Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
It’s always a delight to see family greetings in airports. When I travel, or when I’m waiting for arriving visitors, I pause to watch the little celebrations. Couples come back together. Little children run to grandparents, who toss them in the air. Families hold banners; “Welcome home, Trevor and Kate!”
We can certainly appreciate miracles… objects of wonder… in the physical world. People flying to the moon, doors that open and close, crocuses popping through the snow in the spring. But isn’t it the greatest miracle that you are loved? And isn’t it the greatest miracle that you can love?
Love is everywhere.
Love is in the sentinel events of your life. The birth of a child. Marriage. The mixture of grief and celebration at the passing of someone who has been dear to you.
Love is also in the countless joys of daily life. An elderly couple walks hand in hand. A kindergarten teacher gets down on the level of a little girl and really listens. A golden retriever wags his whole body when his owner comes down the stairs in the morning, and his owner is just as enthralled to see him.
In working with many people around family relationships over the years, I’ve commented that it is easy to love somebody when they are cheerful and engaging. The real challenge is how not to lose sight of love when someone is not.
I saw a man who had been married for many years to a woman who had significant, episodic emotional difficulties. She could be sweet one day and caustic and isolated the next. “It’s not easy,” he said, “but I try to be kind when she’s like that. I know her behavior isn’t who she really is, and I know that when she gets upset, kindness will usually help her to feel a little more peaceful. Even in the ugliness of life,” he continued, “you can’t let that keep you from the joy and the beauty.”
Love, the object of wonder. The miracle.
- Think about a time when you have been loved… a time, perhaps, when you were not especially easy to love. Do you see the miracle?
- Open your heart to continuing ways, and to new ways, that you can express the miracle of love in the coming week.
Mark Nepo (b. 1951) is a poet and philosopher, the author of over a dozen books and audiotapes, including the acclaimed collection of daily reflections, The Book of Awakening (Conari, 2011), from which the quotation comes. A survivor of cancer in his thirties, Nepo highlights the transformational journey toward full, present and joyful living, even in the presence of suffering.