The Numinosity of Love
When we get caught, there is a reason
I am caught. Watching, I wait. Will they get together? How does this keep happening? They love each other. Please. This is the power of love.
I have been caught before. This time it is with Anne with an E. After 27 1/2 episodes of misses and frustration, Anne and Gilbert have each finally been informed that they are loved by the other.
In the scene, Gilbert is racing, breath ragged, heart pounding, to Anne’s new place of residence. And Anne is racing out of her home to find Gilbert. She opens the door to see him running up to her porch. He stops. Angst, hope, uncertainty moves across his features. She puts down her suitcase and slowly descends the stairs to stand face to face with him. Her face is open, questioning, waiting. Gilbert touches her face and leans down and kisses her. He straightens, vulnerable, and asks her if she truly has feelings for him. She leans in and kisses him back.
I am, we are, the witness to love manifesting. The move from frustration and missed opportunity to vulnerability, joy, and completion. Like the bud opening to the flower, I watch these two characters become a couple. I carry these images with me. They live in me, tangle through my psyche. I am mesmerized. My gaze caught. My breathing paused. My heart opened.
When an image grabs me, I take notice. I am pointed to the inner layers that need my attention, to the parts not fully digested or even fully formed. I attend to the impulses, the feelings, the visions that are within me. I attend to the events that need to be re-lived, chewed, reformed so that they can be integrated into who I am.
Connection and its perils, what it holds for each of us. This moment is somehow food for me. Perhaps because there are so many situations where love does not prevail.
These moments are not my regular life, but the world of the sacred, the deep meaning we all seek — the numinous. I shift from the mundane, from habit, everydayness and lesser feelings that include annoyance, overwhelm, or self-protection, to an awareness of longing and a deep sense of love and appreciation that underlies my world, my relationship with my husband and all of my life.
As the lesser falls away, God infuses my sense of reality. The sky is bluer, the shimmer on the water more intense. I notice how the light passes through leaves, their vibrant green like the stained glass of a cathedral. Life is no longer ordinary.
When Anne and Gilbert finally connect, the numinous or holy entered the door. I am overtaken by reverence for love is numinous.
Numinosity is the arousing of spiritual or religious emotion, the awe-inspiring. It is the presence and realization of divinity. It is a feeling, not related to the rational and sensory but is the feeling of awe when we realize our smallness in relation to that which is divine.
The everyday world is the structure within which I live. I exercise, eat, work, cook, talk, be. But my world consists not only of the concrete and rational but the ethereal and ephemeral, the fleeting and transitory. I live in a world where light shifts throughout the day, from the cooler light of dawn, to long shadows moving from east to west across our lawn, to the warm golden sun of the afternoon and then the colors of sunset and the darkening evening to the peace of the black sky.
I watch myself shift from dreams to getting breakfast ready. From meditating and following my breathing to the focus on writing and working. I have moments that feel utterly mundane and others where magic explodes. The numinous is where I can grasp at the edges of a different and more elusive reality. It is where I am caught in something unfinished or catapulted into a space that needs attention.
Sometimes the numinous is negative. It may pull us into an obsession. It has entered into my life and taken over like a bad dream. I find myself trapped in needs or behaviors that hurt me, and I am powerless over them.
The numinous is more significant than me, and I cannot escape it. Instead, I must dive down into the dark compulsion, flailing in clouded water until I develop the skills to see and navigate through it and to eventually grow beyond its influence over me.
Because of this, I keep one eye focused on my inner reality. I am prepared to dig open, excavate what I find. Huge chapters of my life have been about this very process. Moving down into the abyss to free my human self, trapped on the surface.
Both my parents were gods to me when I was a child. Their influence on me immense. I rejected my mother earlier than my father. But it was too late, for who she is, had already imprinted my psyche. Her emotional distance amped up my need for connection and created a starved little being inside me. I drew a picture of her once in an attempt to exorcise her. I was startled at her deformity and her need. That starved being influences me still.
Mom was not trustworthy when I was a child.
“Come here, I won’t hit you,” she promises, looking at me. Her dark eyes are hard.
I approach tentatively. She grabs me, pinches me, hits me. I feel betrayed.
I do a new piece of inner work around my mother. I want to release the impact of feeling unloved and untrusting of her. I imagined light filling my cells. I tell her I love her and that I want to be free of these feelings of not trusting. I no longer wish to be an un-mothered woman.
I see a flock of blackbirds streamed out of my cells. Out they go, and off they fly. In the space they leave behind, new light rushes in. Something is shifting.
My mother was also un-mothered. I intensely disliked my mother’s mother, Grandma Ida, when I was a child. She was bony, shrill, bossy, prejudiced, and opinionated. (Much to her disgust, we named one of our chickens after her).
Later, I learned that Ida’s mother had died when she was a child. Ida had been in and out of hospitals visiting her. She began cooking for her father when she was 6 years old until he remarried; her childhood shortened, her life one of limitation. From that understanding, her harshness made more sense. She softened in her later years. Although it was too late for us. My judgment of her too intense, I never formed a close relationship with her.
I have empathy for my grandmother, for my mother. And I want to be free of the burdens of their lineage.
Even though she is no longer here, I realize that my mother loved and loves me, and I love her. I accept that these were her limitations. Her limitations are not mine. I know that despite my history with my mother, there is love between us now. I have felt her visit me. I talk to her sometimes. Tell her I am sorry we could not work out a loving relationship during her life. Tell her I love her. Forgive her. Forgive myself for not being able to love her better when she was alive.
I hope what she is learning in her current reality is fulfilling for her. And most certainly, I hope she is evolving. I think she is. Stepping out of the limitations of mind, body, ways of being, old ideas, how could that not be freeing?
Two un-mothered women
They are a couple. I sit with them one day after a big misunderstanding and help them sort through what happened. I am aware of the privilege granted me whenever I step deeply into a relationship with another person or a couple. We untangle the events and old behaviors that put them in this misunderstanding. I help calm the trauma that was activated in each of them. I see how they each got lost and separated from each other. I help them understand what happened, what their triggers are. How to reconnect.
This couple did not know how to turn towards and support each other. They became lost from each other, cocooned and hidden into their insular selves.
They do not understand what co-regulation means. They have never heard of it. They do not live in a world of attachment theory, nor how to put that theory into practice. They come from histories of having to fight and protect themselves to survive. The trauma they have each lived through has not yet been resolved.
As we finish talking, I tell them what I wish for them. I want them to hear my hope and pull it into their hearts, carry it with them as new material from which they can draw. I want them to feel my love in this wish.
I wish them a life where they do not go into a trauma state. I want them each to feel safe enough that they do not need self-defense, that they can connect and support each other, rather than pull away when they are triggered.
I want them to learn more quickly what I learned slowly bump by bump, over many years, as I traversed through challenging (and dysfunctional) relational terrain. I want them to understand that we create love by connecting. Self-defense is the enemy.
We are not meant to manage our emotions alone. We live deeply entwined with others. Starting with the mother/parent at birth, we rely on others to help us make sense of our feelings, reactions, and responses. When I touch my husband, or he hugs me, we are physically attuning to each of our emotional realities. We are conveying to each other, I am here with you. You are not alone. We are helping each other ground here, in these bodies, on this earth.
An alternative reality
I believe situations which call to me may exist as metaphors, alternate realities, past lives, or parts of myself. Their pull is similar to the call of a Siren, although with the purpose of bringing resolution to something as yet unresolved.
When I used a Brian Weiss past life regression tape the other day, a specific image came up. As I went deeper and deeper into the guided hypnosis, a small dirty dark-skinned child emerged. I saw him. Saw his ragged clothes and the hard-packed dirt floor. This kind of visioning is not my strong point. The imaging is clouded. Yet I see enough. This child was me or perhaps is me in some inner reality. He died of starvation in this story.
He had no resolution — what is the purpose of starving to death as a child? But from who I am today, I can see that his situation was about a village, society, group that did not know how to support each other. He lived in a time and place that did not understand abundance, sharing. Others were not seen as valuable. Life was about survival.
As this understanding seeped into me, I knew I could apply it to my current life. I knew it would help erase the sharp edges of fear that, on occasion, grab me. I knew this image and awareness emerged because it was useful to me now.
How do I starve myself? Or starve others? Where do I grasp onto scarcity, and fear? Where do I not see how supporting each other allows all of us to do better, be more successful? Do I truly know that creativity, love, and abundance are the ground of life if I choose and allow it?
When I was a child, a kitten was born on our farm. She was unlike the other kittens. We named her Sissy. Sissy was tiny, long-haired with enormous round green eyes rimmed in white. She was magnificently beautiful. I gazed at her in awe and amazement. I wanted to grab onto her beauty and pull it into me. In a sense, I desired to consume her. She is my first memory of a numinous experience.
Years later, after I had left home and come back again for a visit, she was sick, fragile with a massive abscess on her belly. I asked my mother to go with me to take Sissy to the vet. As we were about to leave, my father came into the house. He was outraged that I dare take our cat to the vet without his permission.
He began screaming at me, “Who do you think you are? Who said you could do this?”
I was terrified of my father, but my small 118 lb frame stood up and shouted back at his towering and sometimes violent 6’4″ person. Furious, I screamed over and over, “You are a murderer, murderer, murderer…”
Surprisingly, he turned around and escaped to his studio. Throughout, Mom was silent. We took Sissy to the vet. She healed and lived for another few years.
My father and I never discussed this event. While I came to understand the trauma that caused my father to react in this way, I could not cater to it. In hindsight, from the adult I now am, I would say, “Sorry, Dad, you are not the victim here. Figure out your stuff. Don’t dump it on others. Find some generosity, some perspective, some grace.”
Don’t we need to take care of those we love? Isn’t love the glue underpinning this world?
This past fall, as I drove to a yoga workshop, a deer ran in front of my pickup truck. I saw her jump out from my peripheral vision, but she was too close. I hit the breaks hard. I nicked her hindquarters. She fell into the ditch, shaking violently.
I pulled over and ran out into the road sobbing, frantically dialing 911. “I hit a deer. I don’t know what to do.” I asked the dispatcher that they send someone out to check on her. I was afraid to go up to her, did not want to further traumatize her. I waited, my inner mind screaming, I’m sorry, sorry, sorry. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me, forgive me, forgive me.
The animal control unit did not show up. After about 15 minutes, she got up and gingerly limped up the embankment into the woods. It was hours before I stopped trembling. I could not control the tears streaming from my eyes and I cry for much of the rest of the day. The apology mantra did not leave my mind.
Was she okay? I hope so. Did she accept my apology? Did my apology help her? Did it matter?
Yes. It mattered. It matters that we care. It matters that we communicate. It matters that our hearts are open.
The power of love
Mothering. Caring. Holding. Honoring. Loving. Vulnerability. This is how we relate. These are aspects of the feminine principle (but not owned by the female gender.) Who are we without vulnerability, nurturing, connection to others?
For me, the power of love emerges out of a background of not feeling loved. It comes from knowing that what I aspire towards is loving, giving and receiving, nurturing, trusting, and being trustworthy, appreciating, and seeing the beauty of others.
The numinosity of the moment when Anne and Gilbert connect feeds the part of me that craves love and continually strives to bring the qualities of love forth. It feeds the part of me that knows what unloving is, and knows love manifest is the love we each seek. It activates the desire to heal all that is not love. This is the power of love.
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A favorite post of mine is My Teachers, The Trees.
Published at Thu, 12 Mar 2020 21:34:42 +0000