May 28 – The Risk of Attention – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“For the raindrop, joy is entering the river.” The Sufi Prophet Ghalib

It is amazing to consider how as infants we are one with everything. In time, of course, we learn how to distinguish between ourselves and others, between the world we carry inside and the world we move through. But ironically, the sages of all paths are those who, after lifetimes of experience, try to return to this primary state of Oneness.

When I think of the moments I have felt most alive, they all have this quality of joining all of what I keep inside with everything outside me in a way that makes me forget myself. They all feel timeless and open-ended. Tenderly, the deepest moments of making love allow us to join in that Oneness beyond ourselves, as do certain moments of being immersed in great music or great open spaces. I have also felt this after long periods of swimming or running, or after long periods of being healthfully alone. I feel it when discovering what it is I need to write. Joy, it seems, is the feeling of that Oneness.

Not surprisingly, it is the risk to love – the risk to give our full attention – that lets what is eternal within merge with what is eternal without. In those moments of Oneness, we, as drops of spirit, join the larger river of spirit.

And so, it is the risk to be fully present that opens us to the Oneness that flows through all things, the way a spring brook flows from your acre through my fence, through my land, and on through my neighbour’s fence and land. Just as that rush of water ignores all we have built in between, so the wholeness of life moves through us all, undermining all the walls we maintain.

It seems we always have the choice: to remain and builder of fences or to enter the stream that ignores all fences.

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