April 4 – Making Amends – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

There is hurt and there is love. They roll us through the days like a turtle down a hill. All we can do when on our back is roll one more time and head for the sea. 

Stones loosened by storms cover paths, and uprooted trees break newly formed nests, and crisis after crisis throws us into each other. It is inevitable. Stay alive and you will be hurt, and you will also hurt others.

Unintended hurt is as common as branches snapped in wind. But it is the unacknowledged hurt that becomes a wound. Just as our only recourse to hurting others is to acknowledge what we’ve done and clean up the mess. This is known as making amends, a simple yet enormous act of integrity that restores trust, and trust, after all, is the soil that holds the roots of humankind. Without it, life on Earth begins to eat itself dry.

What causes us to hurt each other? It’s hard to say. But it seems that, being human, we are subject to many ancient and powerful opposites found in life. Among those that impact us constantly are light and dark, yes and no, and especially fear and peace. For it is out of fear that we feel the need to isolate ourselves or to control others, and it is often in the act of elevating ourselves that we hurt one another, not to mention, ourselves.

When not afraid, when in a moment of peace, we feel quite a different need. We feel a sudden requirement to connect and belong to other living things, and it is then in the act of true embrace that we love one another.

Still, as no one in daily life is exempt from both sleeping and waking, no one can escape being both hurtful and loving. But the world is kept whole by those who can overcome their fear, however briefly. The blood of life itself is kept vital by those who can simply and bravely repair their separations, time and time again.

Even if our awareness of being hurtful comes years after delivering the hurt, the smallest word or gesture – owning what we’ve done, can reopen the heart.

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