Personal musings and an excerpt from Mark Nepo’s latest book guide us through darkness and life’s messiness — to emerge with meaning and connection
Since books arrive like children, after months of labor, the timing of their arrival is well beyond us. And so, in the midst of this profound, painful, and transformative time, my new book, The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters is arriving this May. As with all my books, they are thresholds of inquiry and so, are my teachers. I’m still learning from this one. And I am grateful that it offers pathways to living what matters, because we need that now more than ever, to reveal and strengthen our kinship of being. That web of relationship will help us heal and emerge from this pandemic in new and ancient ways. For love must move as quickly as disease, light must move as quickly as darkness, and give must move as quickly as take. I hope it feeds your soul during this trying time. ~ Mark Nepo
An excerpt from The Book of Soul:
The Agents of Kindness
The fundamental challenge of the twenty-first century is to help each other stay awake, by being who we are and staying in relationship. To do this, we need every single tradition. For as the sun causes every plant to grow, the one unnamable Spirit causes all forms of belief to enter the world. And just as we need all plants to have a vital incarnation of nature, we need all forms of belief to have a vital incarnation of humanity.
This acceptance of the many ways we can journey toward meaning and grace is essential to our survival as a species. The turmoil or peace of the world depends on whether we repel what is unfamiliar or treat it as our teacher. So the nature of belief is not limited to what we choose to believe in, but is more about being students of the diversity of life as manifest through relationship.
By living our life and playing our part, we hold the Universe together. To climb with a loved one to the summit of their suffering will soften our judgments and introduce us to joy. In climbing together through our pain and joy, we come to a timeless place where truth in all its forms comes to rest. It is kindness and suffering that bring us to that timeless place that everyone knows as home, once what is unnecessary is loved out of the way.
It’s the silken threads of care woven through the brutal storms of time that hold everything together.
A loved one’s picture carried through a war and delivered to a grandchild thirty years later. The seed that isn’t washed away that takes root, arriving in the world as an orchid whose beauty makes a young girl become a painter. The memory of the moment we met twenty-five years ago overwhelming me as I watch you sleep this morning. The laughter of my father while planing a piece of mahogany, which kept me believing in the love of work and the work of love while going through cancer. These silken threads are everywhere — a web of barely visible connections that infuse us with resilience when we’re forced or loved to find our way through what we’re given.
In the midst of great turmoil, in the cascade of human catastrophes, these threads of care seem obsolete — artifacts of a gentler time. But they wait under all the breakage that overcomes us. These fine threads of care can be lost but never broken. They wait for the devotion of a single soul, daring to stand up for life in the midst of cruelty, daring to love everyone in the face of prejudice, daring to step out of the drama that says we’re strangers or enemies, daring to help those in hiding come out into the open.
One silken thread of care held onto and followed, sometimes for years, can repair the world.
It was my grandmother who taught me to be kind, who, with the weary faith of a sturdy immigrant, taught me that life opens for those who dare to give. Once living in the open, there is no career but being kind.
So let’s keep each other company, which means let’s be companions, which goes back to the French, meaning “one who breaks bread with another.” It always comes down this…
Our willingness to walk together through the storm and share what we have, so we can create a path to all that matters.
This excerpt is from Mark Nepo’s new book, The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters, which is being published this month by St. Martin’s Essentials. Mark is offering online webinars and retreats. Please visit www.MarkNepo.com for details.
For an opportunity to connect more with Mark, check out an upcoming Webinar:
During these trying times, Mark is offering a 3-session online webinar in June 2020, as a way for us to deepen and strengthen our roots as we endure this storm.
You may also enjoy Podcast: Mark Nepo | Entrainments of Heart by Best Self Media