Heal me with your mouth. The art of kissing
Víctor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández
For academic and private non-commercial use
Images reproduced from the original Spanish print edition,
with English translations where appropriate.
What is a kiss for?
Paths that lead to a kiss
What the poets say
What is said on the street
An infinite kiss
The supermystic kiss
Víctor Manuel Fernández is a priest, a doctor of theology with biblical specialization. He studied in Córdoba, Buenos Aires, and Rome. He serves as a parish priest and a director of catechesis in Río Cuarto. He serves as a professor on the Faculty of Theology at the UCA (Buenos Aires)
He is the author of numerous articles in biblical and theological journals, and also of various books: Let me love, St. John and his world, etc.
I want to clarify that this book was not written so much based on my own experience, but based on the lives of people who kiss. In these pages I want to synthesize the popular feeling, what people feel when they think of a kiss, what mortals experience when they kiss.
For that I chatted at length with many people who have abundant experience in this area, and also with many young people who learn to kiss in their own way.
I also consulted many books, and I wanted to show how the poets talk about the kiss. So, trying to synthesize the immense richness of life, these pages emerged in favor of kissing. I hope that they help you kiss better, that they motivate you to release the best of your being in a kiss.
Kiss, in Spanish “beso”, in Italian “bacio”, in French “baiser”, in German “kuss”, in Portuguese “beijo”.
Depending on how it is done, it is usually also called “a peck”, “a hickey”, “a penetrating kiss”, etc.
According to a dictionary, it is “to touch something with one’s lips, contracting and dilating them gently, in an expression of love, homage or friendship”. But, of course, when one feels he is drowning without a kiss, this solemn definition is very short. Your whole being, and not just your lips, go into a kiss. In addition, it is not something that is done to “demonstrate” what is felt, but when the same love is totally transformed into a kiss, and everything is forgotten, it leaves everything behind. The kiss is a meeting of the two in a moment in which there is nothing else besides them, and nothing else matters:
In a pure present, in this clear instant,
Now only your sacred presence exists,
without keeping account of you,
without demanding anything of you.
And I let you be to my deepest question
the only answer…
The kiss is love made flesh, it is the point where all the characteristics of human love are united: tenderness, passion, joy, admiration, delicacy, strength, rest, relief, delivery, communication. That is why the kiss is the most marvelous expression of love. And it demonstrates an undeniable fact: while sexual union only occurs between the adolescence and adulthood, the kiss also appears, as a gift of God, among the young and the old. There is no age for the kiss, there is no time or deterioration that extinguishes it, because it is a permanent attraction of the soul and body.
And if the body is nourished with food, the intellect with books and classes, and the will with effort, love is nourished with kisses. A saint of the Middle Ages once said:
The life of the human body is sustained with two things: food and air. Without food, it is possible to survive for a certain period of time, but without air it is impossible to live for a few minutes. This, for love, is the kiss. In the kiss are found two breathings, and two spirits are mixed together, and this mixture produces in the soul a sweetness that excites and tightens the affections of those who kiss each other. (St. Aelred, Spiritual Friendship, 65).
In fact, when there are no kisses — “Red flag!” — we have the best sign that love is in danger. One will be able to have sex, to relieve the instinct and satisfy a need, but if there are no true kisses — deep, tender, and frequent — it is because love no longer exists or is dying, wounded.
A true kiss shows that the other is sacred to me. But when sex is out of control, and we want more — more pleasure, more intensity — the other is transformed into a sponge which we want to squeeze out totally, until the last drop. And so they start losing the magic, the veneration, the adoration. And the clearest sign of the death of love is that those tremulous kisses disappear, they they start growing little by little; because at the beginning, by a most holy fear, we dare not impose on them, we do not want to rush them. For this reason, it often happens that the most beautiful memory that remains of a love are the first kisses. The presence of those kisses which are passionate, but full of respect and tenderness, is what best seriously indicates a love capable of respecting and treating the other as something profoundly sacred, as someone free, of which I am neither the owner nor the master.
If those slow, deliberate, tremulous kisses are lacking, it can indicate that love has ceased to be a meeting of two who admire each other, contemplate each other, adore each other, and they have become the sum of two egoists who mutually use each other to relieve their primary needs and to calm their nerves.
That glimmer in the eyes, that serene joy, that light which is shed upon life when tenderness is put above sex, it’s to continue prolonging the charm of youth, it’s to silently nourish the energy of life.
The kiss is like an oath sealed with the lips, a confession which is confirmed by the secret of silence, taking the mouth by ear. It is to let the heart taste the soul with the lips. To bring the whole soul to the mouth with the sweet softness of the fire. The kiss itself speaks, even if it seals the lips. It allows us to breathe near the other person, touching his breath, the subtle sign of the spirit which is exchanged, from the depths which they communicate to each other, from the abysses that find their echo. It’s how to inhale and breathe in the soul of the other, like we approach the fountain to drink. To tell you that we thirst for your heart and that we seek with the mouth the food that sustains us (Eduardo Casas, unpublished).
If this enchantment is lost, it can be recovered, it can be revived; but for that, the other human being, sacred and free, must return to being more important than anything else. And when that happens, the kiss is reborn, tranquil and fiery at the same time, which makes us feel that we have decided to have an owner; as if it were supremely honorable for a king or queen to allow us to ascend his or her throne in order to touch the tenderness of his or her lips. I like the description of Enrique Fabbri:
The kiss is a marvelous symbol of love; a sign of giving and welcoming at the same time. A kiss only truly happens when it is accepted. The kiss cannot be prostituted, cannot cheat on him. It is an intimate exchange, an announcement of other intimate exchanges. For the kiss, the mouth is no longer the organ of devouring, but the expression of tender respect and thirst for the other. Kissing is the exchange of breath, which means the exchange of our depths; it is the desire to nourish the other. More than the word, it is to return to the inner word of love which is breathed in the vital longing. (Revista Criterio, November 12, 1992, p. 19).
Then what should we do? Let’s see the paths that lead to a kiss.
Many times there are no kisses because something is lacking which arouses them. That is why, in order to get a kiss one must make a journey.
A couple with a lot of sex, a lot of sexual satisfaction, but few kisses as persons, or with kisses that don’t say anything, with each sexual union, the tomb of love; they start creating routine, tiredness, and boredom, until one of the two finds something more human, an environment more beautiful, another love in earnest, and the story is ended.
The kiss is the thermometer of love. For this reason, when things do not work out between the two, rather than pretending to fix them in the bed, one must follow the paths that lead to the kiss. What can those paths be? The most important are these five: speaking, looking, touching, creating, searching. Let us see.
If your mouth is already not very attractive to me, if I do not seek it, if I do not need it, it is very possible that after a fight, there is disillusionment, a lack of forgiveness. Then, sooner or later, one will have to put things on the table and speak clearly. It can be something stupid or very small, but that fight which we keep on the inside makes us drift further and further apart. For this reason, the remedy of dialogue must be sought in time; to speak clearly and serenely about how I am hurt, about the doubt that I have on the inside, about the fear that keeps me going in circles. But also, to try to discover together how we can come up with a solution in a practical and realistic way.
It can be that one of the two has become accustomed to talking a lot and listening little, or to giving too many orders, or to always seeing the negative in everything, etc.
Before the dialogue, everyone will have to recognize that it is not good for one to continue to feed anger or discontent , and that it is better to be freed of that thorn. The one who has faith, cannot forget to ask God for the strength of His divine love to forgive from the bottom of his soul.
The dialogue, trying to get the two to give in on something, asking forgiveness of each other, and proposing to each other to act in another way, it can end with a hug; and then the best miracle of love, its blessed seal: the kiss is restored to life.
When there is something that does not work out between the two, such that we also do not look at each other face-to-face, we avoid each other’s glances, we speak “sideways” or lower our eyes. When this happens, the kiss is blind, it lacks the celestial light. Therefore, in addition to dialogue, one must look again in each other’s eyes, for a long time, until all fears are healed, until all ghosts are set free. This long stare ends up healing, and then the desire to kiss becomes irresistible. With that kiss, peace, and joy return.
But it can happen that the kiss is too far away, that it seems unattainable, because it seems impossible to achieve a sincere dialogue or to look into each other’s eyes. Then the first step is to start by touching one another, to find an excuse to make contact.
When an abyss between the two has been created, we avoid touching each other, and pride or stubbornness sometimes leads us to avoid direct contact for several days. But if we return to touching each other again, it is possible that everything, little by little, may return to normal. I remember having read or listened to the case of a couple which was totally deadlocked in their communication, but that managed to return to dialogue thanks to unexpected contact. One night, the alarm clock was left on her bedside table desk; so when the alarm clock rang in the morning, he had to stretch himself above her in order to stop the unbearable noise, and all the weight of his body fell on top of the woman. This “contact” alone caused communication to begin again, that silly abyss that was separating them, which untied that terrible knot of false indifference.
That is why, when there is no courage to look at each other or to have a face to face dialogue, a reasonable time is allowed to pass, and one of the two must have the courage to take the hand of the other, or to put a hand on his shoulder, or to close his eyes without thinking much and squeeze the other in a firm and careful embrace, followed by some caresses. If finally, the other responds with a caress, then only the sublime divine miracle is lacking: the act of a kiss.
This is especially true for those who always kiss, but no longer enjoy it so much, they no longer live it as a moment of luminous glory. When they kiss, they no longer throw themselves into a delirium of tenderness, and they feel almost nothing.
Deep down, it is a love that has lost its magic, because the other has stopped captivating me; I do not expect it so much anymore, I no longer remember it so often, I no longer feel him so much as “mine”. And to heal this infirmity, love needs a little bit of creativity, something novel and crazy.
What can be done? It’s about looking for something new that interests us both; something that makes us feel that we are striving for a common objective, for a dream which makes us bring out the best in both of us.
There can be, for example, simple things: trying to prepare a new meal between the two, going to the gym together each day, praying together, planing a trip, learning some dance, helping someone together, painting the house, fixing the patio, and choosing plants, etc. The important thing is that each achievement ends up with a kiss, that each conquest that we achieve together is expressed in a triumphant kiss; or also, that each failure that hurts us both, that each disappointment shared, is made up for with a deep and healing kiss. Those two lives are worth more than are found and fused into the kiss, more than any failure and any pain. It can also be good to keep some small variations in the weekly routine: so that no week lacks something different, like an going out to eat, or to a movie, a visit, a walk, going together to a soccer game, etc. Thus, kisses recover their charm and their tenderness, because they are the expression of their shared life, because they are the sign of a mutual belonging.
Don’t hold back, don’t hold me back.
I want to see you by my side
healing other wounds,
lifting up the arms
of the defeated brother.
And I’ll keep up the fight
with your hand in mine.
Then each kiss
will be the blessed seal
that consecrates it all.
But it can happen that the kiss is hindered by something that must be looked for and detected. It is about discovering together something that can cause displeasure, something that makes kisses be unpleasant for both or for one of the two. Perhaps it isn’t anything too important, but it can be about small things that are transformed into true enemies of the kiss, imperfections that make the kiss no longer a break, a relief, a joy. And everything can have a solution if it is detected in time and it is addressed. For example, it can be that one of the two is having bad breath, which can be deeply unpleasant and take away the whole enchantment from the kiss. But it is solved by taking precautions by brushing one’s teeth and chewing a few coffee beans, or rinsing with baking soda; and if it is more serious and persistent it is solved by visiting the dentist or checking the digestive system.
It can also be the perfume that one of the two uses; or an annoying smell that is solved by showering more often, or by changing clothes more often.
It can be the annoying mustache, which could be trimmed a little more so that you do not have to avoid it so much.
It can also be the position of the body, and between the two they could discover what the most comfortable position is for them both.
And it can also be the manner of kissing, that for one of the two does not please him so much. There are women who prefer a slow and delicate kiss, but their partner puts too much motion and speed into it. And it also happens that one of the two is very tense and presses his lips too hard. He releases his tensions, but she feels like she is being drilled in the mouth.
All these things, which seem very superficial, are just examples of something very concrete and very important: the long apprenticeship of love; the long path that leads to a true kiss; a path consisting of respect, delicacy, passion, and realism.
Your mouth sings
without using words.
Every word speaks of your figure,
that smooth shape
of your daring lips.
Let your lips stop singing,
which today tell me nothing
and all is cold.
Don’t invent words for me,
Let your mouth speak,
trustingly setting free
the heaven of your boundaries.
The kiss has always been present in art. And it is an interesting thing that artists, with their works, express what cannot be said with an explanation. There are hundreds of paintings and marvelous sculptures that depict Cupid (Eros) who comes to life with a fantastic kiss. As if a true kiss had the magical power to give back meaning and strength to life. But now let us seek the help of the poets, and let us see how they express what a kiss is.
More than 2,000 years ago, the poet Catullus said the following:
Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then yet another thousand more, then another hundred. Then, when we have made many thousands, we will mix them all up so that we don’t know, and so that no one can be jealous of us when he finds out how many kisses we have shared.
The kiss appears here as something so intimate, so special to the couple, that it cannot be displayed or shown, because when it is very beautiful and very intense, it awakens the envy of those who have not been able to achieve something so marvelous.
Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer wanted to describe the longing to kiss that there is within the heart of man; because for the one who knows what a kiss means, there is nothing in the world that can purchase it. And a gaze of love is a kiss that is seeking to be fulfilled on the lips:
For a look a glance, a world,
for a smile, heaven,
for a kiss… I don’t know
what I would give for a kiss! (Rima 22).
The soul that can speak with the eyes
also can kiss with a gaze (Rima 20).
Melt me in a kiss.
In the sea of doubt in which I sail
I no longer know what I believe.
But these longings tell me
that I carry something divine
here on the inside! (Rima 8).
In all the poetry of Miguel Hernandez, the kiss appears as a permanent desire, something that is imperatively necessary, more than anything, something that can never be attained at all, a dream without limits. He describes himself by saying: “I am the fearless ravisher of the kiss.” And he speaks of it like someone who is permanently guarding his kisses:
And love without sleeping, jealously
you watch my mouth.
Kisses for him are like the food of life:
Ah fondness, ailment and appetite!
Your substantial kisses, my sustenance,
I’m lacking and I’m dying around May.
But he also tells how the man feels when he kisses and discovers her rejection in the same kiss:
To kiss you was to kiss a hornet’s nest
which stings me to my torment,
and digs a funeral pit
inside the heart where I die.
And he also does not stop speaking about the kiss that failed:
And I remember that unrequited kiss
that was between my mouth and the path
of that neck of hers…
The kiss that he craves is the greatest and most valuable sign of the love that she denies him. That is why in order to speak about his adoration for her, he speaks simply of his adoration for the kiss:
I am not satisfied, no.
It’s again and again
idolizing the image of your kiss.
And in this tireless dream, in this permanent search for the kiss, he stops to envy the workers who return home tired and are greeted with a kiss, which alleviates and rewards them, while he, at that same hour, full of desire, does not enjoy the same fate:
They come from superhuman efforts
and they go to the song, and they go to the kiss.
By another path, I, by another path
which does not lead to a kiss, although it is the time.
We now turn to Pablo Neruda. In his poetry the kiss also has a permanent presence, because in his poems the kiss is the best way to talk about love. Much more than any other expression of affection, kisses are the constant symbol of a love that gives meaning to to all life. It is interesting to note the beauty and variety of images that Neruda takes from nature to speak about the kiss. He gives the impression that, for him, every good thing that exists in the world is a kind of kiss:
I’ve gone marking with crosses of fire
the white atlas of your body.
My mouth was a spider that was climbing onto you,
in you, behind you, fearful, thirsty (P 13).
You are transparent with your arms of stone
where my kisses are planted
and my wet desire nests (P 3).
And my kisses fall brightened like embers (P 6).
And the pain of kisses that could not be, or that no longer are, is not lacking in his poems:
Sometimes my kisses go in those grave ships,
that run through the sea towards where they do not arrive (P 18).
Another, there will be another, like before my kisses (P 20).
A cemetery of kisses, yet still there is fire in your tombs (Desperate Song).
But for Neruda, the kiss is as immortal as love, which somehow goes on eternally:
And thus, when the earth receives our embrace,
we will be condemned to one death
to live for ever the eternity of a kiss (Sonnet 93).
And the kiss is the end, the door, the point of arrival for the desires of a man, of all the paths of his heart:
How many paths to lead to a kiss.
You and I had to simply love each other.
(Beginning of the One Hundred Sonnets).
Mario Benedetti, in his work Poems of others renders his worship to the kiss, and he shows it as the sign of consummated love, the clearest sign of love and of mutual belonging:
Your mouth that is yours and mine.
Your mouth is not wrong…
And if I kiss the audacity
and the mystery of your lips
I will have no doubts or bad taste.
I will want you still more…
He was at first
to kiss without usury her cold feet, those of her.
Afterwards, she kissed his lips, those of him,
which at that height were no longer so cold…
In order to continue motivating your kisses, I give you a few little bits of different poems, from varied authors. All of them speak of the kiss as if there were no more beautiful way to sing to love:
The crystal of my eyes was clouded with tears
while he, on his knees
with his furtive kisses
inflamed the fine-toothed comb of my sensitive feet
with the ardent fever of his holy mouth (María Monvel).
Only you do I kiss, only you do I kiss…
I already have hands broken and arms torn off
from reaching for your height suspended in the nothingness.
Only your kiss, sinking into my lineage.
Only your kiss, unraveling my veins.
Only your kiss, eating away at my bones (Mila Oyarzún).
I crawled to her imperceptibly
like a dream,
I rose to her sweetly, like breath.
I kissed the bright color of her neck,
and I tasted the vivid red of her mouth (Ben Suhayd).
The sun went out of the wine, and her mouth was the west.
And after the delicious sunset of her lips,
he left the twilight on her cheek (Marwan Ben Abd).
When you whisper with a nervous tone,
your beautiful body touches my body
and I gather in the kisses of your mouth
the burning gusts of your breath (J. Dicenta).
Life endures, so painful and so short,
only for that: a touch, a hickey, or a kiss.
Because in him one breathes
the vital perfume of each thing (Rubén Darío).
My lips murmured: “You arouse me.”
Those of her said: “You scare me,” they replied.
And though they always threatened to flee,
the times that they fled were few.
Trying to flee from my kisses,
one day you became fixated on a rose,
and afterwards I kissed that rose
for having helped me to give you a kiss (M. Ugarte).
Afterwards, I’ll recline upon your breast
my weary and fussy head,
and by the misty light
we will see the dew on the flowers.
And I will say: “Oh my God,
let not so much good escape us.”
And with a kiss you will say to me: “Amen” (R. Pérez de Ayala).
God of love,
give the cruel serpents of his embrace
my great feverish stem, and make honey
taken from his veins, in my mouth.
And in that kiss, it waters the seed
of a sublimely crazy crop (Delmira Agustini).
Your mouth, an open fruit
gives the mouth
pearls in a dish
of honey and cherries.
My lips throbbing in your mirror
drink the springs of sweetness.
An island for my swimming lips,
a sanctuary of sighing.
On your territory of love, I expire,
a tree strangled by flowers (J. Carrera).
His mouth that penetrates deeper and deeper,
that plunges within her,
that falls further and further,
that climbs onto my body,
and becomes in my mouth, the kiss in her mouth
and falls into me, and falls into her (Homer Aridjió).
You don’t notice,
Your lips murder.
Your eyes don’t notice,
the wandering eyes
that are preoccupied
before the divine flesh
of your mouth.
And you pensively miss
with that open mouth,
while behind you remain
the raving lunatics.
Come on down, my dear,
before you awaken
with a terrible hickey.
How was God
as to give you that mouth…
There is no one who resists me,
hide it (Víctor M. Fernández).
I will kiss, I will kiss,
until you entirely blush
like a paper lantern
that hovers madly in the night (Tomás Segovia).
But I also invite you to read some verses where it seems that the kiss is a source of pain. When it is felt that a kiss is not the reflection of a strong, sincere, respectful, and healthy love; when the other takes hold of us mercilessly. Then, the kiss becomes a hidden torment or the worst lie. For this reason, even if you live it as a necessity, or as a psychological release, it is not a true affective satisfaction:
But you don’t come close,
a fervent grief in which I suddenly have
the temptation to die,
to burn my lips with your touch
to feel my flesh melt against you
diamond that burn.
Don’t come close, because your kiss extends
to the impossible collision of the stars,
like space which is suddenly set afire (Vicente Aleixandre).
Don’t covet my mouth. My mouth is ashen …
Are you still jealous, my beloved, of the lying flesh
which is ash and covers up the appearance of a rose?
Well, take me!
Dust which seeks dust without feeling its misery (Juana de Ibarbourou).
The night enrages you.
I know you are going to break
into insults and hysterical tears.
On the bed,
then, I will calm you
which I’m sad to give you.
And thus will you sleep
pressed against me
like a sick bitch (J. Gil de Biedma).
It strikes me,
this tricky mixture
of love and disappointment,
of desire and rejection,
of hope and fear.
And also this dream
which I do not want to fulfill.
To desire with all your soul
and to discover suddenly
that I no longer love you so much
that I no longer can
support the weight
of immense passion,
that infinite risk,
that mortal leap,
the dangerous game
that begins on your lips
who knows… (Víctor M. Fernández).
You ask me
what’s wrong with my skin
when I look at you,
and with my lips
which tremble like crazy.
Above all with my lips
which don’t sit still,
which don’t calm down
which floods them.
The fear of touching you
with my mouth,
and to feel that I’m dying.
Because it’s terrible,
to fall again
into a sacred kiss,
knowing that it’s over,
that it ends,
that it’s not that eternal
that your tepid madness
That’s why you don’t ask
that it happens to my mouth.
Kill me already
with your next kiss,
bleed me to death,
Give me back my peace
without mercy (Tucho).
Although we cannot stop saying that the kiss always makes us vulnerable. Because to be authentic, the kiss requires a commitment to the other and a risk; it is much more than a touching of the flesh:
I seek the simple comfort
of that light breeze.
I have faith in her,
I trust in her caress.
There are no betrayals or deceit.
She has no ambition.
She only meets
and it’s enough.
In front of her I can
expose myself completely,
throw myself safely,
and let her pass by me.
But she does not have what your lips give me.
That amiable fragrance,
the infinite mystery
that is hidden in your skin.
That abyss which I fear,
but that flame
and that trembling
that I expect … (Tucho).
Let’s end with a fragment of Shakespeare, in Romeo and Juliet:
Romeo (to Juliet):
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.
Then have my lips the sin that they have took…
Kisses and mysticism have much to do with looking. In fact, if the kiss loses its mystical undertone, the depth that lies behind the lips becomes nothing more than a boring game or a custom that has to be performed. There have been in history those who tried to put all their depths into the kiss.
For example, there are materialistic conceptions that reduce everything to a single cause: physical energy. This is the case for Sigmund Freud, who reduces every affective inclination to sexual attraction; as if all feeling, all desire and all attraction were just sex in disguise or looking for sex; both the love of friends, the affection of fathers and sons, etc. Then the kiss would be no more than the first step that starts looking for more, until reaching the sexual act; and man would function the same as certain animals, like pigeons, who perform the sexual act immediately after kissing.
But this way of thinking, carried to the extreme, is not characteristic among the followers of Freud, but among the Jansenists, disciples of a certain Jansen. For them, anything that has not been done for the love of God is “sinful concupiscence” that disguises itself, that deceives us. And these Jansenists came to put forward as an example of great perfection the case of St. Louis Gonzaga, who avoided kissing his mother for fear of “disguised concupiscence”.
Evidently, according to these ways of thinking, the kiss has no value in itself; it’s just the anteroom, the anticipation of something else that is desired in the background; the kiss would be only the sexual desire that begins to look for its satisfaction, because what is sought is the sexual act, with the kiss as “a warmup”.
But there is a difference between Freud and the Jansenists: for Freud, everything is sex, but sex is not something bad, sinful, or negative. And, of course, we cannot agree with the Jansenists, who are so morbid and distrustful. However, there is something that Freud perhaps did not take into account: that one can desire many people healthily and in various ways, but cannot seek sex with all of them. A society where everyone seeks to have sex with many people, including their parents or children, would be total chaos.
Sex is not just the satisfaction of a primal necessity; it is also the expression of a love and a total surrender to the other, which requires exclusivity and mutual belonging. That’s why you cannot kiss anyone in any way. And for the same reason, we could grant to Freud a certain realism: that some ways of kissing easily awaken the desire for more, and then it is not good to play with fire. In the twelfth century, St. Aelred said that a kiss in the mouth can be given to anyone, provided that there is a worthy motive: a reconciliation, a sign of love between spouses or friends, a sign of tenderness for a guest, etc. But if one notices that he does it to satisfy a passion, he can no longer give it to anyone, because it would no longer fulfill its noble function (Spiritual friendship, 67–68).
But it must be added that many people remain deeply satisfied and happy with a kiss, flying among the clouds, even though his body may have been desiring more and, out of respect for being loved, renounces seeking “more”. Because deep down, the one who knows how to kiss like that also knows that what could come after is not more than the kiss, since a kiss can be the most sublime and wonderful expression of love. Moreover, for many, the kiss may be the deepest need of their soul:
This inner calling
ask me for a kiss.
It insists, it beats me, it complains.
It’s a shout
that groans silently,
that screams, that begs me.
I continue waiting for her,
because my lips exist
for the kiss that nourishes my soul
in each touch.
And that’s why my soul
trembles in my lips
I don’t even know when…
The great desire of the heart in love is to get a kiss, as though in the kiss what he is seeking is fulfilled:
The soul of the lover lives more in the beloved than in himself. That’s why the more the beloved distances herself, the more she lives in his thoughts, and he forsakes his own body. The paleness of the face and the weakness of the body, and the fainting of heart that comes from infatuation of the soul bear witness to this. And that is the foundation of the complaints of lovers who rise to heaven when they call on the one they love, feeling stolen, possessed, taken by their beloved. And so the lover wants to recover the soul that was stolen from him, which seems to reside in the breath that is taken by the mouth. For this same reason, both lovers so much desire to join their mouths and mix their breath in order to return to life or to stop giving it all. Hence, the lover asks as a remedy for their ills the kiss of being loved, since only her kisses can cure him (Fray Luis de León, Commentary on the Song of Songs 1:1).
Because they understand this, many prostitutes lend themselves to all kinds of sex play, but they do not let themselves be kissed by anyone. However, for Freud and the Jansenists, the kiss is something completely secondary, and it hides the most important thing, what comes afterwards. So they kill all poetry; love dies, the personal aspect of the couple’s relationship dies, the magic dies, the respect for others, the tenderness.
Just remember that many couples break up because they have always directly sought the sexual act without dedicating a good amount of time to cultivating the sublime art that sustains love: the kiss.
Beyond seeking what the poets say, I wanted to ask on the street what they think about the kiss. So I went to bars, colleges, businesses, in order to ask young people about what they knew to say about kissing. I collected varied opinions about what a kiss means for them, about the different ways of kissing, etc. Some of them showed much interest in the subject and wrote very beautiful things; others simply summarized everything in a phrase; others taught me practical things. In total, the survey covered about a thousand people, but I only write down a few opinions:
- “Kissing is the cure for loneliness.”
- “A kiss is what fills you with a touch that you carry on the inside.”
- “To me, a kiss fills me with energy.”
- “To kiss is to seek to be part of the other’s life.”
- “A kiss is the best they can give you. That’s why Serrat says life occasionally kisses us in the mouth.”
- “To kiss is to go to the heart in search of love.”
- “When you are very much looking for someone you seek to unite yourself totally to him, and that is why a mother tells her little son that she will eat him up with kisses.”
- “It is a matter that changes. Before, a kiss on the hand was very respectful. Now they are some movie subtitles.”
- “I like kisses that leave me breathless. Afterwards, it is like being born again.”
- “What I like the most is when you touch me softly, like touching the other’s lips.”
- “What I like the most is the kiss of peace at Mass. That was the first kiss with the hottie I have now.”
- “Anyone can kiss. You can kiss the stamps, the earth when you arrive at a country, a newborn baby, your grandmother’s forehead…”
- “The kiss when your meet is not the same as the kiss when you are reunited. There is also the painful kiss that kills you, or a farewell that is very hard for you.”
- “There are more committed kisses, it depends on what you’re able to give. A kiss between friends is not the same as a kiss between those who are dating, or between spouses.”
- “The mouth is a an instrument of communication; it’s a place where tastes are experienced, a warm place (it’s always warm). It’s a place of utmost sensitivity, but if you don’t have any feeling, it’s as if it were totally insensitive. How strange!”
- “I love covering the whole of the other’s lips with tiny kisses.”
- “I love kissing his fingertips. It gets more affectionate than anything else.”
- “I once went crazy with the pleasure I was given from being kissed on the eyes. But I didn’t say this because it’s going to leave me blind.”
- “They say that the kiss on the forehead transmits security, disinterestedness, tenderness; but for me, if they kiss me on the forehead, I turn into a little baby. “
- “When two mouths find one another, something magical is created, a state of total liberation, like stopping to think and rest in intimacy.”
- “When you see someone cute, it’s as if it were necessary to give him kiss. That’s why when there’s a baby and someone comes along, one hears the mom saying: ‘Felipito, give grandma a little kiss.’ To seehow a baby gives kisses. ‘Give him one, don’t be mean, give little kisses…’ ”
- “It seems to me that when you start kissing with the tongue it is very possible to lose control, and you want to take hold of your hottie, you lose respect. But it’s also on her, if she knows what she wants… “
- “Kissing on the ear is very arousing, and it intimidates the men.”
- “It’s beautiful to turn away her cheek and chin, and then to meet again in her mouth. It’s a marvelous passage.”
- “The best is the contemplative kiss: you bring your lips close to the other person’s cheek or lips, and you stay there with all your mind several seconds, with your eyes closed, and you could stay there forever… »
- “The penetrating kiss is when you suck and slurp with the lips. The penetrating kiss is when you stick in your tongue. Watch out for teeth.”
- “My boyfriend gets a hard mouth when he kisses me. He hasn’t yet learned how to loosen his lips. Lovely!”
- “It makes no sense to want to say that it’s a kiss. It’s like going from poetry to mathematics.”
- “When you kiss, you feel that you shorten distances to the limit, and you would like to exceed that limit, but…”
To be sure, there are kisses of every kind, for every moment, for every circumstance. The kiss of a mother of her newborn son, a kiss of a mother when she forgives her naughty son, the kiss of a teenager when he brings back a good report card, the kiss of a son who just got married. The kiss between brothers. The kiss of an awaited letter. The kiss of a crucifix, of a holy card, of an image of the Virgin. The kiss of the priest of the altar, of the Bible, of the sacred vestments. The first kiss of lovers. The kiss of the bride and groom in the atrium of the church. The kiss of a pious old lady of the hands of the priest who forgave her sins, or of a priest who was just ordained. The kiss in a photo. The kiss of a loving husband who comes home thirsty for a refreshing oasis. And I could fill several more pages.
In general, we can say that the kiss in all these cases is more than the gaze, more than the touch, more than the embrace. The kiss is when everything else falls short. It’s as if kissing made me enter into the intimacy of the one whom I kiss, and as if the most intimate aspects of myself were expressed. This requires a certain boldness, confidence and a special “permission”. And this is why when one kisses another, while the kiss is closer to the lips, it requires more honesty, more respect, more “permission”. It requires a purity of intention to assure myself that I am not invading the intimacy of the other or abusing their trust. The kiss that expresses true surrender, an ability to give one’s life for the other, it can be the most beautiful thing in life. But it can also be wasted, worn out, abused, distorted, and can reveal the worst depravity and the deepest selfishness of a person; the selfishness of the one who believes that he is the master of the most sacred thing and dominates the other through the most sublime thing. That’s why it can happen that a child, when he has experienced the falsity of human gestures, may avoid kisses.
We are not necessarily talking about sex. There are friends who kiss each other without the least hint of sexual desire. A girl can give a kiss to her father, which she would never give him spontaneously if he abused her. But there are malignant kisses which are not given on account of sexual desire, but with twisted intentions. Like Judas’ kiss of Christ. Like the kiss of a mother seeking to monopolize the affection of her daughter so that she does not marry a young man who is not of their social class. Like the kiss of someone who leaves his mother in a asylum only to see her again briefly the following month. Like the kiss that a man gives his wife when he returns from kissing another’s mouth.
But I ask myself now what is the most intimate essence of a true kiss; what do all beautiful and authentic kisses have in common, they may be the kisses of dating couples, friends, brothers, spouses, fathers, comrades.
To answer it, I cannot help thinking that all that is beautiful, good and true in this world is in an infinite form in God. And I ask myself whether in God there is an infinite kiss. An ineffable kiss that is mysteriously reflected in all true kisses on Earth.
What is that infinite kiss, that of God, which is reflected in our kisses? In finding that answer, we also discover the deepest essence of a kiss, that which should exist in our kisses in order for them to be authentic, to truly nourish our life and our love.
We Christians believe that God is a mystery of three Persons who share everything, even their very Being. The infinite kiss is there. And by being infinitely more beautiful than what one can have in this world, for us it is impossible to imagine it well. They are one Being, one God, because they share everything; but they can “share” everything because they are distinct persons. Let us say then that the kiss is made possible when I put myself in front of another, accept him, and love him as distinct from myself; but at the same time I seek to become one with him and am willing to share my life with him.
In humans beings, immersed in the world of passions and of pain, we live also by sharing pain and joy together. But this is only an accessory and consequence. The essential thing is that the kiss itself is at its most valuable core: two distinct beings who seal their acceptance of belonging to each other and of sharing their life. A kiss without this intention sins against its own essence. Like when we use words to lie or deceive. The one who kisses without the intention of being made one with the other, of being willing to respect him as other, and of carrying his weight, destroys the sacred meaning of the kiss. So, instead of maturing and learning to live, he becomes sick and loses his way each time he kisses, because it keeps him away from the source of life. By playing with the sacred, he becomes cursed. On the other hand, the one who kisses well experiences that his life is saved in every kiss, as if in each kiss he were entering into a holy place, of pure life, of redeeming grace. The only one who is fully happy is the one who enjoys himself, but in feeling that the kiss is building something permanent and eternal.
The kiss is much more than a desire of the flesh because the kiss of the lips is the sensual expression of a “spiritual kiss”, of an intimate reunion of the two, which, for a moment they feel as if all all the barriers between them have fallen.
Therefore, we can also kiss God. And when He kisses us, that kiss reaches the deepest bowels of our being. The great mystics called this “spiritual marriage”. In fact, many religious poets used the image of the kiss to speak about their relationship with God. Already in the Bible we find a book called the “Song of Songs”, where the love of a couple is poetically spoken of. And that couple then went on to become the symbol of love between the soul and God. But what interests us is is that the first thing which appears in this book is the kiss; the first words are: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” The kiss is so noble and great that the saints used it to speak of the divine love.
St. Teresa defended the use of the image of the kiss to speak of contact with God, because, she says, when someone is madly in love, he cannot stop desiring a kiss (Commentary on the Song of Songs 1:1). Could it be that, in reality, no human being can eliminate the need for a kiss, and that is why monks and nuns seek to live this experience in their intimate relationship with God?
Let us look at some poems where that mystical kiss in spoken of.
Francisco de Quevedo imagined God willing the kiss of the human soul, which rejects his love:
Kiss me with the kiss of his mouth,
because it is full of sweet honeycombs:
the more bile and wormwood it touches,
his lips are the glory of my grief;
and so vast the multitude of grievances
his kisses are the life of my lips.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz wrote something similar, presenting Christ as a shepherd who is in love with the human soul and desires its kisses:
His two beautiful lips,
parting a rosy ribbon;
for whom a delicate voice,
making a coral offense,
it emits the wise breath
which thus touches its carnations.
Milk and honey pouring out of your mouth,
your lip drips with honeycombs…
Come, my spouse, I desire you,
tear down that clear curtain,
show me your beautiful face!
For St. Bonaventure, God kissed humanity when He became man:
In the Incarnation the union of Infinite Love with our human flesh is realized; a union in which God kisses us and we kiss God (In Luc. 15, 34).
And most beautifully expressed by William of Saint-Thierry:
The kiss is an outward and loving union of the bodies, the sign and stimulus of the interior union. Christ the bridegroom offered a kiss from heaven to the Church, his spouse, when by being made man he drew so close that he was united with her in a most intimate union, in order to become one with her. God was made man, and man was made God. And that same kiss is what God gives to the faithful soul, His spouse, when He give it a personal and exclusive joy, when He draws it to Himself and fills it with His Spirit (Commentary on the Song of Songs 1:1).
For Origen, God kisses man through all the spiritual inspiration that occurs in the human soul;
As often, therefore, as we find some problem pertaining to the divine teachings and meanings revealed in our heart without instructors help, so often may we believe that kisses have been given to us by the Bridegroom-Word of God… He knows that kisses should be given (Commentary on the Song of Songs 1:1).
Finally, for St. Aelred, the kiss between man and God occurs when man ceases to agonize over human affections, and agrees to enjoy the divine love:
So at last, in this degree of friendship, with all earthly attachments calmed and all worldly thoughts and desires lulled, the soul may delight in the kiss of Christ alone and rest in his embrace, exulting and exclaiming, “His left hand is beneath my head, and his right hand will embrace me.” (Sg 2:6) (Spiritual Friendship, 70).
But here also, the kiss can be only an illusion, only a superficial feeling without a true surrender of life. Just as Judas betrayed Christ with a kiss, Lope de Vega sang to Jesus saying, “I gave you kisses of peace to offend you!”
Also in ancient pagan mythology the gods gave their sacred kisses. In museums around the world we can find hundreds of sculptures and paintings that represent the gods of love (Eros or Cupid) who come to life in giving her a kiss. And although there are very few references to sexual relationships among the gods, yes, we did find many texts that speak of the gods kissing to produce something marvelous…
We cannot doubt, then, the magnificent and sublime value of the kiss, whenever it has also been used to speak of God. But we must also say that in a sincere kiss there is always something divine; as if the kiss made us transcend human limits in an experience of ecstasy, as if we left ourselves to enter into another dimension.
Slowly, don’t rush
not so human.
Let God heal me
with your lips.
Allow the mystery
of intimate love,
that with your touches
of calmness and tenderness
it may heal my soul.
kiss more slowly.
Let a divine ray
and let your mouth
To take away my fear,
to give me peace and love
that they denied me…