When two souls touch, and fall in love, lips kiss, and a third soul is born: the soul of the relationship. Upon its soil, the unique physical, emotional and spiritual wildlands unfold and are walked upon. Upon these lands, as in any other lands, there will be cycles, seasons, nutritive needs, and various temperatures. There is I, and there is you, and there is also us – the magical word us, which will need to be nurtured, regardless of whether we feel like it or is convenient for us.
Love is a seed of God, which then grows inside of us; and we become a church, a loving shelter and a home of heart for all. Our beloved, and the relationship itself, are a seed of God also. And like a most precious seed, it needs to be nurtured and protected; nurtured, respected and taken care of by our loving, tending hands, and the sun’s warm rays, and the water that nourishes us – until it blooms into the beautiful rose that it was always meant to be.
Marriage is a gift to man, and this is why it is considered a sacrament – because it is meant to bring us closer that our heart, to God, and our true self of love, which is about giving, selflessness and deepening of self. Love peels the layers of ourselves, of our bark, so that we can come closer to our inner true scent and fragrance – rising in our purity of soul. People might often feel like they are afraid to fall into love, because they might fear losing themselves – but it is precisely in this losing that we find ourselves – because we don’t “lose” ourselves, we just unveil ourselves – it is an opportunity for a deepening. We are all here to meet one another. It is only when boundaries dissolve that true intimacy and love can happen.
Saint John the Chrysostomos once said that marriage is our God’s gift, as it is the root of our existence; he said that he who is connected to the bonds of marriage does not carry in himself the whole of being, but half of it. There is nothing, nothing more precious than being loved by another and being able to fully love another.
Life is about relationships – and we are in a continuous relationship with life itself. Everything in life is a relationship. We are in a relationship to ourselves, our inner wildlands; we are in a relationship when our feet walk the streets; we are entering into relationship whether we choose to be a monk, or in marriage, or in starting a creative project. All these are ways for us to develop our inner selves, to expand our heart and soul in love, to peel the layers of ourselves through devotion.
The inner lands of the relationship are like the inside of a house; and there will always be a room for doubt. That’s okay. We go into this room when we feel we need to; we cuddle up there cry some tears, feel some doubts, questions some things, have some nightly reflections, feel some insecurities, feel some fears and worries, and whatever else we need to feel. There’s always a room for doubt. Even monks have rooms for doubt along their path of faith. Because all these emotions and states of being are a natural path of life, and serve their own purpose.
A committed love relationship, whether vowed by marriage or not, will not always feel happy; because love is not there to make us happy always nor entertain us, it is there to challenge us, grow us, shift us. It is a vow we’ve made, not only with lips but with our souls, to merge two dharmic paths into one, hand in hand, in support and trust. Love changes its shapes and forms through the years, it comes in various speeds and movements. Love doesn’t hurt, it is only humans that hurt one another; and this is why we need to invest into our self awareness and be responsible for the heart of another and how we affect someone through our actions.
Sometimes love will be more quiet, asking us to pay close attention to see it or remember it or re-awaken it; and yet it is still there, just expressing itself differently allowing us an opportunity for a patience and kindness of rhythm. Sometimes love is a gesture of our partner, washing the dishes because we are tired, or seeing the worry behind our smile when we come home from work, asking us, “tell me my love, how do you feel, how can I make your day better?”
Sometimes you’ll find yourselves on different shores. Sometimes your very beloved will turn into your own very rat from hell. Sometimes you’ll be climbing a narrow pole together, trying not to get on each other’s heads. Sometimes you’ll be packing up the suitcases, and heading for a remote island, together. You’ll be lost in jungles, hunting for food, making out like teenagers, and then sometimes, as if out of nowhere, you’ll be staring at each other like strangers, squinting eyes suspiciously, and dissecting every letter of every word of every sentence. Sometimes you just need to dance in the rain, or go to bed, body against body, skin against skin, shyly touching the hand of someone who yesterday seemed like a rodent or stranger, turning off your constant non-sensical circling worries, which the Yogi call our monkey mind, and remembering, “hey, I like this person.”
There will be disappointments, there will be disillusionments, and there will be choices. If after the disillusionments, you still find that there is love there between you, you stay, and love will truly begin then. If not, that’s okay, you’ll part ways, but try to do it kindly, with gratitude because the truth is that for some time, you did walk together hand in hand, and there is always something to be grateful for.
A relationship is a rite of passage, or an initiation by our own free will, into spiritual maturity. It is devotionary pathway, and devotion is the veil through which awareness shows its beautiful face. Spiritual fruits are often desired and expected to come to us without the spiritual labour necessary to attain them. We need to be mindful of that. Love is not for the faitn of heart, just like spirituality is not for the faint of heart neither. Love is a kingdom for the brave, and we need to be willing to put in the effort in our togetherness, tending to the lands and soils.
And yet what we often do in our modern day is that we expect something for nothing. We expect the fruits without the labour. We take without giving back. We spoil ourselves with taking in free knowledge from reading online without the work of building the capacity within ourselves to actually perceive this knowledge. People swipe human faces on apps or screens like products in a supermarket, change partners constantly, are in service to self not others – and always look to the other side that looks greener. But the reason why it looks greener is because someone there is taking care of it daily. We have forgotten as a humanity that love needs daily tending to.
Love isn’t a stone nor a statue, it is like bread – it needs to be made and remade each morning. It is also like air, but it will remain like a beautiful idea in the sky, unless we shape it and form it into something through our lips, hands and every day ordinary gestures along the circling staircases of our life. No, it will not always be passionate or exciting – but that it is only one of its natural phases along the cycles of its land.
Our garden roses
Devotion is the veil through which awareness shows its beautiful face. It is in our tending to another that love unfolds.
Devotion is not an easy thing. It’s chop wood, carry water. Chop wood, carry water. And little by little, we begin to awaken patience, compassion, reverence, responsibility and accountability, and trust. There is selflessness in this. There is wisdom in this. There is effort in this.
Marriage is not a compromise, it is a sacrifice. There will be aspects of yourself you’ll need to let go of. And there will be occasional sadness too – for all the parts of yourself, and your partner, that no longer are; the dreams that never became, and the dreams that may never be.
And yet here we are, hand in hand, holding on holding strong, for new dreams to be allowed to arise and inspire us. A new garden may grow. New seeds will become roses. A new vision will be seen from the porch on which we sit together, still, hand in hand, holding on holding strong. In devotion, trust awakens, patience awakens. And patience is the mark of truest love. Patience opens the soul of matter.
Whether we choose a monastery, a marriage, a relationship, a garden, a business – these are all pathways demanding devotion for the purposes of spiritual development. It is the cross we choose to carry in this life – and it demands a certain level of being of service to the other. That doesn’t mean we have to suffer, and be miserable, and of course, if a relationship is causing you abuse or harm in any way, you need to leave immediately. But for all of us, no matter how spiritual or self-developed we are, there will always be moments when we’ll find ourselves in the rooms of doubt or in the dense forests – unknowing, doubtful, wondering what is the purpose of this all? And that’s okay. We were never meant to know it all anyway. These are the cycles of the land; just as there are cycles of the physical, emotional and spiritual wildlands within us – the landscapes that we are. Inside ourselves, we have many landscapes, climates, temperatures, cities and countries, all waiting to be explored.
Sometimes there will be an iceberg; sometimes there will be a cave; sometimes there will be a foreign country with a language we have yet to understand. And sometimes there will be mountains or unpaved off-the-roads pathways for which we’ll need to put on our red hiking boots to explore. We’ll need our inner lantern to guide our way forward. We’ll need open and honest communication. It will feel uncomfortable, and it will take its sweet time to see to the other side – but there, the sun is waiting, and still shining, and will be warming our skin. As long as we are of the loving heart, we will see it – because it is always there. Then. Now. Always. This is the sacred heart, the internal and eternal – always beating and shining with love, despite the thorns, despite the conditions and limitations of our human mind.
Protect your bond with those you love and who love you too. Protect it, and let it stay in privacy. Nurture your trust because trust is hard to build yet very easily broken. Behind your closed doors is only you and your partner – and your hearth of home. Don’t take each other for granted, and work on your communication no matter how hard it may sometimes feel like. And it isn’t just communication for the sake of speaking, it is about understanding what you’re actually saying. Sometimes as the years go by annoyances will set in inevitably, so it is helpful to just turn off our monkey minds and just sit beside one another. Body against body, touch the hand, remember: hey, I actually like this person.
No matter how long you’ve been together living under the same roof, you’ll never know all there is to know in your partner – there will always be wild unknown parts within them, for all of our inner worlds change sometimes. And there is always something new to explore.
Approach each other like art, like a painting, there will always be a new shade or nuance that you may notice because of the way the light shines on an angle.
Become curious like artists, be playful like children. Explore one another, ask questions and stay open.
Stay playful, and laugh, laugh, laugh! Laughter opens us, relaxes us, and it is creative aphrodisiac. Make love as art.
The way you kissed and were held is not always the way you need to be kissed and held right now. Relearn, re-explore and rediscover the way of holding, kissing and caring – not in the way you always did before, but in the way you need to right now, in this moment.
Love is now, not the resurrection of something or a part of yourself that no longer is. Like the aging of skin things may change in appearance but there is a blessing within still moving. You’re not the same people you were before, but we are not statues to be admired and stay still, we are moving, and that’s the beauty of it. Surely statues can’t hurt us, and perhaps that’s why people prefer loving temples and cathedrals – because they can’t hurt us. Humans can, because we are changing, unpredictable and let’s face it, feelings change, priorities change, people grow apart, but that’s just life. New horizons will unfold, new dreams will become and inspire before our eyes. The aging is the blessing. Our smiling lines show we had the blessing of laughter, our forehead lines showed how our eyes were sparkling in awe, and the bags under our eyes show we had someone to stay awake for.
When two people meet and fall in love, they essentially allow themselves to be stirred entirely by the wildish soul of the other. Out of their love – a new soul will be born: the soul of the relationship. Along its wild pathways, they will walk. And there will be uncertainties, frailties, doubts and obstacles, as these are the cycles of any land, ours, theirs, and the whole. But will patience, love, trust, deep compassion and understanding, hand in hand, they will inevitably learn to hold and to navigate through the wild unknowns of the ambivalence that relationships sometimes demand of us.
Love is not the white fence of the dream house – sometimes it is as primitive as learning how to build and re-build fire in the wilderness, to keep us warm and close during the winter or drought seasons. It is understanding the need to dedicate our effort into one another every day – with hands and lips to shape our love into being – and to choose one another and court one another every day. The house, the fence and the ideas of the mind, are not what will bind us for a lifetime; it is our ability to adapt in any climate and adjust through the changing shapes as we walk along the wilderness – to find our way towards each other.
His hands are an old marriage; wrinkles of care, of touch is touch, years in the making, holding on holding strong; like lines on palms, lines in lines connecting other lines, some lines stay and others circle around like courting hawks. But the most beautiful part of hands is where they touch now.
~ Moonhold by Lubomira Kourteva
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Cover movie still from Notorious, 1946, RKO Radio Pictures (corporate author), The Kobal Collection. Photographer- Ernest Bachrach., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.