I have always been in awe of the heart’s capacity to experience a constellation of feelings. When we love we are plunged into a vortex of energy as vast and mysterious as the inside of a flower.
Yet my feelings associated with love are not always as beautiful as these photographs. On the contrary, I often see the flower at the end of its gorgeous era.
I can’t help it. This is how my brain is wired despite the fact that all my life wise people have told me that I need to rethink my perspectives on love. Instead of associating it with feelings of sadness and longing, it would be more fruitful to think of its relationships to pleasure, joy and fulfillment.
But ever since I was a little girl there was an aspect of loving that brought an ache and hurtful feeling in my chest. I loved summer but then fall would come. I loved visiting my grandparents but then would have to leave them and board a plane. I loved it when a playmate spent the night but then she would go home and I’d return to my only child status. I was way too sensitive as a child and that personality trait hasn’t changed much after all these years.
Somehow I instinctually knew that love, no matter how strong would still entail loss. Even in the most constant of relationships, there would be a parting. The couple that has been happily married for forty years will eventually say goodbye at the deathbed; the teacher who has nurtured a class all year with tenderness and dedication sees her pupils off to the next grade or phase of their lives; and the wonderful holiday with friends and family ends with hugs in an airport.
What is it about the people, animals, and places we come to care about that induce such tenderness we sometimes can’t even bear it? Why is a baby so soft and sweet you feel the presence of God when holding him or her and why does a loyal cat or dog make you feel safe and secure?
It is a week since I lost Rumi and Hafiz and I’m at that point where I can’t even bear to think about them. I actively push them from my mind and yet I can’t even turn on my computer without seeing Hafiz’s picture come on the screen when I have to enter my password. Sigh.
And so it is – love’s beautiful ache that fills us with all the ups and downs of letting others into our lives as we watch the flower bloom and fade.
“Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose.”
From Bette Middler’s “The Rose”