August 8 – Surrender Like a Duck – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Beneath what I try to see is all I need.

It was years ago, butI remember it clearly. I was walking along the shore of a lake in the middle of the day, and there in the sun, a good ten yards out, was a duck curled into itself, asleep. With its slick tufted head tucked into its body, it bobbed peacefully in the lapping of the water.

This little scene undid me, for here was an ultimate lesson in trust. Without any intent or knowledge of itself, this little duck, asleep in the womb of the world, was a deep and wordless teacher. If only I —if only we—could surrender this completely to the mystery of life, we would be carried and renewed.

It was obvious that the duck would wake and swim its little patterns on the water, but this little creature’s ability to let go so completely allowed its time on Earth to be filled and saturated—if just for a few minutes—with a depth of peace that only surrender can open us to.

Only rarely have I let go this completely, yet those moments of total surrender have thoroughly changed my life. When struck with cancer, I somehow fell from the ledge of my fear and entered the operating room like this little duck. It was the threshold to the other side. When lonely and afraid to reach out, I have somehow collapsed repeatedly into the ocean of another’s love, and it has cleansed my weary heart. And in my search now for wisdom to live by, I stumble at times and surrender what I think I know, so completely,that I find myself adrift in a deeper way that is neither wise nor unwise, but simply life-affirming.

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