June 1 – Walking North – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Walk long enough and we all trade places. 

We are always surrounded and carried by the Whole, while we take turns holding and being held, falling and getting up, listening and trying to say what matters. This reminds me of Nur. She too had cancer and was a model of strength, a feisty blessing. I remember when she died. I was so as. Yet the light was merciless in its beauty that day, forcing me to begin to heal. It made me realize, in those painfully bright hours, that no matter how I turn away, the magnificent light follows, background to my sadness.

It works the other way, too. I have known such moments of complete simplicity that all my problems and limitations seemed for the moment, to vanish, but they were there, growing like mold in the dark. So I learned that no matter how I life my heart, my shadow creeps in wait behind, background to my joy.

And when I tried to outrun the fact that I had cancer, it became quite clear that no matter how fast I run, a stillness without thought is where I end. Even when repairing in the quiet of a February afternoon – alone, my ribs all taped – I had to accept that no matter how long I sit, there is a river of motion I must rejoin.

It seems the way of our many lives: wherever you are led, the opposite waits. When I am down, you are up; when you are weak, I am strong. How else to explain that when I can’t hold my head up, it always falls in the lap of one who haas just opened. How else to understand that when I finally free myself of burden, there is always someone’s heavy head landing in my arms.

It’s how we grow and heal, again and again, by holding and being held. In my own life, I have been held and dropped, have hurt and soothed others, enough to accept, at last, that the reasons of the heart are leaves in the wind. Stand up tall and everything will nest in you.

Yet this is not a complaint. It is as it should be, must be, the way of everything natural extends and grows. We all lose and we all gain. Dark crowds the light. Light fills the pain. Living is a conversation with no end, a dance with no steps, a song with no words, a reason too big for any mind.

No matter how we turn or are turned, the magnificence follows.

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