April 26 – The Way is Hard, but Clear – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Though it is the hardest going, the way is clear. 

The naturalist and environmentalist Kevin Scriber tells us that salmon make their way upstream by bumping repeatedly into blocked pathways until they find where the current is the strongest. Somehow they know that the  unimpeded rush of water means that there is no obstacle there, and so they enter this opening reverently, for though it is the hardest going, the way is clear.

The lesson here is as unnerving as it is helpful. In facing both inner and outer adversities, the passage of truth comes at us with a powerful momentum because it is clear and unimpeded, and so, where we sense the rush of truth is where we must give our all.

As human beings, the blocked pathways of our journey can take on many forms, and whether it be in avoiding conflict with others, or in not taking the risk to love, or in not accepting the call of spirit that would have us participate more fully in our days – it is often easier to butt up continually against these blocked pathways than to enter fervently the one passage that is so powerfully clear.

In this regard, salmon innately model a healthy persistence by showing us how to keep nosing for the unimpeded way, and once finding it, how to work even harder to make it through.

Some say it is easier for salmon, since the power of their drive to end where they begin is not compromised by the endless considerations that often keep us from the truth. Still, it is the heart’s capacity to rise one more time after falling down, no matter how bruised, that verifies that such a drive lives in us too. Like salmon, our way depends not just on facing things head on, but in moving our whole being through.

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