Sunday, 15 February 2009

Beware the Ides of February

Who can explain it? Who can tell you why?
Fools give you reasons; wise men never try.

As it happens, I have an excellent reason to by-pass Valentine's Day. I actually fell in love with the Resident Fan Boy on February 15th, so we ignore the 14th and exchange hostages chocolates and/or cards the next day.

Actually, saying I fell in love on the 15th is misleading. That was merely the evening (some enchanted) that I knew for sure. The preceding three weeks had been a slow increment of evidence. About a week after I'd met him, for example, I saw him walking toward me across a crowded room the third floor of the UVic library, and a small voice piped up inside my head, from somewhere behind my left ear: "He's....tall..." (My limbic system didn't make those kind of comments about my other guy pals.) We'd go for 3-hour lunches and not realize how much time had passed.

On the evening of the fifteenth, we met at a University of Victoria eatery of the time call The Raven's Wing, where you could get cheap chewy rare steak with garlic bread and a salad. We'd met, ostensibly, so I could analyze his handwriting (one of my old party tricks), and I remember being oh, so aware of how close he was, as he leaned over to watch my work. While I talked, I spit out a bit of salad, and he being the gentleman that he is, pointed at the green blob and said "What's that?" I returned to the library on my own to (ostensibly) do more homework and found myself in the deserted women's washroom in the basement of the library singing:

And that's how it begins. And that's how many people think it should stay, forever and forever and forever. It doesn't, of course, because love eventually has to to move from where it's something that happens to you to where it's something you must do every day. So it's especially appropriate that we don't celebrate Valentine's Day, the day of flowers, romance, sex, and love songs. There's nothing wrong with the aforementioned (God knows), but popular culture seems to think that that's all there is. No. We celebrate the day after. This was one of the readings at our wedding and I think it says it best:

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 he is 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 to you his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
And these things shall love do unto you that you 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.

For 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 that you can direct the course of Love, for Love if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
- Kahlil Gibran

I have been on the threshing floor of the days after. Most women with children know it all too well. It ain't pretty, although there is much startling beauty.

And as Rick Redfern once said in the comic strip Doonesbury: "The world needs grown-ups, Zonker."


Volly said...

Very nice!

Yes, love is much more of a verb than a noun.

Carl & I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary yesterday (check the calendar - 2/14/98 fell conveniently on a Saturday). We are still verbing.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Great text you quote there: Cloud bought me a book called 'How Not to Write a Novel' which arrived yesterday: since I wasn't ACTUALLY in the process of even considering writing one, I'm not sure what the message was. Then again one year he bought me The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three which is hardly conventional Vally Day fare, even though it IS one of our fave movies...

Yay for unconventionality and for growing up (in the best possible way)

Jane Henry said...

We probably had the least romantic Valentine's day ever, considering we were in Pontin's with four children, and Spouse managed to forget both chocs and card he'd bought me. He bought us all a chocolate yule log instead, and the kids made us cards. Spouse is dead unromantic generally speaking - he once made me a heart out of dental alginate material - but occasionally comes up trumps (the year no 4 was born was the only year I've ever had roses).

We celebrate our getting together on the Ides of March funnily enough. Eek. 24 years this year. And 20 years married. How did that happen? I agree with every word of the Kahlil Gibran prayer. When you're in it for the long haul, there are plenty of times of famine in the middle of the feasting. But the feasting is always worth the wait... (And I also maintain it is perfectly possible to fall in love over and over again...)