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July 1, 1999 Article - The Splendor Of Love

"Can't let go, can't
let go...
you and I are all
I know..."
Stephen Stills

"Oh my love,
for the first time in my life
my eyes are wide open.
Oh my lover,
for the first time in my life,
my eyes can see."
John Lennon

"...love is a river
that sweeps one away
to an endless sea."
Linda Lay Shuler

"Who you are, you
take with you."
Jody Skowronek

The Splendor of Love

During the course of our many deep and heartfelt conversations before she died, my mother apologized for the way she had brought me up regarding how I should relate to both myself and others, especially in the realms of love and marriage. She felt that her teachings had led me to a path of sorrow and pain. I told her that an apology was unnecessary but that I understood and so cherished her courageous openness, especially when she said that the old ways obviously weren't working for me, and perhaps had not worked optimally for her either.

I will never forget the night we had that discussion. She and I were sitting at the kitchen table in the wee hours of the morning. We had just returned from visiting Dad, who was in the hospital with a heart problem--that's why I had flown down to Georgia. Mom and my six younger siblings were so worried that he was going to die. For some uncanny reason, when I arrived I knew that Dad was not the one. She rescinded many mandates she had drummed into me in my youth, the foremost being that when a woman marries she should support her husband's needs and desires above her own according to the biblical "whither thou goest" injunction. She said, "Kristina, your generation has taught me that while marriages come and go, divorce is forever." We laughed and bantered a bit before getting serious again. We talked until dawn about such things as commitment, vows, fidelity, trust, communication and purpose, as well as the ever-changing, multi-faceted nature of love.

In the following years, my daughters became adolescents and are emerging, one by one, into what I call post-adolescence which is a passage that I feel precedes adulthood. Because of my own circumstances, I have never felt qualified to "teach" them much about love except by questionable example and by always being available for dialogue with them about this central life focus, similar to the way my Mom and I talked on that night eight years ago.

The seeking of love never ends for any of us, though our expeditions in search of this mysterious and magical realm take different forms and follow varying venues as life goes on. In our teens, twenties and thirties we are driven by a biologically mandated procreative urge that ensures Darwinian survival of the species but only rarely results in the societally inculcated "happily ever after" fairytale fantasies that such unions will fulfill our needs on all levels, the current version of which is finally finding and uniting with our soulmate, our other half, our One True Love.

There are several fatal errors in this sort of emotional orientation, the first being purely physical: of all the mammalian species that reside on land, only wolves are monogamous. Secondly, our needs in mating change drastically over time, particularly when we move beyond the procreative, child-rearing years into the phase of yearning for a partner with whom we can co-create by giving form to our dreams and visions from a place of nurturing humankind and thus fulfill our own unique destinies. Thirdly, regardless of what particular life cycle we are engaged in, too often when we mate intimately with another many of us expect to have all of our needs met and therefore be made complete by that union. Such an expectation is not only unrealistic, but time and time again leads to deep pain, disappointment and sometimes devastating destruction of existing familial units. While we cannot help following our hearts, we must take care not to mistake our passionate love for another human with the ecstasy that can only come from that which we all ultimately desire: union with the Divine, the Source of the All That Is. How can we cope with this constant yearning for unconditional love and still maintain our commitments to significant others?

(Reprinted from 'silenet messages', Feb.,1998)

During these tumultuous times in 1999, we have the opportunity to gently acknowledge our true natures and then hopefully guide our children in this direction so that they might design a new way of relating and loving. After all, when all is said and done, love is the only ALL there truly is.

© Kristina Strom

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