Apprenticeship to Love: Daily Meditation, Inspirations, and Practices for Authentic Relationship, September 17
• Today’s questions: How am I being tempted, and what is this temptation teaching me? How is it teaching me to be true to who I am as a man?
• Today's suggested practice: Day 17 of this month's practice, to practice to receive (see my "Short Practice to Receive,” below)
• My practice today: 5:30am: 60 minutes: Yogic postures, mantra, meditation to Revitalize the Heart Centre.
• My vulnerability practice: I feel Her flowing, within me, around me. I'm afraid to be swept away, to lose myself in Her temptations...
Again, dear readers, your words are an inspiration to me. I am close to tears when I read what you have to say. You are a way into the rich dark underworld that I so often avoid.
One of you offered this, when I asked about the changing seasons...
I am frustrated and feel lonely - deep into my bones. I miss touch and yearn for human connection.... I wonder how one forms and maintains relationships? Of any sorts ... I remain clueless about it and marvel at how others do it.
I am reading Christine Emba's Rethinking Sex: a provocation. I see myself in her interviews, as I see you, dear reader: vulnerable, wondering, perhaps even desperate for that trust-space that allows me the intimacy I crave —yes, me too, in my very bones. And, as Emba so powerfully describes, for many of us the promise of intimacy that sex seems to offer is almost never redeemed. But still, the temptation is strong.
There is a Japanese practice of mending broken pottery with gold. The broken object is transformed. It becomes a new form of beauty.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg references this practice in her writings on repentance and repair. The image she offers of this Japanese art, and her words, these are a balm to my oft-broken heart. Here too beauty can be found. This is important. This is a world where we've inured ourselves to heartbreak. Where there are "no regrets." Just, "moving on." "Letting go." As if that were possible for a human heart.
Last night I read another chapter in Emba's book, her "provocation." She draws on Aquinas, and he draws on Aristotle (another way of saying that the lineage is long for these thoughts). She has exhumed and wishes to breathe life into this ancient idea, that we might truly only "love" when we are "willing the good of the other."
Sex is holy communion. I'm not just saying this because I'm now a "Reverend" and am provoking you to think about your life and your body and your breath as sacred. I'm saying this because, for most of us, sex may be the closest we come to obliterating our egos and experiencing something larger. Something more.
I choose today to be careful —full of care— with my sexual energy, my lust and taste for the "sugar rush" of this sexuality I've been trained in by this culture.
Reading Emba and Ruttenberg I wonder if we are, as a culture, after our season of "liberation," in a season of repentance. The technology of "the pill" rippled through us. Ripped through us. Perhaps now we are ready to acknowledge some responsibilities that come with our freedom from reproductive consequences? Perhaps we are ready for some repair?
I was visited by three temptations recently. I like the sound of that. It has a cultural resonance. But my temptations were mundane. The stuff of everyday life in this culture. Still, they are my teachers, whether I surrender to them or whether I stand firm. And, because they visited me within hours of each other, I took note: something is cooking...
The first came via a woman I consider one of the witches in my life. An important figure, and one who also yearns to be loved, known, revered. And her story was of being tempted and struggling to feel all that is good and beautiful, and not be swallowed by sexual desire.
I am happy for her. It is a beautiful thing to feel that confusion. To feel those juices flowing, perhaps overflowing, even dripping into the everyday of life. The yearning! The madness of it! Yes, I am happy for her. And, breathing with her as she holds herself through the yearning.
The temptation for me is to allow myself to be swept along with this flow of sexual yearning. I too want to know that confusion! I too want to know that edge that is about to swallow me and change me and blast me into a moment or two of bliss! But, breathing, I listened through it and only felt glad as I felt that temptation subside.
(As an aside, I'm asking people a few questions. One has to do with your choices about when to become sexual with the one you desire, and would you change things if you could in this relationship or the most recent one in your life. If this interests you, please take a few minutes to answer at https://forms.gle/2ePLjfdwDtMKpU3J6 )
The second temptation came through the words of a dear friend, the Devil's Advocate I call him because he always gives me the worst advice —advice I am often only too eager to follow. Because I too want to "move on." I too want to feel "no regrets."
In our most recent conversation he challenged me, said that this mad marriage I'm imagining is really just a withdrawing from the fray. You love being in relationship, he said. But this, this isn't "real." Why not try something "real." And by "real" he means something conventional. Something I've tried several times. Without it satisfying my craving for something deeper.
He's not the only one to challenge this apprenticeship I'm devoted to. The others, well I see them suffering the wheel of their misfortunes repeatedly. Without seeming to learn much. Or be happy. At least not beyond the moment of the "sugar rush."
Why? I asked him. Why would I do something conventional when it is not what I want? Why would I do what so many are doing, what I have done, and it is not the treasure we've imagined? I'm happy, I said. I have found my path, and every day it proves itself as my way.
He shrugged. He will at some time ask again. Because to him the love I am experiencing and sharing is foolish. Without the sugar, certainly.
The third temptation came by way of the one woman who seems able to shudder me to my roots. I don't think she means to. It's just the animal energy, the polarity of us. I hadn't seen her for years. Then, all of a sudden, seeing her, I was rivetted.
Who is she? I hardly know. But the polaritiy, this I know. Powerfully.
So I am careful around her. Careful with her. Careful with myself.
Like my witchy friend, I am pulled to the edge of confusion and something unknown by this attraction. It is best, I know, to breathe. To feel it all. To notice my training in this sexual culture begin to want to exert itself, and to breathe deeper than this. Deeper into the man I love, rather than the man I do not trust.
Am I done with the search for the sugar rush? Have I transcended my culture?
No. But I am a little more aware. And, aware, a little more full of care for myself and those around me. Perhaps, a little more capable of "willing the good of the other," rather than willing the (momentary) pleasure of my self.
Ah yes! To plunge into that fiery delight, that shallow pool of familiar delights. There is indeed temptation.
But the greater temptation is to stand as I am, committed to this strange marriage, to experience these new and often troubling facts of love. Why would I give this up? For sugar? For the familiar ejaculation of feelings, thoughts, sensations?
I’ve been there, as the saying goes, and done that. A few times. Enough to know that as much as I enjoy all of that I’m tasting something new, different. Being tested in someway new, different.
In tango, as in life, we lead by following the follow.
I'm very fond of this tango-ism. It's a way for me to experience desire and yearning as beautiful, but not necessarily as necessary, guides to my life. She —this divine feminine flow of beauty and love and sensation, all that I hold dear— She is for me to hold and revere and cherish, without needing to consumer Her.
To my friend the Devil's Advocate, I do not find this path easy. I feel the temptations. Sometimes severally, as in this past week. But there is a deeper way and these temptations prove it to me: there are conversations and ways of being together that I am only discovering as I practice my husbandry of this strange marriage, with this weird woman, my own witch, who is a million miles away and lives in my heart.
I lead her, and I lead us, by following the trail she leaves for me.
🌀When our 'higher-self' recognizes our emotional body exists to serve us, we shift our perspective, we approach the full spectrum of emotions, from joy and love to grief and anger as valuable messengers from the depths of our being. (Guru Singh & Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀We can never undo what we have done. We write history with our actions. But we also write history with our responses to those actions. We can leave the pain and the damage in our wake, or we can do the work of acknowledging and fixing, to whatever extent possible, the harm that we have caused.
You can never unbreak what you have broken.
But with the sincere and deep work of transformation, acts of repentance and repair have the potential to make something new. (Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, On Repentance and Repair)
🌀Only the one who descends into the underworld rescues the beloved. (Soren Kierkegaard)
🌀I am beginning to trust the “no expectations.” (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED PRACTICE
Day 17 of this month's practice, to receive:
Please read through first, then ...
- Today, set two alarms, one for the early part of your day, one for mid-late afternoon when you may be feeling low energy.
- When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take three, five, 11, or 30 minutes to do this short practice:
- When you’re done, sit or stand for another minute or two, breathing gently, slowly filling and emptying your belly. Here, as you breathe into your fullness, ask yourself, How am I being tempted, and what is this temptation teaching me? How is it teaching me to be true to who I am as a man, or as a woman?
- Notice if your body-mind feels somehow changed. And whether you notice a change or not, be content with yourself, exactly as you are in this moment.
- Continue with your day until the next alarm sounds, and repeat.
- If you want to talk about your experience, or your resistance, or about anything, please set up a short (15-minute) chat for Zoom: sacredbodies.ca/chat.
- It may not be enough, but it'll be a start. And that's always a good thing.
★ The next Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshop is at 11am Pacific time on September 20. Our topic: Lessons from Barbie (for men) On October 18 we begin a series on dating, marriage, sex, divorce, and more. FREE if you're a Premium or Premium Plus subscriber (otherwise $75). Tickets at http://sacredbodies.ca/events