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Behold the Beloved..


“Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love.”

Did Norah Jones whisper it?  No.  Did Frank Sinatra croon it?  No.  Did Maria Muldaur write it?  No.  Did Yanni sing it?  No.  This line comes straight out of the Bible – from the Song of Solomon, chapter 5, verse 1.  Here’s some more:

“I gather my myrrh with my spice, I eat my honeycomb with my honey, I drink my wine with my milk.  I slept, but my heart was awake.  Listen!  My beloved is knocking.  Open to me, my sister, my love; my dove, my perfect one; for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.”

The Song of Solomon is a steamy romance between a man and a woman.  For thousands of years, Jewish and Christian theologians attempted to define the Song of Solomon as a long allegory about God’s love for humanity.  God was the lover and human beings were the beloved.  This was a creative interpretation of the text, but certainly not the first meaning that leaps off the pages.

Yet this spiritual, symbolic hearing of the Song was more than just an attempt to denature its very earthy sexuality.  Across religious boundaries, there is a long tradition of blurring the distinction between human and divine love.

The medieval Sufi poet, Rumi, put it this way:

“Lovers share a sacred decree –
to seek the Beloved.
They roll head over heels,
rushing toward the Beautiful One
like a torrent of water.”

Is the Beloved a man, a woman, or Allah?  Is God the Beautiful One, or is it the lover’s partner, or…. are they one and the same?  Once we fall into the torrent of love, might we be carried away into the very heart of God?  Whether it was God that made you head over heels in love in the first place, or another human being, is it not God into whom you will tumble?

There is so much about God to adore, so much about God that invites the title of Beloved.  I often experience my relationship with God as a romance.  Walking up the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais, I make love with the Gorgeous One who made, and keeps making, the stunning scenery that surrounds me.  I caress Her with my feet as I climb.

When Hindus greet each other, they bow and say “Namaste”, which means something like “I recognize God in you”.  To recognize the divine Beloved in the human “beloveds” around us – this is a high spiritiual practice.  If you seek God – the very essence of love itself – in the human beings around you, how much more likely that you will find the love of another human being along the way?  Becoming enamored with God is an end in itself, but it is also great “love practice” for connecting deeply with others.

“The voice of my beloved!  Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.  My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.  Look there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.”  (Song of Solomon 2: 8-9)

Like a yearning lover, bounding toward us with desire, God waits and watches for us.  And if we are ready to receive this hot and heavy love, ready to tumble into it, we might fall head over heels for each other, as well!

(This “musing” is from my “vault” – dated 2-15-2005.)


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