From teacher and poet Mark Nepo comes the book, Inside the Miracle. Through this book’s poetry and reflections, we journey with Mark from the years when he discovered and was treated for cancer. Here, we journey through quotes from Inside the Miracle.
This book is not only for those with cancer. It is not even necessarily for those who are sick. This gift from Mark is for anyone who has faced or is in the throes of crisis. It is inspiration and a reminder that “this too shall pass.”
To live in wonder on the other side of suffering and disappointment is to know how magnificent and fragile it is to be here at all.
I especially enjoyed the essay titled “Sifting Truth.” For many seekers, there exists this polarity that Mark Nepo described as such -“the fending off of influence so that unencumbered reality can reach us with its truth and the abating of loneliness at having a mouth full of light and no one to kiss.” For we know that solitude is needed to reveal what we need and desire to live in. It is when we are alone that we are “pruning away the thoughts of others like weeds that block our path to light.”
Because “we are meant, it seems, to come apart and come together, so we can discover who we are at the core. We are meant, it seems, to be rearranged by what we go through and held up to that process by those who care.”
Many people disconnect from how they feel. Because it is simply too overwhelming. Or it was easier not to feel that one time, which became a habit, but “to feel keenly is the only path to transformation and wholeness.”
“Our continual quest is to stay more renewed than devoured; our chief task is to find a way to gain enough from what is revealed to survive the pain of such opening.”
“What is medicine, if not the laws of nature applied to cleanse the self?”
“We are shed from within and are eroded from without.”
“From the beginning, the key to renewal has been shedding, the casting off of old skin….Change whatever has ceased to function within us, to shed whatever we’re carrying that’s no longer alive, to cast off our dead skin…When we don’t put down what doesn’t work, life zeroes in on falseness the way fire and ice find weak surfaces to break.”
“I realize then that whether it be our search for purpose, our struggle with confusion, our working through grief, or the violent evolution of our identity, no one can go beyond the glass door with you. Each of us must do that work alone.”
“Reaching in and touching the spot that hurts, if done with selfless love, can release the pain, the way a dark branch can be gently shook to free it of all those steely crows.”
So all of us must show everyone, especially ourselves, compassion, which “fuels those who share their suffering with reserves of energy in the form of love.”
“In a daily way, the light within merging with the light without – that is renewing, if we can shed what continues to accrue in between.”
Over the years, Mark found that he’s “lost some of my noise and force but found more of my calm and depth…I woke up on the other side, no longer driven to create something that never existed, but drawn now to bear witness to what has always been. I had begun the shift from a life of achievement to a life of expression.”
“Before we live what’s next we often think there’s some answer we need to have in order to go on. But soon enough, we’re humbled to discover, more than once, that the act of living itself unravels both the answer and the question….when we watch, we remain riddles to be sorted. When we enter, we become songs to be sung.”
“While needing love to feel good about being alive is a modern indulgence, needing love to stay alive is the archetype behind God almost touching Adam’s finger.”
“I am well because people didn’t watch my suffering, but entered it; through which they felt love-sufferings of their own, which, at times, hurt them too much, which, in turn, forced me to nurture them; until, in bare essential ways on certain days, we weren’t sure who was ill and who was well. A solution that saved us all.”
This was my takeaway on my first reading. What we take away, what speaks to us, what ignites a fire within us…changes like the different colours of each sunset. To deepen our contemplation and awakening through the book and beyond, Mark also includes some “questions to walk with.”
“No matter how life has rearranged the path, no matter how scattered the tribe has become, no matter how many times I had to begin again, gratitude is all I ever have to say. There are too many to name, there are too many to thank, each a bead of kindness on my personal rosary.”
This is merely a small selection of quotes from Inside the Miracle by Mark Nepo. His strength seeps through and holds the hands of the reader. He has available to us such a big breadth of poetry and writing that minister our woundedness. Let us find endurance within each other and ourselves. This too shall pass.