“….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.”

Peony

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Impenetrable
With concentrated density
Tucked and tugged
Her tightness to a bud
Inspiring intrigue
What will become of her
Will she unfurl
Or forever remain insular
Slowly enticed
Her surroundings beckon
With the welcome of suns
By nurturing nutrients
She begins to emerge
Tender gingering
Her mass begins a swell
What lays in her depth
Is both her discovery and reveal
Unending layers
Uniform throughout
Rich with color for living
Graced with buoyant form
Wanting to give of herself
Her soft embrace
Her plentitude
Her deepest gratitude
Yet her bud-time hesitancy
Never too far
As some restraint
Still grounds her down
Tale of the Peony
Who is she to you
You’ve watched her from afar
But she knows you’ve always watered her ♥️

Pain

Tears flow
Empty space,
Tears drained
Empty space.

Heart aches
Lonesomeness,
Heart hardened
Lonesomeness.

Eyes search
What futility!
Eyes beg
What futility!

Can I
Be consoled?
Can anyone
Be consoled?

Memories
Flood with pain.
Pain
Slowly lapped by sweet memories.

Deep within
Strength feels stolen,
Deep within
Strength yet stirs.

Embers rustle
Fire re-ignites,
Embers stoked
Life rekindled

Life, my one companion,
Please hold me
So I feel held.
Perhaps only then,
Pain may subside.

Brother Mine

Standing in your window.
Looking up,
I see your rainbows
Grey clouds and crows.

Looking down,
Garden flowers
Weeds and dustbins.
Wooden bench you built.

I hear the drift of tunes whistled,
Guitar strummed
Barking dogs
Children running.

Imagining voices heard
With orders barked.
Questions.
Where you are?
What you doing?
How long will you be?

Yet, Intuitive, kindly, you
Made school runs,
Senior drop off
Prescription pick up
Tiffin collections.

Innovative, cleverly
Business partnerships
Rental landlord,
Humble volunteer
Avid charity mogul.

Socially charming
Coffee mate
Beer buddy
Fancy date
Adventurous companion.

Did living and the living
Grate your nerves?
Was it chaotic?
Was it tiresome?

With all the doings
All the beings
Essence was missing, lost.
We are not the sum
Of successes or failures.
Yet one too many of any
And the pot can brew over,
And all is burnt away.

You leave me no choice.
In your memory
I shall love
I shall live
Wild and full.
And my tales
I’ll still tell you,
Be them without FaceTime or text
Be them without laughter between
Our eyes and face.

You’ve left this place
Our home together
Your room,
Once my old room.
How can this be!
Yet it is.

Hoping my reminiscing,
My processing and planning,
My tears and questioning,
Disturbs you not.
Darling brother of mine
Now you are gone,
Please Rest In Peace.

 

Law is law!

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A law is a law
Is a law
Is a law!

Or is it?!

‘Every law has an exception’
Has it not?!
Or is it just a loophole?
A smart ass lawyer?
A way not to comply?!

But wait!
There is one law
Undeniable
Irrefutable
Just damned unbreakable!

Here name is Morticia
She readies herself
As soon as you arrive,
As she knows one day
She can sweep by
And swoop you away!

Or can she?!

Taught by the saints
The pandits, the mystics
The lot!
‘The day you came
Seals the deal
To the day
You must go!’

Infusing the fear
The concepts
The traps.
The great dichotomies
Of there is heaven and hell
There is life
There is death!

But wait!
Is there not the ‘circle’
The ‘circle of life’!
Just as the sun rises, it too sets
And as it sets so it rises.
The tide flows and then ebbs
And ebbs so it flows.
The moon waxes and then wanes
To wane, then wax.

Is Man, this human life, the exception
With such finality as death!
Is this all the greatness
That the mind
Can give?!

Death, disappearance of form
Leaving corpse, leaving dust.
Are we to trust these eyes?
Just because
They see me no longer,
Means no longer am I ?!
Does the earth get lighter
With every departed soul?
Heavier with every
Arriving babe?!

What nonsense is death!
Given mighty stature
Given mighty rule,
Making you cower and crawl
Leaving you shallow and small.

Death is merely opposite to birth
In this circle of life.
As roses are to mulch
Mulch is to roses.
Great icebergs to water
Water to ice.
Mountainous cliff sides to sand
Sand to cliffs.
Think a little further
What happens to Man!

‘The departed never leave,
They live in your remembrance, your soul’
This energy of life
Is omnipresent for all.

Like it or not
Understand it or not
We are all but one,
And of the grandest of One!

No law to defy
No law to prove
Ask of yourself the answer
And truth shall be yours.

Gone but not Lost

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Number of days shorten
A shining light begins to fade.
Bearers assembled
Eulogies sing out.

Absence marked
At dining tables,
End of text and phone lines.
Keys, cars and clothes
All untouched.

Cried and uncried tears
All await their turns.
Triggers.
Simple stories and songs
Photographs and jokes.

Oh my lovely!
Where art thou now?
Among the stars?
Flying with the angels?
Watching over me?

Something tells me
My yearn
My memories
Of what we’ve shared,
Is my solace.

Your presence
No longer physical,
But still remains
Warm, charming
Undeniably lovable.

You live on, my dear.
Maybe not as I once knew.
But now, in a new phase
Here for me to face.

I learn anew
Life always goes on
Presence changes form
True love never ends,
And you and I
Will always be one.