This morning I am going to tell you a fairy story with an unhappy ending.
Please do not continue to read if your heart longs only for happiness.
This fairy story is true.
Once upon a time there lived a fair maiden here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She lived down near the southern shore and liked to gaze across the blue expanse of lake toward love and freedom and joy.
Unfortunately, she suffered from depression and a childhood of pain. Unfortunately, her heart was broken like a jig-saw puzzle. Unfortunately, she felt her heart throb with despair too many days, too many months, too many long years.
She wondered why she lived upon this blue and green spinning planet when it sent sparks of such despair. She dove into spiritual books, seeking answers. She attended dozens of spiritual workshops. She sought God or the Holy Spirit or Jesus or the Great Spirit or Buddha or whatever divinity might hear the plea of her suffering.
Finally, one fine August morning, she met a man. Not just any man. She met a man who had flamed the spark of divinity within himself. He was not a self-realized soul, but he was a charismatic soul who invited the sacred to reside on the inner couches of his love. Our heroine saw this man and something inside her broke open. Waters poured through the dry desert of her agony and she glimpsed Heaven.
Ahhh, and what joy existed in this heaven on earth! Everything she desired shimmered in this new desire-less love. She sang, she danced, she shined with a Union of the Beloved so sweet, so fulfilled, that she knew she would never want anything beside “this” in her entire existence.
For six months she exploded like an endless firework display. For six months she felt pure love. The man mattered not. He was only the spark which kindled the inner fire. For six months she shined like the brightest star, the brightest sun, a campfire which refused to extinguish its Oneness.
Then, one fine winter morning she awoke. Or you could say she fell asleep again. She awoke and the feelings of awe and love and beauty were gone. The elves stole in during the long night of the soul and retrieved all the joy which completed her. Gone.
She told me this fairy tale as we walked along the streets of Escanaba, a long long time ago. Her eyes still sparkled with memories of completion. I didn’t know then how her heart still ached.
More years passed. We heard she wasn’t doing well. Her depression spiralled out of control.
And then, one fine June day, she took her life and ended it.
She didn’t reach the bottom of her despair and awaken enlightened on a park bench. She didn’t fall to the pits of agony and awaken delighted admiring her toes, marveling that they were called “toes”. She spiralled into the depths of herself and found only pain and more pain and she swallowed pill after pill after pill to obliterate the too-much-suffering made infinitely worse because she knew, truly knew, the joy of spiritual fulfillment.
She knew the joy of spiritual union and could not find it again.
Would it have been better if she never tasted this fruit? Better if she never suckled at the breast of the divine? Never knew holy succor?
Icarus flew too close to the sun and melting wax caused him to fall to his death. The sun beckons us, but at our own peril. If we’re mesmerized into Union before we’ve fashioned our entire foundation, we may die.
Then again, we may wake up on a park bench, and the Union remains with us, forever.
Every June I think of Bonnie and her story. Her spiritual fairy tale with no happy ending. But who am I to say? Perhaps she’ll reincarnate with the gift of those six months to propel her closer to divinity. Perhaps this time she’ll weave the ability to hold joy and sorrow together, inseparable.