what is truly calling

Photo by Vicki Flaherty | Brother-in-Law’s White Peonies, Chapel Hill North Carolina

Mark Nepo, in I Awake chapter of The One Life We’re Given

“The point is not to deify the events that break us down or open. But to lift up the mysterious fact that what we think we want, what we think we strive for, is often not the goal at all – just what we hold on to in order to discover what is truly calling us. Often, when we think we’re building one thing, we’re building another, or we’re the ones being built. When we think we’re giving one thing, we’re often giving another, or we’re the ones being given to. When we think we’re enduring one thing, we’re often being undone by life into the birth of a gift we’ve been carrying for just this opening. The point is, we’re challenged to follow our heart beyond our intentions in order to find our quiet destiny, the way a tulip or peony follows its urge to break ground, hardly imagining its life in blossom.”

This really spoke to me, as do so many of Mark Nepo’s words. I remember, when I was working at IBM supporting leaders in being their best, how I would have these moments when I could see and sense that what I thought I was up to was not really the point at all, that there was something deeper happening, something richer being created. Once I was leading a resilience initiative, facilitating learning circles with small groups of executives and exploring ways to support ourselves and others in self-care. On the surface the work looked like education, however, at a deeper level it was about our being relationship and our connection and what was possible because of it.

the gift of now

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the gift of now

rushing
to be where
we think
we should be
we miss
the opportunity
of the present

hurrying
to know
the future’s plans
we move
right past
the chance
to sense
this moment’s grace

moving
out of habit
we walk
without awareness
of the beautiful nuance
available in our current experience

slowing
to the gift
of now
we open
and feel
fully alive

 

This poem, similar to last week’s (a simple dream), evolved from noticing myself expecting that I should be doing something more or that I should be somewhere else. I find myself in a hurry to know what the future holds, as if the days will somehow be richer if I just know.

And then grace enters the room, I catch myself getting ahead, begin to wonder why I’m rushing, and find what it takes slow down. Once I stop the scurry, I can breathe into the present, with all it has to offer. I discover that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and there is enough time for life to unfold.

 

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* I took this photo in San Agustinillo, Mexico. This is Bailey (RIP) who, like so many dog friends, shows us the way to now.

receiving

Terre de Vendicari Sicily Italy 2.JPG

Receiving

the awakened spirit
bravely leans into
the moment’s softness

the hungry soul
opens and allows
others’ love to flow in

the tender heart
receives
the gift of wholeness

 

This post was inspired by reading Healing is Mutual in Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom. She writes about a doctor who follows his intuition and breaks with his training to pray in his office with an elderly woman patient in the final stages of cancer. Rachel describes how the women touched the doctor’s cheek in appreciation and how that simple act of grace was a  powerful gift for the physician, giving him strength and recommitting him to his healing work.

I love how Rachel inspires me to listen to the wisdom inside, deep down where my heart beats softly. I like the way she invites me to be vulnerable and courageous in acting on what feels right, even though it may be different from what I would usually do, or what I might think is ‘professional’ or aligned with others’ expectations. I appreciate how she helps me see what’s possible when I show up 100% for what’s happening – and the beauty of others’ gifts flowing into my life.

* I took this photo at Terre di Vendicari in Sicily, Italy this past summer. I chose it because of the way these horses seemed to give and receive from each other.