I met Freddie back in the sixties when we were both children growing up far too slowly for our satisfaction and far too quickly for our own good.
When I say we were children I mean we were entering the human equivalence of chrysalis, the state of transformation.
(I prefer that metaphor to the more common, clinical and somewhat icky term, “puberty”.)
Fred wrote today of having an epiphany while trying to explain love to his 15-year-old.
Oh, yes, we old butterflies with somewhat tattered wings, capable of ever shorter flights, still have epiphanies. I believe the older we get we begin to learn new things and to better understand old ones more rapidly than ever. I like to think that as I push 60 I am picking up speed and having life epiphanies nearly as quickly as my five and seven year-old grandsons whose limited life experience makes virtually every moment a star burst of enlightenment.
Between 20-something and 40-something I knew everything worth knowing.
So, today Freddie shared with his old classmates the words he gave to his own pupa of a child on the most complex topic approachable by human intellect:
Freddie is my age. Like me he looks for occasional validation among his peers and a sense that what he is thinking and intuitively feeling may be a proper compass setting for his journey home. He expresses himself well and freely, which is more than you can say about most men our age. Fred’s heart and mind are joyous monuments to a life well-lived and a God well-served.
I celebrate Freddie and his desire to know love.
And, while I fancy myself a competent writer and thinker this love stuff doesn’t explain itself easily.
Fortunately, we have the free-verse philosophy of Khalil Gibran, whose thoughts about love — and everything else, for that matter — are expressed on a breathtaking canvas of insight and epiphany.
I write these notes for the amusement of my children and theirs and so that when I am gone they may get to know the old man better.
In case the subject of defining love never comes up in conversation between us, I would like to give them this from The Prophet©:
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.