A Cosmic Connection

WHEN TREBBE JOHNSON was 50 years old, she fell in love with a
much younger co-worker as they led a wilderness rites of passage
program in southern Colorado. Pursuing the affair, Johnson writes
in Body & Soul (July/Aug. 2003), would have come at
the expense of indulging in ‘deceit, guilt, and the likelihood of
destroying a marriage I was truly happy in.’ Yet denying her
desire, she writes, ‘would have seemed like the worst kind of
betrayal of myself and my work, which focused on fearlessly
exploring all parts of the essential self.’

Faced with those seemingly intolerable choices, Johnson forged
another way. ‘I decided to follow the trail of the passion itself,’
she writes. ‘It felt that what I really yearned for was to fall
into the embrace of some great force . . . to know my lover not as
a human man, but [as] the whole world.’ Johnson redirected her
passion for her young assistant, channeling her desire fully into
what she now calls her ‘quest for the inner Beloved . . . the
irresistible force of attraction that calls us into the unknown and
onto the path meant just for us, making itself known as a vividly
felt, deeply personal, always beguiling companion in the life of a
man or a woman.’

The quest for the inner Beloved is an eternal one, Johnson
notes. It has appeared in the works of countless great thinkers and
philosophers across centuries and cultures, from the ecstatic
poetry of the Sufis to Jungian psychology. ‘Call it God, the
Goddess, a Higher Power, Earth, the Life Force, quantum physics,
the Tao,’ Johnson writes, ‘we long for a personal connection with
some force greater than ourselves.’

As for the unconsummated love affair that so enchanted her years
ago, Johnson now recognizes the experience as a message from her
inner Beloved, a call to engage more intimately with the world. ‘My
own journey with the Beloved has changed my life,’ Johnson writes.
‘It revived my postmenopausal sexuality and shifted the foundations
of my attitude toward my own femininity. It deepened my
relationships with my husband, my friends, my colleagues, and my

‘It showed me how to walk into the world as into the arms of a
waiting lover.’

Eliza Thomas is associate editor of Whole Life

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