When Love is Alchemy

January 29th, 2010

‘Love, in all its fragile forms, is the one powerful, enduring force that brings real meaning to our everyday lives…but the love I mean is the fire that burns inside us all, the inner warmth that prevents our soul from freezing in the winters of despair.’ -Bradley Grieves

I always thought of love as the exchange, the giving and the receiving of energy in the myriad forms of life exchanges. Knowing that we all experience love differently is what makes the exchanges so difficult for so many of us. Often unable to articulate what it would take for us to feel the love of our partner, we flail about in our relationships, feeling more emptiness than connection. We long to feel full of love but don’t know how to actually feel it when it’s aimed at us directly.

When love works, it is a transmission of goodness. It awakens the seed of goodness that lives in us. But many people do not get this transmission from the loving acts that other people offer them. It is not just a mental transfer that happens through words. Waking up the seed of our own loveliness is visceral. You feel it in your body. I remember learning that the love we extend happens through our heart center, and that the love we take in happens though our backs behind our heart. I am not alone with serious tightness and blockages behind my heart. Whether they are small compliments or deep gestures of generosity, learning to let the experience of being loved into our physical bodies is worthy of attention.

Opening up to receive love is only part of the work. In order for it to work its alchemical magic, there must be an internal space to hold this received love. This is how the seed of our own loveliness matures into a thriving energy that transforms our own life and can reach out to others. I never fully understood that while the process begins with the transmission of goodness from the outside, it is sustained by the container we create in ourselves for love to collect in us.

I never thought of myself as a chalice of love. Nor, have I really considered that all of the goodness that has come into me over the years has collected and grown there, making me more and more myself. For so long, I have focused on the exchange of loving gestures, that I never considered the paradigm that holds the love in you. Robin McKinley’s beautiful fable Chalice, a story that captured my imagination recently is the perfect metaphor for this new discovery. When love is alchemy it transforms us from the inside out. As the honey chalice in her story portrays, for love to work its miracles it must be something that sticks in you. It is the ability to hold our own goodness, sparked by others, but growing in our own conception of ourselves that heals us. Contemplating myself as a chalice of love is something that I think may change everything.

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