July 13 – Now You See It, Now You Don’t – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“God leads me to still waters that restore my spirit.” Psalm 23

It doesn’t take very long for each of us to accumulate an emotional history. A child burns her hand on a stove and a fear of fire begins; in a tender moment, a hand is slapped and a fear of love begins. Our emotional associations and reflexes run deep. Often, the heart breathes beneath all our associations like a soft, sandy bottom waiting underwater.

Thus, to see ourselves clearly, we must try to still our associations till we are as transparent as a calm lake. When still enough and clear enough, others can also see through to our bottom. It makes love possible again. But paradoxically, when someone is moved to reach for us, their fingers stir things up, sending ripples everywhere, and we and they can often lose sight of what matters.

All this affirms the need to stay with our feelings long enough for the emotional associations – the ripples – to settle. No one can escape this. No matter how ¬†young or old you may be, no matter how innocent or experienced you are, if you’ve been awake and alive and in any kind of relationship that has been in any way been real, your waters will stir, your emotions will ripple. It seems the only way we can truly know our own depth is to wait for our associations and reflexes to subside, till we are clear as a lake again. Only when what gets stirred up settles can we see ourselves and each other clearly.

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