Purpose, Personal Destiny and Passion: What We Love Makes Us Who We Are
What’s love got to do with it? I believe love has everything to do with it.
The lyric from Tina Turner’s comeback hit asks the right question, but her answer is different from mine. The love I am talking about is not a second-hand emotion. The love I am talking about is what thrills us. What makes us happy? What makes us feel a little more alive?
Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. I’d like to share this poem from my recent book, Love Enough, (Red Mountain Press 2014) entitled, A Child Falls in Love with a Storm.
In this poem, the child is not simply thrilled by the intensity of the storm or the sudden shift in the weather. Yes, she feels the rain on her skin. But the child is also a metaphor for innocence and for that innocent sometimes lost part of ourselves, for in this poem, innocence is completely alive in that moment when the storm rolls in. The girl is not thinking, Oh, I wish I were dry and safe indoors. She rushes out into it to experience it fully. She feels where she is, feels what is truly happening. She is fully present with her senses. She is connected. Connected. That is a key point here.
There is an old Zen Buddhist saying, and I am paraphrasing: When you walk in the rain, get wet. In other words, be where you are. Feel what is happening. Do not turn away. Do not dismiss what is real and true. Be fully alive. Pay attention to your life. Wake up.
The storm wakes the girl up. It shakes her world. There is a death in this poem. And that is real. We live. We die. In that line, the poem unfolds. It is no longer simply about innocence but about spiritual awakening. For all that happens in between our birth and our death is an opportunity for awakening. The girl realizes she must live fully, embrace her life, or die. If you live your life without much feeling, without any passion for living, are you dead or alive? This is why she loves the storm. The storm wakes her up to a higher level of understanding and a fuller level of being. This is the kind of love I am talking about today.
There is a word in Ojibwe, Bimadisiwin. This single word can be translated as “having the courage to live one’s life fully through all of one’s senses.” This is what love invites us to do. The very root of the word, courage, from the French, cour means “heart, innermost feelings.” Here in our emotional bodies there is so much power to fulfill our purpose. If only we do not get sidetracked in anger, bitterness, jealousy and frustration but learn how to turn from these consuming emotions toward joy, which we can find through the invitation of love.
Take a moment, don’t think too hard about it, just jot down a few things that you love. Think of things or people or places or situations that have made you feel happy. When have you felt the most alive and connected? Make your list and hold onto it.
Spring is the season of rebirth. The ancient symbols of rebirth include the egg and the rabbit. So we celebrate today with colored Easter eggs and floppy-eared bunnies. That is appropriate. The egg represents all possibility, as yet unrealized, unformed, the ovum in the ovary. The egg suggests our raw potential. In the West African spiritual tradition of Ife, a raw egg is cracked over the crown chakra to ignite a rebirth of consciousness for the initiate who will become a priest or priestess. What is your highest potential? What is the as-of-yet unrealized egg you are carrying in your consciousness?
The fertile rabbit, ancient symbol of the Goddess, is curious and inquisitive. The rabbit lives close to the ground, close to the many mysteries of the plant world. Spring is the season of greening, seeds burst open and send fresh shoots up from the soil. The fruit trees flower in the orchard. New life abounds. It is amazing to stop and witness a forsythia bush bursting with tiny yellow flowers from thin branches that only a week ago appeared dead. It is Persephone returning to her mother Demeter’s side after a cold season in Hell. It is the Celtic Goddess Brigid opening her green cloak to bless the land. Bring those flowers into your heart. What lies dormant inside you that longs to burst into bloom? What is your true desire?
We cannot forget the Christian story that also unfolds this weekend. The arisen Christ represents the possibility for each one of us to awaken the Christ within, to experience our own divinity and our individual unique relationship with God, Goddess, Creator, Great Mystery, Allah, Holy of Holies. Christ’s message was a message of love. Love your neighbor as yourself. This teaching has three messages. One is to LOVE your SELF. Not to disregard or punish yourself for your imperfections. We are imperfect human beings. The message is to forgive, to be patient, to Love Your SELF. A second is to LOVE your neighbor. Your neighbor might get on your last nerve. So how do you LOVE despite difference of opinion, belief, lifestyle or political persuasion? How do you choose love and not go to war with your neighbor, your family, your coworkers? How do you choose love – not once but over and over again, everyday? You must choose to love your life regardless of the circumstances of your life. For that is the essential message: TO LOVE.
This means we are not better than anyone, and no one is better than us. Every life has the same potential for enlightenment, for courageous acts, for love. We are different, that’s all, and ecosystem science has taught us that difference and diversity are necessary for healthy biological communities. We are biological beings. Difference and uniqueness is precious and should be protected, even celebrated, by us.
Let me share another poem. My sister told me this is her favorite one, Widow in Muir Woods.
Here we see not innocence but weariness. There has been aging and loss. How does one recover from difficulty and pain? One immerses oneself into the body of the ancient tree. In this poem, the redwood tree represents the tree of life. The Kabbalah, the Iroquois Long House, and many traditions speak of this mighty tree. The widow, who represents our suffering, gives herself to the darkness within the Tree of Life. She enters the hollow, empty place that has been seared open by lightning, representing sudden change. And she lets herself feel what it is to be alive. That is all. To feel again. Now LOVE is possible. This is her moment, and our moment, of rebirth.
We do not necessarily love the same things. What we love is an expression of our unique way of being and seeing. Honor what you love. Honor what others love. Honor love no matter how curious it may be. Make more room for love in your life. Invite love to inspire you. Set an intention with your love card in your hand. Join your heart with the heart of Spring and allow a rebirth of love to enter your being.
As you open yourself to your own love stories, I will share one last love poem with you, A Woman Falls in Love with a Turtle.
Speech for The Celebration in Santa Fe on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.
For the full text of these poems, please order a copy of Love Enough, either from me or from Red Mountain Press in Santa Fe.