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Spirit and Love
How often do we reflect upon "how" we relate and "with whom" and "for how long"? Some friends and relationships last a long time; others are brief. There are some family members with whom relating is easy, some challenging, and some simply need to end for peace of both parties. The Greek language offers at least 4 words to distinguish between the kinds of love, which can help to understand some of these variances.
One of the words for love is PHILEO, the sisterly/brotherly kind of love. Trust and caring develop and it can bring much feeling if betrayed or experiencing difficulty. There is affection and caring at its root, however it is conditional. As long as there are similarities or interests shared, or a similar philosophy shared, or mutual needs being met, "a friend in need is a friend indeed", the desire to be with, or connect with, one another is maintained.
A second descriptive type of love is STORGE, an instinctual love between parent and child. As stated by William Barclay, "We cannot help loving our kith and kin, Blood is thicker than water". Although a parent and child might not like one another at times, there is the instinctual urge to be there anyway, sometimes feeling torn in the process, with guilt sometimes the only thing that holds the relating together. Both parent and child have their specific roles
the nurturer and the nurtured. Sometimes these roles maintain themselves through time, and the child only grows up "part time", as is evidenced by the child now in adult years who expects the parent to still be responsible for them in some way. Then there is the "independent" child who must cut off from the parent, who has not yet stopped the parenting role, and still insists on telling the child how to be or what to do. Then there are the parent/child relationships that also contain the PHILEO kind of love, a shared interest, based on similar ways of life that bring continuance to the relating.
A third word for love, EROS, is one that is based upon sexual passion, arousal, and a strong drive toward gratification and fulfillment. "Love is Blind" is one phrase that is often applied to this kind of love, for the physical attraction is so strong and driven that "logic" and "reason" about other aspects of one's life take a back seat to the passion that demands its fulfillment. Even the most even-keeled individual can suddenly become a "fool" when this love enters. We find many examples of "sweet Eros" as central topics in books and plays and Hollywood, throughout history and in current times.
AGAPE, a fourth word for love, is what is often referred to as a "higher love". It alone is unconditional, and seeks the welfare and betterment of another regardless of one's personal need. It is divine love, God's love. It does not require anything back for its giving. It knows the relationship between all of creation, and demonstrates respect and consideration for all things It is a stranger's love for another stranger; it is man's love for God; it is God's love for man. As much in love as one may be with another, if it is viewed that the other party is better off without you, no matter how passionate you may feel about staying together, you act on your knowing what is better for the other, and you say "I love you and I set you free".
Viewing our relationships and acquaintances in the light of these words can help us more clearly define the "how" and "with whom" we relate. What follows now are the independent reflections of a mother and daughter whose relationship is deep and long lived, for it blessedly contains PHILIO and AGAPE flowing between both of them, so when the conditions of STORGE were fulfilled, the urge to relate continued.
It's difficult to say when the spiritual connection between my daughter and me really began, but awareness of it was there long before her birth. I believe it must have been sometime during an especially hot Indian summer. It was that September when thoughts of her began drifting through my mind as I lay sleepless in the still heat of the nights. The words "it's time" were whispered, as if she were already with me. There was never a doubt I would have a baby girl. Even her name, Merryn, came to me before her conception. A name from long ago, Celtic in origin, and I felt it had belonged to her for a very long time.
I sensed a deep connection with her throughout the winter and even more strongly into the spring as the day of her birth approached. My thoughts were often shared with her, and answering words would drift through my mind. There had been a dry spell in the mountains of Arizona that year, worrisome for farmers and ranchers, weeks without a sign of rain. At the moment Merryn was born, lightning split the skies, followed by a downpour as welcome as my child. For most of her life, wherever she has been, it has rained on her birthday.
There has always been a strong bond between us, often sharing our thoughts and feelings, even when miles apart. An awareness of what is happening with one another, without use of telephones or letters, has been a part of our lives we have taken for granted and without question. Perhaps not always aware of the details, but a very strong "knowing" of up or down, good or bad, easy or hard times. We've often expressed the same thoughts simultaneously, or had the same ideas. Most pronounced of all in our relationship has been the awareness of a continuum, that our places in one another's lives have always been, and continue to be, stretching far back in time and reaching beyond this life far into the unseen future.
The signs of Merryn's connection with Spirit were all there from the time she was very small and stopping to talk with the flowers along her way. She has grown into a beautiful young woman, spiritual on a level that continually amazes me, as does her perception and connection with mother earth and all who dwell upon her.
Long discussions on matters of Spirit are a continual and essential part of our bond. Sometimes it is difficult to tell which of us is the mother, which the daughter, in connecting with one another and striving to live our lives to the fullest, each of us providing the other with inspiration, reminders of universal law, and encouragement in our dreams. We know and understand one another as no others could.
It is difficult to explain the deep love and Spiritual connection between mother and daughter. We can only accept that it is, has always been, and will continue to be, far transcending mundane matters of this temporal world in which we now dwell.
I cannot begin to describe the connection between my mother and I without going back to the first real memories of her. Holding me in her arms, 'we' would dance to old records in the living room of our modest apartment. She always made me feel like the most important and loved person in the world. For me, she has been the most important, most beloved spirit in my life. Some say we choose our parents as being a part of the life's path we have chosen. I can find this easy to believe as I have learned from her the meaning of love, patience, kindness and compassion.
I was extremely fortunate in that unlike many of my friends, my mom and I share a bond that reaches beyond the borders of mere mother/daughter relationships. She not only prepared me for life in the more mundane aspects, but also prepared my spirit. She nurtured my imagination and my creativity from such an early age that I can not remember my life without books, sketchpads and an ensemble of pens and pencils.
I learned from her, perhaps the most important aspect of living in today's society, tolerance. I remember pouring over her vast collection of books ranging from the works of Shakespeare and Kipling, to the eclectic variety of works pertaining to religion and spirituality.
She taught me to see life as a profound gift and as an adventure, to see the humor in a stressful situation. I learned from her the value of a silent moment caught and shared while watching the sun set over the water. She taught me to believe in miracles, that nothing was impossible. Most of all she taught me to believe in myself.
Though there are many miles from her front door to mine, I feel she is always by my side during the most difficult of hours and for the best of times, closing the distance between us.