March 13 – Opening to Faith – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“Once a man was about to cross the sea. A wise man tied a leaf in the corner of his robe and said to him ” Don’t be afraid. Have faith and walk on the water. But look here – the moment you lose faith you will drown.”  Sri Ramakrishna

We often move away from pain, which is helpful only before being hurt. Once in pain, it seems the only way out is through. Like someone falling off a boat, struggling to stay above the water only makes things worse. We must accept we are there and settle enough so we can be carried by the deep.  The willingness to do this is the genesis of faith, the giving over to currents larger than us. Even fallen leaves float in lakes, demonstrating how surrender can hold us up.

We can learn from the leaves that ducks swim around. In life as in water, when we curl up or flail we sink.  When we spread and go still, we are carried by the largest sea of all: the sea of grace that flows steadily beneath the turmoil of events. And just as fish can’t see the ocean they live in, we can’t quite see the spirit that sustains us.

Again and again, the onset of pain makes us clutch and sink.  But life has taught me that how we first open after doubling over is crucial to whether we will heal at all.


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