“…We often move away from pain, which is helpful only before being hurt. Once in pain, it seems the only way out is through. Like someone falling off a boat, struggling to stay above the water only makes things worse. We must accept we are there and settle enough so we can be [supported and] carried by the deep. The willingness to do this is the genesis of faith, the giving over [of ourselves] to currents larger than us. Even fallen leaves float in lakes, demonstrating how surrender can hold us up.
We can learn from the leaves that ducks swim around. In life as in water, when we curl up or flail we sink. When we spread and go still, we are carried by the largest sea of all: the sea of grace that flows steadily beneath the turmoil of events. And just as fish can see the ocean they live in, we can’t quite see the spirit that sustains us.
Again and again, the onset of pain makes us clutch and sink. But life has taught me that how we first open after doubling over is crucial to whether we will heal at all…”
Philosopher-poet and cancer survivor, Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, p. 87.
See also this related reflection – Learning How to Float.
A Poem (extract)
Having loved enough and lost enough,
I'm no longer searching
no longer trying to make sense of pain
but trying to be a soft and sturdy home
in which real things can land.
These are the irritations
that rub into a pearl.
So we can talk for a while
but then we must listen,
the way rocks listen to the sea.
And we can churn at all that goes
but then we must lay all
down and water every living seed.