“….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.”

Quinceanera

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Arriving today
With each milestone attained
You’ve been a bundle of joy
So perfectly precious
With each year unfolding
Petals you have adorned
Claiming your beauty
The most demure and timeless
With Latino roots
From maternal Mexicano
To paternal Nicaraguan
You stand so very unique
Young lady
Your quiet mild ways
Serve well to disguise
What a force you really are!
With strengths unseen
You choose the challenges
Most would never entertain
And find too rigorous and leave
You’re a boundary breaker
Setting records and heights
Leaving proud parents in a daze
“We have claim to this wonder?!”
Today, as you celebrate
Your Quinceanera
Your gentle morphia
From sweet girl
To young lady
Hold onto all
That makes you so you
Then tend and grow
To complement
What an amazing being you already are!

She

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Not all will see her
Lifetime of scars
Colors adorn her
Painting pictures hollow

Performing her rituals
Loads carried high
She integrates into the fabric
The thick societal weave

Her face speaks silence
Her heart cries wild
Breath she stifles
Suffocating alive

Ahead lay dry arid lands
Dusted with desolation
Yet seeds of passion fire love
Await the raining days

This spirit of woman
Has never come and gone
Without a mark
Upon at least one soul

Sisters of mothers never known
Bloom in past and future
Some blazing trails
Some leave treasures buried

So Sing and dance
Like nightingale and lark
Or roam and glide
As swans of the lake

Embrace the gifts
Of all that make the ‘her’
Rise to your part
As designed by nature’s Mother

 

 

 

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.

 

Reyana

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Reyana

Resting quietly
On a family breast,
Rey’nd a love
Of a sweet little babe.

Big brown eyes
And a gentle spirit,
She sang a song
With her own fresh melody.

Rooted deep
In cultures rich,
She’s cocktailed to perfection
Both contemporary and ancient.

Princessed with abundance
Yet wise like a Goddess.
Rise my lovely
You have all our love to soar.

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.