I didn’t have a lot of downtime this weekend really, but I’m in a really good mood this morning. Such a good mood that I’m setting aside what I had planned for this morning (including an essay on my experience with gay marriage) but instead I want to share this feeling of love and hope I have this morning.
As we are quickly speeding towards mid-year, I have to reflect that 2012 has not been very kind to me, but I didn’t expect the Year of the Dragon to be flowing with milk and honey for a dog sign. I’ve broken a lease, taken a cut in pay and lost my car. The first two were my choice and necessary for my well-being. The last was a surprise, and an unwelcome one. I’ve also seen friendly business people subtly ice up and close down when they learn of what I do for a living. I think all is well until I analyze the encounter afterward, and recall shifts in body language and language. I’ve also been dealing with a crisis of faith, in which I find all that sustained me before to be stale and flavorless, and I’m not certain where to look and find the spiritual food I seek.
Yes, 2012 has not been kind.
Yet this morning I’m profoundly happy. My heart is full of love. Why?
I have dear chosen-family who endure my quirks and have given me safe space to work and live. I have colleagues who inspire me. I have friends who are endlessly creative, funny and kind. And I woke this morning and realized I had lost my hope and faith in love. Yet, somehow, under cover of dreams, that has returned.
I think about Pandora a lot. Likely because Hephaistos is the base camp from which I explore Greek religion, and he influenced humanity in three key ways: directly teaching them blacksmithing, indirectly giving them fire via Prometheus, and by creating Pandora. The All-Gifted, I have come to think of her as my primordial Mother. I see in her a symbol of humanity’s evolution from primitive man into homo sapiens. While it’s common to think of her as the one who released darkness into the world, I don’t think that makes sense. Negative things existed before her. People got sick and died. There was drought, plague and strife before Pandora. I think the key to her story is not to focus on the negativity, because when is it ever helpful to focus on negativity? I think the key to Pandora is in the action word so closely associated with her: release.What a gift, to be able to release the darkness that holds us back, and bear hope forward. I think the hope held in the jar speaks to the secret, private nature of hope, and of the internal flame which keeps us working towards the future. Who would invent, bear children, build a house or plant a field if they had no hope for tomorrow? The torch is a recurring symbol in Hellenic religion, and I think the hope Pandora carries is yet another torch, one that cannot easily be extinguished.
However, one of the ancient writers derided hope as an affliction (I cannot find the reference at the moment). There is a truth there that worries me. I think it is because hope is related to love. If you do not love, or have hope of love, then the world is a bleak and dreary place.
Despite how bleak this year has seemed, it has been a great year for renewing my faith in love. Slowly, bit by bit, I have found I believe in love again. I did not even realize I had lost faith in it until it returned. Why has it returned? Because I’ve made it my priority to surround myself with loving supportive people. Love is something that exists between people, and it’s hard to have faith in something if you have not witnessed it. You have to be able to give a testimony of love in your life. Human love feeds hope, and divine love cannot replace it. The Gods don’t need hope, but humanity does. Which is why it was given to the All-Gifted Pandora, the first woman, from whom we are all descended. Our hope comes from her. A human thing gifted by the Gods.
If you need hope in your life, surround yourself with human love in all it’s forms. Surround yourself with people who love and accept you for who you are, and release the rest. It’s hard at first, trying to hold onto people who do not love and accept you, trying to find some way to make yourself acceptable to people who need you to fit a particular mold to earn a crumb of their love. You don’t have to banish these people from your life, but you do need to release them and their hold over your heart. It hurts and it’s hard, but then one morning you will wake up and discover your faith in love has returned.
Love returns to your heart like an old friend and whispers to you conspiratorially of the adventures to come.
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.