Love. But how do you make it last?

I loved G. Paltrow’s issue of Goop today. All about love and how to sustain it long term. See below.

I especially enjoyed an excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s essay on marriage “Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping; For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together; For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

But, the most meaningful bit of the issue came from Cynthia Bourgeault’s sermon for her daughter’s wedding. A new and informative take on the most popular wedding hymn of all time.

I Corinthians 13:

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

If you understand and recognize what each of these four phrases means and entails, you will be able to practice conscious love in all circumstances of your life.

“Love bears all things…” But this does not mean a dreary sort of “putting up with” or victimization. There are two meanings of the word bear, and they both apply. The first means “to hold up, to sustain” – like a bearing wall, which carries the weight of the house. Love “holds up and sustains.” You might say this is its masculine meaning. Its feminine meaning is this: to bear means “to give birth, to be fruitful.” So love is that which in any situation is the most life-giving and fruitful.

“Love believes all things…” This is the most difficult of the four instructions to understand. I know a very devout Christian lady back in Maine whose husband was philandering and everyone on the island knew it, but she refused to see it because “love believes all things.” But this is not what the words mean. “To believe all things” does not mean to be gullible, to refuse to face up to the truth. Rather, it means that in every possible circumstance of life, there is a higher and lower way of perceiving and acting. There is a way of perceiving that leads to cynicism and divisiveness, a closing off of possibility; and there is a way that leads to higher faith and love, to a higher and more fruitful outcome. To “believe all things” means always orient yourselves toward the highest possible outcome in any situation and strive for its actualization.

“Love hopes all things…” Generally, we think of hope as related to outcome; it is a happy feeling that comes from achieving the desired outcome, as in, “I hope I win the lottery.” But in the practice of conscious love you begin to discover a different kind of hope, a hope that is related not to outcome but to a wellspring…a source of strength, which wells up from deep within you, independent of all outcomes. It is the kind of hope that the prophet Habakkuk speaks of when he says, “Though the fig tree does not blossom and the vines bear no fruit, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” It is a hope that can never be taken away from you because it is love itself working in you, conferring the strength to stay present to that “highest possible outcome” that can be believed and aspired to.

Finally, “Love endures all things.” But there is only one way to endure. Everything that is tough and brittle shatters; everything that is cynical rots. The only way to endure is to forgive, over and over; to give back that openness and possibility for new beginning, which is the very essence of love itself. And in such a way love comes full circle and can fully “sustain and make fruitful,” and the cycle begins again, at a deeper place. And conscious love deepens and becomes more and more rooted in your marriage.

Love seems to be one of the only human emotions that is shared by all or at least striven for by all. It’s really more than an emotion. In the dictionary, love is listed as a noun. The very first definition is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” Affection doesn’t seem to cover it, really. While I do agree with the dictionary, when I think of love, I imagine partnership, respect, separation anxiety, trust, adoration…

It’s scary as a young person, looking out upon the hopeful years left to live, wishing, praying and pleading for health, wealth and happiness – but most of all love. For what is life, without love? Mostly I’ve been referring to romantic love, but really all types of love between people, familial, friendship, or romantic are integral to our very existence. When I contemplate my future, it’s difficult to trust that I will achieve a love that lasts “until death do us part”. I say that simply because it is so unlikely these days. My parents, like many, divorced when I was quite young. The divorce was difficult, but I can scarcely recall how I felt at that time. In fact, I have less than five memories of my parents together. The divorce was ugly at first and really continued to cut deeper and deeper into the fragile peace of childhood. My dad got angrier by the year. Our relationship is still broken. I don’t mean to blame my parents for my uncertainty about lasting love, I simply want to qualify that when your parents didn’t make it, it is harder to believe that you will. But, I digress.

I feel I’m having trouble getting my point across at this point. However, what I mean to say is that despite the doubt and the obstacles, I seriously, dearly hope that lasting love finds me.

“I believe that love is the answer, I believe that love will find a way.” -Blessed Union of Souls

;)

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