August 15 – Being Held – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“Perhaps the shortest and most powerful prayer in human language is help.” Father Thomas Keating

A hardness we can’t see, cold and rigid, begins to form between us and the world, the longer we stay silent about what we need. It is not even about getting what we need, but about admitting, mostly to ourselves, that we do have needs.

Asking for help, whether we get it or not, breaks the hardness that builds in the world. Paradoxically, asking even for the things that no one can give, we are relieved and blessed for the asking. For admitting our humanness lets the soul break surface, the way a dolphin leaps for the sun.

One of the most painful barriers we can experience is the sense of isolation the modern world fosters, which can only be broken by our willingness to be held, by the quiet courage to allow our vulnerabilities to be seen. For as water fills a hole and as light fills the dark, kindness wraps around what is soft, if what is soft can be seen.

So admitting what we need, asking for help, letting our softness show—these are prayers without words that friends, strangers, wind, and time all wrap themselves around. Allowing ourselves to be held is like returning to the womb.

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