29 Aug September: Love the Redeemer
O true lover,
with how much compassion,
with how much gentleness,
with how much delight,
with how much favour,
and with the extraordinary signs of love
you cure these wounds,
which with the same darts,
of this same love
you have caused!
-Theresa of Avila
Once, at a retreat in the dry Arizonan desert, I found myself experiencing Love for the very first time.
This is not to say that I hadn’t been loved, or been in love in my life. My parents loved and cared for me and I loved and cared for them and others. I had been enamoured with love for as long as I could remember, what it meant, if it was real, if I could have it and the pain of its loss. I studied the great stories (Romeo and Juliet anyone?) and observed my elders. I was growing convinced that mortal love was limiting at best, torturous at worst. Still, I was drawn like a moth to a flame, even though somewhere along the line, I believed I could not be loved unless I was absolutely unblemished and perfect.
I developed an eating disorder at age 13 after being accepted into the professional division at Alberta ballet School of Dance. It was there I realized that everything I feared about myself was correct. I was ungainly, and unattractive, my legs were too short, hips were too large. I needed to carve myself into perfection. I needed to prove myself worthy of the art that I loved so deeply convinced that I was not enough as I was.
I tried running, cycling on the exercise bike that I moved into my bedroom, counted hundreds of sit ups to make my dreaded belly fat go away. I tried to eat less, and less, when I would inevitably fail at that too I fell wildly into bulimia. And there I stayed for many messy years.
I loved to dance more than anything I had ever encountered before. It was ME, and I was it. I would have given anything for it, and nearly did. As I said, I had a very skewed idea of love.
Perhaps you have been there too. How you ever bended over backwards for the object of your affection and they would barely notice you? Have you been rejected for your body type, the shape of your nose, the colour of your skin? Perhaps you felt the sharp sting of rejection from those you love the most. Maybe it came from a parent or lover, perhaps you were rejected by your sense of god. You know the pain of these rejections, and maybe, you like me, decided it safer to reject yourself first, as if doing so would protect you from the hurt of being rejected by others.
Little did I know that rejecting my self would be the biggest wound of all. One that would send me into a life time of seeking healing practices that would bring me home safe, to my mind and body.
“I seek my own shapes now
For they never spoke of me
Except as theirs
And the pieces I stumble over
I still record as proof
I am beautiful.”
– Audre Lorde
Fast forward many years to the the Arizonan desert with me.
I had just come out of a spiritual Ceremony called Zik’r, a Sufi tradition that calls in the Beloved (or God, what ever your word for it,) by saying It’s name over and over and over. After leaving the cozy room where all the participants had gathered, I stepped outside to a balcony that opened under a veil of stars. I gripped the wooden railing with my hands, looked up at the inky black sky began crying like I had never cried before. Hot tears began carving rivulets into the scar tissue that had formed around my heart, and it began to soften. I could feel in that moment how desperately hard I fought Love, how desperately I pushed it away, how utterly exhausted I was. I could feel a great warmth run into my body and hold me in a way I never know I could be held. Most surprisingly of all, I felt compassion for how hard I struggled. I could hold that part of my with tenderness and understanding that Love wasn’t rejecting me, I was rejecting it by placing my unrealistic expectations of perfection on it.
I knew then that Love is not limited, it is infinite, substantial, way bigger than I could have known, and it didn’t reject me in the slightest. I realized that it wasn’t a matter of chasing an unattainable love, but allowing myself to open to the love that was already there.
I could hold myself in my entirety as last. I cried with sorrow and I cried with great relief.
The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.
What does this have to do with the energy of September you may ask?
We are asked to hold the paradox that the cause and the cure come from the same place. That where we feel the most broken is where our greatest strength lies. We were never meant to be perfect in the expression of who we are, but BRAVE in the unfolding of our lives, the good, the bad and the mess of our humanity in between.
It reminds us that the heart is designed to break, so it can expand.
This begs for a deep sense of responsibility to our hearts. To choose and re-choose where we place our energy and attention- to pay attention to what we pay attention to! To notice the material that resurfaces again and again like a loop we can’t get out of. What keep coming back to you? What are the major themes playing out? Have you considered that that may be your sacred work? That by healing your story around Love you are doing not only yourself a great service, but everyone around you?
There is also something about redemption in this September energy, to redeem ourselves to ourselves and each other, to dip into the deep well of compassion, extend it inward and outward. To know in a visceral way, that we have only been rejecting ourselves, and the homecoming that comes with realizing you held key to Love all along.
Be nourished in the depth of your capacity to allow Love, and if you can’t yet, that’s ok, Love is not going anywhere.
So dare to feel deeply and greatly whatever you are grieving, dare to forgive what was unforgivable and turn your face to the veil of stars and let them shine onto your tear stained face, your heart can take it.
With so much Love in these deeply transforming times,