April 11 – Turning Light into Food – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

We still might feed the dark thing in us that grows away from the light until against all sense we mysteriously flower in the other direction. 

Quietly, each spring, things in the plant world start growing slowly toward the light, while their roots find their way underground. But once breaking surface, the most amazing thing happens again and again without a sound: the exposed thing growing toward the light stays alive by turning light into food.  We’ve all learned about this. It’s called “photosynthesis,” the process by which lives turn sunlight into sugar, which feeds their roots; then the roots once nourished, make the stems and leaves grow further.

The smallest plant life in spring reveals to us both the challenge of being a spirit in human form and the quiet courage necessary to grow inwardly. For this is our deepest calling, how to turn light into food.

How often are we told, “You can’t live on air.” Yet if we dare to make our way into the open, we are drawn into the air and the light, and the rest somehow happens. For like the nubs of shoots yet to break ground, we can’t help it. Something in our very finer knows where the light is, even when we can’t see it.

My most profound experience of this was in the midst of my worst despair after being diagnosed with a tutor pressing on my brain. Inexplicably, despite the fear and terror and sadness, despite doctors and technicians telling me the worst of what they imagined for me – though they really didn’t know – somehow, though I was digging deeper in the dark like a stubborn root, some essential vein of being was, for all that, growing toward the light.

And I am here to tell you, you can live on air. The light is our home.

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