Karen holes up in my heart when she needs to.
Her cave has been customized within the folds of my fourth chakra. The space is plentiful, but Karen’s registered claim has all the attributes of permanency. In place of a lease, an unwritten agreement evolved between us as gracefully and naturally as our friendship.
Its essence is that we love each other through life’s tangles and snares to the point where we have enhanced each others’, and our own, spiritual growth.
The second youngest of a large family, her mother died when Karen was nine years old. Typical of a child who grew up without a birth mother’s presence, my fifty-something friend has lived life wondering what she doesn’t know that a mother would have taught her. A knawing doubt challenges her confidence, “What is it that everyone else knows that I know nothing about?”
A clutch of women friends has received her question in various forms. Knowing she trusts our desire for truth, we present her with this gift of reassurance: We don’t know either.
In February, she had her ex-husband deliver my birthday present to me. She had rushed off to spend time with friends on another island. I was supposed to celebrate my birthday with them, but had no cat-sitter.
Of course Karen was free to ask her ex-husband to deliver a gift to a friend. She didn’t leave the marriage until it could be done with love.
Respecting my hope to collect no more things (except art or books), Karen’s gift was The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. I knew nothing about Mr. Nepo, but after reading just a few phrases, I was looking forward to making his acqaintance.
Karen does not always know about the book she chooses. The title may attract her. Or, it’s in the new arrivals section and looks soulful. Sometimes she’s heard me talk about the author. For example, I was studying a course offered by Caroline Myss who highly recommended we study her book, Entering the Castle. I was silently hunting for it. Karen was at a garage sale, saw a book by Myss and bought it for 25 cents. You can imagine my amazement when she announced she had picked up Entering the Castle. Blessings on her intuition.
Mark Nepo now slips into my attention unbidden from surprising sources. Today, for example, I looked at Oprah’s daily offering sent by email. Vacationing in Fiji, Oprah had been asking God: “Please show me who I really am.” She wrote:
“That may seem like an odd question from someone who spends her life on TV. But as I expand to a wider network, I want to make sure I never lose sight of the truth of my existence. I am a ripple in the ocean of God, and I want to be able to see my reflection in the face of everyone I meet, to understand that even people I will never know are reflections of my undisguised self.”
She goes on,
“As I was starting to write about all of this, I e-mailed my poet friend Mark Nepo, whose Book of Awakening is a year’s worth of daily lessons for living a more intentional life. Mark’s e-mail response was this:
You Ask About Poetry
You ask from an island so far away
it remains unspoiled. To walk quietly
till the miracle in everything speaks
is poetry. You want to look for poetry
in your soul and in everyday life, as you
search for stones on the beach. Four
thousand miles away, as the sun ices
the snow, I smile. For in this moment,
you are the poem. After years of looking,
I can only say that searching for
small things worn by the deep is
the art of poetry. But listening
to what they say is the poem.
Mark elaborated in his email to Oprah:
“For me, poetry is the unexpected utterance of the soul. It is where the soul touches the everyday. It is less about words and more about awakening the sense of aliveness we carry within us from birth. To walk quietly till the miracle in everything speaks is poetry, whether we write it down or not. I confess I started out wanting to write great poems, only to be worn by life to wanting to discover true poems, and now in the second half of life, I feel humbled and excited to want to be the poem!”
The Poem Arrives
the soul’s physician,
reveals the script.
Medicinal marvels are measured.
Insights dispensed with integrity,
tinctures ground with generosity.
And the poem appears.
It says, “Hello friend.”
Karen has arrived.