August 28 – In the Ocean of Spirit – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Though the wind enlivens the tree, the tree is not the wind. And though life enlivens us, we are not the Source.

Everywhere we are given examples of how the life-giving elements move through us and bring us to life. Consider how fish makeup the sea, in fact depend on the sea, and yet the sea, though found in each fish, can not be contained in any one fish. Consider how the tree has no control over the movement of the wind, any more than the fish has control of the movement of the sea.

Humbly, this gives us a way to understand the vast life of spirit. For like the tree and the fish, we as human beings have no control over the movement of grace. Souls, like fish, make up the ocean of all spirit, depending on that element, and yet the ocean of grace, though found in each soul, cannot be contained in any one soul.

If we understand this, it affects the way we live. For no matter your spiritual lens or the names you prefer for the mystery, human beings make up the world of God, depend on the world of God, and yet the world of God, though found in each being, cannot be contained in any one life.

When we refuse this truth, we begin to self-destruct, because in our pride and will we try to contain and control more than any one human being can. Only when we recognize the elemental relationship of soul to spirit—of individual life to the stream of life—only then do we paradoxically have the blessing and energy of all life.

If I am honest in looking at all my attempts to love and be loved, I must admit that this also holds true in matters of the heart. For aren’t all our passions and yearnings little fish that make up a greater sea of Love? Don’t we depend on the Love that surrounds us to bring us alive within? And yet the ocean of Love, though found in each heart, cannot be contained in any one heart. In truth, the essence of Love, as Jesus affirms, is greater than all the hearts that claim to have it.

But how does knowing all this help us live? For myself, I can only offer that I often feel like a tree standing up to wind. And just as we can only hear a great wind for the trees that stand against it, we can only know God by leaning our soul into the wind of our experience.

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