Letter From the Editor: August

This is a story about love. The kind that caught me off guard, that made itself known most acutely in the shadow of its absence. Mysterious and inexplicable feelings, that by all rights don’t make much logical sense. A heartrendingly beautiful idealization, full of poetry and cartoon birds chirping, subtleties and intangibles, energy felt half a world away, immediate surrender, intense realizations, angst and longing.

As I deepen, and heal, and grow, I see how little I really know of anything - even of my own heart. And as abstract concepts start to simplify, and clarify, I realize that I’ve only scratched the surface of the complexity of this vast emotion that created our universe, that is the source of all life. Even as we are filled with god, are human reflections of the divine, perfect in our imperfection, we are also nothing. Although I saw how it could end before it even began, who am I not to follow when spirit calls? There is always a reason - even if it’s not a clear-cut path, even if it’s painful. To teach us of ourselves, to push our limits and preconceptions, to scare the shit out of us, to shine light on what still needs healing.

I always thought I had to be so hard and independent in life, in relationships - and in the past I did, I had to, to survive. I don’t think I’ve ever let my guard down so easily, allowed myself to be soft with a man, let someone see parts of myself I rarely show, let my thirst run unbridled. Always played it too cool for that shit. Now I understand that softness and open-heartedness are strengths, maybe the only ones that really matter. And that lesson alone can be enough, is more than enough. What does it matter if it was a connection that mostly lived in the ether, was barely grounded in reality, was maybe one-sided? It was a catalyst, a conduit, and I’m grateful.

It often feels like a burden and a source of endless frustration to feel so deeply in a society that thrives on instant gratification and shallow interactions, where things like ghosting and sliding into people’s DM’s are the norm and everyone is throwaway (rude). Mostly it’s like speaking the Real Fucking Truth and getting an entire roomful of “wym lol” staring blankly back at me. But still…what a blessing to be a container for a heart able to experience so much deep love for so many, to still be willing to explore the emotional depths even after so many experiences of intense trauma. I lived so much of my life terrified of love, terrified of intimacy, terrified of letting myself be seen, terrified of being rejected and getting hurt. I’m still terrified, but still I push forward. I must.

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to
Though the sword hidden among his
pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in
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.

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
Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears.

-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

This is my love letter, my postcard from space. I found traces of your spirit everywhere - in poems, in dreams, in the night sky, in all the angsty complicated love songs (you know the ones). I embraced the darkness and solitude in your soul and discovered my own capacity for patience and compassion. As if my heart has literally been cracked open and light is starting to seep out, the power contained inside becoming visible for all to see, for myself to understand. May we all continue to believe in love, in all that is eternal. And to those who love, may you give of your heart freely, openly, softly, in surrender. Because at their core, all of the most beautiful and transformative stories are the ones about love…right?

<3 Steph

Thumbnail photo: JC Valencia | Illustration & Model: Jenn Ban


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