“….weather the uncertainties of love….”

I feel compelled to share a write up by Maria Popova from her Brainpickings publication, on one of my most favorite artists, Gibran, about his understanding of love…

The following gives me a window into how the depth of unfettered love can be allowed to unfold as we learn to love, not just a person but all parts of creation.

“Kahlil Gibran on the Courage to Weather the Uncertainties of Love

“Love is the quality of attention we pay to things,” poet J.D. McClatchy wrote in his beautiful meditation on the contrast and complementarity of love and desire. And what we choose to attend to — our fear or our faith, our woundedness or our devotion to healing — determines the quality of our love. How we navigate our oscillation between these inescapable polarities is governed by the degree of courage, openness, and vulnerability with which we are willing to show up for and to our own hearts. “The alternations between love and its denial,” philosopher Martha Nussbaum observed in contemplating the difficulty of knowing ourselves, “constitute the most essential and ubiquitous structural feature of the human heart.”

That is what the great Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran(January 6, 1883–April 10, 1931) explores in one of the most stirring passages from The Prophet (public library) — the 1923 classic that also gave us what may be the finest advice ever offered on the balance of intimacy and independence in healthy relationships.

Kahlil Gibran, self-portrait

Speaking to the paradoxical human impulse to cower before the largeness of love — to run from its vulnerable-making uncertainties and necessary frustrations at the cost of its deepest rewards — Gibran offers an incantation of courage:

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.
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;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

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.

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.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

Illustration from An ABZ of Love, Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite vintage Danish guide to sexuality

In a sentiment John Steinbeck would come to echo a generation later in his beautiful letter of advice on love to his teenage son, Gibran adds:

Think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

The Prophet remains a timeless trove of wisdom and a mighty clarifying force for the turbidity of the heart. Complement it with Gibran on why we make art and his stunning love letters, then revisit Adrienne Rich on how honorable relationships refine our truths, Erich Fromm on the art of loving and what is keeping us from mastering it, Leo Tolstoy on love and its paradoxical demands, and this wondrous illustrated meditation on the many meanings and manifestations of love.”

Tapestry

Moment by moment

The scroll lengthens

The weave thickens

History in the making 

Each day an event

When comes the pivotal point

No one ever knows

Arrivals departures 

The stream goes on

Yet the accumulative effect

Undeniably shapes

The future to come

No reality ever

Quite as the dreamer intended 

So dive below the turmoil

Surface above the mundane 

And soar with the stars

To a place so sublime

Where never touched by the grime 

Unavoidably part of this here time

What Possibilities!

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Stride of a stallion
Bridled with passion
Energy magnetic

Endowed with stamina
Forging forward
Racing ahead of the curve

Strength of an army
Yet soldiering solo
Battles conquering

Here is a man
In tune with his mission
Breaking conventions chains

To be that man
To be that woman
Takes more than presence

Yes you are here
Yes you do yearn
To be your authentic self

So silent walk
Or forceful charge
Be sure of direction you go

As it is for sure
That moving you are
Question remains
Do you know where you go….

Entwined

Now I know
Inseparable
Entwined
Conjoined
We are.

Like the wind
Blows and cools
My brewing heat.

Like the sun
Lights and warms
My lonely times.

Like the rain
Waters and washes
My dulled mind.

You walk alongside
Wanting of nothing
Giving of everything.

Bringing reminders
Of our sublime unity
Over and over.

With every lesson learnt
My weight lessens
Yet my gains increase.

As closer to the core
Of my existence
I reach.

How oh how
To thank,
With this heart
Of gratitude’s fill?!

Eyes brim
Heart glows
Sweet nectar
Smothers my skin.

This is
That promised land
Of milk and honey.

Satiating the hunger
Not of bodily organs
But of my soul seeking
Existence.

 

Artwork by James A. Eads.

One World Trade Center

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All for which it stands
Rising like a Phoenix
Ashes left behind
Majestic in its stance

Fueled by the past
With pain giving way
To strength and liberty
So humblingly inspired

Life force trickles on
Like water flowing naturally
Replenishing sustenance
Circling with ease and grace

By the power above, below and all around
Love flows deeper, greater
Resilience at its best
Surfacing over and over

Lessons to the heart
Never give up
So long as breath is granted
You can always rise again