Through the marvels of modern technology and the phenom of Facebook, I happened to bridge a gap of approximately 500 miles/805 kilometres between my home near Philadelphia and that of writer, speaker, therapist and former attorney Jeff Brown who makes his in Toronto, Canada. Writing was one bond that drew us together. Like me, he is a wordsmith who revels in creating word mashups and fusions the likes of which I have never seen. Some gems are ‘enrealment,’ ‘hearticulation,’ ‘wholemates,’ woundmates,’ ‘karmastry,’ and ‘soulendipity’. Many of these were initially scrawled on walls in his home so as to provide fodder for his books, including Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation, Ascending with Both Feet on the Ground and Love it Forward. His latest is called An Uncommon Bond, which is a novel that pulls back the curtain on the characters’ hearts and exposes them to the brilliant light of day, as well as the darkest and most frightening depths of night.
Brown lays the groundwork for the story in the “Note to the Reader” and clarifies the various meanings behind a three letter word that is often fraught with confusion:
which is called by many names. Make no mistake about it, this is indeed a spiritually infused, but by no means, religious book. The portal to the Divine is often draped with the filmy allure of the Lover as the human becomes the sacred ground for worship.
The novel begins with the protagonist Lowen; in confessional style letting the reader know that even before he laid eyes, heart and hands on the woman of his most delicious dreams and, at times, most fear-filled-tear-filled nightmares, he sensed that she would soon be arriving. As such, he knew that he had been setting the stage onto which Sarah would step. That included recollection of relationships past, through which he had both struggled and celebrated. The loves and losses led him closer to her. He speaks of his chaotic childhood and the ways in which it shaped his beliefs and actions in partnership.
Lowen armored himself up and then inexorably peeled off the layers in love with Sarah. In emotionally bare naked moments; perhaps even more than the physical ones, he expressed raw and sometimes disturbing emotions. Coming close and dancing away on numerous occasions over their time together, the two discovered their core wound; Sarah’s as a result of her tumultuous upbringing as well as the variance in life experiences with their age difference that was a decade apart. He realized that his expectations of her were based on his own developmental stage and not hers. Sometimes they gnawed at their respective wounds. At others, they provided healing balm.
The two didn’t go it alone, blessedly. It seems that such a high energy real-a-tion-ship would sink, without support. It takes the form of two others. One is Lowen’s longtime friend Daniel who provides solace, a listening ear, good buddy advice and the occasional intoxicating substance to help his distraught compadre get through the dark nights of the soul. Another memorable character whose style is quite different is Dude, a ‘houseless, but not homeless’ man who becomes somewhat of a Greek chorus with ‘Dude-isms’ that he sells for food and cash. When Lowen asked him if he had ever known great love, he replies “Now and Zen. If only I knew then what I didn’t know now.” In the midst of one of several separations between Sarah and Lowen, he finds wisdom in these words “The ladder to heaven is made from broken rungs. Love is lawless, unruly, chaotic, radical. It ain’t subtle and smooth. It can’t be tamed or controlled.” As Dude walks off to find cinnamon sugar donut delight, he tosses in Lowen’s direction, the encouragement “Keep the faith and the faith will keep you.”
The central theme of the book- uncommon bonds refers to a concept developed by Psychologist, professor and author, Jeanne Achterberg, Ph.D. It is a sense of meant to be, a beyond the beyond connection between two people. It brings with it, amazing synchronicities and miracle manna-festation. Often fraught with soul searing interactions, it smooths away the rough edges, calling out both the shadow and the light of each one. Not an easy row to hoe. Brown uses it to explain the roller coaster ride that Lowen and Sarah find themselves on.
In the back of this spiritually erotic and erotically spiritual tome is a glossary that Brown calls ‘Love Dictionary’ that includes some of the words mentioned earlier in the review- as well as those which are even spicier, such as ‘cuddlelingus,’ ‘heart-on,’ ‘ourgasm,’ and ‘yoniverse’
Brown was a guest on It’s All About Relationships, as he waxed philosophical about the ideas expressed in the book; in particular, the difference between wholemates and woundmates, both of which can find their way into any relationship, regardless of the form.
You may recognize yourself in any or all of these colorful characters and explore your own unions, re-writing the treatise as you page through the contents of this stellar story and ‘love it forward’.