When not doing well, when full of doubt or pain or worry, when unable to find your way, try, very slowly, to return to moments that feel foundational. By foundational, I mean moments that are solid, however briefly, in which you feel directly connected to life, in which you feel safe and thorough, in which you feel at peace, even if for a few seconds.
You don’t have to name these foundational moments, or explain them, or fit them into some theological box. You simply have to experience them and locate them, so you have a chance to return to them or to moments like them, when you need to.
In time, you will chart a constellation of foundational moments that can hold you up when you fall down. And mysteriously, when identified and honored, these moments of peace and clearness start to join each other. So, in time, our foundational field enlarges when we have the courage to find what will hold us up.
Such a moment might be watching the apple blossoms fold over in the wind. Or falling into the rhythm of chopping vegetables in the afternoon light. Or watching the runoff in spring rush around a fallen limb. You’ll know these moments are foundational when you can’t reduce them or be distracted from them. Such a moment might be listening to your ninety-year-old mother breathe while she sleeps. Or watching a young woman well up on her cell phone, not sure what she is hearing, but knowing that you are watching a life living.
Despite our want to pin things down, we’re called to inhabit life more than name it. The greatest way we can practice this is in relation to the Mystery of Life itself. It’s more important to experience the Unnamed Mystery as it moves through us and about us, than to argue if that enormous presence is God, Nature, Physics, or the Bareness of Being that Buddhists speak of. Ultimately, names are only useful as doorways to what can’t be named.
A Question to Walk With: Describe a foundational moment that keeps your grounded during times of stress.
This excerpt is from my book, Drinking from the River of Light (Sounds True).
The Life of Expression: Finding Your Voice, Mark Nepo’s new 3-session webinar starting June 13, will center on the lifelong process of listening, reflecting, and expressing, and on how bearing witness to the truth of living reveals the mysteries of life. For more information or to register, visit: live.marknepo.com