An Excerpt from Holy Love by Elisa Romeo, MFT, and Adam Foley
You may not realize it, but your whole life has been a crash course.
All of your most important memories have been part of a living syllabus. From the first moment you gazed into your mother’s eyes, you’ve been front row in class. That horrible fight with your childhood friend, the crush at summer camp, your first kiss, and the first time “going further” were all part of the curriculum. Your first serious relationship, the horrible breakup, the feeling of being utterly alone, and then ecstatic makeup sex were all assignments. The unexpected shock of betrayal and the conscious decision to forgive were tests. From sitting bedside during the loss of a loved one to witnessing the birth of new life, you’ve been learning. Delight, joy, trauma, contentment, conflict have all been intensive subjects during your immersion in Love 101.
We can interpret these life moments as random — a constant stream of accidental events — or we can see them as signs of purposeful training. We have all studied at Love University and gone through the beautiful and painful experiences of what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to loving another person — and ourselves. Hopefully, most of us have learned a thing or two since our first awkward hand-holding, but few of us knew what true ends we were working toward.
When we were young, we did not choose love; it chose us. At first, a curious glance caught another’s, and a small ember ignited the center of our heart. This initial encounter with love felt like nothing short of a spiritual experience. We sensed an inexplicable allure, mystery, and excitement. For a moment when we were in this exalting state, the world was birthed anew. The veil was pulled back, and life suddenly seemed rich and radiant. The burdens of the mundane fell away, replaced by an inhale to a riveting existence. We felt a secret significance, without knowing why. Here stood love — new, unencumbered, pure, and with no manual. Life itself became purposeful, meaningful, and sacred. Before we learned to be cautious in relationships, we let the fire grow wild, generous with its flames.
Then, the majority of us experienced the crushing heartbreak of our first fall from this rapture. The disruptive, cold, hard reality settled in. We all have different stories of our first disappointment in love. Maybe the feelings weren’t mutual, or our beloveds chose someone else. Maybe they were defensive, traumatized, or noncommittal. Commonly, after the initial awe, the realization sets in: we’ve given our heart to a complete and utter stranger. Their love potential has been replaced by the messy reality of their wounded humanity. The character beginning to develop before us in no way matches up to the heavenly inhabitation we initially believed them to be.
No matter what your recollection is of your first fall from love’s grace, we’ve all learned that relationships can come with a whole lot of grief. Over the years, our love manual has become less of a sacred text and more of a tattered survival guide. We’ve been so wounded by love that many of us have become cynical, believing our natural youthful hubris was misplaced and false. We will not be played as fools, so we bury the hopeless romantic within, rid ourselves of idealism, and settle for a compromise of the original vision. We label the few of us still clinging to this image of enchantment “delusional dreamers.” We take what we can get while slowly losing hope that such an absolute love is even possible.
Shakespeare conveniently killed off Romeo and Juliet before we could discover if they would have survived the ups and downs of long-term relationship. Yet we believe his intention was to invite the audience to wonder: Were they just young, foolish, and naive? Was their love true or merely romantic projection? Would the flame have died down over time? Or was it everything Romeo and Juliet believed it to be, a union cut out of the stars — fulfillment incarnated? The story of Romeo and Juliet has endured through the generations because it speaks to us. Married, single, gay, straight, polyamorous — we all are suckers for a good love story. Within even the coldest of hearts exists a spark that, in the end, wants to be witnessed in love, as love. Despite the layers of protection we’ve placed over them, our hearts still silently sing when the story ends with a kiss. The wounded cynic within argues that such a love exists only in fairy tales, but the Soul yearns to be truly seen and, finally, deeply recognized and loved.
All this because we were never shown what love could actually be. The reason our relationships fall short is because we were never given the map of how to find each other on a Soul level. For most of us, this elevated form of love was not modeled by our own families growing up, and we are definitely not given clear directions in romantic movies. But a part of us always knew, and knows right now, that the ember burning in our hearts was not placed there only to be extinguished. This longing yearns for true union. Part of us knows: we came here to love.
There is a higher love — the communion of Souls. Not to be confused with the hot, explosive, fizzle-out eruption of projective love, Soul communion is wholly sustainable. In fact, it is the most sustainable type of love, because it is the only form of love that is truly eternal. When you connect with anyone on a Soul level, you connect to the infinite part of yourself, the other, and love, which all exist beyond death. Embodying love is the ultimate spiritual legacy we are here to incarnate.
This love between Souls lives in constant revelation and unfolding. It overtakes us in electrical states of union. It causes deep attraction, a passion that seizes the entirety of our being. In this union we feel rapture at her voice, revelation in his hands, and awe in their embrace. Intimacy begins to feel like worship in bodily form — a love that is a true marriage of two complete selves. Holy Love blends our finite character into our more Divine existence, creating heaven on earth. In Soul communion we no longer love each other; we become love through each other. In this love, as love, we are finally no longer alone. We are seen, we are met, we are loved utterly and completely.
The world opens to us again. We witness miracles and nature illuminated. When we leave our homes, the beat of our heart ripples outward, growing through every encounter with each person we meet. Internal love and external life no longer hide from each other in secret corners but commingle and merge in harmony. We become conduits for a state of love consciousness. Pleasure is not a distant word but a song pulsing throughout the body. We are no longer searching for meaning — we can taste meaning, touch meaning, have sex with meaning.
Love is our spiritual superpower. It has the strength to change our lives, our relationships, and the world. Reacquainting ourselves with the holy and transformational nature of love does take some practice. We need mental clarification coupled with embodied action. The path of consciousness is to know love — to become crystal clear on what it is and what it isn’t. This book maps out the grounded information as well as providing meditations, inquiries, and practices to apply it to your life. The path of Holy Love is a sacred undertaking for those willing to be transformed. Instead of giving or receiving love, we become love itself.
Excerpted from the book from Holy Love: The Essential Guide to Soul-Fulfilling Relationships. Copyright ©2022 by Elisa Romeo, MFT, and Adam Foley. Printed with permission from New World Library.