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Love: An Education

Like a gardener tending an exotic rose, the Goddess is nurturing life with love. One day, maybe even today, children will be born into lives where the constant outpouring of Divine Love is a fact of life. One day, perhaps, life experiences like mine will baffle children of the Goddess.

I grew up believing that love was mathematical, an equation:

"good" behavior
I am worthy of love
"not good" behavior
I am not worthy of love

I thought love was a commodity given rarely by those who possessed it. In my mathematical love model, I figured the odds of being truly loved were so low that I chose not to pursue loving relationships.

Looking back over a half-century's experience of life, I realize now that my life has been an education in love, though only after half a century do I understand love's real nature.

My first lesson occurred at thirteen with the intense bonds of teenage friendships. The self-confident glow that blossomed from finally being understood by others nurtured my being. Because love was called "friendship," it did not carry love's burdens and I felt free to bask in it joyfully.

Along with these first loving relationships came my first encounters with Mystery — small, fun coincidences manifesting outside of normal space-time. I frequently knew that a friend would call five minutes before the phone rang, or obscure songs would play on a turned-off radio at an especially meaningful moment.

Years later, I understood that love is too powerful for the metaphor of mathematical equations or to be explained by the laws of physics. Today, the partnering of deep relationship and Mystery seems natural. As a teen, though, first glimpses of a world where I was not as limited as I had supposed cracked the mechanical worldview that had held love hostage. With those teen experiences that suggested there were unexpected possibilities for life and love, I set out on the road to living life on my own terms.

At middle age, I expanded love beyond my circle of close friends to encompass all women. Knowing that most of us grew up without stories of women as sacred and worthy manifestations of the Divine, I decided to write myth-like fiction that celebrated the wonders that women achieve each day as sisters, activists, or mothers. I called my new love for the larger community of women "mission," and at my first Goddess ritual I spoke my intention to write such tales as a gift to all women. In the presence of a hundred chanting, dancing women, I believed I could accomplish my mission — a task that had seemed impossible until then.

Again, Mystery partnered with me. Books and teachers appeared with the right inspirations at essential moments. When I whined that I needed at least a month without outside work to finish a story, I was diagnosed with a medical condition that required exactly four weeks of bed-rest. I finished my cycle of stories and sent them out into the world.

Writing about the deep significance of everyday life caused me to experience everyday life more deeply. The teenage glimpses of life and love matured, revealing a full palette of colors illuminating the gray canvas of my childhood.

The next love lesson came through a Winter Solstice gift, and I expanded my love relationships beyond the community of women to include Goddess Herself. The gift was a book, a book about snowflakes and how each snowflake's unique shape and beauty is developed as it travels through the clouds to Earth. Like a snowflake's journey, a life journey is what shapes our uniqueness and beauty.

I contemplated the amazing abundance of beauty that Goddess pours out on the Earth in the form of snowflakes. I realized that while billions of flakes might fall in a given snow, the intricate designs of only a very few of them will be appreciated by any living being.

I knew then that those snowflakes are an expression of true love, the gift of a Goddess who loves me unconditionally, who caused these amazing masterpieces to fall on me no matter what I did or who I was. Snowflakes are tokens of a love that is not rationed, a love that is abundantly expressed in the millions of flakes that pile at my feet. They express a love that is as free-flowing and ever-lasting as the life-giving water cycle of which they are a part — a love that is liberating, limitless, and wild, like Goddess Herself.

From this epiphany of snow came my redefinition of love: Love is an all-surrounding force with which Goddess constantly creates the universe, a force that flows naturally through us to others.

When I began to look for experiences of this newly-defined love, I found that I had experienced it often without recognizing it. Goddess expresses this love every day, giving us a new world each morning with a new dawn. Teachers, musicians, poets, artists, and healers, as well as many others, give us new ways of experiencing the world every day through their work. Through them, we experience transformations that are not only Mysterious, but truly miraculous.

Who first taught me to truly see myself and the world around me? My teenaged friends who co-created my worldview. Who brought forth my intention at the Goddess ritual? The ritual-maker who created a universe in the central fire, in the stars around the walls, and in the women dancing in a circle. Who showed me what love truly was? The friend who generously gave me a book about the amazing splendor of our natural world, and all those whose loving ways had taught me so much without my realizing it.

As I thought of these things, I had to admit that I, too, made miracles. I thought of a friend who told me that one of my stories had given her hope. The story's transformative power came not so much from my words or intentions — in fact she understood the story to be completely different from what I thought I had written — but from her reading, which helped her shift her perspective on her recent life experiences.

Imagine living in a world in which this Goddess-given love is as common as air or water. In that world, we would never question whether we were worthy of being loved or whether or not we had the power to create transformations and miracles for others. In that world, we would relate openly to others, even when that meant being vulnerable. We would live with perfect confidence in our ability to love and be loved. We would no longer desperately desire communion with others, because we would be in constant communion with Goddess who connects us all.

As I have gotten older, I think more and more of the Goddess as a gardener tending an exotic rose. I contemplate the rose as a long-time symbol of Goddess, a symbol of the unfolding of spirit, and of love. The world where the constant outpouring of Her Divine Love is a basic fact of life sometimes seems far off when I read a newspaper or observe the alienated lives of so many people I know. However, when I begin to live in the knowledge that this Goddess-like love is possible, I see a more caring world coming into being with each loving encounter. I am at the very beginning of this newest transformation, this newest lesson in love. I do not know who I will be when it is finished. Whoever I become, may I spend the rest of my life in Goddess' garden planting roses to bloom now and into the future.

Graphics Credits

  • first snow on wild rose hips, photo courtesy of Meg Donahue
  • snowflakes, photo courtesy of Lynn Cumming
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