February 3, 2005

My Beloved's Presence

There are so many expressions of love; a knowing glance, small tokens, heartfelt letters, endearing expressions, and above all, my beloved's presence.

At one level my beloved’s presence is simply his physical nearness. Sitting at dinner together, sharing friendly conversation, walking side by side along the beach, feeling the closeness of my beloved's body, I am immersed in his physical presence. However, just simmering under the line of my consciousness, I sometimes have felt an underlying, gnawing feeling of separateness, of not really being known completely. I recognized, even with this intimacy we shared, that my partner and I could not know one another completely – for there is much about each of us that is a mystery, even to ourselves.

Recently, I have become aware of presence in a different context. This context has revealed to me other levels of being with my beloved that have brought even greater joy, deeper intimacy and a more nourishing spiritual bonding. Consciously or unconsciously, I believe all of us crave this deeper level of presence. We yearn to be truly seen and heard, to share ourselves with someone who listens to our emotional and spiritual self-discovery, who is able to focus on this with us. When we are deeply listened to, we more freely speak about ourselves honestly and from the depth of our being where we can begin to drop our mask and reveal our true self, our inner soul. And going deeper still, we can move beyond a presence that permits emotional disclosure to a level of exquisite presence that simply Is. This level of presence invites us to share our essence with another, to settle softly into our own Beingness. The quiet peacefulness we feel results from this shared presence, as we each rest in our own sense of Being. No longer separated by our stories, we are joined by our mutual participation in the Oneness of an all-pervasive, ever-present intelligent energy.

In a love relationship, we have at our side someone who loves us. I have been so grateful to share my life with my beloved – a path that has opened into greater and more meaningful dimensions of intimacy. As individuals, we walk, talk and experience life differently from one another, but when we come into open presence with each other, all those differences slide away. Only the Oneness remains. It is here, in relationship, that we really learn to walk this path, to open our hearts and share our open presence.

I have found that when I approach my beloved with reverence, I am able to touch the divine that lives in each of us. When I gaze upon my beloved with eyes that are open to my own soul, I am able to glimpse the spiritual nature that lies beneath our separateness. When I listen deeply, from an intuitive center, I hear my beloved’s heart speaking. When my beloved and I breathe together, allowing the breath move in and out of our bodies and mingle in the space between us, returning over and over again to the source of sacred breath deep within us, we stand naked in the mystery and joy of holy union. Apart, this connection remains; indeed, I feel my beloved’s presence even when he is no longer physically near. I feel him here right now, right beside me. I am filled with gratitude for this intimate presence in my life, a presence that reflects a Divine Beloved with in each of us.

5 comments:

Marjorie said...

reverence for the beloved is so very important and so easy to discard. Always wanting to be clever, I've often seen myself as the Ernie to his Burt, but Thich Nhat Hanh keeps calling him my beloved. Beloved? Him? Why, yes, of course. I am a fool not to have seen it before.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, "Sigh."

the girl

Akilesh said...

Moving deeply in love, we might notice a sense of incompleteness, that something is missing. Love flows. The paradox is while it's flowing it's always in the now. It's a process, not a state. We can't grasp and hold it. It emerges from our being, flowing like fragrance floats on a warm summer's day; just out of the blue, unsusceptible to manipulation of any kind. It is never complete, always flowing but with no purpose, no goal. It just is. It's insubstantiality is what gives it it's sweetness.

Deep love is flowing, always passing like a river. It has both joy and heartbreak in it. That's what gives it depth and richness. It is like a real rose as opposed to a plastic one. We can make a plastic rose but no one can make a real rose, nor can anyone keep one in a static state. A rose is an uncontainable miracle, a process that cannot be held on to. It moves on despite our efforts to hold it in place, keep it as it is, keep the tender petals from withering and returning to the source. When we return to the source, when we dissolve in the presence of the rose, we don't know who we are and we don't know what this miracle is filling the view. When we dissolve in the presence of love, we don't know what this bliss is filling our heart.

In the presence of a flower we realize our own fleeting nature as form -- just a few hours dancing in the breeze, in the sunlight, releasing our fragrance, our song. We can learn from the rose, opening its petals with a primordial courage, not trying to hold them closed out of fear of what may come after blossoming, not anxious about an imaginary future. The rose embodies wisdom. When it's time to fall, it falls willingly, with an exquisite grace and nobility. In full flower, dancing in the sun, we share its happiness. When it falls, we're sad. Through this being, we're shown our own impermanence and the impermanence of love. It's a process. We want to hold onto the peak, thinking that this fragrant blossom is the ultimate, and we cling, trying to hold on to the moment: the light, the dazzling beauty, the lovely dance, the sweet fragrance in the air. We want to preserve the moment, perhaps capture this flower in a block of clear plastic. But what we end up with is a dead, preserved flower.

Let the flowers in life flow. Celebrate these blossoms when they emerge and when they fall. They are showering on us now. Do not hold on to them and more will come. Holding on, they dry up anyway; the aliveness, the freshness dries up. Reading Meredith's passage we can feel the river of love, the flowing to ever higher peaks of love. Releasing our love brings these higher peaks. And the process is endless, never complete. Our living, our love is always incomplete and imperfect. Just like the rose in the garden, yes? Allowing love to move and flow has it go on and on. Love is inherent in who we are already.

When we find ourselves in the presence of this love, this divine fragrance Meredith is pointing at, we can remember the space. We can allow ourselves to move in the direction of that fragrance, to move in the vicinity of that sweet music. The music of love is playing softly, subtly, right at this moment. It is just covered over with a lot of noise. Letting that extraneous noise subside, we hear the sweet music of love in the air all around us.

Larry said...

Marriage is the primary sacrament. God gave it to us to "work out the hell" in us. An old Braziian missionary used to say you can love the hell out of anybody.

After 47 years of marriage I'm still learning how to love. 3 grown sons and 2 grandchildren provide more opportunity to love. Beginning one on one the love spreads to the family. And we remember what Jeus said when his mother and brothers came to get him: everyone who does the will of "my Father" is my mother and brother and sister.

Heaven is the mutual enjoyment of that kind of situation.

tamingthemind said...

Meredith,
This is such a beautiful post.
Thank you