew it was a beautiful sunny day. Hadn't I said, just that, a dozen times that morning? "Wow, what a beautiful sunny day!" And yet, I hadn't even looked up at the sun...no, not even once...to be verify that fact.
The reason that I knew it was a beautiful sunny day, was by what the sun was doing to...the effect it was having on...everything it touched. Not by looking at the sun itself.
I knew it was a beautiful sunny day, by the way the sun's light danced over the surface of the pond, brought out the colors in the asters and chrysanthemums, caused the leaves to turn and pivot towards it's warmth -- revealing all the sides of their changing beauty. By the way it warmed the stones along the shoreline, dried the bark of the fallen tree trunk I was sitting on. I had no doubt about the sun's presence.
The sun was beautiful, because of how it revealed the beauty, texture, usefulness in everything it touched. Not because it called attention to itself.
Then I remembered a statement by Mary Baker Eddy:
"The sunlight glints from the church-dome,
glances into the prison-cell,
glides into the sick-chamber,
brightens the flower,
beautifies the landscape,
refreshes the earth."
"It is Love which paints the petal
with myriad hues,
glances in the warm sunbeams,
arches the cloud with the bow of beauty,
blazons the night with starry gems,
and covers the earth with loveliness."
I realized that Eddy saw Love, and the sun, as metaphorically related. And in that instant, I did too. This was, actually, what I was witnessing in every breath of light. Love, brightening the flowers...painting the petals with myriad hues.
And isn't this exactly what true love...the kind of love that reflects God -- the source of all love...does. It reveals the best in everything, and everyone, in the path of its shining. It doesn't try to change a leaf to a twig, but it does cause the leaf to dance. It doesn't try to own pond, it makes it sparkle.
Until that day, love was something I wanted, and thought I needed, to feel as a sentient experience. I needed to be the object of someone's loving...a partner, a friend, a child.
But love, real love, like the sun is not sentient, it is radiant. It doesn't wait to feel love from something else, in order to be stimulated to react in a way that is loving. It doesn't take in the feeling of being in a relationship with another person, and then decide how to process it.
Real love, is radiant. It lives deep within us and radiates out from a core -- the core -- relationship with the Source of its being, God. It is not sentient. It does not wait for the permission of the senses. To find the right object -- based on how it looks, what it does for a living, whether it shares interests -- to shine its light, and illumine what is good and beautiful in another.
Love looks out from an inner vision, an inner light and sees only the beauty it naturally in the lovelight of its shining. To radiant love, all is lovely.
That day, by the water's edge, I realized that real love is true vision. It sees only what it knows is true, from deep within the fathomless well of its own light.
Love doesn't take in a collection of pixels, a body of sentiently gathered information, process it...decide to think about it in a more loving, spiritual way...and then spit out a better picture. Love never sees anything but the loveliness of its own radiant revealing.
When my friend arrived she was so beautiful to me. I realized that all I could do, was radiate peace, joy, and contentment...a vision of loveliness.