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I woke up before the sun this morning with the thought, “The ability to be intimate is a direct result of the willingness to be consciously loving.”
It kept repeating like an endless loop tape, as if to say “Remember this. It matters.”
A myriad of sensations coursed through me—tears and tingles that carried a wistful smile. Even now as I type the words, there is a sense of lost time, since I didn’t always live as if that was true. I look back at my adult relationships—some committed and monogamous, some friends with benefits, no less committed in my heart. I see that I felt most genuine when I could be vulnerable with the person sitting opposite me or lying next to me.
That didn’t always come easily and, even as I approach age 57, it still doesn’t. A clutch of fear grips me as I anticipate asking others for what I want. Even though I teach this stuff, I occasionally find myself asking only for what I think someone will say yes to. I would much rather be braver than that. How can someone know what you want and potentially offer it if we don’t tell them or ask them?
I have seen the word ‘intimacy’ broken down to the syllables ‘into-me-see’. How often do I allow people to enter the inner sanctum? A friend has asked me how many people know me. I told her that while I know a lot of people, not many really know me. If I invite someone in that closely, there is a degree of trust that they will enter with reverence, as I do when beckoned in to their world, and not play with my heart; but rather, hold it sacred, as I do theirs. I trust easily and on the occasions when it has not been validated, I have stepped back and assessed what other choices I might have made. Not everyone’s actions follow their intentions. Even mine have fallen short of what I preferred.
What does intimacy feel like? For me it is a sense of being at home with another, as I am in my own skin. An acknowledgement of familiarity, even as we open to newness. An adventurous exploration of the mysteries that make up another human being. A delight at recognizing the Divine in each other. A desire to stretch beyond accustomed ways of perceiving life. A willingness to move through sometimes clutching fear of loss.
And what about conscious loving? We are taught that love looks like putting someone else’s needs first, often at our own expense and peril. That’s not love. It’s co-dependence. I like what is called The Alternate Prayer of St. Francis, which I sometimes incorporate into the wedding ceremonies I officiate. It encompasses a ‘both/and’ and not ‘either/or’ approach, saying that both giving and receiving, understanding and being understood, are important.
As I am approaching my birthday in a few days, I am being gifted with insights courtesy of the Universe. For a very long time, I have allowed the Muse, the creative force, to be my lover and companion. A few years ago in a reading with a talented psychic, I was told that would be the case. Not sure if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy or if she was seeing what was to happen. Either way, I have come to realize that while it may have served the purpose of generating some powerful writing, it had me blocking love and the potential to allow a human partner to show up in my life. I talk a good game about relationships; teaching about them, marrying people in my role as a minister and hosting a radio show called It’s All About Relationships on Vivid Life Radio.
I have hidden my heart out of fear of loss. I witness people who dive in heart first and I am still at water’s edge, dipping tenuous toes. I stand between couples as I glimpse the depth of what they share and wistfully wish for that. It takes such courage to love in a way that allows us to face shadow and light in ourselves and others. I desire that kind of bravery. I gift myself with the willingness to allow that One in and then get out of my own way.
I wrote this while in seminary in 1999 and, although I also use it in ceremonies, I am clear that it was for me too.
I Know You By Heart
From the words you whisper in my ear
To the glow in your eyes when you look into mine
From the late night talks we share
To the little things you do to brighten my day
From the way you take care of me when you sense I am in need of a little TLC
To the way you share secrets with me that you have never told another living soul
Thank you for letting me into your heart
I love you with all of mine.
I ask for the courage to say those words aloud to the One who awaits the invitation to the dance of intimacy and conscious loving.
Author: Edie Weinstein
Editor: Caroline Beaton