Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go …
― John O’Donohue from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Learning How To Float
When first learning how to swim, I didn’t trust the deep. No matter how many assuring voices I heard from shore, I strained and flapped to keep my chin above the surface. It exhausted me, and only when exhausted did I relax enough to immerse myself to the point that I could feel the cradle of the deep keep me afloat.
I’ve come to understand that this is the struggle we all replay between doubt and faith. When thrust into any situation over our head, our reflex is to fight with all our might the terrible feeling that we are sinking. Yet the more we resist, the more we feel our own weight and wear ourselves out.
At times like this, I remember learning to float. Mysteriously, it required letting almost all of me rest below the surface before the deep would hold me up. It seems to me, almost forty years later, that the practice of finding our faith is very much like that—we need to rest enough of ourselves below the surface of things until we find ourselves upheld.
This is very hard to do. But the essence of trust is believing you will be held up if you let go. And though we can practice relaxing our fear and meeting the deep, there is no real way to prepare for letting go other than to just let go.
Once immersed, once below the surface, it is not by chance that things slow down, go clear, feel weightless. Perhaps faith is nothing more than taking the risk to rest below the surface.
That we can’t stay there only affirms that we must choose the deep again and again in order to live fully. That we must move through the sense of sinking before being upheld is what trusting the Universe is all about.
— Mark Nepo from The Book of Awakening
Fear Is Good
Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
― Steven Pressfield from The War of Art
Don’t let your throat tighten with fear. Take sips of breath all day and night, before death closes your mouth.
— Rumi from The Essential Rumi: New Expanded Edition
When we can still ourselves, our heart will sink — of its own weight — below the noise of the world, the advice of others, and even our own expectations. Once that still, our mind can relax and we have the chance to inhale what matters. This is how we practice meeting life.
So when losing track of what I believe in, when wondering what work I’m called to next, I still my heart until I stop feeding the dark things that keep shouting they’re important. In that stillness, I ask myself: Where is the light coming from today? What do I have to do to put myself in its path? What part of me is illuminated for leaning into life? What can I learn by being so lighted? What is it my heart can’t keep from doing that will bring me more alive?
To lean into life requires a quiet courage that lets us find our aliveness. And the reward for leaning into life is that everything hidden becomes sweet and colorful. Or more, we are finally present enough to receive the sweetness and the color. Consider how a flower opens. It doesn’t prepare for a particular moment, but stays true to a life of leaning toward the light. When a flower blossoms, it turns inside out and wears its beauty in the world. As do we. In just this way, a soul opens over a lifetime of leaning into life.
— Mark Nepo from The One Life We’re Given
Believe me when I say
there is nothing
this blessing would not do
to protect you,
to save you,
to encompass you.
would stand between you
and every danger,
to wade with you
into the waters that come
It would make
a way for you
through the waters that come
I cannot explain
this blessing feels
but I can tell you
it has more than pledged
itself to you;
it would lay down
its life for you
and not once
look back in regret
nor go in sorrow
for what it has chosen
so deeply blessed,
so utterly encompassed—
what will you save
it is owed,
you cannot imagine
failing to pass along
that casts its circle
through this perilous
and precious life.
— Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief
Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
- The Way Out Of Fear
- Blessing of Courage
- The Guest House
- Living Under The Blessing
- God Is So Bent On Blessing, He Chases
- In Wisdom’s Path
- The Call I Have Heard All My Life