“In truth, our aliveness depends on our ability to sustain wonder:
to lengthen the moments we are truly uncovered, to be still and quiet
till all the elements of the earth and all the secrets of the oceans
stir the aspects of life waiting within us.”
~ Mark Nepo
In The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo, the topic for November 11th is called Sustaining Wonder. He begins the days reflection with a quote by Kahlil Gibran.
“In one atom are found all the elements
of the earth; in one motion of the mind are found
all the motions of existence; in one drop of water
are found all the secrets f the endless oceans;
in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of life.”
How do you sustain wonder in your life?
Do you think there is a connection between sustaining wonder and guarding your time so that you have time to ponder, reflect, and marvel?
What things can make you think “WOW!”?
The author’s reflection on November 1st entitled The Next Moment of Love also offered up thoughts on overextending ourselves. It begins with a quote by Thomas Merton:
“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude
of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands,
to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help
everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.
The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his or her work for peace.”
Mark Nepo then continues, “Merton wisely challenges us not just to slow down, but, at the heart of it, to accept our limitations. We are at best filled with the divine, but we have only two hands and one heart. In a deep and subtle way, the want to do it all is a want to be it all, and though it comes from a desire to do good, it often becomes frenzied because our egos seize our goodness as a way to be revered. I have done this many times: not wanting to say no, not wanting to miss an opportunity, not wanting to be seen as less than totally compassionate. But wherever I cannot bring my entire being, I am not there.”
Consider these thoughts and questions that he poses at the end of this section.
- Center yourself and think of the many kindnesses that you feel called to do.
- As you breathe, let your heart glow around one.
- Without thinking, pray for the others, but devote yourself today to the one.
Wonder is also mentioned in the November 9th reflection called Diving Half-Blind. This quote by Thomas Brown introduces the topic:
“We carry within us
the wonders we seek
Mark Nepo later in this passage writes, “….the deeper we go, the slower the world; the slower the world, the soften our way. So we must keep calling each other into the depths of what we know. For below the surface we all shine. Diving in, we all turn silver. Given to air alone, the cuts of this world burn. But when we dare to enter what is deep, the bruises we carry soften and glow. In truth, the more we accept our limitations and surrender to the depths below our woundedness, the more the vastness holds us up. There is no way to know this but to dive.”
He closes with the following suggestions:
- Center yourself and hold a pain or ached that you carry; hold it gently before you.
- As you breathe slowly, surround your pain or ache with a loving kindness meditation that keeps broadening your prayer for all living things.
- Allow this silent prayer to subside.
- Now, if you can, feel your pain or ache slightly softened by your love for the world.
There is wonder in the simplest of things. This thing called life is a wonder. Our “aliveness” is a wonder. Author Mark Nepo shares these profound thoughts about life in his reflections of November 24th entitled The Need to Continue.
“The longer I wake on this Earth, the louder the quiet things speak to me. The more I experience and survive, the more I find truth in the commonalities we all share. The more pain softens me, the deeper my joy and the greater the lessons of those things that live in great stillness.
Before I had cancer, I used to complain so much, annoyed that every chore would need to be done again, that the grass would grow back as soon as I’d cut it. Now I am in aw how it will grow no matter what you do to it. How I need that knowledge.
Now, twelve years from that bed, I am standing in a gentle rain, each drop a whisper of simple things I will never understand. Now, there is only air in the sky of heart waiting to rain. Now, I am thinner, grayer, brighter, less able to say, and my heart has learned more on this side than it will ever let me know. Now, I want to learn how to kiss an orange, unpeeled, and taste the juice.
Twelve years ago the unasked-for growth disappeared, and —praise this life — I have been shedding ever since. Now, all that remains is my armless heart wanting to live.”
- Sit quietly and consider your thoughts as leaves and your hears as the tree.
- Breathe slowly, and try to listen to the soil you share with everything.
- Breathe deeply, and meditate on what is oldest in you.
Here is a poem to inspire you in all your wonder and wow-ness!
Remember Your Wow-ness by Patricia Lynn Reilly
Do you ever look up at the night sky and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the night sky.
Do you ever get lost in it’s bigness and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the big sky.
Do you ever feel held by its darkness and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the dark sky.
Do you feel the tug of the full moon and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the full moon.
Do you ever try to count the stars and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the night star.
You are composed of the same stuff as the Milky Way.
You are an exquisite dimension of the Galaxy’s development.
You are a space the Universe fashioned to feel its own grandeur.
You are an individualized expression of WOW. WOW!