"First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is." Donovan song
How do we celebrate love? Our culture makes quite a commercial show of objectifying this story. Yet we cannot measure love, nor hold on to it, nor even make good on promises we make about it. We can say we love, and then turn around in disappointment towards that same person in the next moment. We can offer love and find that which we extend to another is met with conditions and assumptions. This causes such suffering!
Imagine the ocean eternally lapping upon the sandy shore, or crashing in spattering froth against the rocky ledges. Each time the wave begins its rise, powerful and urgent, it meets the infinite patience and solidity of the shore. Whether it is in the form of grains of sand or a wall of rock, the shore receives the wash of the wave, and returns it to itself. Perhaps gradually over time the distinctness shifts a bit, as the sand filters into the ocean, moving the shore, or the rock slowly disintegrates into the sandy ocean floor. Perhaps this is the interaction of love. Water is not stone, stone is not water, yet both hold steady for one another, simply being in ways that do not interfere with the basic being of the other substance. They interact as is their nature, and create beauty beyond description for those who witness their relationship.
We can change the stories we make about love. We are no longer stuck with princes who rescue distressed princesses, or mermaids who turn themselves into foam rather than stand up as the true beloved, or knights in shining armor who must take on one deadly adversary after another to prove their feelings are true.
I can allow my love to be the space in which my loved ones can breathe. My love can condense down like maple syrup from the sap of trees, over long years of slow reductions, purifying and deepening until transformed. I feel the most growth from letting go of the definitions and expectations, the requirements and misplaced check lists. My parents have no criteria they must meet for me to measure their love, it is enough that we have been present for one another, with all our messy ways, in all these years; my husband can simply meet my gaze day after day and I feel at home on the planet; my children and friends, students and neighbors by finding their own hearts can fill mine.
Happy Valentine's Day. First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is. And so with love.