Expert author Mark Nepo describes the gift of deepening.
This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit, issue 52.
The deepest place on Earth is not a physical place, but the stillness we enter at the bottom of our pain, at the bottom of our fear and worry. The stillness we enter there opens us to a spacious state of being that some call joy. When we put down our dreams and maps of memory, precious as they are, we can feel the pulse of life. Then all we could ask for is softly between us, when too tired to deny that there’s nowhere else to go. These moments of unfiltered depth are brief. We may only experience a handful of such openings in a lifetime. But like the strong chorus of stars that watch over us, we can navigate our way through the dark by following them. I’m thinking of the time we met in our grief after losing my father and your mother. We found ourselves sitting on the edge of our sorrow like a cliff we couldn’t leave or jump from. I’m thinking of the time we felt complete for no reason after falling in the grass with our dog and the light softened all we were carrying. It is these visitations to the deepest place on Earth that make life bearable, that draw who we are more fully into the world, that help us grow softer and stronger at the same time. No one can will these moments to open. No one can find them in the same place twice. And no one can live without them.
Take Me Down
The gift of deepening is that the heart — that ancient fish — swims closer to the centre of the Earth, and the rush of being so close to the fire at the centre is indescribable. Such deepening can stop us in mid-speech. Or cause us to drop the soap in the shower. Such deepening can rearrange everything, the way sand on the ocean floor stirs and settles around what no one sees. On days like today, it makes me gasp at the sun warming the horse in my mind till it slips out of its barn. On days like today, I can smell music and hear flowers. And the flower of our pain braids with the music of our love until your story is my story. Until we feel the common ancestor we came from.
Meet the author: Mark Nepo is a poet and philosopher who devotes his writing and teaching to the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship. He has taught for more than 40 years in the fields of poetry and spirituality. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Awakening, he has published 19 books, including Inside the Miracle, The Way Under the Way, and The One Life We’re Given. He lives in Michigan.