The great Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883–April 10, 1931) explores in one of the most striking passages from The Prophet (public library) the 1923 classic that gave us what perhaps, is the finest advice ever imparted on the balance of intimacy and independence in healthy relationships.
Speaking of the incongruity of human impulse to cringe before the diversity of love — to run from its uncertainties and frustrations at the cost of its deepest rewards — Gibran comes up with an incantation of courage:
“When love beckons to you, follow him,Though his ways are hard and steep.And when his wings enfold you yield to him,Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.And when he speaks to you believe in him,Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.He threshes you to make you naked.He sifts you to free you from your husks.He grinds you to whiteness.He kneads you until you are pliant;And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;For love is sufficient unto love.”
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