by Mark Nepo


Each of us walks about in a cloud of affections: our love, our pain, our desires, our history. Then, we need help from each other to outwait the cloud, so we can regain our direct experience of life. We need to break the trance of what we want or wish for or regret. The task is not to replay what we go through, but to integrate what enters our heart. Not to linger in what might have been or what has fallen short, but to make the most of what’s before us. The challenge is to feel what’s real while it’s real.

But when we can sort what we’re hearing and outwait the cloud of our affections, we land in the beautiful if gritty terrain of where we are. Now caring for each other can restore us. Once grounded enough to truly care, then I can love you. And the depth of that love dissolves images of life being “over there.” Then, my singular sense of self starts to let others in, so that when you’re in pain, I’m in pain. And when you’re overflowing with wonder, I’m saturated with that wonder. This is how life grows and joins, a pain at a time, a wonder at a time—despite our clouds of affection, our webs of fear and worry, and our fear of missing out. This is the greater prayer of being: how we take form and grow where we are, only to be dissolved into a greater union with the life around us.


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