Splitting the Wood

Splitting the Wood June 10, 2013

Read Mark’s weekly reflections on The Huffington Post.

It’s a paradox that sometimes what we break lets the light in and sometimes where we’re broken lets the light within us out. We’re still responsible for the breaking we do. Part of our job is to endure the pain of breaking and being broken in order to receive whatever light can come through. I’m not sure how this works, but have experienced both. This poem enters the paradox.

Splitting the Wood

When learning something we tend

to speak incessantly. But as what needs

to be learned enters the heart like rain

swelling roots, there is a press that takes

the place of words and once living with

that, it’s hard to say where truth begins,

where pains give way to joy.


I want to be content with what breaks,

so I can see through the break

to all that waits within.


I want to live like the aikido master

who slips by destruction in a

ribbon of dance.


It was years ago. I saw the barn door

shattered by a horse made frantic by

its blinders. But when everyone left,

the sun shone through the splinters,

filling the whole barn with jeweled

light. This is how we learn.


A Question to Walk With: Describe a time when some experience of breaking let more light in. Discuss both the responsibility of doing the breaking, if that was the case, or the pain of being broken open. Speak to how the light that came in affected you.

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