Today is National Coming Out Day. Being someone myself who tends toward a “big tent” version of sexual and relationship orientation, I’m inclined to include poly as something one might wish to “come out” about, though there’s definitely room for debate there. Alan of Poly In the News covered (a couple of years back) some of the discussion of whether polyamory is something that should be included in this observance; if you’re interested in reading more poly coming-out stories, check Bitsy’s page Openly Poly.
That said, today’s musings are stretching the boundaries of that tent even further, since they aren’t even on the topic of me coming out as poly. That would be pretty redundant, after all! I’m not even writing about coming out as bisexual or queer (though I could, and it’s worth some time on another day.) Today, however, I’m sharing something that I wrote in connection with my recent ministerial (re-)Ordination, which, in essence, is me coming (further) out about my own spiritual path — the path of Love.
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Meditations on Love as a spiritual path
“God is love.”
I heard that phrase over and over again as a child, sitting in (and out) of church. At the time, it seemed fairly straightforward to me. Love meant candy hearts, crooked valentines, and getting to go to the ice cream shop with my grandmother. I was also told that God (like Santa Claus) was everywhere and knew everything (even what I was thinking!), so my young mind easily transferred the concept of God to those tangible things: This meant God was a super-awesome Valentine sundae (how appropriate!) with candy hearts on top, and he loved me like my grandma. What’s not to like about that?
I felt one with God all the time. I sang with friends, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” and made gods-eyes in Vacation Bible School. The idea of His eyes on me was comforting, not frightening. Easter meant palm fronds (and shoes that pinched), hot cross buns, and jelly beans left by the mysterious Easter Bunny (who was connected to Jesus and the cross in some arcane way I assumed I’d understand when I was older.)
When I was young, I didn’t always understand people, but I always understood God. I found Him everywhere: in the lilacs and the crocuses, in the bright flash of redwing birds, and in my favorite “safe space,” the top of a neighbor’s tree, surrounded by green and bathed in sunlight. God was good, God was great, and God was Love. Simple, really.
Things got a little more complicated as I got older. Forced public confessions of my unworthiness; illogical conclusions from iffy translations of questionable doctrine; revelations of abuse, shenanigans, and hypocrisy in supposedly “Godly” examples on earth — all of these served to separate me from the spirit I’d felt when I was younger. How could I be told He loved me in one breath, and then told I was going to hell in the next? Why was I shamed and belittled for using the brain He had supposedly given me? How could God countenance such things as war and poverty and oil spills? Why was I bullied and shamed — and then also punished for either fleeing or for defending myself against my abusers? How was a loving God supposed to have anything to do with all of this? It didn’t make any sense, and as a young adult, I turned away from Christianity, disappointed, and disillusioned.
Years later, I reflected on these thoughts, as I sat in meditation on the eve of my (re-)Ordination the other day. Asked by the Temple through which I was Ordaining to dedicate to three particular Goddesses (of my choice), I struggled, because the way I’d dealt with the spiritual damage in my younger years was to flee from anything resembling a box or a structure or someone else’s idea of God/god/goddess/deity/spirit. How could I comply with their request, without dishonoring my own spirit?
Gradually I realized that I am following Love as a spiritual path. Not a particular personification of Love (like Aphrodite, Venus, Parvati, Freya, Jesus, or others), but Love itself: Love, the motivating force; Love, that keeps us together; Love, that’s all you (or I) need.
The more I reflected, the more I realized that my personal journey through relationships, marriage, parenthood, community and even paganism have all centered, in one way or another, around Love (or things relating to Love, like communicating with loved ones.) The more I’ve experienced Love — through things like Tantra and energy-sex — the more I believe that Love is a manifestation of spirit, present in all things, if we only are able to pay attention, and open ourselves to a level of knowing beyond our day-to-day existence.
So as a person, and as a Minister/Priestess, how do I manifest this spirit of Love into the world I live in every day? Being a polyamorous person, I’m fortunate to have an incredible amount of love in my life. So many of the good things I’ve learned in the past couple of decades have been about Love: how to get it, how to maintain it, how to communicate it, how to do it safely, speaking out in support of others’ (and my own) right to love in any way we choose. I try to bring this into my life on all levels. When I’m faced with challenging situations, I try to ask myself “What would Love do? In this moment right now, what brings me more in harmony with the universe, and with spirit?” I’m not always good at it (being human, and not made of 100% Love… yet, anyway), but to the degree I’m able to contemplate it and act in alignment with this principle, my life works a little better.
The more I think about it, the more I think that think maybe what I was taught as a child is a bit backwards. It’s not that God is love… it’s that Love is “God”: Love itself is the spirit that binds us together, that motivates us, that allows us to connect with ourselves, everyone around us, and outward into the universe.
How does Love manifest itself in your world? Do you align with a particular spiritual path, or do you find sacredness everywhere… or nowhere? Is God/dess Love, or the other way around? How does Love move you, change you, support you… or does it? I’d be particularly interested to know if being polyamorous influences your experience of Love. As always, feel free to write me back, or converse with me in Facebook, or in my blog.
May you always love boldly, safely and well,
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[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]