Ever Reliable Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo, though I don’t know personally, inspires me often. He is a poet and philosopher. He is a cancer survivor. He writes of transformation and awakening.

He is one of few people for whom I can pick up one of his books, start reading anywhere, and be very satisfied after a few short paragraphs. Enough so that I often put the book down, just to let the words settle into me. It’s a bit like meeting a friend in passing, but pausing to take a longer morning walk together. Ever reliable.

“The Exquisite Risk” and “Facing the Lion, Being the Lion” are two in particular that I’ve enjoyed and used with others.

There are lots of resources on Mark’s website, including places to sign up for regular reflections through email. Give it a good peek.

Here’s a post from him that I saw recently.

During my cancer journey, I was able to see my heart on a screen during a test in which I was injected with radioactive dye, so they could trace the first pass of blood through the first chamber of my heart. It was an experience that changed my understanding of heart. 


It has pumped strong since my first breath. At first it grew like a fish, no limbs, no eyes; just swimming in place while I tried to do what I was told. It knew nothing of where I would lead it or where I would be taken. As I grew, it spread into a red bird whose wings stirred me with a want for impossible things. But wanting, falling, loving, dying and being battered wore me down to life on Earth. Beating in the face of so many abrasions, it only toughened, its cords of muscle eating my heartaches like calisthenics; always whispering in my sleep, “Give me more!” 

In my cancer, it grew very still. The doctors thought it was going away or back to where it waited while I was being born. It was only gliding beneath the storm. Now on the other side, it has morphed again. How to say it? I’ve become a mold hollowed by my sufferings: all to be filled by my heart which has slipped its casing completely, pouring itself into the contours of my being. Now it washes everywhere: behind my eyes, my lips, inside my fingers. Now, wherever you touch me, you touch my heart.

A Question to Walk With: Begin to tell the story of the history of your heart.

Quite a nice invitation, isn’t it.

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