January 25 – Loving Yourself – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“I begin to realize that in inquiring about my own origin and goal, I am inquiring about something other than myself. In this very realization, I being to recognize the origin and goal of the world.” Martin Buber

In loving ourselves, we love the world. For just as fire, rock and water are all made up of molecules, everything, including you and me, is connected by a small piece of the beginning.

Yet, how do we love ourselves? It is as difficult at times a seeing the back of your head. It can be as elusive as it is necessary. I have tried and tripped many times. And I can only say that loving  yourself is like feeding a clear bird that no one else can see.  You must be still and offer your palmful of secrets like delicate seed. As she eats your secrets, no longer secret, she glows and you lighten, and her voice, which only you can hear, is your voice bereft of plans.  And the light through her body will bathe you till you wonder why the gems in your palm were ever fisted.  Others will think you crazed to wait on something no one sees. But the clear bird only wants to feed and fly and sing.  She only wants light in her belly. And once in a great while, if someone loves you enough, they might see her rise from the nest beneath your fear.

In this way, I’ve learned that loving yourself requires a courage unlike any other. It requires us to believe in and stay loyal to something no one else can see that keeps us in the world – our own self worth.

All the great moments of conception, the birth of mountains, of trees, of fish, of prophets, and the truth of relationships that last – all begin where no one can see, and it is our job not to extinguish what is so beautifully begun.  For once full of light, everything is safely on its way – not pain-free, but unencumbered – and the air beneath your wings is the same air that trills in my throat, and the empty benches in snow are as much a part of us as the empty figures who slouch on them in spring.

When we believe in what no one else can see, we find we are each other.  All the moments of living, no matter how difficult, come back into some central point where self and world are one, where light pours in and out at once. And once there, I realize – make real before me – that this moment, whatever it might be, is a fine moment to live and a fine moment to die.

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