The image that “unconditional love” conjures is a trap.
Unconditional love implies perfection, perhaps a perpetual state of ecstatic connection. It’s the domain of the Divine. But we are human; we are imperfect. Our loves are not constant in their expression. But this is what makes them dynamic, keeps them alive. And, yes, I will tell you: Love does not die. Love survives – thrives -by changing.
Instead of a static image of love, we might be better served to take the moon as our guide. Here I have been gifted by the wisdom of Joanna Powell Colbert that she generously shares with stories from her life and has encoded into the Gaian Tarot’s Moon card:
“Each month the moon embodies the cycle of descent and return, as it waxes to fullness, wanes to darkness, and begins to wax again. The Moon is constantly changing, and She is utterly faithful in Her changes.”
The moon teaches us about renewing love.
First, there is the new seed of love planted when the moon is re-born in darkness. This is where we spark the vision: we dream of the new lover; we imagine the baby born, or, if this a love that has been through many cycles, a surprise, a forgiveness, an unexpected laugh opens a new door in an old relationship.
Then the light grows from crescent to quarter and beyond so you can see more clearly. Both beauty and challenge are revealed. Your love is made real and the person that contains this energy is exciting in their revelation of self. Of course, now you have to move from your internal vision into relating to another person. This requires adjustment, both to your vision and the reality of how you are together.
The full moon comes. The light is bliss inducing. Challenges and demands of the everyday can wait while you just let love flow.
The dark begins to stir, then grows stronger, but it is not your enemy. It is true that here is where you have to give love away. You may turn from the cocoon of a relationship’s support to bring love to projects or others in need. A new relationship may be revealing rough edges so you turn to a friend for comfort. The silence of your teenager at the dinner table is hard but then you start talking to other moms about being a parent. And all of this is love disseminating. As it goes out into the world, love ripples and increases. Love flows like water as the moon dissolves.
Then the few nights before the new moon are dark. The love relationship dies. I believe it was James Wells who recounted hearing the Jungian analyst Marion Woodman says that her 50 year marriage lasted so long because it died 4 times. Perhaps there is a rift or a fight or a difference has to be acknowledged and laid down in the dark for healing. Something new will have to emerge in the next cycle for the relationship to continue to be the container for love. Perhaps this relationship no longer serves and stepping away from it will allow love to enter in a different way. Perhaps there is physical death.
None of this ends Love. Because there is a flow of Love beyond our individual selves and it can carry you into a new cycle when the time is right. You may have to wait in the dark longer than you expected, but Love waits with you. Here a relationship as it was is surrendered. Or you startle yourself by forgiving or being forgiven. You didn’t know you could be held so beautifully when that wave of love comes toward you after your beloved dies. Or boundaries dissolve and you suddenly feel the love of your ancestors flow like energy through your body. In this, you are awakened to Love in a new way.
Because the flow of Love and each of our individual loves dance jubilant in light and renew themselves always in the dark.