The goal of our life should not be to find joy in marriage, but to bring more love and truth into the world. We marry to assist each other in the task. The most selfish and hateful life of all is that of two beings who unit in order to enjoy life. The highest calling is that of the man who has dedicated his life to serving God and doing good, and who unites with a woman in order to further that purpose.
I dressed and went down to the water's edge. My indiscreet desire of
that morning to pry into and know the future before it was born suddenly
appeared to me a sacrilege. I remembered one morning when I discovered
a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole
in its case and preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too
long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to
warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen
before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started
slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its
wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with
its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help
it with my breath. In vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the
unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was
too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before
its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the
palm of my hand. That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight
I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to
violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be
impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm. I sat on
a rock to absorb this New Year's thought. Ah, if only that little butterfly
could always flutter before me to show me the way.
-- Nikos Kazantzakis, from Zorba the Greek
Narcissus in the brambles
I choose you from all others
For my love
Sweet fruit tree growing wild
Within the thickets-
I blossom in your shade
And taste your love.
--Marcia Falk, from The Song of Songs
...and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs to yours.
I am convinced that almost a decade ago, on a fine candlelit evening in August, God was setting me up.... I have never been so serious about cultivating a relationship with God as I have been for almost a decade of marriage. I have learned things about love, fidelity, commitment, gentleness, and forgiveness that simply weren't possible when I was single. There was no compelling reason to do so. But now that I am smack in the middle of matrimony, trying daily to learn how to love this one man, to do it right (and if not right, then, surely, decently), wedlock has driven me straight back to God.
Marriage stripped me of the luxury of hiding who I really am. I can no longer hide from myself, from God, and from another human being. The constant, daily effort to be present, open, honest, transparent, defenseless before another stirs up the urge in me to withdraw and hide. Strange, the push and pull of intimacy, the wanting to be close but not that close, needing to be near but not so near, praying for companionship but not wanting constant company. It makes sense now why the Hebrew prophets used the marriage bond to capture poetically the joys and struggles of the union between God and human beings. I ran away from God because I couldn't bear the intimacy, the accountability, the living under God's constant gaze. And now I find myself scurrying to find my way back to God because I know I need a power greater than my own to stay in this marriage.
...And because we're utterly incapable of keeping so
preposterous and vast a vow, we need a marriage ceremony to make us
accountable to the community. We need witnesses to remind us what we
promised. We need God to teach us by God's own nature what really is
love, fidelity, grace, and mercy.
--Renita J. Weems, from Listening to God
This is the journey that men make to find themselves. If they fail in this it doesn't much matter what else they find. Money, position, fame, many loves, revenge are all of little consequence and when the tickets are collected at the end of the ride, they are tossed into the bin marked "failure." But if a man happens to find himself, if he knows what he can depend upon to do, the limits of his courage, the position from which he will no longer retreat, his boundaries, the degree to which he can surrender his life to some woman, the secret reservoirs of his determination, the extent of his dedication, the depth of his feelings for beauty, for honesty -- then he has found a mansion which he can inhabit with all the days of his life.--James Michener
My Love Poem to God
I have been too long in the wilderness
Your prodical daughter
Wandering from heart to heart
Too confused to settle into my own
But finally, at last, there is nowhere else to go,
But to that inner sanctuary
Where you waited for me all along
How now to make amends for my long absense
How to seek the comfort of your embrace
And trust that it belongs to me
At least to say -- I love you, God
And wait for your reply
I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.--Frank Herbert
We all must do just what Christ did. We must make our experiement. We must make mistakes. We must live out our own vision of life. And there will be error. If you avoid error you do not live.--Carl G. Jung
Be well assured that if these solemn vows are kept inviolate, as God's word demands, and if you steadfastly endeavor to do the will of your heavenly Creator, God will bless your marriage, will grant you fulfillment in it, and will establish your home in peace.
If, if, if--a few months into the marriage we've already broken those vows a hundred times. Sleeping with another person would have been the kindest thing we could have done to each other. But we chose the crueler route. We've fallen in and out of love with each other a thousand times. If our hearts could speak, they'd confess that we've walked away from each other untold times. We've failed to honor each other with names we've called each other to each other's face and behind each other's back; cursed each other for not recording checks; felt revulsion for each other's bodily sicknesses; and have gone off in our minds and married, bought homes, and had children with others fitter and finer than the ones we're wedded to--all of this we have done zillions of times.
And we've returned to each other again and again, remarkably, mysteriously, begging each other's forgiveness, sheepishly, desperately, earnestly, disrememberingly what it was that drove us away, pledging again to talk before giving in to the urge to walk away.
We keep coming back to each other. To keep a vow is not to keep from breaking it but to keep trying to recover its meaning. It takes only a few minutes to make a vow but a lifetime to live it....--Renita J. Weems, from Listening to God
I sent out a prayer to the Universe..."It's too painful, I can't take it...and she came to me, the power of my mind, the Energy of the Universe, in blue like the Goody Fairy In the Wizard of OZ, waving a wand. I sat cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom, looking up, about five years old. She said, "Sweetheart, here's the deal. There's too much going on here and I don't have the power to make it be gone, to make it be okay, or even to help you cope with it in a way that's not going to cause you some pain. What I can do is help you get through this time now, help you forget it as it is going on, so that it will come back but it will come back to you at a later time when you're able to handle it." So I said, "okay", because I can't take it.
She waved her wand and said, "I'm going to send things that are happening into different parts of your body and they are going to hold them for you like a treasure chest, like a dowry. I am going to have to tie up your pelvis and have it lock in a lot of your sexual feelings because you think they're getting you into trouble. And your belly and pelvis will feel dead and they will also hold in your rage and a lot of you fear. I'll also have your thighs be very tight to hold in the energy coming from your genitals. And your heart, your heart is broken and I'm going to have to let your rib cage close in around your heart and let your heart constrict so that you don't feel the pain of your heart breaking. And I'm going to really tighten up your neck and let it be a fortress with very thick round walls so that what you're feeling doesn't get up to your mouth and you can't speak words, you can't cry out for help, you can't scream out in rage, you can't breathe too deeply to feel what's going on in your body. And that fortress will keep the knowledge of what's happening in your body from connecting with your head so that you will not be fully conscious of what's going on. And I will tie up your ears so that you hear but don't take too much in."
"I want you to be fairly still as a child and not very athletic so we don't interrupt what we're going to put very carefully in place. And it will stay this way. You will have trouble feeling and being close to people, but it will be your way of surviving. And you will be a fairly functional human being in spite of all this pain because you have a strong mind and you can hold all this in. And I will be helping you. You will not forget everything. You will remember just enough to always know that something has happened. And I will leave a voice inside of you that will urge you to reconnect with your whole self, to find this person who you are now, who is calling out for help and whose heart is totally breaking. It may not be clear that it's a voice. It will manifest as an urge inside of you, but it will be me speaking as I can through your frozen muscles to come back and find yourself."
"At the time of your second Saturn cycle, you will begin to open up. It will be a very long process. It may take you as long to heal as you've been in pain and the frozen place. Finally, your muscles will no longer be able to hold all this in. They will begin to give way. You will feel an urgency to do physical work, and that will begin the process of really unwinding your body and releasing what it will have been holding all these years. There will be physical as well as emotional pain in this process. But by then you will be strong enough and old enough to bear the truth and you will have a network of friends around you, mostly women, but some men also, who will hold you as you find yourself again. You will not be a very physical person for most of your life; you will have come to accept the frozenness and rigidity of your body. As it begins to unwind you will struggle to re-learn the language of your body/mind and come back together wholly. But you will do it because you are a strong person full of love. I don't know exactly how it will unfold, but the universe will move you through it. You will have to be very patient, very brave, very courageous, but it will be your training, your fire walk, your healing. And when you are through it, you will be a whole person; new but still the same."
"Now I want you to go back to bed. I will wave my wand and you will go to sleep and when you wake up you will forget I was here. You will forget you asked for help and you will forget your daily pain. This is the only way I know to get you through this. You are a beautiful child. I don't know the reasons for the pain, but I love you and the universe loves you and, in fact, even your parents love you even though they're incapable of showing it to you. You will have to love yourself enough to heal so that the last half of your life will be strong and powerful and full of light. The pain will be there, but it will all be in proportion. One day you will have it all again. Until then and for always, I love you.
Marriage is not a love affair,
it's an ordeal.
It is a religious exercise, a sacrament,
the grace of participating in another life....
...If you go into a marriage with a program,
you will find that it won't work.
is leading innovative lives together,
being open, non-programed.
It's a free fall: how you handle
each new thing as it comes along.
As a drop of oil on the sea,
you must float,
using intellect and compassion
to ride the waves.
When I die
Give what's left of me away
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
And give to them
What you need to give to me.
I want to leave you something,
Look for me
In the people I've known
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on your eyes
And not on your mind.
You can love me most
Hands touch hands.
Bodies touch bodies
And by letting go
That need to be free.
Love doesn't die,
So, when all that's left of me
Give me away.
-- Merrit Malloy
Here Comes the Sun
Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
-- George Harrison
Now, let us say that I am Niagara Falls. Up to this moment I have been believing that all there is to me is right here and I have been using it up or drawing upon it. I believed that I was living in and of and through Niagara Falls and that all there was of me was Niagara Falls; I was not aware at all of Lake Erie back of me. But..., I now learn that Niagara Falls isn't so much of itself, but that Lake Erie is really the substance and the totality and infinity of Niagara Falls.
I, as an individual,...believed that the visible me is all there is to me and I drew on my own brain power; I drew on my own experience, my own education. For my strength, I drew on my muscle and on my amount of sleep and on the food that I ate. I tried not to use up more strength than I had taken in as calories and vitamins. But..., I have learned that this really isn't all of me--it is the least part of me! Back of me is an infinite ocean.... I am in and of that tremendous ocean.--Joel S. Goldsmith, Consciousness in Transition
You on a slave block
And the unreal bought
Now I keep coming to your owner
"This one is mine."
You often overhear us talking
And this can make your heart leap
I will not let sadness
I will gladly borrow all the gold
To get you
--Hafiz, The Gift
STOP CALLING ME A PREGNANT WOMAN
My Master once entered a phase
That whenever I would see him
He would say,
How did you ever become a pregnant woman?"
And I would reply,
You must be speaking the truth,
But all of what you say is a mystery to me."
Many months passed by in his blessed company.
But one day I lost my patience
Upon hearing that old refrain
And blurted out,
"Stop calling me a pregnant woman!"
And Attar replied,
"Someday, my sweet Hafiz,
All the nonsense in your brain will dry up
Like a stagnant pool of water
Beneath the sun,
Though if you want to know the Truth
I can so clearly see that God has made love with you
And the whole universe is germinating
Inside your belly
And wonderful words,
Such enlightening words
Will take birth from you
And be cradled against thousands
--Hafiz, The Gift
Carl Sagan's thoughts on seeing our world as a "pale blue dot" set in the vastness of space might provide some perspective on the events of the past weeks. This excerpt was inspired by an image taken, at Sagan's suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Image: JPL/NASA .
Earth, as seen by
Voyager 1 at a distance of 4 billion miles.
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home.That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar. As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled. I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window. When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank.
Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck.
Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. "Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son. You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going to hold you back." Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly. "These are for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like me."
We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm. "When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again."
He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. "You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters," he said. "But you'll get there. I'll see to that."
The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town.
Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed. A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done.
When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me. No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar. To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make away out for me. "When you finish college, Son," he told me, his eyes glistening, "You'll never have to eat beans again...unless you want to."
The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born; we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild.
Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. "She probably needs to be changed," she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes. She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room. "Look," she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins.
I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out a fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the coins into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was feeling the same emotions I felt. Neither one of us could speak. This truly touched my heart.....I know it has yours as well.
Sometimes we are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings. Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks UP.
If you are in the garden
I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea
I will slide into
that smooth blue nest,
I will talk fish,
I will adore salt.
But if you are sad
I will not dress myself
in desolation. I will present
myself with all the laughter
I can muster.
And if you are angry
I will come calm and steady
with some small and easy story.
Love....is an opera
a history, a long walk
that includes falling
and rising, falling and rising
while the heart stays
as sweet as a peach,
as radiant and grateful
as the deep-leaved hills.
The water lily rests
upon the lake
The heart makes
the body radiant
Radha lives only for Krishna
And me? I am
because of you.
Can you imagine me
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadows and the soul.
One night a man was crying,
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?"
Even in our sleep,
pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
Disturb us Lord
When we are too well pleased with ourselves
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little
When we arrive safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
In many houses
All at once
I see my mother and father
And they are young as they walk in.
But it's not this random life only, throwing its sensual astonishments upside down on the bloody membrains behind my eyeballs, not just me being here again, old needer, looking for someone to need, but you, up from the clay yourself, as luck would have it, and inching over the same little segment of earthball, in the same little eon, to meet in a room, alive in our skins, and the whole galaxy gaping there and the centuries whining like gnats — you, to teach me to see it, to see it with you, and to offer somebody uncomprehending, impudent thanks.--William Meredith 1919-2007
To My TeacherAn old grave hidden away at the foot of a deserted hill,
--From "Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf" Zen Poems of Ryokan translated by John Stevens
GURU'S GRACEIn the process of making a pot, the potter places the clay on a wheel and spins it round and round. With the outside hand, the potter shapes the clay little by little smoothing out all the impurities and blemishes. With the inside hand the potter guides and supports the clay to perfection. After the clay is molded, it is put into a very hot fire. Only then can it hold the divine nectar.
-- Freely retold from a story be Shri Jagadish Pande at Shri Ram Ashram February 2001
-- Martin Luther King Jr.
Michael Scottis a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a child custody mediator. He has been a therapist since 1982 and maintains a private practice in Santa Cruz, CA. Since 1985, Michael has served as a child custody mediator for The County of Santa Cruz Superior Court. He is an educator offering workshops both nationally and internationally on marriage, divorce, parenting, education, personal and professional development, conflict resolution, and the developmental needs of children.
333 Church St., Suite B * Santa Cruz, CA 95060 * (831)423-0521