April 30 – One Constant Arrival – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
“Whether drifting through life on a boat or climbing toward old age leading a horse, each day is a journey and the journey itself is home.” Basho
Twelve years ago, as my journey through cancer was beginning, my grandmother was dying. I didn’t know I had cancer, but I believe she knew she was dying. I could tell because when I’d visit her in Kingsbrook Medical Centre in Brooklyn, she would sit on the edge of her bed and peer off into some distance she alone could see. She was ninety-four and I had the feeling that she was imagining the other shore, the way she did when she was ten, crossing the Atlantic on a crowded steamship that was trading through the huge waves.
Life for her was one endless immigration, one constant arrival in a new land. Perhaps this is why I am a poet, because immigration is in my blood. Perhaps this is why I understand the world of experience as one vast ocean we never stop crossing, even at death.
I’m asking you to imagine the life of your spirit on earth as such an immigration, as one constant arrival in a new land. Given this, we must accept that no matter the shore before us, the swell and toss of the sea never ends. When brought to the crest of a swell, we can see as far as eternity and the should has its perspective, but when in the belly of those waves, we are, each of us, for a moment, lost. The life of the soul on Earth has us bobbing on a raft of flesh in and out of view of eternity, and the work of the inner pilgrim is to keep eternity in our heart and mind’s eye when dropped in the belly of our days.