One afternoon, in Stuffy Old England, more than a century ago, the poet & artist, William Blake, had a visitor. “Come in,” he called. “We’re in the garden.” And there were Blake and his wife, stark naked, reading Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost to each other.
The visitor left the garden quickly and went into the house where the Blakes soon followed him. Blake said to his shamefaced friend, “What’s wrong? It’s only Adam and Eve, you know!”
Many of us learned to be ashamed of our bodies, and for that matter, of our sexual feelings very early. Perhaps we were taught that sexual love was suitable only for married couples and should take only place in the dark. Perhaps we were taught that too much interest in such things was a sign of immaturity or evil.
We hold remnants of a lot of goofy old ideas. Some people really believed that there were “good” and “bad” women and only the bad ones enjoyed sex. We seem to have a love/hate relationship with our bodies and sexual desires. Our movies and TV stories are stuffed with our yearning for romantic love at the same time we deny it is possible.
It was during the days of chivalry that the idea of “romantic” love as separate from sexual union was invented in the Western World. The idea was that romance had a deeper spiritual component and from that we got the whole virgin and whore syndrome.
As a young woman, we girls argued often about whether or not one could possibly enjoy sex without being “in love”. Despite the stuff in the media, most of us still hold remnants of these ideas. It is fun to be romantic on Valentine’s Day and we should never be ashamed of our bodies and our natural drives. (Although we certainly want to be loving and responsible about our behavior.)
More than a hundred years after the Victorian Age, some of us are still living in that repressed belief system. During the rule of rule of England’s Queen Victoria, she is supposed to have counseled young wives to, “lie still and think of England” during sexual intercourse.
Some of our repressed ideas are from an even earlier age. They come from the early years of the Christian religion when Saint Augustine decided that men should love God, and not be tempted by women. He thought men were better off celibate and we see how that works for priests. Those were ignorant times. There were serious debates about whether or not women had souls in those days. They had souls, all right but they had very few rights or power.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I offer some thoughts on romantic and sexual love. We are created in the image and likeness of God and that is the Creative Principle of Life. God is Love, working in our lives through spiritual Law. God is a Power For Good in our lives and we can express it in all our relationships.
God created us in love and we are born to express love. That is a basic truth that we hear in New Thought churches but there is little said about romantic love or sexual activity beyond praying to meet the perfect right partner.
Some people actually come to church to meet that perfect right partner. Perhaps we are lonely, and want someone to complete us. If we stick around, we will discover that we must love ourselves first.
“You complete me” was a great line in a good movie but the Truth is… No one can complete you. You must discover your own completeness in order to understand your own worth and spiritual magnificence.
One thing I hope we all know is there is nothing wrong with wanting a partner to love. Our bodies are made to express love. It is normal and natural and in obeys life’s purpose to love. If we choose to truly express love and not just create a power play or manipulation, it is good. How could it be anything else?
There are many ways to love. One way is to marry a person of the opposite sex and have some kids. I heard of a couple recently that was celebrating over 80 years together. Yes, it can be nice to find true love young and stay with it but that is not the only good or acceptable way. If a relationship is not loving, divorce is not failure, it is an intelligent response.
Some people stay single and if they are happy, that’s fine. It is also possible to find love and stay away from marriage. It is possible to be celibate and be happy and sexually active and be happy. The main thing is to make choices that work for you as an individual, not for your parents or parent’s parents.
Some people choose to remarry and, statistically, second marriages work better than the first one. I knew a man who was happy in his fifth try. He must have done a lot of growing and changing along the way and I salute his optimism. Optimism helps and so does spiritual growth. I know several people who are happy in their third marriages.
Every couple should have the marriage choice if they want it. I know same-sex couples who have been together for many years and they would like an official marriage. There is no question in my mind that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry just like the rest of us. Why in the world should anyone care?
As you enjoy your day, take a moment to enjoy the vision of William Blake and his wife reading poetry to each other in their little English Eden. I hope it makes you smile. Blake was a deeply spiritual man and his work has helped set this culture free from some of our nonsensical beliefs. I think of him as being a person who knew who and what he was. It is not surprising that he was happy reading classical poetry to his wife, while naked in his garden.
Blake lived in Joy. Without pretense, without waiting for perfect conditions, without shame. He welcomed his friend into the Garden of Eden, without embarrassment, because he knew the Truth that sets us free – that we are all spiritual beings, created in the image and likeness of God. And knowing that creates joy just to think about, doesn’t it?
This Valentine’s Day, and every day, won’t you take a moment to see yourself in Joy? And feel the Joy? Feel the freedom, the love and the internal permission to enjoy life that is yours by right of Divine Inheritance.
Do I love my body?
Am I willing to use this affirmation?
I love my body, as it is, right now.
Am I in Joy now?
Am I willing to use this affirmation?
I am Joy in action.