Thursday, November 19, 2015 – Beaumont le Roger to Portes
I am pensive today. I tell myself I should be thinking about terrorism and the approaching climate summit. But my mind is absorbed with personal matters.
Perhaps I am sensing the loss I feel around me, but today personal reflection takes center stage over the cares of the world.
I have not lost someone dearly close to me in a violent manner, nor could I pretend what that would be like. What does echo is this. Nowhere have I failed more stunningly than in love. Two failed marriages, one through my own stupidity and incompetence; the other through, well, unfortunate circumstances, let’s say. And earlier this year, I parted ways with the woman I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with.
I walk alone. The road is thin, moist, quiet, framed by sugar beets, wheat fields, forests. There are frequent gunshots, and I cringe to think of a deer hit, stunned, bloodied, dying.
The rain falls sad and warm today, and I sing Leonard Cohen:
I loved you in the morning,
Our kisses deep and warm.
Your hair upon the pillow,
Like a sleepy golden storm . . .
But now it’s come to distances,
And both of us must try.
Your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.
I meet a group of walkers on the road, and a charming, elderly couple invite me in for lunch: sausage, lentils, beets, lettuce. The vegetables are from their garden, which is adorned in abundance with Japanese lanterns.
The man gives me a stalk with six lanterns hanging from it and says it’s “L’amour en Cage,” or “Love in a Cage.”
“Love in a Cage!” What a sad, beautiful, mysterious name! The man opens the “cage” to reveal the bright red “love” seed within.
As I set out on the road, I think how lucky this man and woman are to have each other, to share their “love in a cage” together for so many years. I carry the sprig of bright orange lanterns with me the rest of the day’s walk.
A story Steve told me comes to mind. Apparently, geese mate for life. A friend of Steve’s who hunts geese said he’d seen the mate of a dead or dying goose return to circle its partner over and over, mourning its loss, without any concern for its own life.
How noble, admirable, heroic. That kind of devotion, commitment, steadfastness, is something I’d risk my life for.
I’ve craved a life partner for many years. As I walk alone, I think that perhaps I’ve worked too hard at trying to find her. Maybe it’s time to embrace a more zen-like approach. Don’t look for her. Let her come to me. And if it turns out she doesn’t come, doesn’t exist, resign myself to that reality and continue with grace and dignity to do the work that’s laid before me.
As I walk alone, I notice that the top two lanterns of L’amour en Cage are broken. “Perhaps these symbolize my two failed marriages,” I muse. I stop to look more closely at the other four cages. As I do, the wind blows the bottom lantern into the palm of my hand, where it remains lodged. I smile. “Perhaps that love seed is the one I’m waiting for,” I say. “Perhaps she will come on her own, when the time is right and the winds are favorable.”
I can’t say whether what happened next was confirmation or merely the ramblings of an overly-tired mind. Growing through a fence along the side of the road was a beautiful rose. The blossom had somehow pushed its way through, displaying itself in resplendent glory. The fence – its cage – only served to more clearly accentuate and articulate the rose’s beauty and independence.
Yes, perhaps there was hope – both for me in my personal struggles in the realm of love, and for the world in its struggles for peace and justice.