July 28 – Grace Comes to the Wave – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
“Enlightenment for a wave is the moment the wave realizes that it is water. At that moment, all fear of death disappears.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Much like the life of ordinary waves, we as human beings are gathered in our passion of a larger home, that sea of infinite spirit, and propelled from an unfathomable depth, we mount and curl and crest and spray, only to subside back into that from which we come.
Profoundly, grace comes to the wave when it realizes what it is made of. Since it has risen from the very same water into which it will crash, its fear of ending is somehow lessened. For it is already a part of where it is going. Can it be that you and I, like simple waves, experience such an enlightenment the instant we realize that we are all made of the same water? Can truly knowing this, the way that waves know wind, lessen our fear of death?
I think I experienced something like this while healing from my rib surgery. I was broken of all difference, dashed of all the ways I could distinguish myself from others. In this tired and dizzied state, I could see that we are all made of the same stuff and that life before me and after me is probably no different than the lights and shadows flickering off my cells right now. Like the wave, aware that it is water, I realized briefly that my skin is a very thin boundary and that wherever I am going is the same as where I am. As a human being now aware of this larger sea of spirit, my fear of death has lessened, though, even as I write this, I don’t want to die.
I think now that the other way to read all this is to say that enlightenment is the moment we realize that we are made of love. At that moment, all fear of living disappears. For grace comes to the heart when it realizes what it is made of and what it has risen from. In that moment, grace comforts us, that no matter the joy or pain along the way, we are already a part of where we are going. Enlightenment for a heart on Earth is the moment we accept that it is the loving that makes waves of us all, again and again and again.