For a short while
We came across
Each other’s paths
We shared a time
Leaving deep memoired ravines
We’d be friends forever
Not just this lifetime
But the next too
As time has but one power
And that is
To changes all things
Even the great Colorado
That ran virulent and strong
For so long
Dried out to be depleted
With the passage of time
No surprise then
For our short meeting time
Of days, months even years
To wither into moments and memories
Yet what splendor
Did she leave
Laying canyons deep
And etchings one of a kind
We my friend
May no longer walk
Side by side
But footprint on my heart
Smiles surfacing to my face
And our times
To remain my solace
Where ever I sit
I have you still
Here right beside me
Deep in the caverns of my heart
Given the push from childhood
Fulfillment has become
Such a loaded word
Grand standards to reach for
Implicates wondrous achievements
Is it any surprise
How the masses strive and search
Yet end up feeling
So terribly unfulfilled!
If the above quote is to be heeded
The formula quite simple
Combine ‘today’ and the ‘heart’
And readily available
Is the sum of fulfillment!
‘Today’ so simply
Appears and ticks away
Yet dreaded and labeled
As work day, stressful day
The list goes on
With a little adjustment
Switching the frequencies
Tuning into the heart
Alas, a little kindness
A little gratitude
Even joy, laughter and light
Again the list goes on
Not the pumping organ
But the one with no boundaries
At times exposed
All over your sleeve
When allowed to surface
Radiates to share smiles
Gives comfort and spreads wellbeing
This is true existence
Acknowledgement of the given time
And feeling that ‘heart’ replenish
What great wonder is felt
Your tool appears
And the heart
“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.
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.
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.”