Michael Henry Dunn
The Soul Mate Who Wasn't - Chapter 7 of Romancing The Divine
One of the blessings of growing up in The Missionary New Age Church of Irish-Catholic Tribal Holistic Medicine was the example of my parents’ marriage. A word of disharmony between them was so rare as to constitute a historic event, a story to be retold with awe by us in later years ("Remember the time Dad told Mom she was acting like a child?!"). Everything they did as parents had one thought – with two aspects: what is the best and most perfect thing we can do for our children? And how can our passionate missionary partnership incorporate this best and most perfect thing into our holistic pediatric practice?
In other words, they were soul mates on a mission.
As you may know, whatever model of marriage you grow up with will be the unseen screen on which you project your image of a future spouse.
The operative word here being "project."
In my early twenties I had returned to our home in Chicago after some rough years in New York City. I was already well and truly haunted by the desire for the Lover which prompted you to pick up this book. I had looked in vain for an example of anyone who had experienced this intimacy without embracing celibacy and seclusion. Being by nature a romantic, I was not the sort of person to whom celibacy was attractive, and the idea of romancing the Goddess Herself (had it occurred to me then) would likely have drawn a shudder of Catholic shame. Though I did not yet have an intimate concept of Source, I knew that my life would be empty without God, and feared that no woman would be happy with second place. The possibility of finding both seemed quite remote. I was not looking for, and did not really believe in, a soul mate.
In other words, I was obliviously waiting to be ambushed by the first plausible projection of the anima (Carl Jung's concept of the inner feminine archetype) that came along.
A brief tale to make, I was drawn in to a love affair with a woman I met in artistic circles (let us call her Carrie). I had returned from something of an emotional wasteland in New York, and was starved for romance. We were working together on a creation of high-flown ideals, and so the promise of a mission hung in the air (it was only quasi-spiritual, but the verb here is "project," remember?). A sign of what was to come may have been given me by the fact that I disliked her on sight. Many an ill-fated affair has begun thus.
Suddenly, my genetic imprint and ancestral model kicked in, and all my passion for the Divine, for a life filled with beautiful purpose, was channeled towards, and projected onto the person of, this very human girl. I had fallen headlong into the lovely delusion of the soul mate.
The chemistry exploded into a blissful vision (not all of which I bothered to disclose to her): we would share a missionary passion for the theater; we would be artists, saints, and lovers; we would astonish the world even as we saved it, and we would make fabulous love until the end of time.
It ended badly.
More than badly, it ended excruciatingly. Upon the crash of it, I neither ate nor slept for several days. All the pain they sing about in the songs we love was suddenly real to me, and it was nothing to sing about. A clear choice lay before me. I knew that through sheer force of will I could overcome the obstacles in my path to win her back – at the cost of high damage to all involved. Or I could surrender the moment to the Divine, and rein in the rampant self-will that had exploded in my life.
I cried very hard. I prayed very hard. I ate very little. I slept not at all.
In trying to explain away the ensuing miracle, I told myself it was the result of the fasting, or of the sleeplessness, of an overheated brain and an exhausted nervous system. But these moments of rationalization were fleeting, for the bliss was not to be trifled with, and swept away all petty defenses.
It happened like this: I remember standing in the window of my fourth-floor walk-up apartment on the North Side of Chicago, four days into the pain, facing west into the sunset, and making one more supreme effort of surrender to the unknown Lover of this misguided love that had wrecked my heart.
And suddenly all was well. All was very much more than well. Suddenly it didn’t matter if Carrie came back to me, or if I ever found another. Joy flooded my heart without warning, a joy that was its own sweet reason for being. It filled my body from the heart outwards, and made breathing seem a frivolous distraction. I would have laughed aloud out of sheer amazement, but the bliss created its own intense silence and literally took my breath away.
This can’t last, I told myself. But then bliss wiped out thought and my breath vanished again. This was the Lover, and She would not be denied. I walked out into the brisk winter air, and still it went on. For two full days this great joy would hover and then swoop down, dipping into my soul with great splashes of ecstasy.
Somehow I knew that life would go on, that the bliss would ebb from this height, and that I was not now a saint, nor even halfway recovered from a badly broken heart. I knew that I needed time to heal, and that I had much to learn.
But I had tasted the reality of the Love for which I had hungered.
I am not saying that your heart must be shattered for the Divine to break in – but it often seems to be so. Spirit is shy – or as my master put it, ‚God has an inferiority complex – He doesn’t think much of Himself.‛ He will wait until He is sure you really want Him in place of anything else, sure that you really are seeking His will for you, and not your own.
That will is not always easy to discern, and to seek it is not a matter of blind surrender, blind faith, and meek abnegation of the dynamic power of your mind and will to some unseen Dictator. The Lover gave you a mind with which to unravel Her maze, as well as a heart with which to love Her. And each lover’s path to the Beloved is unlike any other, and I cannot say how yours will unfold. But the Lover will search out your heart to see if truly want Her love above any other.
Her love is perfect, you see, while ours, of course, is very much not so. And the Perfect Lover’s one desire is for the beloved’s joyful completion and happiness. If it is clear to the Lover that we believe there is greater joy to be found in the arms of another, She will turn aside and say, "I am joyful only in your own joy. I will wait."
I am not pretending I could easily manifest this degree of unconditional love today (if I should be blessed with a partner again in this life). I am only glad I haven’t been given that excruciating test again – a test which She chose to send instead to one who loved me. But we are speaking of how She loves us, not of our imperfect attempts to love Her back.
Mind you, back in Chicago in my twenties, after the heartbreak and the bliss, I still wanted the girl. If Carrie had returned from Baja and left the other fellow, and asked me to give her again the mystical Irish ring she’d sent back, if she’d rekindled the dream, I would have fallen back at once into the exquisite pain of it all (and I very nearly did).
But my surrender had allowed some merciful grace to flow and I was spared from an immediate recurrence. And lest I paint too gallant a picture of myself for you, I will confess that after some months, after the bliss had indeed ebbed from its height, I sought out (as deeply wounded lovers often will) someone who would want me more than I wanted her, someone I knew would not leave me, so that I would not be hurt again at once. And so I unwittingly kindled another’s hidden dream, and this new lover projected her yearnings onto me, as I had done onto Carrie – projected them onto one who could not fulfill them and who would before long break her heart, as mine had been broken.
I saw this clearly, and was haunted by the guilty certainty that I would hurt her. But more than this, I was haunted by the fleeting taste of blissful communion I had been given. And my new lover sensed that she had a Rival with whom she could not compete, while I secretly clung to my dashed hope that I might yet find both divine communion and human comfort.
But in that early haunted time, I was at last hungry enough, and desperate enough, and just purified enough, it would seem, to merit a dream of Light.
(Stay tuned for more chapters - or purchase the entire book, "Romancing The Divine" at this link.)