Press ‘Play’ below to listen to an audio version of this article, narrated by author Jack Adam Weber.
By Jack Adam Weber L.Ac., Dipl. C.H.
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
Some months ago a friend asked my support for her relationship heartbreak. During that conversation a voice in my head said, “We could be putting this love energy into our relationship with the planet, not into our private love affairs.” While this voice spoke to me in hyperbole, we don’t have to consider it in either/or terms, but on a spectrum for whatever feels to be our natural next step into caring more for our world. If you think this is a reasonable proposal, at least in part, let this be a seed for shifting from personal and insular love towards a more global love.
Romantic love, as marked by the celebration of Valentine’s Day, is a small part of the whole of love, for which we could all use some insights. According to legend, Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, a Roman priest who became famous, and eventually was executed, for his marrying of young men and women within the Christian church. He was punished for his acts because the emperor at the time, Claudius, banned marriage among youth because he thought that men who were married made weaker soldiers because of their family ties. Eventually, Saint Valentine disobeyed the mandate of Emperor Claudius, was caught, and was sentenced to a brutal execution. For this, Saint Valentine has remained a hero of romantic love.
In parallel, we discover that romantic love has its origins with the Troubadours. These guys are said to have invented romantic love, also referred to as “courtly love”, which is where we get the expression of “courting.” Despite this invention, what remains a reality of romantic love today is that first phase of falling in love with another person marked by hormone chaos and cloud-nine feelings, all of which have also been shown to mimic the experience of being on cocaine! This is why it’s tough to think rationally and break the addiction desire while in love. But wisdom tells us that if we can harness this power and use it as a practice to bring out something better in ourselves in service of a greater good, the rewards stand to be even greater. This brings us to the genius of the Troubadours and the wisdom of romance.
The Troubadours made a name for themselves not only through their poetry, but through their attempts to transcend romantic love. Their modus operandi was to fall in love with married women, yet demand nothing of them. This way they could enhance their feeling of unrequited love and their pathos of longing, which longing they devoted to God. This was the Troubadour’s psychic technology for moving beyond the small container of romantic love (so revered during modern Valentine’s Day) yet not denying it. They used romantic love as a practice to fall in love with something greater than themselves and one other person. This then begs the question, “How can we employ the Troubadour’s way of loving for a modern world crying out for our participation?”
Nowadays we don’t have to fall in love with married women or men to burn for God and the grail of unconditional love. But we can learn from the Troubadours of old insofar as not limiting the longing in our hearts to the whims of romance. Just like the Troubadours’ heart that filled with unrequited love, we might consciously choose to experience a little of this sacred burning, which feels like deprivation, for the sake of something more. Certainly it could serve as a welcome reprieve from the rollercoaster of romance, as well as a modest consolation for the collective burning we have done on the planet. Apart from holy penitence, though, such withholding of desire fulfillment can be a more mature and worthwhile use of our energy, time, and other resources, especially because our dear Earth needs as much love as we can give her. This Earth includes the indigenous people’s disappearing from their homelands, destitute people everywhere, and the ailing animals, forests, rivers, mountains, deserts, and prairies. So, instead of courting Cupid, we could get on our inner Robin Hood and start shifting some funds and love to those who need it most.
For those of us who understand “God” to be all of creation, we might consider shifting our love towards the earthy realms of divinity. The good news about this is that we get to see our Earthly love requited before our eyes, not just behind them, as was the case with the Troubadours! Our giving comes back to us in the form of satisfaction for the results of our actions, or simply knowing we acted justly. We also gain respect from those who care and appreciate our efforts. We can make good friends in the process, and benefit our communities. So, just like the Troubadours, we can embrace the love in our hearts and channel some of that care to the biosphere in need of love.
We could all stand to strengthen our vows with the beloved Earth beneath our feet, which daily nourishes our very bodies. Indeed, the passion of romantic love and the commitment of marriage can extend to our relationship with the natural world, as the grounded, embodied god that the Troubadours courted in the ethers. Frank O’Gara, a priest from Ireland says of Saint Valentine:
“If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you’re going to have to suffer. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”
So, as we approach Valentine’s Day and celebrate love, we can sanctify this largely superficial and unsustainable holiday to look more deeply into how and what we love, and to what degree. We can ask if this is where we want our love-energy to go. Devoting more of our energy to something larger than our personal love affairs is a noble endeavor because it means that we will likely feel a loss of immediate pleasure—a holy suffering of sorts—for the delayed gratification and deeper fulfillment that dedicating ourselves to something beyond our personal selves entails. This is what Father O’Gara refers to when he says, “Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature.” To devote more of our love towards the Earth, no matter our age, requires our bigger selves. This is maturity and responsibility, passion and compassion, for which Father wonders, “…is that young person ready for that?”
And this is the question I leave with you this Valentine’s, for no matter your age, there is youthful vigor in your heart that burns for something more, even beyond ordinary heartbreak. Happy Valentine’s Day to you.
Peace for Our Times
At the end of my articles I am going to try to offer a poem that speaks to the overall message of the prose. So, please click here to listen to a poem titled “Peace for Our Times”, recited from my upcoming collection, “Rebearth”.
“In Love” is Jack Adam Weber’s exquisite collection of love poems arranged according to the 5 elements, spanning all the seasons of intimate relationships, from the erotic and exuberant to the grounded and sacredly grievous (with no mushy nonsense!)
About the author:
Jack Adam Weber, L.Ac. is a Chinese medicine physician, author, celebrated poet, organic farmer, and activist for body-centered spirituality. His books, artwork, and provocative poems can be found at his website PoeticHealing.com. He is also the creator of The Nourish Practice, an Earth-based rejuvenation meditation. Weber is available by phone for medical consultations and life-coaching.