Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Category: Love (page 1 of 3)

The Third Whisper Of Love

Safe between the cold clouds and their rain 
How can I ever want for heat again?
This warmth will always be enough for me
No longer tepid and lukewarm I'll be.

And to hold one breath and another
That is yours as our spirit melds together
Who would want ever to speak to be heard
When all is listening already and always?

Yet how can I ever be silent
When in you there is all that is yet to be said?
Yet when I speak from you I hear another
The voice one of a third infinite lover.

But not one that would rend us asunder
No that's earths unjust storm and thunder
It's a soft whisper louder than breath
Louder even than that last drawn before death

But this soft trill is no harbinger of hate 
No this quiet voice heralds love's true fate
Which is to salve and heal the solitary one
And weave together untorn two once alone

And much more like the quiet gardener still
Plant unkillable seeds, water, wait and till
And reap fully a love once merely finitely
That embraces all enjoined in an everlasting trinity.

That Love of Loves

I still don’t know how that motorcyclist didn’t hit her. And me too I suppose.  Every so often I stop and wonder why. Considering what happened to her later. I just shake my head and muse upon the two memories I have of her.

We were standing at a bus stop. Near the Old Treasury Building in Brisbane. Waiting for the one solitary service that took us to Jimboomba and then Beaudesert. The time was about ten to five. I was early for a change. We were both standing near the edge of the footpath. She was on my right. That was both safe and dangerous.

As I looked to my right, I saw him. The glint of the sun on his helmet. White helmet, black rider, grey bike. He was going way too fast. His intent was to turn the corner to my left. But too late he realised his way was blocked. A car had stopped there. With nowhere to go, he jumped the footpath. And headed straight for us. And before I could reach out to grab her, he was past. He had turned back off the footpath. Back on the road to take the corner.

We just looked at each other. I mumbled something to the effect that I’m sorry I couldn’t get you out of the way. I completely forgot that I would’ve been hit first or been hit trying to save her.  Besides I only knew her vaguely. She had just started taking the bus.  As we had mutual acquaintances on the bus, I knew her name. I’d say hello. I had found out that she had finished school and had started her first job. That’s all I knew about her until that day or the next day, or another day, when she sat next to me.

There was something about her that day. A certain light in her eye. The way she held her smile lightly. How her dark brown hair circled her light face. How her pale skin seemed to shine with a quiet light. Yes she seemed more attractive than ever. Eighteen or nineteen? I wasn’t sure. But I knew it wasn’t me.

Normally, she sat with her friends, but not today. She sat herself down next to me and immediately began or resumed the conversation. She talked about her new job. I heard her enthusiasm and dedication. I thought it’s pleasing to hear someone telling me they loved their job. Just about everyone else I knew complained. But I heard another reason. One that brought it all together.

She told me. The two men in the seat behind me stopped talking. And started to listen too. But they thought she was talking about something else. During our conversation, I could hear the remarks they were making. It has nothing to do with me, I thought. And resisted the temptation to drape my arm over the seat, lean over and set them straight.

For here sitting next to me was a girl in love. For the very first time I thought.  And she was in love with everything now. So it didn’t matter who she told. Or how she told it. For to her it was the real thing. For she was telling me about both sides of this love : the joy and the difficulties too.  Behind me I knew the two watchers could see her moving around as she spoke to me. They thought something else was happening.  But they could not have been more wrong. Here was someone jumping out of her skin with an ultimate joy.

She was infatuated that was true. She spoke extraordinarily highly of her boyfriend. But mentioned how it wasn’t easy to see each other. And how they stayed in touch despite the distance. For this was before smartphones, social media and apps. Call me or don’t call me. Write me or don’t. And they were doing both! I mused to myself, she knows the way ahead isn’t easy but doesn’t care.

And she was in love now with the world. And that is what my backseat companions didn’t realise.  Once in love with love, now all was love. And that brought me joy and comfort in my situation.

And then the light went out. For I never saw her again. And then I heard what happened to her. But she had seen, heard and felt that love of loves.

 

 

Let Love

Love when your outstretched hands wake you.
Love till your eyelids gently call you to sleep.
Let love master you and you be in thrall to love.
For love will free you what would thwart love.
Love calls from the sunset through the twilight
Love dwells in the dark and calls to the light
Love sinks to the depths and raises you to the sky
Love holds your soul to let your spirit soar on high
Let love envelope you and teach you of itself
Let love call to the wellspring and source of love
Let your love's yearning be to dwell in that love
Let that love call to and draw out the  love of others
And if loves touch leaves you
Even if it takes a lifetime
Love will call itself to you
And that will be the joy in love.

The Child that changed Everything

I was handed a small child in a bundle. I briefly held you. Then I returned you to the midwives. They filled a small bath with water, tested it with wrist or elbow I don’t recall exactly. They then started to wash you. You cried just a little and then you relaxed. They laved you gently, picked you up and then dried you. You enjoyed that. They then wrapped you up and handed you back to me.

This is what I saw. Two bright eyes. Eyes that even at the moments after birth missed nothing. Eyes that took everything in. In those moments you were already who you were meant to be. You were born complete.

I met someone who had entered life and just wanted to get on with it. It was like you had been waiting to enter life and at last it had finally happened. And that’s exactly how you have grown.

 

In that moment I realised my calling. It was to ensure life continued : starting with you. After that everything was different.

The Fifth Love

Of a morning, I’m woken up by the song Higher Love by Steve Winwood. And not every morning, I ask myself, “What is this song really about?””Where is this higher love he keeps thinking of anyway?” Perhaps this higher love might be one of C. S. Lewis‘s The Four Loves:

  • Storge: Love experienced by and for family members, companions or colleagues. As anyone would know this is a love of boundaries and a subsuming of personality.
  • Philia: Love experienced through friendship which may of course have flexible boundaries and an extension of personality but there are still boundaries.
  • Agape: Altruistic, unselfish love experienced through being kind to strangers or generous to those we do love.
  • Eros: Erotic, romantic, infatuated love which is joyous until the deinfatuation occurs.

Connected or Disconnected (Logan Troxell)

As a father, son, brother, friend, colleague, husband, lover and occasional altruist, I’ve experienced all of these loves. I’ve especially written about agape love in On Unselfish Love and explored it further in Rumi’s Puzzle of Love.

But for me, sadly, these loves have an element of impersonality as they are restricted by boundaries in one way or another. All in all these loves have a sense of disconnectedness about them.

But as Steve Winwood hinted, when he woke me up, there is another love, a fifth love, if you will, a love that simply does not fit the above categories. I’ve been touched by and wrote about that love in Love, Science Fiction and Understanding. I’ve heard it hinted at in the writings of Rumi and Donne and many others. I’ve seen it in action during the beautiful relationship of a favourite uncle and dear aunt.

But as an aspiring poet and storyteller, I still feel I’m grasping at air. Try though I might, I cannot define it, let alone describe it. It seemed as if the answer was out of sight and out of hearing. An answer, it seems, that the heart knows but won’t tell.

And at an unexpected place and an unexpected time, I find the beginnings of that answer.

I’m in Colombo International Airport, Sri Lanka after attending my friends’ wedding. I have four or five hours to wait for my flight as it leaves well after midnight. I sigh and reach into my bag. I retrieve Joseph Campbell‘s the Power of Myth and try (and again fail) to read it. For every single time I read this book, I become lost with new thoughts and feelings. And this night, in an airport slowly being emptied of travellers, it’s again the same.

I randomly choose a chapter, Tales of Love and Marriage. In the first page, Campbell starts talking about the medieval troubadours.  My first tired thought is, “This isn’t for me.” My next thought is,”I have three or four hours, so read.” I read on. And I read something that catches my breath for an eternity. Campbell sets aside the concepts of Eros and Agape as respectively a biological urge (infatuation) and a charitable (spiritual) love. He introduces the term Amor, a person-to-person love, a love based on connection that exceeds any of the four loves. Much much later, I’m reminded of that phrase so many people use to describe a failed love, “We didn’t have a connection.” They’re right.

An answer in Plain Sight? (Dominik Schroder)

That night everything falls into place. For this love is one that looks into the eyes of another and sees not only their heart and soul but the rest of the universe as well. This love is one that will explore the known and unknown, knowing that all will never be revealed. This love is one that is based on vulnerability, compassion and courage. This love, this fifth love, demands a price but pays bountifully.

 

The Reverse Golden Rule

Somewhere in Australia, someone is gloating over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was fuming over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

Somewhere in Australia, someone is fuming over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was gloating over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

If it sounds like the reverse Golden Rule, it is. Hate others before they hate you.

These haters will never convince us not to attempt to live in harmony.

And we who attempt to live in harmony regardless of race, sex, creed, etc, etc, are the majority.

An opportunity to do unto others.

An opportunity to do unto others.

For we who attempt to live in harmony have bent ourselves towards the whispered breeze of love that calls us toward the Golden Rule.

Love others as they love you: before, during and after.

Continue reading

The Reverse Golden Rule

Somewhere in Australia, someone is gloating over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was fuming over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

Somewhere in Australia, someone is fuming over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was gloating over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

If it sounds like the reverse Golden Rule, it is. Hate others before they hate you.

These haters will never convince us not to attempt to live in harmony.

And we who attempt to live in harmony regardless of race, sex, creed, etc, etc, are the majority.

An opportunity to do unto others.

An opportunity to do unto others.

For we who attempt to live in harmony have bent ourselves towards the whispered breeze of love that calls us toward the Golden Rule.

Love others as they love you: before, during and after.

Continue reading

From a Wedding, Hope

I’ve just returned from an overseas wedding in Sri Lanka.

It was nothing short of extraordinary.

The venue was beautiful. A seaside hotel (Chayya Tranz Hikkaduwa) with the couple marrying on the beach at sunset.

The ceremony was heartfelt. Two people I know well were taking the greatest step in their lives with open eyes and united hearts.

The reception was unforgettable. It melded tradition and culture in a thoughtful and touching way. There was a candle lighting ceremony, mesmerising entertainment and spectacular fireworks. The food and wine were sublime.

The guests too were an international menu. People from Pakistan, China, France, England, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Australia, etc, etc and Sri Lanka itself gathered together to celebrate this marriage.

And then I saw this.  Right in front of me, I could see that from the thread of different races, cultures and religions, a new cloth was being woven through the love of a couple, their families and friends.

New friendships were being made and old ones revitalised regardless of race, culture or religion.

And for someone more conscious of a world riven by conflict and sadness, that gave me hope.

 

Love, Science Fiction and Understanding

I lived in a small town (Kiama, New South Wales, Australia) which had, for me, too small a library. It consisted of three sections:
  • children
  • adult non-fiction and
  • adult fiction.
{{Information |Description=Ames Memorial Library, North Easton, Massachusetts, USA. H. H. Richardson, architect. Interior view from 2nd floor of stacks. |Source=self-made |Date=May 5, 2007. |Author=User:Daderot }}

{{Information |Description=Ames Memorial Library, North Easton, Massachusetts, USA. H. H. Richardson, architect. Interior view from 2nd floor of stacks. |Source=self-made |Date=May 5, 2007. |Author=User:Daderot }}

As a child I worked my way through the children’s book section. I enjoyed children’s books (and still do) especially the child version of the Greek myths. Once I exhausted that I began the non-fiction section. I can remember reading The Peter Principle which was hilarious although I didn’t know why. I also read Kluber-Ross On Death and Dying which was was a very difficult if not an entirely comforting read.

I then ran out of books to read. Only the fiction section left. Which left me in a quandary. It was the fiction section or another library. Up until then the only adult fiction I had seen were the books my mother had borrowed. With few exceptions, they were detective fiction. I can remember trying to read one or two of them. They weren’t engaging at all. Had my mother been a fan of spy fiction, my life may have turned out differently!So I’m standing in the library choosing my next book. And it has to be fiction. And it came down to detective fiction (in my mind’s eye most of the remaining books) or science fiction. Science fiction won by default. And I became immersed. Asimov, Clarke, etc, all brilliant minds and spellbinding story tellers. Then I discovered Ray Bradbury. I read his short stories first. I loved, still can remember and tell, his classic “Sound of Thunder”. Then I discovered his amazing novella Fahrenheit 451. The setting was familiar but the story was unique.

Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian future which chillingly now resembles the present. The story centres on a fireman called Montag who doesn’t put out fires, he starts them to burn books. But it wasn’t his character that fascinated me. It was Clarisse McClennan, a teenage misfit who finds Montag out.

As a teenager I thought his depiction of a relationship between a 17 year old girl and a 30 something fireman as follows quite fictional: “He felt she was walking in a circle about him, turning him end for end, shaking him quietly, and emptying his pockets without once moving herself.” (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451). How could it be possible for someone, anyone to find out another’s unexpressed innermost thoughts? How can anyone listen to another that way? Yet how beautiful such an understanding of heart would be!

And then it happened to me! I was found out. I still don’t know how. I had managed to keep my innermost thoughts and feelings sealed.  Like Clarisse again….”How rarely did other people’s faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?…” (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451).

And this person glimpsed something more within me. And I saw the same. But little came of it. We parted, I tried to keep in contact and it was lost. And so was I. It had never happened to me before: yet I knew that this was what I always had ever wanted : my reason to live and my passion to love.  I thought it would never happen again. I simply put the episode aside as a random touch. I covered it over and tried to forget about it.

Since then only a small handful of people since have glimpsed me beyond that barrier. And then only momentarily.

And then it happened again. So unexpectedly that in the middle of it, I felt woken from a long nap and shocked into reality. I remembered what was happening and how it matched the past. But it went beyond that : it deepened and expanded like an ocean without horizons. What I slowly realised that this time I was listening that way too. I found out that through my stillness people would express their innermost thoughts.

Just like Clarisse…“She was like the eager watcher of a marionette show, anticipating each flicker of an eyelid, each gesture of his hand, each flick of a finger, the moment before it began…He felt that if his eye itched, she might blink. And if the muscles of his jaws stretched imperceptibly, she would yawn long before he would.” (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451).

I still identify with those words and the character that spoke them. I still feel that I’m in a science fiction novel : inhabiting a world of people so at times so unlike me and seemingly removed from who I am.

And like Clarisse from Fahrenheit 451, my life’s yearning is to seek that connection and nurture and keep it if I can. But it’s so rare, that when it happens (as Chrissie Amphlett of the Divinyls sings) it can’t be of this world.

But isn’t that the understanding that everyone needs?

The Parent Trap (Who Are The Best Parents?)

It was a great party. I’m mingling with strangers asking them how they knew the guest of honour. It was easy. All I had to do was be quiet and let them talk.

Businesswoman Blowing Out the Candles on Her Birthday Cake

I was having a very enjoyable time until…

The conversation turned to parenting. Initially it was easy to listen. I’m a parent and the speaker just happened to be the second best looking  person in the room.

But then this one person put it to me that only natural parents are the best parents.

I was taken aback.  I didn’t really respond. I side stepped and said that all parenting is challenging. Then I side stepped again and changed  the subject. Then ended the conversation and spoke to someone else. Thinking back it really wasn’t much of a response at all.

Since then however that idea that only natural parents are the best has recurred. The last time it recurred it was refuted by my children (see Mothers Day is for Everyone). Not by me. Otherwise I’ve tried to ignore it. Until the latest recurrence. Then I got what being a parent really is.

We’re sitting at a table and my friend looks out the window. She sees a child crying and instantly is involved. I look and see that he has just fallen over. His mother quickly picks him up.  I look again and his mother has enfolded him in her arms. I said he’ll be comforted in a minute. And he was. Travelers with Baby in Stroller

And then a family walks in. Two adults and a small child. They’re meeting friends. The child jumps up and laughs as each adult leans down and gives him a high-five. Again my friend is enjoying herself. As am I. Until…

The conversation turns to parenting.

But it’s different this time.  My friend reveals that she had been a step mother. Listening to her story, I sense here is someone who became a parent through circumstance and thoroughly embraced and enjoyed it. Listening to what my friend says encapsulates exactly what I did and how I felt and acted as a parent. Listening to what she says completely challenges the view of the woman I met at the party. I hope they never meet. On second thought they should meet. It would be an interesting conversation.

But the question remains unanswered. Is physically having a child the only prerequisite to being a good parent?

In no way am I denigrating the physical bond between mother and child. I have friends and relatives who have lost children through miscarriage and early death. The pain is absolutely indescribable and always unforgettable. Even as a parent I can offer no empathy just mere sympathy.

But if the woman at the party is right, then there are quite a few groups of people who would be excluded from being a good parent.

The first and most extensive would be men. The ineligibility of men as parents is happily embraced by mainstream advertising : dumb inept father and smart adept mother.  That ineptitude is being refuted by the all too rare stories of men who are successful sole parents or stay at home parents. Obviously they neither identify with nor are discouraged by that stereotype.

Then there are foster parents. Whilst working as a trainer for a government department I remember reading a newsletter praising a pair of long-time foster parents. These people had looked after children in all kinds of hardship for over thirty years.  Not only were they ineligible but they didn’t retain the children. Yet they were certainly parents and recognised as such.

Next are adoptive parents. I can recall conversing with a woman who was adopting her second children from overseas. To adopt even in this country is a difficult process yet to adopt again from overseas was well-nigh impossible. Even after the first child she still did not know what to expect. But she was going to be a parent though ineligible.

Dad with little son outdoors at ocean

And finally step parents. Much like my friend and my ex-partner and even me, the strong natural bond just doesn’t  exist. Consequently, there’s that initial sense of I’m not really a parent. In that place it’s easy to walk away or not get  involved. Yet there is a child that needs love and help and that supersedes anything else. And you either embrace it  or you don’t.

 The next time I see my friend, the conversation again turns to parenting. I tell her the Mothers Day is for  Everyone story. She gets it.

And in telling the story I finally get it. The best parents are those who choose freely to be a parent and embrace it  wholeheartedly.

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