How Love Emerges


Creative works which make such powerful impressions that we never forget them hold valuable lessons because they always depict the themes of our soul’s journey, usually in symbols that become deeply meaningful to us. This can be true of something as simple as a folk song or as complex as a symphony.

In the early years of our marriage my husband and I saw the film Blume in Love, starring George Segal and Susan Anspach. As we used to say in the 70’s, it “blew my mind!” There on the screen was a couple I could identify with. Blume was a successful young attorney blithely immersed in his work. Nina was a sensitive, serious-minded, idealistic social worker who sought inner peace and wanted to save the world.

While these two loved each other very much, both were self-absorbed and neither had a clue about the other’s inner reality. Nina’s discovery of Blume in their bed with his secretary resulted in their divorce and initiated a painful maturing process in which Blume came to see Nina’s significance as an individual in her own right, and Nina began to empower her true self while softening and forgiving Blume for being human.

Although the plot details were different, this romantic comedy portrayed a variation on our theme and depicted the essential challenge of every couple in an intimate partnership: to learn how to love. As a shockingly innocent and ignorant product of 1950’s and 60’s social conditioning, I was finally getting it that marriage is not a happily-ever-after instant fix involving two separate individuals whose roles and feelings will never change, but a container for soul-making. Every committed relationship is, in fact, a crucible in which two souls are melted down, refined and transformed in the evolutionary fires of change.

Blume in Love showed me that both partners will make sacrifices, suffer, be tempted, and make mistakes. And if love is to grow and last, each will need to understand that the other has equal merit and deserves equal rights and respect. This is how we learn to love.

The film’s ending in which Blume and Nina are reconciled in Venice’s Piazza San Marco taught me another archetypal truth: In a relationship that survives this ordeal, both partners can experience a revitalizing new birth. Notice how this theme is symbolized by Nina’s pregnancy in the image above.

In the years since I first saw this film, I’ve had many dreams about being pregnant. Although I rarely understood them fully at the time, in retrospect I see that they signaled gestating new life of some kind that would soon emerge into my consciousness. Blume in Love made a powerful impact on me and the Self adopted its symbolism to advance my consciousness.

An earlier version of this post was originally published in January of 2012. Synchronistically, as I was writing it, my editor who was helping me prepare my book Healing the Sacred Divide for publication, sent me an e-mail containing the following quote by Adyashanti (from Emptiness Dancing). It’s a very apt ending for these musings about relationships:

“Most relationships start out as unconscious relationships. When the light of awakeness comes to shine inside of that relationship, the unconsciousness within it is going to be revealed. It’s very important not to spiritualize it when it gets revealed. Some people want to spiritualize their relationship instead of making it conscious. They want to make it into a spiritualized fantasy in which their partner meets all their spiritual ideas about what a relationship could be. They think they know what it’s supposed to be like, what it could be like, where it’s going to go.

“When you ease back from that, you return to something that’s very intimate and innocent, where you are finally willing to tell the truth, not to hide, not to force consciousness into some relationship agenda, but to simply let it emerge. Then you never know what it will be like at any moment —  how consciousness, awakeness, and love are going to want to emerge.”

What books and movies fascinate you? How have they helped love emerge?

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, will be launched next year.

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0 Responses

  1. I’m not sure about movies; the one I recall going to when my husband and I were still teenagers was The Mission and we came home and cried. It was the first time of only 3 times in our 27 years I’ve seen him cry. The last time was when the dog died 18 months ago.
    Books that have opened my eyes to the story beneath the story might include the Starbridge series of novels by English novelist Susan Howatch, and anything in the works of comic novelist Terry Pratchett. His novel, The Night Watch made me howl.
    I’ll have to go and think about this but also the process of writing fiction has helped me see things differently. The novel series I believe my best is yet unpublished, and yet when I wrote each one, I felt as if I had uncovered something incredibly powerful for myself. It may be why they are still sitting on my hard drive: I’m not ready to share them
    Wonderful, lyrically honest post.

    1. Hi Viv,
      Writing helps me see differently too. Just keeping a dream diary in which I write all my insights and associations with dream themes, images, and emotions, has been very empowering. I think it has to do with how when you write your insights down they’re readily accessible and therefore more apt to be remembered. I can totally forget about a dream or what I learned from it in only a few days, but when I go back to my dream diary, there it is! Eventually, the re-remembering goes on long enough that I stay conscious of the insight so that I can act on its wisdom in the moment instead of beating myself up hours later for not seeing the situation as it was and not handling it consciously.
      Thanks for writing. I look forward to reading your new novel series when you’re ready to share it!

  2. Thanks for your post. I can certainly relate both as a husband and a writer. I’ve experienced exactly this rebirth. Incredibly tough, but extraordinary. I think you know you really love someone when you are willing to grow together, to challenge and support each other at every stage of the journey. I think too many people these days underestimate what this really takes, what true love and commitment mean in practice, so they jump ship without experiencing this wonderful transformation. Incidentally, I’ve spent the last 15 years studying and writing on Homer’s Iliad and here too, Achilles’ is moved to grow by the love he has of his companion Patroklos. From this, we watch as his own ability to love, his humanity no less, is restored until this destroyer of men is reborn as a great healer.

    1. Thank you, James. Yes, jumping ship is all too common, and pretty tragic too, especially if you’re surrounded by an ocean of unconsciousness — as we all are, of course! So sad that to many egos, drowning in the dark appears more attractive than tolerating the pain of growing into the light! I read your post about the Iliad and found it very interesting. I think love is the biggest and most powerful transformer there is. Perhaps that’s why humanity has always associated God with love.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. You mean there is no such as a “knight in shining armor” coming to swoop you away? I remember this movie very well, although I hadn’t thought about it lately. It too woke me to the concept of maturing and growing a relationship. I enjoyed the movie very much.
    A movie of that era that impacted me was “The Graduate.” Plastics. Plastics? Yes, Ben, plastics.
    I remember thinking, “Is that it? I graduate, get a job, sit by a pool, drink Vodka, have an affair with my neighbor’s wife, and live happily ever after? Whatever that life represented it became clear I wanted something very different. I completely related to Benjamin Braddock.
    And in the category of “Since You Didn’t Ask?” The next gal I dated after “Blume” looked just like Susan Anspach. Nice memory, although I’m not sure that has anything to do with your blog. Haven’t had my coffee yet, Jeanie, but it’s been fun. Your posts are always terrific.

    1. Hi Charlie,
      I thought The Graduate was interesting, but maybe because I was a young woman I identified more with Mrs. Robinson’s beautiful, but somewhat “vacant” daughter than Ben! Like her, I guess I was still waiting for the “knight in shining armor” to swoop me away.I suppose when one still sees movies purely as entertainment and doesn’t pay much attention to archetypal meanings or realize one has both a feminine and a masculine side, one generally identifies more with characters of one’s own gender! In checking the dates of these films I see that The Graduate came out in 1967, six years before Blume in Love. I guess I did a lot of growing in the intervening years! In fact, I know I did. By the time I saw Blume in Love I had two small children!
      Speaking of Susan Anspach, I, too, thought she was wonderful. Did you ever see the movie she starred in a few years later called Montenegro? (1981) She played an American woman living in Europe who was going quietly crazy and ended up quietly poisoning her family. Very shocking. But once again, I heard a valuable message about the ‘quiet desperation’ that is so often hidden by the beautiful and capable masks so many women felt forced to wear in those days! She played some wonderful characters who were struggling with the narrowness of women’s roles and I suspect I wasn’t the only woman these films helped wake up! In that regard, she has very much to do with my blog!
      Thanks, Charlie.

  4. Jeanie, There is little I can add to your outstanding post and the insights in your reader’s comments.
    After 56 years of ups and downs and a near break that thankfully brought new realizations, a revitalized commitment and deepening love, when we discovered the difference between projections of an ideal and the true reality of one another. I feel blessed.
    As to a movie or novel that speaks this truth–at this point I say that nothing has done it better than today’s post. Thanks again for sharing your gifts

    1. Thank you, Sally. This struggle to see and withdraw our projections and accept the real person beneath is archetypal and essential to acquiring compassion and becoming more conscious. It’s a long journey, but those of us who are finding a way through the mist without just hanging our projections onto someone else in a never-ending cycle are, indeed, blessed! Now if we could just learn to withdraw our projections from political figures and social issues….. 🙂 Love, Jeanie

  5. Once upon a time two seeds slept side by side deep in the earth all winter long. One day, without warning, without a word, one of the seeds awoke, aching for light. It nudged the other awake, and soon they were both thrumming with a deep, luscious, hunger for light and warmth. They began unfolding and as they did they disentangled into each other’s arms, while simultaneously pushing through the darkness. And there was darkness–long, silent moments of blackness, of not knowing which way to turn, except into each other’s embrace, and they would unfurl upwards blindly, mumbling little prayers into one another’s palms. They would travel fine for a time and then hit walls, only to eventually wind their way around them or through them. They occasionally got snagged by the roots of those who had gone before, but managed to free themselves by simply being themselves, and keep moving through the darkness. One of the seedlings would uncurl a stem as graceful as a dancer offering her hand to the sky, and the other would leave room for the gesture to unfold. One seed would stream upwards with a rush of intensity, leaving the other seemingly behind. Yet they were woven together at their core, and so as the one surged forward the other rose too. One would tire and the other would carry them both. One would become overwhelmed by the ever present blackness and need gentle encouragement to keep reaching through the fear. There was a give and take of these two lovers of light that inspired the darkness to part before them, to crumble down barriers, to open the gates to the sky. And finally they emerged, breaking free of the blindness of not knowing where they were going. That no longer mattered. They were a tiny forest of truth, and they blessed one another with room, they gifted one another with space. And while they continued to untwist into the bright air, opening to the light, they reached and stretched towards one another and towards the light, revealing more of themselves to themselves and to one another and to the light. They unraveled into bloom, and the light wove through them like breath through flutes, and the two seedlings became trees, and stood together hand and in hand, holding the earth, holding the light, holding the memories of how they moved through the darkness, regardless of their inclinations to stop, to fall back, to swallow the night. They held their triumphs and little victories, and then let them bud into fruits and flowers, for all to see, for all to partake of their sweetness and their fragrance of innocence. And the light. The light crowned them with the dawn and the moon, and draped garlands of stars over their shoulders, sent fireflies dancing around them, sent birds singing through their boughs, children climbing through their branches. And they stood, side by side, looking deeper into the ever unfolding sky.

    1. Dear Joseph,
      As always your stories stop me in my tracks and encourange me just to breathe and be. It feels like they are right-brained complements to my left-brained writing. I am so honored that you find inspiration in my posts. Please know that I find inspiration in your stories.

  6. I so loved your phrase, ” a container for soul-making.” My emotional abusive marriage ended with my husband’s betrayal. An incredibly painful experience, but ultimately the greatest gift in my life. There are many kinds of soul mates, and my husband was one of mine. Contracted to provide me with an initiation for my Hero’s journey. Soul-making……
    As well, as an actor my greatest task is to honour the story. One of the wisest acting teachers, Stella Adler, said, “The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation.” The same is true for film and TV. My hope is that people may find a little ‘aha’ moment….or find a doorway to healing…
    Thank you, as always, for sharing your journey and light with us.

    1. Dear Terri,
      There’s deep wisdom in your words, “There are many kinds of soul mates…” We think our love partners are supposed to match perfectly with our ideal images and make us happy all the time, but that’s just a child’s fantasy that has nothing to do with reality. I agree with you that a soul mate is one who nudges us off our complacent perches into new places where we can either learn to fly or crash!
      Yes, yes, and yes to Stella Adler’s observation! And I think the same could be said about our soul mates!
      You’re welcome, and thank you for your comment!

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