Softening to Well-Disguised Gifts
I’ve been touched lately by the challenges life brings to people I care about. I see the heroism of my 95-year old mother, facing her mortality, talking freely about it, bouncing back yet one more time from debilitating health issues. I see the heroic spirit of dear friend who, in the face of inoperable cancer, throws a celebration-of-life party and continues to engage life, outliving predictions. In my office, I see heroes every day, facing all sorts of adversity. I see the courage required from them to keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking that next step with integrity, even when the path looks bleak and uncertain. I see the courage of showing up and the courage of letting go.
Here’s a passage from Mark Nepo in The Endless Practice, which speaks of eloquently about what life calls forth in us.
“Tragedy happens to ordinary people every day: a loved one dies, or leaves, a purpose is lost, a life’s work is destroyed, our investment in a dream seems wasted when the dream catches fire. Herein lies the mystery of woundedness and its infinite connection to aliveness: life constantly asks us to meet fear and pain with love. Not an easy thing to do. But when we can, it’s like dousing a fire with water. In the simmer, we are softened to each other and refined by the air. This is the hard gift that waits in the troubles of living….
“It is often at the intersection of beauty and suffering that we find meaning. When vulnerable, the sage in us appears. When softened, we often find wisdom in the press of beauty against pain.” (Nepo, pp. 130-131)
I am challenged by Mark’s words and by the heroism I see around me - to open my heart fully and resolutely to life and its curriculum - to stay transparent to the flow of love, in all circumstances – and to soften, with wisdom and courage, when faced with life’s well-disguised gifts.