My morning devotional time began with an inspiring reading from Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening”. In this writing Mark talked about the fact that water retains its clearness regardless of what the water reflects.
When we dive into the depth of the ocean, water reflects the darkness of the earth beneath. As I sit at the ocean’s edge basking in the sunshine, the waters reflect the blue sky and appears itself to be blue. However, when I scoop a pail of water from the ocean, sure enough it remains clear. Water always retains its clearness regardless of the surroundings. Even when the waters appear to absorb and become a color, on closer inspection, the water remains clear. Always clear.
We, as spiritual beings living this very human experience, might take heart in this powerful example of the water. We often shift and move ourselves, our moods and feelings, depending upon what is surrounding us and reflecting upon us. How often have I heard an unkind word from someone only to have my own feelings become sour? How often do I step into a room brightened by the sound of laughter and feel lighthearted along with others? We, in our very human experiences, often take on the environment and unlike the water, we become more like what is surrounding us.
I wonder how might my experiences be changed if I flowed through each moment with the clearness that water retains? How might I view the various differences of humanity, perspectives of others, or even the weather? How might I move through challenging experiences with the spectrum of personalities I encounter if I simply retained clearness and compassion that just like me, others are avoiding suffering and seeking happiness? As I think back over my life, retaining clearness of self as others shifted, changed and gyrated around me would have been a very helpful skill. So very often the emotional charge of others draws us right into itself. We often find ourselves drifting into and out of other people’s experiences even though we may not even be part of the experience. How often have we given up our clearness and become drawn off our center by enthusiastic political, religious or social justice conversations?
Thinking of the times that I became distraught at hearing of my children’s unpleasant experience in middle school or a coworker’s conflict, or a treasured friend’s family drama, I would likely have been a much better a parent or friend by simply listening and hearing without falling into the other’s emotionally charged story. I truly gave up my clearness.
When I pause to be “in the world, not of the world” I remember that all is truly well right now. To wait and hope for all to be well implies that this moment isn’t ok. Our feelings about any moment may be unsettled yet, within each moment there is something that is ok. If we feel ill, there is someone who cares for us. If we feel sad, there is someone who loves us. If we feel frightened, there is someone to comfort us. if we feel lonely, there is someone to be a companion. If we feel grief, there is someone to sit with us as we grieve.
I needn’t become what another is. In fact, when I relinquish my clearness, I am no longer authentically me. Instead, I become my surroundings. How inspiring the drops, cups or oceans of water are. By retaining its clearness water quenches my thirst, cleanses my body, provides joyful recreation and oh so much more.
I wonder what might you and I be capable of if we retain our clearness, if we remember who and what we are. When we avoid becoming confused by our surroundings, we can truly have a powerful impact on our world.