In some ways, the story of the Seven Valleys closely parallels that of human romance.
In the beginning, one may feel an undirected desire for someone special in their life. They don’t know who it is, or where to find them – they may even know them already without recognizing them! And if they have a general sense of what their attributes should be, it is tentative at best. It’s quite mystical in that one aims to recognize something they believe in their heart exists, without ever having seen it or felt it before.
Possessing such an undefined goal, with no object or method, the best anyone can do is to Search, and search patiently. If the one you seek is someone unknown to you, the only recourse is to meet more people. Go out and explore, diversify; never let despair or distraction cause you to choose any idea as a substitute for what you seek. And of course, the essence of all search lies in purifying one’s own eye, since a clouded eye can see little. Understand your motives and desires before asking if someone else can fulfill them.
If grace should crown the seeker with success, he will fall in Love. This is a rapturous and turbulent time, when everything else fades from view. It is attended by the heights of pleasure and the depths of torment, since every moment in his or her presence is divine, and each minute of separation is pure agony. But the way of things is to court the object of one’s desire, so such pain must be endured. If it lead to rashness or withdrawal, all may be lost. The lover proves his devotion by wooing his object, and demonstrating sanity in the face of this new-found madness.
Nor would a real lover substitute this pain for any other joy. It represents the truth of his connection; it turns his moments of reunion into the purest bliss, like gold drawn from a fire. In fact, if one is of a passionate temperment, it may become a wine of its own. What is suffered in the name of one’s beloved is a gift to the true lover’s heart.
If this time of passion conclude with the beloved’s agreement, a period of engagement begins. Although there is still separation during these days, it has a fixed time of resolution. One may endure his trials now under certain Knowledge that the end is near. It doesn’t matter what may occur, the surety of his pending union makes him feel dry in the sea of life’s mystery, and cool in the fire of each day’s troubles.
At last, the season of Unity is decided in the event of marriage. Who were two become one, although it is a oneness of individuals – much the same as the cells of one body are united in the role of self. Sorrow and happiness are shared, as if by one mind. You choose to drink, and I reach out for the cup.
When these two wills are reconciled after a time, and marriage has mellowed and aligned the thoughts of the individuals, a sense of Contentment settles over the couple like sitting at a feast for the heart. Whatever else occurs, they can return to this center. Some never reach this far, while others are blessed by long years in this condition. No words can describe it. Though it my pale next to a lover’s sigh, or seem quiet beside a poet’s rhapsodies, it breathes with its own contentment.
In this condition the couple adventures through life as a unit, engaging in service and sharing their discoveries. It can become a time of constant Wonderment, where each new thing is like a door leading to other places – and likewise within themselves for each other. This condition is not automatic with the event of marriage; nor even with the achievement of marital bliss. It is a further stage that proves the ripening of the bond, and a fuller engagement of their mutual faculties and interests.
Finally, whether it be a year later or a lifetime, the operation of these two may become so synonymous that one’s separate desires and intentions virtually disappear. The marriage has become its own entity; the will of the two is like the will of one. The marriage is rich, while each spouse alone is poor. As a candle’s light disappears in the noon-day sun, so the lesser lights have yielded to something greater, a unity that conquers all selfhood.
Although I present this story is presented in the context of human affairs – which are highly dependent on harmony, compatibility, and the constant effort of all involved – the real truth of this dynamic occurs between the individual soul and God, as manifested through His Holy Personages. It is the marriage of one’s will to the Will of God, until it completely dissolves in it by a similar sequence of stages. This is the true unity, for which I believe human romance is an outward token, proof, and grace.