By Gabriel E. Denison Chandler
It was because the love still burned within me, eating away at me, needing somewhere to go, that I made the love jar. In a squat little Mason jar, with glass scrolls all around, I put visible signs of my love for him. I filled it with rose petals, wine, honey, and poetry. I found his signature on some leftover document, and added that to my mix, for it is said by the old folks that nothing controls a man like his track and his name. And I wanted him to feel, somewhere, om some level, that this was Our Love, burning like a flame, still here, still bright, and even though apart, we could be together.
Every few days, in the blue evening, I cupped the jar in my two hands, and whispered to it, burned candles on it, pink, red and white, for friendship, love, and purity, to burn away the animosity between us. As I ritualized, my unsatisfied love poured out of my heart and gut and was placed in my love jar.
But there continued to be problems. The candles refused to burn. They fell over, they split. I switched to glass candle holders surrounding my jar, praying to send our love out upon the airwaves to him. Repeatedly, the candle holders shattered, exploded, broke. When they burned, wax tears came down like rain, split away from the taper, shattered across my altar space. I cleaned them up, grieving. I kept my twilight projections, feeling as if the little jar held the energy of ages.
One day, I was trying to loosen a blob of wax from the top of the jar. It would not release. I picked up the closest thing with which to pry it off. It happened to be a slim knife my long-deceased father has carved out of driftwood. I pressed the wood to the edge of the wax, and instead of dislodging it, the relic of my father broke, leaving me shocked and horrified at the two pieces in my hand. At the same time, I felt outraged, and epiphany slapped my perception. This jar was a tiny microcosm of the relationship. For twenty five years I had lived and loved fiercely, providing materials, direction, promotions, children, family, business and income to the thing I believed in; and in this moment, I realized it was not Our Love I held in that jar, it was Mine.
Through all those years of creation, the possessions and gifts and emotions and money had been used, lost, broken and spent. And I provided more, always pushing for our greater success. He didn’t like it; he had many criticisms. In the end, he was tired of “my great, mythical love,” even as I protested it was Our Love, it was unique, it was amazing. And now, my candles, the holders, even my father’s carving, were broken and used, while I doggedly replaced things, reaching for him through the air waves. Therein was the lesson.
So, I stopped my attentions toward the jar, but I could not let it go. I put it in a drawer. I travelled with it in my car. I kept it in my toolbox. I hid it from myself, but always found it again, my strange unsung talisman, an abbreviated part of myself.
After a year, in the Spring of 2016, there was a lunar eclipse, and a great anxiety seized me. I knew I must release what was tied in my love jar. So, on a cloudy day, struggling to breath, I walked through the rose gardens and down to the river, picking my way on the muddy bank until I found a secluded niche. I knelt by the bank, and unscrewed the lid, removing each perfectly preserved item, every charm, every rose petal, love poem, and his signature. I washed each item in the river and let them go, one by one, releasing the love I had sought to capture. Some things sank, some things floated. After the jar was rinsed, I filled it full of fresh evergreen sprigs to cleanse and refresh the tiny space that so recently had held all the symbols of my attachment and slipped it into my raincoat pocket.
When I arose, my anxiety had lifted. I felt, not less, but more. More whole, more fulfilled, and I realized that in releasing this single focus on my lover, my runaway husband, I had claimed my heart for myself. I cleared the love jar, but fulfilled a promise within myself: for now, I am the receptacle, I carry the fullness of a great, mythical love, I am burning with poetry, charms, honey and wine. I carry it away from the river, into the world.