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  • Ronda Wicks Eller

Enigma of My Love

I found this in my files and remember writing it in one of those deeply analytical moods, probably during a prolific all night marathon. It's a contemplative piece, written probably 3 or 4 years ago (roughly) - I didn't date it and the file date is inaccurate...

The Enigma of My Love

I have come to know two things (or I think I have) :) :

1) Whatever is “as pure as the driven snow” cannot be touched, for what touches it with a warm hand melts it away and whatever holds it coldly transforms it into ice.

2) The most perfect rose is a bud— not open but unseen, not touched but dreamt of and longed for, being unattainable. Like fantasy, it inspires us to keep reaching beyond and within ourselves to understand who and what we are, our sense of purpose, to know our own magnificence.

Rumi wrote “I burst my breast trying to express a sigh” and I say the same thing alongside him. What is the purest love if it is not illuminated in contrast with the purest pain? When we choose the vulnerability of openhearted love we triumph over fear and self-obsession; knowing that once the rose blossom opens, it begins its most beautiful journey toward unabashed sorrow, pain, withering and finally death.

There is no thing as “perfect beauty” in this reality. Beauty is an experience of the physical eye, heart’s eye and mind’s eye… and each individual processes it differently. Because our perception differs from one person to another, it is inconstant, inconsistent and unattainable… even though we sense its existence in one form or another and strive toward it. It is in the same context that we sense, search and strive with futility toward “perfect love”.

In his lectures about “The Messiness of Life” Rabbi Irwin Kula states that “the more you allow yourself to unfold, the less you will unravel” and he later states that “the place that you unravel the most is in yearning for love” … “The messiness of love is the necessary path to greater intimacy … intimacy is the product of how many times we fall in and out, in and out, in and out of love with the same person”. One of the greatest pieces of Jewish wisdom about love is that “Love always upsets balance”.

This is reinforced by PHI, the Golden Mean where Physical and Spiritual Existences assume opposite sides of the balancing scale and Love rests in between (having components of each). By extrapolation, it means that if we yearn for Physical Love and begin to unravel then we must develop a greater Spiritual Love in order to counter-balance and keep it in proper perspective, and the corollary is also true. Kahlil Gibran wrote “But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” He also wrote: “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” Brokenness is on the inside of every relationship. There is nothing as whole as the broken heart.

In our souls we know that at some other time we have touched perfection and it has melted away and soul-memory is the reason we yearn for it in a physical reality. We strive to recreate it in its most challenging form, love, and we are most aware of perfect love when it seems to be its furthest from us. We romanticize it in every cultural art (poetry, songs, artwork, sculpture, etc.), labouring and observing our own and others’ attempts through these creative faculties as well. “We burst our breasts trying to express a sigh!”

C.S. Lewis wrote, “We read to know we are not alone” and I feel compelled to add the inverse, that “We write to let others know that they are not alone” but the essence (the well-crafted fictitious story) can incite the same emotions as the real life situation. Fortunately, we know we are reading a story because we're holding the book in our hands. If we were right inside the storyline it would be harder to tell, if not impossible. Considering this, we see how easy it can be for people to criticize the love they have, sensing some obscure lack of authenticity and desiring only what they cannot attain (that perfect love). When people focus on this, they become more easily frustrated in their love relationships and are quicker to part with them. Because change is inevitable in every aspect of life, marriages fail when partners fail to change with it— when they do not understand that they will fall in and out of love with their partner time after time (which, in doing so, creates greater intimacy). Kula says “Genuine love is loving someone the way they are AND the way they will be”.

Personally, I have unraveled myself in my yearning for both physical and spiritual love and I have died in my pain, recreating myself as a new bud each time. As perennial as a flower, I have traversed every season of Love. I have rebelled and spent my time as a closed bud but discovered that when I am that, I lack purpose because I am unattainable. Still, I have found my greatest Love in separating myself from it - to feel both its joy and pain daily - more often than not. I am not finished unfolding, but I am unraveling less than ever. I am not “as pure as the driven snow” although one past lover still swears that I am - but he has touched my innocent purity and experienced its melting away to the point where I had to retreat, in favour of a colder existence, so that I could recover as much of it as possible.

In spirit I know that unattainable love but in the physical world I am prepared for its ebb and flow so that I might experience it acutely (most powerfully in joy, most powerfully in pain) and, as I am a poet, I must write about it…

to let others know that they are not alone.

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