Baby, I have been here before
Strange, isn’t it, how a frisson of a fragrance, a sliver of a song, can reverberate like the striking of a bell, redolent across the veils of time. Long after my tears have dried, I cannot now listen to Imogen Heap’s haunting voice singing Hallelujah, or Mark Knopfler’s Romeo and Juliet, without connecting instantly to two men I have loved with wondrous, wild abandon.
“Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen)
Love. “A broken Hallelujah”. Or a place to rest in the Heart of God.
Love. One syllable, that has divided kingdoms, fractured families, glorified, bankrupted, enslaved, enraptured, broken open, annihilated, made holy, triumphant with Joy.
Love. An act of courage and truth that pierces the darkness of separation and time.
“It’s been seven months now,” says my neighbour, a stoic veteran of several over-40 online dating forays. She has garnered enough first-and-last dating experiences to hold a dinner table in stunned disbelief. I admire her courage and fortitude; her resolute belief that she will find her Prince if she kisses enough Frogs.
It’s easy to become shut-down, cynical. To barricade ourselves behind emotional barbed wire. Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and marks… movies, songs, literature, portray Love as the sacrificial Flame that consumes. Passion always means pain. And anyone who has loved and lost will say that it bloody well does.
The day-to-day minutiae of committed relationships seem sawdust after the intoxicating ambrosia of a passionate, heroic love affair.
We have assimilated the belief that True Love is a form of suffering that paradoxically vivifies and “completes” us. And so, as dangerous, magnificent, desperate and tragic as Love is, we find this an irritable impulse that draws us to the sacrificial flame. Western culture has no history of romantic Love within the convention of marriage. The concept of romantic love did not even exist until the 12th Century.
Only in Hollywood do the love stories (mostly) have a happy ending. Watch a French movie to find out that life and love are more often messy and always open-ended! Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere did not grow old together, or live happily ever after.
Historically marriage was a social, economic, or political construct, usually involving some exchange of Power – land, livestock, jewels and gold. As we evolve spiritually, this old paradigm is just not working any longer – witness around you the age of Disposable Marriage and Broken Hallelujahs.
According to spiritual teacher, Gary Zukov, we have now crossed the threshold to partake of the sacrament of Spiritual Partnership. He writes, “spiritual partnerships have four main requirements—commitment, compassion, courage and conscious communication.” Gary says a spiritual partnership is a dynamic that can be entered into with just one intention…spiritual growth. “It doesn’t mean you go out and you say, ‘I’m going to create a spiritual partnership,’” he says. “It means that your intention is to become aware and responsible for yourself.”
It requires a heroic heart to nail your colours to the mast of a marriage or committed union. Setting sail on a spiritual partnership comes at a cost – personal growth and differentiation always does. Your well-polished beliefs, the stories you tell yourself about the world and The Other, and the “self” you thought you were, will transform with a seismic shudder. Being in a conscious partnership is not for the faint-hearted!