Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Context of Every Struggle

Antonio-Sessa Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Context of Every Struggle

We spend so much time anticipating what will happen next that we miss the whisper of Heaven that unfolds wherever we are. Though I have known and survived many forms of pain, fear is the troll in my mind that anticipates more. And just as a loud noise prevents us from finding the peace in the center of silence, fear prevents us from finding the inch of Heaven in the center of whatever moment we are in. Yet, no matter how much I’ve been through and how much I’ve learned, I can’t stop the wave of anticipation. No one can. It is part of being human.

But I can escape it from time to time. When fully engaged in learning, or caring for another, or in a moment of devotion to all that I believe about the Mystery of Life—in these openings, the anticipation loosens and I am completely present, at least for a while. The practice of authenticity is building on these moments until they open up our days.

I remember during my cancer journey, when my veins had gone brittle from too many needles. The nurse was having trouble inserting an IV for my chemo. She had tried five times and no go. I was sweating in fear of the next try. Each one burned. Then, my dear friend Robert put his hand on my forearm, rubbing the mess of pinpricks. His touch broke my anticipation. I began to cry. And while he rubbed my arm, the nurse tried again.

Ever since, I have used touch and care to interrupt fear. Touch works better than talk to deliver us into the peace that waits in the center of every moment. There, in the well of all time that is the context of every struggle, we are carried, the way a broken raft is carried on the surface of the roughest sea.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a struggle you are currently engaged in—with fear, pain, or worry. Real as this is, imagine it as a raft and try to sense and feel the larger currents of the sea of life that is keeping the raft of your life afloat. Both the raft of your struggle and the larger currents carrying you are true. How can you hold both in your heart?

This excerpt is from my book In progress, The Long Walk Through Time.

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