January 6 – The Spoked Wheel – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

What we reach for may be different, but what makes us reach for it, is the same. 

Imagine that each of us is a spoke in an Infinite Wheel, and, though each spoke is essential to keeping the Wheel whole, no two spokes are the same.  The rim of that Wheel is our living sense of community, family, and relationship, but the common hub where all the spokes join is the one centre where all souls meet.  So, as I move out into the world, I live out my uniqueness, but when I dare to look into my core, I come upon the one common centre where all lives begin. In that centre, we are all one and the same. In this way, we live out the paradox of being both unique and the same. For mysteriously and powerfully, when I look deep enough into you, I find me, and when you dare to hear my fear in the recess of your heart, you recognize it as your secret that you thought no one else knew.  And that unexpected wholeness that is more than each of us, but common to all – that moment of unity is the atom of God.

Not surprisingly, like most people, in the first half of my life, I worked very hard to understand and strengthen my uniqueness. I worked hard to secure my place at the rim of the Wheel and so defined and valued myself by how different I was from everyone else. But in the second half of my life, I have been humbly brought to the centre of that Wheel, and now I marvel at the mysterious oneness of our spirit.

Through cancer and grief and disappointment and unexpected turns in career – through the very breakdown and rearrangement of things I have loved – I have come to realize that, as water smoothes stones and enters sand, we become each other.  How could I be so slow? What I’ve always thought set me apart binds me to others.

Never was this more clear than when I was sitting in the waiting room at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, staring straight into this Hispanic woman’s eyes, she into mine.  In that moment, I began to accept that we all see the same wonder, all feel the same agony, though we all speak in a different voice. I know now that each being born, inconceivable as it seems, is another Adam & Eve.

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