April 20 – Birds and Ornithologists – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
Birds don’t need ornithologists to fly.
We spend so much time wanting to be seen and named: as intelligent or good or handsome or pretty or successful or popular or as nobody’s fool. Yet the spirit doesn’t know it’s being spiritual anymore than water rushing knows it’s a stream, and the heart doesn’t know it’s expanding with compassion anymore than a hawk spreading its wings knows it’s being a hawk. Nor does someone acting out of love often realize they are being kind.
From an early age, we are taught that to live fully is to be accepted, and to be accepted, we need to be seen. So we base success and even love on the effort to be seen, on how much we stand out.
However, the often painful truth we discover along the way is that to survive in an inner way that matters – that keeps us connected to all that has ever lived and is living – we sorely need to know how to be accepting.
By this I don’t mean being passive. By this I mean inhabiting our capacity to see and affirm the common pulse of life we find in others, no matter how different they may seem from us.
When we do this, we no longer need to be different to be valued and no longer need to be accepted to know love. In short, we no longer need an audience to fly. We simply have to extend our sincerity to each abiding day and we will be in accord with all that is valuable.
Like flowers waiting on rain, our hearts wait on love. As much as we want to be seen and known, it is the giving of attention that keeps us awake. For giving attention opens us to love. And accepting that deep things wait like seed between us is believing in the world. So wake me by accepting me, and the world will sprout us up like grass.