Preparing For Love"Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."
--Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Too often, we believe our private agonies are ours alone to bear, forgetting that we are part of a vast collective where the majority of our concerns are shared in one form or another by many other people.
*We will explore the impact that the culture around us is having on our collective ability to create loving and meaningful relationships
*We will prepare ourselves for love by opening our hearts to those in our lives at a whole new level, exploring and expanding our capacity for healthy interdependence
*We will cultivate a vision of love fulfilled to begin anchoring and designing our lives around the realization of love
*We will begin taking specific actions that are consistent with, and supportive of, a future of love fulfilled
Expanding Our Capacity to Love and Be Loved"If you want to learn to love, then you must start the process of finding out what it is, what qualities make up a loving person and how these are developed. Each person has the potential for love. But potential is never realized without work."
--Leo Buscaglia, Love
One reason that so many of us do not have the love we are longing for is that we have not yet become the people we will need to be in order to attract and sustain that kind of love. Most of us have dramatically elevated our standards of what we want from a partner far beyond what our parents expected from romantic union. Yet we may not have evolved our level of maturity to the point where we can manifest and maintain the love that we are hoping to create.
Romantic relationship today is a tentative and uncertain thing. No longer is getting married the safe and secure way to go. Whereas once upon a time people coupled up out of economic and social necessity, we now seek to form such unions in an attempt to create soulful and meaningful lives. Yet, much of the time, falling in love means that we end up standing by helplessly as we watch it all slip through our fingers. Why can't we seem to hold on to the glorious transcendence of love? Why can't we seem to harness passion, root it down, and make a home of it?
Some would say that romantic love is an illusion. A trick of nature meant to entice us into procreation. In the aftermath of a devastating breakup, we find ourselves asking, was he or was he not my soul mate? Was it or was it not real love? The most beautiful moments of our lives become reduced to their lowest common denominator: hormones, lust, and those most dreaded of words--"It was just infatuation."
Yet many understand, if only intuitively, that romantic love holds a promise that we have yet to fully comprehend. Instinctively, we know it holds a key to our expansion. Because romantic love has such a profound capacity to bring out the best--and the worst--in us, we are beginning to see it as our newest frontier for spiritual growth and development.
Rather than calling us into seclusion, the spiritual path now beckons us deeper into the quality of our relationships. This premise is the very crux of the new term "spiritual partnership," which has recently emerged to describe the modern-day paradigm of marriage. What exactly is this new paradigm of marriage that everyone is speaking of? Well, if the concerns of the old paradigm were economic stability and morally sanctified sex, then the concerns of the new paradigm have to do with fulfilling our soul's destiny and actualizing our full potential. Spiritual partnership implies a goal of encouraging and supporting the unfolding of each other's soul's reasons for being here in the first place.
Not too long ago, being spiritual meant moving away from relationships by going off alone to the mountaintop or the monastery. However, it now means allowing ourselves to become fully immersed in knowing and being known fully by another human being. It means learning the terrain and the language of love through a commitment to the spiritual advancement of another person. It means learning to be completely vulnerable and undefended while at the same time being 100 percent authentic and true to ourselves. And it means going beyond the pervasive ideas of our parents' generation that romantic union was about compromise and sacrifice, and moving into an experience of romantic love as expansive and inclusive. In other words, those who still believe that romantic love and spiritual love are two different things understand little about the direction that either has taken.
This is not a book for those who wish to hide out. This is a book for those who aren't afraid of a challenge. It is designed to help you get from who you are today to who you need to be in order to bring in the best possible partner for you in this lifetime. For those of you who picked up this book because you "just wanted to get married," consider the possibility of what it would be like to find not just a mate, but a soul mate, not just a partner, but a spiritual partner.
Years ago, I heard Jack Canfield, coeditor of the Chicken Soup
books, tell a moving story of a woman who'd had a near-death experience. She had had an accident and was pronounced dead soon after. While dead, she saw the tunnel of light that we so often hear about. She followed the light and soon came upon an Angelic Being who was radiating an enormous amount of love. The Being told her that it was not yet her time to die. However, before she was sent back into her body, she was asked two questions. The first was: "What wisdom have you gained in this lifetime?" and the second was: "How have you expanded your capacity to love?"
My husband and I wrote our wedding vows. One of the things I said was, "What I bring to you today are certain promises. I will endeavor always to live by these promises, knowing that they are larger than me and will require a growing and a maturing beyond that which I now possess." For those of us who just won't settle, life is always a stretch.
If you want to be ready to bring in "The One," you must be willing to grow yourself beyond the person that you are today. Because the person you are now is the person who has created the experiences that you have already had. As they say in the twelve-step programs, "Our best thinking got us here." As such, your task is to grow yourself healthier and stronger in order to create a space for a remarkable love to enter your life. As long as we are acting out the wounds of our childhood and in reaction to the disappointments of our past, we will most likely remain frustrated and unfulfilled in our attempts to actualize love in our lives. However, once we have done the work to heal ourselves, it then becomes possible for us to bring the best of who we are to others. In return, we will draw in those who are willing and able to bring the best of who they are to us. At the very least, we will be able to distinguish early on those who can't or won't do this, knowing that, although this person might have "great potential," he or she is no one to open our hearts to.
In order to attract an extraordinary love and then preserve a relationship distinguished by respect and kindness, we must first face our fears and come to terms with our woundedness. We must cultivate our ability to fluidly express the characteristics of love in all of our encounters. For without choosing to grow ourselves in this way, we will most likely have difficulty sustaining the love that does come into our lives. I invite you, therefore, to consciously take on expanding your capacity to love and be loved as a goal that you can call your own.
It's important to realize that we do not need to be with a partner in order to begin expanding our ability to give and receive love. We simply need the willingness to start by opening ourselves to the opportunities of love that surround us today.
Copyright © 2004 by Katherine Woodward Thomas. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.